The Secret to the Ultimate Creamy Hummus: Chana Dal

A glass dish of creamy hummus, dry chana dal and a fresh lemon on a dark brown wooden background
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For the ultimate creamy hummus, either spend a frustrating half-hour peeling a couple of cups of cooked chickpeas or buy chana dal—split chickpeas without the skins—and decide how to spend all that time you just saved. Don’t get me wrong—unpeeled whole chickpeas you cook yourself from dry make wonderful hummus. But chana dal renders next-level hummus with zero extra work. That rarely happens in life so take advantage of it!

Cook the chana dal, purée it with garlic, followed by the tahini (make it yourself, if you like), lemon juice and salt and voilà—ultrasmooth hummus without the single-use, microplastic-shedding, fossil-fuel-based plastic tub! Your family and friends will ask you for your secret. You can keep this recipe to yourself if you prefer but please share if you feel generous!

Look for chana dal in any Indian grocery store. Larger bulk stores also may carry it. I can buy it in bulk at Rainbow Grocery. When I spotted it there this past weekend, the customer a couple of bins down from me heard my (loud) “Hooray!” and asked me why the bin’s contents had me so excited. So I let him in on the creamy hummus secret.

How to cook chana dal

Cook chana dal just like chickpeas—soak, drain and rinse, then cook on the stove in a pot, in a slow cooker or in a pressure cooker. You’ll save money on canned beans, avoid any toxins in the epoxy linings of cans and eat tastier food. You will need to plan ahead a bit if you cook your own beans but not too much—soak them for at least six hours before cooking them. To make it worth my while, I sometimes cook a large batch of beans and freeze a couple of jars’ worth to include in a future dish.

Creamy hummus add-ins

Add spices such as cumin, cayenne and paprika, if desired. If you have vegetables on hand that you need to eat soon, steam or roast them and purée a bit along with the chana dal and garlic. Carrots, winter squash, sweet potatoes and beets all make good contenders. Swap out fresh lemon juice for preserved lemon brine—and omit the salt in the recipe. (Preserved lemons contain lots of salt.)

Sourdough crackers go really well with hummus. I sometimes top pizza with an extra-runny batch of creamy hummus rather than tomato sauce.

A glass dish of creamy hummus, dry chana dal and a fresh lemon on a dark brown wooden background
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Ultimate Creamy Hummus

Cook Time15 mins
Soaking time6 hrs
Course: Appetizer
Servings: 2 cups

Equipment

  • 1 pressure cooker optional

Ingredients

  • ½ cup dried chana dal
  • 1 clove garlic or to taste
  • 2 tablespoons tahini
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice or to taste
  • ¼ teaspoon salt or to taste

Instructions

  • Soak the chana dal for at least 6 hours. Drain, rinse and cook it either in a pot on the stove, in a slow cooker or in a pressure cooker. Drain.
  • Purée the chana dal and garlic in the bowl of a food processor and process until blended. Add the tahini, lemon juice and salt and process until the hummus is creamy. Adjust to taste if necessary.
  • Store in a glass jar or container in the refrigerator for up to at least a week.

Notes

Save any of the cooking broth from the chana dal. Refrigerate or freeze it to cook with later. Cook more beans or lentils in the broth or use it to thicken soups, season and drink like bone broth or add to quick breads and doughs.

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2 Replies to “The Secret to the Ultimate Creamy Hummus: Chana Dal”

  1. A nice alternative.
    While I love a creamy hummus, I only did the peeling thing once and I looked at all that fiber I was tossing into the compost heap. Never again. I just process it for a good long time and it is just as creamy as I need!

    1. I would never turn down hummus made with unpeeled chickpeas!

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