Holige Saaru: Spicy Chana Dal Replete With Tropical Flavours
Image Credit: Holige Saaru is a sweet-spicy dish | Instagram - @food.boutique

When one hears the word chickpea or chana dal, one of the popular dishes that pop up in the mind is chana dal tadka. How about trying a Bangalorean version of this tadka with Holige Saaru or Obbatu Saaru? What makes it unique and different? The leftover water of the cooked chana dal is used for infusing spices and various flavours into the Saaru beginning with turmeric, chilli, curry leaves and soaked tamarind water. This mild-tasting chana dal curry is then flared up into a hot and deliciously spicy affair by adding ground masala made of spices including red chillies, peppercorns and coriander seeds.

All About Holige Saaru

Holige Saaru is well-known food of Karnataka which is considered a sweet and spicy dal rasam and is cooked popularly in Ugadi celebrations. If one were to translate Saaru in English then it would roughly mean broth or stew. In this case, it's a broth based on chickpea lentils. Holige Saaru is a special kind of Rasam or South Indian soup that is made with the strained water of the pressure-cooked chana dal water strained from the cooked chana dal used for stuffing Pooran Poli or Holige.

Holige Saaru is served with rice or flatbread | Instagram - @sanus_kitchen

 The dish is relished with Holige or sweet-stuffed flatbread. It is also eaten in combination with hot rice or Palya for lunch or dinner. The dish is not limited to Karnataka but is also relished in Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.

Preparation: 35 minutes

Cooking: 25 minutes

Servings: 4-5


  • 1 ½ cups chana dal
  • Soaked tamarind (lemon size)
  • A few curry leaves
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 green chilli (slit)
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 tbsp salt

For masala paste:

  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • ⅛ tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 5-6 peppercorns
  • 3 red chillies
  • A few curry leaves
  • ½ cup coconut
  • Water as per need

For Tempering

  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • ¼ tsp asafoetida
  • A few curry leaves
  • Coriander for garnishing


  • Cook the chickpea lentils or chana dal in a pressure cooker. Take it out of the water and reserve the water for using in the next step.
  • Mash the chana dal into a paste and knead it into a small ball.
  • In another pan, pour the chana dal water, and add the tamarind-soaked water by squeezing the tamarind.
  • Then add curry leaves and turmeric powder and green chillies and give everything a good mix. Let it come to a boil.
  • Then add the chana dal ball into it and stir everything. 
  • Add 2 cups of water and 1 tbsp salt to it and let it cook.
  • Meanwhile, in another pan, pour a little oil, and add coriander, cumin, fenugreek seeds and peppercorns into it. Then add red chillies and curry leaves and saute until the colour of the whole spices changes little.
  • Transfer these spices into a blender after they cool down, add grated coconut and water and blend it into a smooth paste.
  • Add this paste to the Chana dal mixture and stir well. Let it come to a boil.
  • In a tadka pan, pour oil, add mustard seeds, asafoetida, and curry leaves and let all splutter.
  • Add this to the Holige Saaru or Chana Dal curry. 
  • Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

The piquant smell of curry leaves, tropical flavour of coconut and sourness of tamarind is diffused throughout the curry making it an ideal tropical bowl. It doesn't require onion, tomatoes or garlic like usual tadka, but is quite happening and zingy with the South spiciness.