Chana Dal & Quinoa Tempeh Recipe

There’s myriad ways to cook and prepare tempeh. Here we bring you a delicious recipe for chana dal and quinoa tempeh.

Making tempeh is one of those projects that demonstrates how amazing home-fermented food can be when measured up against its pasteurised, store-bought alternative. 

The aroma of a freshly grown batch of tempeh is incredible – floral, aromatic and mushroomy, and will differ depending upon the ingredients you use to make your tempeh. 

Chana Dal & Quinoa Tempeh Recipe
Tempeh made from farro and mung beans.

How to make fermented tempeh

Making it is remarkably simple, provided you have the ability to keep a tray of tempeh at a stable temperature for around 40 hours. That is because the spores of the fungus Rhizopus oligosporus need a nice warm environment in which to grow and colonise the material that you are inoculating. 

Very much an artisanal process, because every legume or grain that you use to make tempeh – and the options are very broad and varied – will grow in a slightly different manner. 

So not only is it important to be disciplined about hygiene and keep a keen and watchful eye on the process, it’s also important to understand that not all batches will be successful and to not be put off if one fails. 

If you’re keen to learn how to ferment tempeh yourself, then check out our article from issue #25 of Pip Magazine, where we show you how to make fermented tempeh at home, how to source a tempeh starter and what equipment you will need to ferment your tempeh. 

There’s myriad ways to cook and prepare tempeh. Here we bring you a delicious recipe for chana dal and quinoa tempeh.

You can soak tempeh in a flavoured brine before cooking
You can soak tempeh in a flavoured brine before cooking.


  • 400g chana dal (dry weight), soaked for eight hours
  • 100g quinoa (dry weight)
  • 2 tbsp white vinegar
  • 1 tsp tempeh starter 


Preheat your water bath to 31oC. In plenty of water and in separate saucepans, boil the chana dal and quinoa. 

The chana dal will take around 15 minutes to become tender, while the quinoa will take around 20 minutes to cook. You’ll know it’s done when the little sprout appears and it is tender to the bite. Drain both thoroughly together in the large sieve.

Once the chana dal and quinoa have drained well (approximately 10–15 minutes), transfer into the large glass or metal baking tray and add the white vinegar. 

Then, with your hair dryer set on the lowest fan setting but the highest heat, gently mix the vinegar with the legumes while slowly drying them. 

Tempeh with Thai basil and sambal
Tempeh with Thai basil and sambal.

The vinegar is included here to ensure the legumes are fully sterilised prior to adding the tempeh starter. What you are looking for here is a final product that is just a little damp. If it’s too wet the tempeh will turn into
a mush, but if it’s too dry the tempeh spores cannot grow. 

When it’s right, you should have around 1350 grams of mixed legumes.

Once this has been achieved, sprinkle the starter over the legumes and mix through thoroughly. Then press the mixture into the sterilised cookie tray, gently float it in the water bath and cover with the lid.

Take a peek every 12 hours or so to see how it is progressing. You’ll find the first growth sets in at around 18 hours, and it takes around 36 hours or so for it to be finished. When it is ready the entire mass will be covered in white fungus, and will have a strong fruity/mushroomy flavour. 

Tempeh made from farro and mung beans

Be careful not to grow the mixture for too long – it will turn green or black if you over ferment, which is the tempeh spores sporulating. You can still eat it at this stage, but it will not be as nice as the perfect white tempeh you’re aiming for.

If you went for the pricked bag option, you can place these directly into the fridge, or turn out the finished square of tempeh from the baking tray, cutting into appropriately-sized slabs, before storing it in the fridge until you’re ready you cook it. 

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