Chilke waali Masoor dal with Rocket

I heart dals, my lunch/dinner table is incomplete without a Dal taking center stage. I find that my meals are somehow not good without the reassuring comfort that a well made Dal offers. Also being an Indian, I feel that I have some sort of authority on Dal and I usually snort in my Tea when I see readymade Dal packets sold in supermarkets OR “Dal Soup” sold in restaurants. Maybe I am a bit of a “Dal Snob” because actually, you can’t teach a desi a trick or two about Dals.


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Processed with VSCO with f1 preset


Having said that it is always humbling to stumble upon new Dal recipes that you have never tried and tasted before. And it is even great when you cook it, and it blows your mind with its sheer deliciousness. I had one such humbling moment a few days ago when I stumbled upon this “Sabut Masoor Dal with Arugula” recipe on the fabulous blog “Passionate about Baking.” I have been a silent admirer of Deeba’s blog for a while. Her pictures and her food is simply awe inspiring.


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Processed with VSCO with q5 preset


Now while I cannot bake like her to save my life, I can definitely try and cook a Dal. And let me tell you this Dal has been one of the best Dals I have eaten in my life. It was deliciously buttery and creamy and tasted so good just on its own. It was so good that I have made it thrice in 2 weeks and even done a variation of it with vegetables like Carrots, Zucchini and even served it grilled Haloumi and it tasts as delicious.


Head over to Deeba’s blog for the complete recipe or just follow her recipe below.


Recipe: Cooking time 30 minutes, Soaking time 60 minutes


2 cups masoor dal with skin (Chilke waali Masoor Dal)

2 small onions, chopped

1 tsp garlic paste

1 tsp ginger paste

1 tsp Haldi powder

1 tsp dhania powder

A pinch of Heeng (Asafoetida)

2 small tomatoes finely chopped

2 green chilies chopped

Salt to taste

1 1/2 – 2 cups rocket greens chopped

1 1/2 tbsp Oil or Ghee (I used vegetable Oil)

For Garnishing:

1/2 cup yogurt (dahi) whisked and at room temperature

1 tsp ghee



Soak the dal in water for atleast 1 hour

Heat oil or ghee in the pressure cooker and add Heeng.

Add the Ginger Garlic Paste, Green chilies, chopped Onions and cook till they are golden brown but not burnt.

Add the Coriander powder, Turmeric Powder, and Salt and cook on a low flame for seconds.

Add the Tomatoes and-and cook till they release oil.

Now add the Rocket leaves and cook till they wilt. You can also substitute Rocket with Spinach/Kale or Swiss chard. Alternatively, if you want you can completely skip the greens.

Drain the Dal and add it to the pressure cooker and saute for a few minutes. Now add water and cook under pressure for around 15 minutes.

Open the lid once the steam is released from the pressure cooker and add the Yogurt. You need to make sure it is at room temperature, or it will split in your dal.

Once ready to serve, top it up with some Ghee and squeeze a little Lemon juice.

You can serve this dal with anything or just eat it on its own.

A north indian Dal for a Maharashtrian home – Punjabi Mooth Dal (Matki)

A North Indian kitchen is usually adorned with different colored Dals and Pulses which are an integral part of our daily diet. We grow up eating ‘Dal’ every single day and with the variety and different methods of cooking Dal’s one can never have enough. Since Dal was a part of my childhood and growing up years I automatically assumed that everyone ate Dal. So when I got married, I expected my Marathi mother in law’s kitchen to have different Dal’s as well and hoped to impress them with my cooking skills. As a “Not so Shy Bride”, I was shocked to see that my mom in law hardly cooked Dals, and she used Coconut in everything. And to my horror, even her Chickpea Curry had Coconut which to an ignorant North Indian was almost sacrilegious.

1-IMG_9627Thankfully, the fantastic food cooked in her kitchen helped me cross the cultural divide faster than it typically would have. I lapped up all food she cooked and then ate some more. While I was learning all the amazing dishes that she taught me, they did not enjoy North Indian food at all. For them North Indian food was too rich, too heavy, Rajma and Chole were gas inducing and Butter Chicken was not spicy enough. Nothing I made could convince them to love the food that I had grown up eating.

1-IMG_9624Not the one to resign easily, when one day the responsibility of cooking dinner fell on me; I decided to make the only dal that I recognized in my mother in laws kitchen “Matki” or “Mooth”. While Maharashtrians make a dry version of “Matki” be served with Chapattis (flat bread), we North Indians make a Wet gravy type of a dish that is eaten with Rice.

1-IMG_9656After a few frantic calls to my mother and several anxious moments, I finally managed to make something that looked edible enough to serve. Thankfully my bargain paid off, and the in-laws approved of the dal wholeheartedly. And hence “Matki” or “Mooth” became the only North Indian dish that my family started to love, which was made by me.


The recipe is extremely simple and since I use a pressure cooker it gets ready in almost 30 minutes. As the consistency of the dish is thick, I usually serve it with Rotis. However you can also eat it with Rice and it will taste just as great.

Recipe (Cooking time 30 minutes, serves 2 – 4)

1 Coffee cup Matki

1 large Onion finely chopped

2 green chillies finely chopped

2 large Tomatoes finely chopped

1 tsp Ginger paste

1 tsp Garlic paste

Salt to taste

1 tsp Cumin seeds

1 tsp Turmeric powder

1 ½ tsp Red Chilli powder

1 tsp Garam masala powder

Salt to taste

2 tsp Vegetable Oil

For Garnish:

1 tsp Amchur/Chat masala powder

1 small onion finely chopped

Freshly chopped Coriander

Wash the dal under running water and soak it in 3 cups of water for 4 hours.

Heat Oil in a pan and add Cumin seeds, Ginger, Garlic paste & Green chillies and sauté for 30 seconds.

Add the finely chopped Onions and sauté till translucent.

Add the finely chopped Tomatoes and sauté till the Tomatoes turn mushy.

Drain all the water from the Dal, add it to the Onion, Tomato mixture and mix well.

Add the salt, Turmeric powder, Red Chilli & Garam masala powder and coat the Dal in all the spices, sautéing for around 5 minutes. Keep stirring as the Dal can stick to the bottom of the pan.

Add 3 cups of water and cover and pressure cook for around 6 – 7 whistles.  If you are cooking this dal in a Pan instead of a Pressure cooker, you will need a little more water and the cooking time will also Increase.

Once the Dal is done serve hot with freshly chopped Coriander, chopped Onions and sprinkle a little Amchur powder.



A dal for the Road with a little bit of History – Dhabha Dal

Before the railways connected India with India itself, there were only roads that were the primary source of transport throughout the length and breadth of the vastness that is India. Imagine living in the olden days where a Horse or a Bullock cart was your mode of transport or worst a palanquin in which you jostled and bumped around till you reached your destination.

1-IMG_6079Sher Shah Suri an Afghan emperor who ruled over the Northern part of India during the 16th century had the foresight to recognize how the landscape of the country he conquered was. He decided to build a road to link the remote locations under his rule for better administration. And hence he built the first highway in India called as “Sadak-e-Azam (‘great road’), which was later renamed as “The Grand Trunk Road” by the British. Since the highway was so long he built Caravansaries or Roadside inns for the weary traveller and his animal to rest and relax before moving towards his destination. The Caravansaries or Dhabha’s as we now call them provided not only much needed rest but also shelter and more importantly food. India has come a long way since the days of the Mughal Empire and the British Raj, but we still have the tradition of the Roadside Dhabha’s for the travellers to relax and have a break.

1-IMG_2154These Dhabha’s are quite famous for their awesome food, appalling hygienic standards and sometimes scary staff. I am not sure if any of the roadside Dhabas in India have ever passed any of health inspection tests. But the food is somehow amazing, and a lot of these Dhabha’s have a huge fan following. The earthiness that one can taste in the food cooked by inexperienced and untrained cooks who, put their heart and soul into the food they make with limited resources and even limited ingredients makes the food magical. It is an experience that is unique to India and is thoroughly enjoyed in the company of friends who enjoy their food as much as you do.

1-IMG_2184The recipe I am sharing today is of “Dhabha Dal” which is a very popular dish served in these Dhabha’s. Eaten with hot Rotis it is one of my favorite Dals that I make often especially when I am having guests over. The layer of Butter floating on top of the Dal makes it look delectable and it is worth all the calories that you scared it has.

Here is the recipe (Serves 6)

For the Dal

1/2 cup Chana Dal

1/2 cup split Black Urad dal

1 tsp Turmeric Powder

Salt to taste

For the Tempering

1 tbsp Ghee (No substitute, you can use Butter instead BUT NO OIL)

1 tsp Cumin seeds

2 -3 cloves of chopped Garlic

2 medium sized Tomatoes finely chopped

2 Green Chillies

1 tsp Red Chilli powder

1/2 tsp Asafoetida (Hing)

For the Garnish

1 1/2 tsp Dry Mango powder (Amchur powder) or Chat masala powder

1 tsp Garam masala powder

Freshly chopped Coriander leaves

A small Dollop of Butter to garnish the Dal


Mix both the dals together and wash them well. Keep them aside for 15 minutes, discard the water again and add 2 – 3 cups water.

Boil the Dal with just Salt & turmeric powder till done. I used a pressure cooker and gave around 10 whistles.

Keep the dal aside and heat the Ghee in a pan. Add the Asafoetida, Cumin seeds, chopped Garlic and Green chillies & red chilli powder and cook for 2 – 3 minutes on a slow flame. Now add the Tomatoes and cook till mushy and done.

Transfer the Dal in this pan and bring to a boil.

Garnish with Dry mango powder and Garam masala, lots of freshly chopped Coriander and Butter.

Serve hot with Rotis or Rice.


The sick person’s comfort food – Simple Mung Dal with Ghee

I have been a bit under the weather of late. Not sure what ails me but a strange sense of melancholy seems to have gotten hold of my mind and I can’t seem to shake it off. Plus a very bad back pain doesn’t help do anything to the mood either. I have had to slow down and almost confine myself to the bed, so I can get better.

And we all know who we miss and long for when we are sick, yes our mother. I really have been missing her more than I do because of how I am feeling right now. So the best thing I can do to feel that she is around me is to cook something she used to make for me whenever I used to be sick.

So I have been making a lot of plain “Mung dal” and drowning myself in a bowl full of it. Typically the dal is just boiled with some Salt and Turmeric and served on some hot rice with a big dollop of Ghee on it. However even as a child I used to love my flavors so I used to never eat the plain dal and beg my mom to add some spices and Tomatoes.  And to please me my mom used to do the same and even give it a tempering with Garlic and Ghee.

Also those were the having a bit of an extra Ghee and putting on weight was not a big issue. So she would put another dollop of Ghee of my dal and rice and boy it always managed to cheer me up. It is so simple and plain but is very nutritious and very comforting. And that is what I have been craving for, so I made it for myself and felt instant gratification.


Here is the recipe (cooking time 30 minutes, serve 4 – 5)

1 1/2 cup yellow mung dal.

1 large Tomato finally chopped

2 – 3 green chillies slit into 2

1 tsp Turmeric powder

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 tbsp Ghee (Do not substitute it with anything else)

Salt to taste

1 tsp Asafoetida

3 cloves of Garlic sliced thinly

1) Wash the Dal and put it in a pressure cooker with Tomatoes, Green chillies, Salt and Turmeric.  Add 3  cups of water and  pressure cook it for 3 whistles.

2) Turn the heat off and let all the pressure release.

3) In a small pan heat the Ghee once it is hot add the cumin seeds, Garlic and Asafoetida, once the Garlic starts to turn brown add the tempering straight into the pressure cooker on the cooked Dal.

Serve it hot with some Rice and maybe, just maybe if you are feeling a little greedy add another dollop of Ghee.

Not a gourmet dish – Simple Maharshtrian Style Dal fry

You know there is great food and then there is simple food. Simple food may not look amazing or photograph well, it won’t win you accolades or even make anyone notice you or your cooking skills. But it will bring you smiles, it will create memories that will last forever.

Simple food will make you relax after a long tiring day. It will make you dream and miss of home when you are away and you don’t get it. It becomes almost like a drug. No matter how many gourmet dishes you cook or serve, you do need your fix of the simple food once in a while.


This Maharashtrian style “Dal Fry” is that drug for me. It is my mother in law’s recipe and specialty. She made it often back home and I grew to love it. Infact it took me 7 years to perfect the taste and the smell from her kitchen to mine. To be honest this is not a great dal. It is not something that will make you jump from roof tops and break into a song and dance routine. But it is a dal that will make you homesick. It will make you miss your Ma or Ma in law in my case because this is their forte. Something they make so well that nothing can beat it, not even you.


It’s soupy almost watery consistency is somehow heartening. We actually throw away the spoons and just dig in with our fingers and it just makes us so happy. It is sheer bliss on rice, trust me on that.


Here is the recipe (cooking time 30 minutes, serves 4 -6)

For the dal:

1 1/2 cup Toor Dal (Pigeon pea, you can find it in all Indian shops)

2 medium sized Tomatoes finely chopped

Salt to taste

1 tsp Turmeric powder

4 -5 cups of water


For the Tempering:

2 chopped Green chillies

1 tsp Cumin seeds

1 tbsp (or a little less ) Ghee

1 tsp Red chili powder

1/4 tsp Hing (Asafoetida)

3 -4 curry leaves

1 tsp crushed Jaggery

2 cloves of Garlic (finely chopped, only use fresh Garlic, that is not negotiable)

Fresh Coriander


1) Wash the dal a few times under running water. Add the Salt, turmeric and chopped Tomatoes, around 5 cups water and pressure cook it for 4 whistles. Once done let the pressure release from the cooker, before you open it. If you do not have a pressure cooker then you can just let the dal cook in a big bowl till it is almost mushy. I like the dal to have a bit of a bite. Once the dal is cooked, remove the scum from the top with a spatula.

2) Heat Ghee in a pan, add the Hing, Cumin seeds and chopped Garlic. Saute on low flame till the Garlic is almost brown. Add the Green chillies, curry leaves and Red chili powder. Saute for a minute or two ensuring that the Red chilli doesn’t burn and add this tempering to the dal.

3) Add the Jaggery and then Cook for 10 minutes on a low flame till you reach the desired thickness and some of the water has evaporated. Serve on a bed of hot rice and just disappear into the deliciousness.


Tip: Another way to cook the dal is by first boiling it with Salt and Turmeric and then tempering all the ingredients except the dal in the Ghee and adding the Dal and Jaggery.

The versatile daal – simple Urad Daal punjabi style

I would like to call myself a Global Indian. I have traveled around a bit and tasted different cuisines. And I thoroughly enjoy cooking and eating things that I have not had before.

But I still keep coming back to Indian cuisine time and again. Maybe it is because I am an Indian and have grown up eating it or maybe because it is such a diverse cuisine that one can never get bored with it. The diversity of India is very prominent in its cuisine. Every state, every region has its own cuisine and one of the best thing is you can use the same ingredients and make something totally different out of it every time. Didn’t I tell you Indian cuisine is not boring? J

For example the basic “Urad daal”, which is so popularly used in South India to make Idlis, Dosas, Vadas and Chutneys is used in North India to make a very delicious Punjabi style daal to be eaten with Rotis or Pooris. It is a very tasty preparation with the daal tasting soft and silky melting in your mouth with every bite.


It is not like a typical Indian daal which has high water content and is eaten with Rice. This daal is usually very dry and eaten as an accompaniment with hot Rotis. It goes very well as a lunch option in a tiffin box as it is not runny.


I would definitely recommend this daal to anyone who wants a variety in their meal. It is a healthy vegetarian option  and I love this daal to bits.

Here is the recipe (cooking time 40 minutes, serves 6 – 8)

Please be advised the quantities mentioned in the recipe below will make a good amount of daal. You can half the quantities mentioned if you want to make it for 2 – 3 people)

2 cups white Urad dal

1 ½ White Onion finely chopped

2 ½ Tomatoes finely chopped (if you are cooking for less, then still chop around 2 Tomatoes)

2 tsp Turmeric powder

2 tsp Red chilli powder

1 tsp Coriander powder

1 tsp Garam masala

Salt to taste

2 tsp Cumin seeds

1 Bay leaf

1 tsp Ginger paste

1 tsp Garlic paste

2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil

Freshly chopped Coriander to garnish (optional)


Clean and wash the daal really well and soak it in water while you prepare the masala. Unlike Idli this style of daal does not need a lot of soaking.


In a thick bottomed pan or a pressure cooker heat the oil. Add the Cumin seeds and Bay leaves once they start to splutter add the Ginger, Garlic paste and sauté for a minute. Now add the chopped Onion and sauté till almost Brown.


Now add the chopped Tomatoes and sauté for around 7 – 8 minutes or till the Oil starts to separate. Add all the dry ingredients Salt, Turmeric, Red Chilli, Coriander and Garam masala powder and sauté carefully ensuring your masalas don’t burn.


Drain all the water from the daal and add it to the masala, sauteing it for 7 – 8 minutes on a low flame, once the daal looks well coated with the masala.  Now add around 2 – 3 cups water enough to just cover the daal a little but not flood it as the daal has to be dry.


Let it cook in the pressure cooker for around 8 – 9 whistles or in the pan till almost all the water is soaked up and the daal is cooked. You can test that crushing the daal between your fingers.


Garnish with a little Garam masala and freshly chopped Coriander before you serve it. Although I have it with Rotis, it tastes very delicious with Pooris as well.