Slow Cooker Chickpeas with Vegetables (Pahari Dal)

published Sep 29, 2020
Slow Cooker Chickpeas with Vegetables (Pahari Dal)

A flavor-packed Indian dish filled with chickpeas, cauliflower, daikon, and potatoes.

Serves6 to 8

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Chickpeas with vegetables Pahari Dal in slow cooker with serving spoon on side.
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

I first enjoyed pahari dal while on vacation with my parents. We were in Kulu Valley, North India, and my father and I took a day trip to Ladakh. Situated at the foothills of the Himalayas was a beautiful valley manned by the Indian army, and on one of the ridges overlooking a glacier, we were invited to partake in a simple meal cooked by the Jawans (Indian army soldiers).

I remember it clearly: There was a large pot sitting atop a portable burner stewing all day long, and the aroma of the spices and vegetables permeated the tent. Its contents were a delicious blend of chickpeas and vegetables. The addition of mooli (daikon) to dal was new to us. We ate it with rice and pickles, and to this day my memory of those flavors leaves me wanting it over and over again. 

Upon our return from Ladakh, I couldn’t wait to relate these flavors to my mother, who in turn instructed our house cook to prepare it for us at a later date. Since then, it has remained one of my favorite dal dishes, and its inclusion in my book, The New Indian Slow Cooker, was a given. I developed this recipe for the slow cooker from those memories of that wonderful meal from my childhood.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

A Slow Cooker Dish with Maximum Flavor

Most Indian recipes have you begin by blooming spices in hot oil or ghee and browning the onions, garlic, ginger, tomatoes, etc., and the same is true for slow cooker dishes. I have tried adding everything to the slow cooker without all the fuss, and the result is not as rewarding. Here, that means tempering the cumin seeds and browning the aromatics before adding them to the chickpeas (channa dal) in the slow cooker.

Adding the tender young leaves of both the daikon and the cauliflower also lends an additional layer of flavor to this dish. Alternatively, you can add fresh spinach at the end of cooking so the residual heat just wilts the leaves.

For a one-of-a-kind vegetarian meal, pair pahari dal with basmati rice or rotis (Indian flatbreads), and lime aachar (Indian spiced pickles).

Slow Cooker Chickpeas with Vegetables (Pahari Dal)

A flavor-packed Indian dish filled with chickpeas, cauliflower, daikon, and potatoes.

Serves 6 to 8

Nutritional Info

Ingredients

  • 2 cups

    small chickpeas (channa dal)

  • 5 1/2 cups

    hot water

  • 1/4 teaspoon

    turmeric

  • 1 teaspoon

    ground Indian red chile*

  • 1 1/2 teaspoons

    salt

For the tadka:

  • 2 tablespoons

    ghee

  • Pinch

    of asafetida

  • 1 teaspoon

    cumin seeds

  • 1

    small yellow onion, diced small

  • 3 cloves

    garlic, minced

  • 1 (1 1/2-inch) piece

    fresh ginger, peeled and minced

  • 2

    serrano chiles, halved lengthwise and cut into half moons

  • 2

    small tomatoes, diced

  • 1 tablespoon

    ground coriander

  • 1 teaspoon

    green mango powder*

  • 1/4 cup

    warm water

  • 2

    medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes

  • 1

    small daikon, peeled and cut into 1/4-inch half disks, with diced tender leaves stems if available

  • 1/2

    small cauliflower, cut into small florets, with sliced tender leaves if available

  • Chopped cilantro, for garnish

Instructions

  1. Before prepping the ingredients, turn the slow cooker on to the high setting for 15 minutes, until the insert is warmed through.

  2. Pick over the chickpeas for any foreign objects. Wash them in a bowl in several changes of water until the last wash runs almost clear. Place the chickpeas and the hot water in the insert of the slow cooker. Add the turmeric, 1/2 teaspoon of the ground red chile, and 1 teaspoon of the salt. Cook on high, covered, while preparing the tadka.

  3. Heat the ghee in a large skillet on high. Add the asafetida and the cumin seeds, and, as soon as the seeds sizzle, add the onions, garlic, and ginger. Fry on high heat until the onions turn brown at the edges, 8 to 10 minutes. Add the serrano chiles and tomatoes, then the ground coriander and mango powder and continue to fry, smashing the tomatoes lightly with the back of the spoon. Add the remaining teaspoon of the salt and 1/2 teaspoon ground red chile. Add this tadka to the dal in the slow cooker. Pour 1/4 cup of warm water into the skillet used for the tadka, scrape and stir to deglaze the remaining tadka, and add this to the slow cooker. Turn the slow cooker to low and cook for 4 hours.

  4. After 4 hours, add the potatoes and continue to cook for 1 hour, then add the daikon and its leaves. After another hour, add the cauliflower and its leaves, and cook for 1 more hour. Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot.

Recipe Notes

Reprinted with permission from The New Indian Slow Cooker, by Neela Paniz, copyright 2014, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC.