A light and easy to prepare vegan Indian dish (varan) made of split pigeon peas/toovar dal from the Indian state of Maharashtra.
The days leading up to my dad’s retirement were full of farewell dinners hosted by many of my dad’s friends and colleagues. Each day my parents had a dinner engagement either at somebody’s house or the Mess and to a few of these dinners I, too, was invited. In that one month of dining out almost everyday, we tasted a variety of menus, ranging from a cheese and wine dinner to Kashmiri food to traditional Maharashtrian fare. I don’t think I have ever eaten so much, and of course the weighing scale made sure I never forgot it either. But then, I got to taste so many different things- some new, some old, some good, some very good. In the end it was all worth it.
As mentioned before, at one of the dinners we were served traditional Maharashtrian cuisine. It was all beautifully served, pre-plated in a Thali, a total of close to 15 dishes, each prepared by our very gracious hostess. My mom particularly loved the dal and the kadhi and asked for both the recipes, which the hostess was kind enough to share. While certain Indian dishes have been made more popular worldwide, there are a lot of Indian dishes that are unknown to most people and what you see being served in restaurants abroad are mostly North indian favorites. So, I hope you enjoy this recipe that I am sharing with you today, which comes from the western state of Maharashtra, home to India’s financial capital, Mumbai and to the famous Bollywood industry.
This maharashtrian dal is a no frills vegan, gluten-free recipe and doesn’t require the plethora of spices certain Indian dishes require. Eaten with rice, this dal is comfort food for a lot of Maharashtrians and is more popularly known as varan bhaat when eaten with rice. In marathi, varan stands for dal or lentil curry. Bhaat is rice. Like gujaratis, marathi food also is a combination of a sweet and spicy, and thus this recipe calls for the addition of jaggery in it. If you are not fond of sweet in your savory meals (like me), you can skip adding the jaggery. Of course it wont be traditional (though I have seen recipes online without jaggery being added), but it will still be delicious. You will find a version of varan bhaat in a lot of Indian cuisines. There is one in Goan cuisine but the tempering there has the addition of coconut. In fact I have also grown up eating dal cooked this way with rice. I called it peeli (yellow) dal with rice. The tempering though is slightly different, and we never ate it mashed smooth, and probably that’s what attracted my mom to this recipe. And also the fact that it was made light with minimal addition of spices.
Before I leave you with this recipe today, I just want to put it out there that I hope to be more regular with the blog here on. I know this space has taken a back seat the last couple of months and the posts have been sporadic and so has my interaction with fellow bloggers. I am working on certain things at the moment and even though I am trying out recipes- somehow when the recipes work out fine, I don’t find time to shoot them, and when I am able to shoot, the recipes don’t turn out as I would like and hence the absence. Hopefully, all of that should change soon. Till then, hope you enjoy this recipe for Maharshtrian Varan/Dal.
- 1 cup Split pigeon pea/toovar/arhar dal
- 2 cups water
- 2 medium sized onions, chopped finely
- 8 cloves garlic, chopped finely
- 2 green chillies
- ¼ tsp asafetida (hing)
- 2 tbsp ghee/clarified butter or oil
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp red chilli powder
- ½ tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp jaggery/gud
- salt, to taste
- handful of cilantro/coriander leaves
- In a pressure cooker, add the water and split pigeon peas. Boil for 3-4 whistles. If using a pot to cook the lentils, cook till the lentils are soft.
- After the dal is cooked properly, churn the dal in a blender or use a hand blender
- In a separate pan, add the ghee/oil. Heat it. Once hot add the mustard seeds, onions, and garlic and cook till golden brown.
- Add the green chillies, turmeric, chilli powder and hing.
- Add the cooked dal to the tempered spices. Once it starts boiling, add salt and jaggery to it. Garnish with cilantro/coriander leaves.
- Serve hot with rice/roti.
- The thickness of dal depends as per your taste. If you want a thinner consistency, add more water and adjust salt and spices accordingly.
Looking for similar recipes, try these out:
Kothimbir Vadi (Cilantro Cakes)