Yes have been cooking a little less these days thanks to attending a lot of weddings this season but now finally all that is done and back home trying to switch back to a healthy diet and home cooked food.
I love Lentils. They are very important part of our Indian Cuisine very healthy high on protein, fiber, and vitamin B. Every Region in India has its own version of a staple lentil as we call it Dal. As Region changes the variety of lentils used change too. North Indian love their Tadka Dal or Dal Makhani and as one travels towards Gujarat the pallet changes with a lighter sweeter Gujrati Dal or Kadhi.
Dal is served with all meals with a variety of bread or could be eaten with plain or brown rice. This particular dal recipe is from the region of West Bengal. It is called Chollar Dal. Bengalis are very passionate about their food, their staples consist of Fish and Meat Curry delicately spiced mustard, chilies etc cooked in mustard oil. The Cuisine also has a lot of vegetarian options Vegetarian curries in coconut gravy, Aloo poshto and brilliant variety of sweets. I love Bengali sweets be it the soft and juicy Rosogullas or the creamy Bhapa Doi they are just brilliant in flavor, texture and so light.
Chollar Dal is a usually made on special occasions like puja or wedding ceremonies etc. Eaten traditionally with deep-fried Puris and fresh green chilies this dal is a wonderful combination cooked with aromatic spices and the additions of sweet raisins and the toasted coconut makes it very rich in flavor.
(Recipe adapted from Anjum Anand’s Indian Food made easy)
- 1 liters water
- 250 gms chana dal (also called Bengal gram lentils), thoroughly cleaned
- 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
- 1 heaped teaspoon ground coriander powder
- 1 teaspoon garam masala
- 2 to 3 teaspoons sugar
- Salt to taste
- 2 tablespoons mustard oil /unsalted butter or ghee (clarified butter) 5 green cardamom pods, lightly crushed
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds(jeera)
- 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 to 2 dried red chiles
- 2 dried bay leaves
- 1 (1/2-inch) piece cinnamon stick
- 1 tsp Raisins
- 3 heaping tablespoons flaked or desiccated coconut or 1/4 small fresh coconut, flesh chopped into small cubes.
- (I have used dried grated coconut )
Heat the water, lentils, and turmeric in a saucepan, and bring to the boil. Simmer the mixture for about 1 hour, or until soft. If necessary, add a bit of extra water.
Or You can also Pressure Cook the Dal. Wash and soak the dal for 1-2 hours and then pressure cook it with 750 ml of water for 4-5 whistles.
Once the dal is soft and cooked, stir in the coriander powder, garam masala, sugar, and salt, to taste.
Cook until the lentils are completely soft and beginning to break up.
Tempering:- Heat the oil or butter in a small pan. Fry the cardamom pods, cumin, mustard seeds, cloves, chilies, bay leaves, and cinnamon for 30 seconds. Be careful as the seeds may pop a bit.
Add the coconut, and stir until it turns golden brown. Add raisins.
Stir the spice mixture into the lentils and divide among 4 serving plates.
Serve hot with Puffed Puri or Bread and Fresh green chilies on the side.