Lauki chana dal sabzi is bottle gourd (also known as lauki or dudhi) cooked with chana dal (split chickpea lentils) in a very tasty, thick tomato gravy. Paired with roti or any Indian bread and plain rice, it is a simple and healthy meal that can be made easily on busy weeknights in your instant pot. A 100% vegetarian and vegan recipe and a gem of Indian cooking!
If you want to make this instant pot lauki chana dal a little fancier, have it with jeera rice instead of plain rice. All kinds of sabzi recipes and curries taste fantastic with jeera rice, in my opinion. Just sayin'
This soupy veggie + lentils magic called lauki chana dal. I'm SO LOVIN' it right now!
It's a bottle gourd recipe that surfaced after ages as I was flipping through my old cookbook one evening. I remember jotting it down many moons ago when my mom used to make it. Not because I cared for anything to do with bottle gourd back then (how tastes change!), but because I wanted to keep a record of all of my mom's favorite, go-to recipes.
Anyhow, there it was, staring at me, and I decided to make it for old times' sake. To my surprise, it turned out great. Husband and kids loved it. So I made it again. And then again. Truth be told, I fell in love with it!
Why on earth didn't I like this lauki recipe before? Not much clue (under-developed taste buds?) but here's why I'm so enamored now -
- It's made of some basic ingredients and real, wholesome stuff that's good for you - we're looking at small chunks of bottle gourd and lentils cooked in a delicious, full-bodied onion-tomato sauce, and topped with some fresh greens. Definitely a healthy curry.
- It tastes of bright sunshine and warm, lazy days - the humble lauki is a spongy summer vegetable that has 96% water content, and chana dal has the earthy, rustic flavor of roasted chickpeas. Add to that the tang of ripe tomatoes + the slight sweetness of onions + a little spice, and you get a beautiful dance of colors and flavors in one perfect dish.
- It's pretty darn simple to make in your instant pot or traditional pressure cooker - it's a one-pot, easy and quick recipe if ever there was one. Prosaic but worth noting.
Ingredients in lauki chana dal
- Lauki or bottle gourd, peeled and cut into chunks - choose a green, unblemished piece. Here's more info on the health benefits of bottle gourd if you're interested.
- Chana dal, washed and soaked in water - split and husked brown chickpeas or split Bengal gram. This article answers all your questions on chana dal.
- Cooking oil
- Cumin seeds
- Red onion, sliced fine.
- Ginger and garlic pastes - available in small jars in most big stores.
- Chopped tomatoes
- Red chili powder
- Coriander powder
- Turmeric powder
- Garam masala powder
- Green chilies (optional)
- Coriander leaves or cilantro for garnishing
- half a lemon or lime
- Sea salt, to taste
Soaking the chana dal - an important pre-step
Wash and soak the chana dal in one cup water. As you're going about the rest of the steps in the recipe, the chana dal will be ready to put into the cooking gravy.
Chana dal takes a longer time to cook than lauki. Soaking it softens it and makes sure that both the dal and lauki are evenly cooked in the instant pot.
Let's make lauki chana dal curry
1. Press the saute button on your instant pot and add the cooking oil to the inner pot. Add cumin seeds and sliced onions and fry until the onions have just started caramelizing.
2. At this point, add the ginger and garlic pastes, tomatoes, powdered spices and salt and cook for 5 minutes. Add splashes of water to prevent the masala from sticking to the bottom of the pot. The tomatoes will break down and the masala will become shiny and thick.
3. Add the chana dal along with the water in which it was soaked and cook for another 5 minutes. Turn off the saute mode.
4. Add the chopped lauki, salt and half a cup of water if required. Press the pressure cooking button (high pressure) and make sure the vent is in the closed position. Secure the lid and set the timer to 5 minutes of cooking time. Do a quick pressure release after 5 minutes and take off the lid.
5. Take it out in a dish and sprinkle some lemon juice or lime juice on top. Garnish with chopped cilantro and green chillies (if using), and serve warm with homemade chapatis or steamed rice. Makes for the perfect weekday lunch or dinner.
Other vegan Indian recipes you might like
Lauki Chana Dal (Bottle Gourd Curry with Lentils)
- 6-quart Instant Pot Duo
- 1 medium bottle gourd peeled and chopped
- ½ cup chana dal
- ¼ cup cooking oil
- ¼ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 medium red onion sliced fine
- 1 teaspoon ginger paste
- 1 teaspoon garlic paste
- 1 medium tomato chopped
- 1 teaspoon red chilli powder
- ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
- ½ tablespoon coriander powder
- ¼ teaspoon garam masala powder
- 2-3 green chillies optional
- 1-2 sprigs cilantro or parsley
- half a lemon or lime
- sea salt to taste
- Soak the chana dal in 1 cup water. Peel and chop the bottle gourd, onion and tomato (5 minutes).
- Turn the instant pot to saute mode and add cumin and onions. Fry until the onions are just beginning to caramelize (5 minutes).
- Add the ginger and garlic pastes, tomato, powdered spices and a little water to prevent the masala from sticking to the bottom of the pot. Cook this masala until thick and shiny (5 minutes).
- Add the soaked chana dal along with the water and cook again (5 minutes). Turn off the saute mode.
- Add the lauki, salt and a little water if required. Secure the lid, turn on the pressure cooking mode and make sure the vent is in sealing position. Set the timer to 5 minutes. Once the timer goes, release the pressure after 5 minutes (QPR).
- Remove the lid, take out the lauki chana dal in a dish and garnish with green chillies (if using) cilantro or parsley. Sprinkle a little lemon or lime juice on top. Your lauki chana dal is ready to be served with some warm Indian bread or rice.
- You can buy ginger and garlic pastes from the market or make your own. Since this recipe requires both, you can make them together. Put equal quantities of peeled ginger and garlic in a blender along with some water and blend to get a smooth puree. Keep refrigerated in a glass bottle and use as required. Use one tablespoon in this recipe if making your own paste.
- If adding green chillies, reduce the quantity of red chilli powder by half if you don't want the curry to be extra hot.
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