A light and easy to prepare vegan Indian dish (varan) made of split pigeon peas/toovar dal from the Indian state of Maharashtra.

Maharsahtrian varan/Dal | The Novice Housewife #vegan #glutenfree #dairyfree

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.

Maharsahtrian varan/Dal | The Novice Housewife #vegan #glutenfree #dairyfree

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.

Maharsahtrian varan/Dal | The Novice Housewife #vegan #glutenfree #dairyfree

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.

Maharsahtrian varan/Dal | The Novice Housewife #vegan #glutenfree #dairyfree Maharsahtrian varan/Dal | The Novice Housewife #vegan #glutenfree #dairyfree

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.

Maharsahtrian varan/Dal | The Novice Housewife #vegan #glutenfree #dairyfree

5.0 from 1 reviews
Maharashtrian Varan/Dal
Prep time
Cook time
Total time
Recipe type: Main Course, Easy, Vegan, Gluten Free
Cuisine: Indian
  • 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
  1. 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.
  2. After the dal is cooked properly, churn the dal in a blender or use a hand blender
  3. In a separate pan, add the ghee/oil. Heat it. Once hot add the mustard seeds, onions, and garlic and cook till golden brown.
  4. Add the green chillies, turmeric, chilli powder and hing.
  5. Add the cooked dal to the tempered spices. Once it starts boiling, add salt and jaggery to it. Garnish with cilantro/coriander leaves.
  6. Serve hot with rice/roti.
  1. The thickness of dal depends as per your taste. If you want a thinner consistency, add more water and adjust salt and spices accordingly.


Maharsahtrian varan/Dal | The Novice Housewife #vegan #glutenfree #dairyfree

 Looking for similar recipes, try these out:

Kothimbir Vadi (Cilantro Cakes)

Slow Cooker Toovar Dal

5 Thoughts on “Maharashtrian Varan/Dal: Vegan Indian dish

  1. Congrats on your fathers retirement! I love garam marsala Tuesdays and this delicious soup is perfect for the fall days coming ahead. Sometimes you just crave something easy and simple and this recipe ticks all of those boxes.
    Bam’s Kitchen (@bamskitchen) recently posted..Chewy Black Sesame Cookies And TeaVivreMy Profile

  2. Big fan of this! BIG time.
    This & white steamed rice with lemon, mango pickle and papads.. sorted! followed by a good afternoon nap 😛
    Girish recently posted..Sneak Peak | Viha and Shrijit | Pune wedding photographyMy Profile

  3. Pingback: Gudi Padwa Celebrations 2016 | Crave Cook Click

  4. Thanks for the recipe.
    This is going to be nit-picky but when you title a dish as vegan, make sure there are no animal products used whatsoever. So I would just say vegitarian. Then when you go to the ingredients, you can say – to make this a vegan dish use oil, instead of ghee.

    • I am sorry but you are right, you are being nit picky. A lot of people traditionally cook this recipe just with oil, and that is why the tag vegan. I like the taste of ghee and not being vegan I have given that as an option for those who would like to make it with ghee. It has already been mentioned in the recipe and the directions that both can be used. A vegan can make it with oil with similar results, which has been clearly stated in the recipe- maybe you missed it.

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