if you want to reduce the soaking time, then heat water and soak the dal in hot water for 30 minutes.
drain the water.
add the soaked chana dal, turmeric powder and 3 cups water in the pressure cooker.
on a medium to high flame pressure cook the dal for 4-5 whistles.
the grains should be separate and yet cooked thoroughly.
once the pressure settles down on its own then remove the lid
add sugar and salt to the dal.
stir and and keep the cooker on a low flame to simmer the dal, till the water reduces a bit.
when you add the tempering to the dal, it should have the right consistency - meaning it should be slightly thick. remember that on cooling the dal will become more thick.
while the dal is simmering and has begun to get thick, prepare the tempering.
heat ghee or oil in a pan.
first add all the whole spices - bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves, cardamom and dry red chilies.
fry till they become aromatic. this takes some seconds.
add the asafoetida and fry for a few seconds.
now add the coconut and fry till the coconut becomes light brown.
pour the whole tempering mixture in the simmering dal.
stir and then add cumin powder, red chili powder, raisins and cashews.
simmer cholar dal for 1-2 minutes more.
serve cholar dal with luchi, bengali peas kachori and even steamed rice if you prefer.
if the cholar dal becomes thick after its pressure cooked, then add some water to thin it. the consistency of the dal can always be adjusted by adding less or more water after its cooked. you can also slightly keep the consistency thin then what it is usually if you prefer. avoid asafoetida or hing to make a gluten free version of this dal. to get hints of gingery taste in the dal, you can add ½ inch ginger - either grated or crushed into a paste in a mortar-pestle. just fry the ginger after you have finished frying the whole spices and asafoetida.