Decoding Daal

Daal chaval is the staple almost all over India, with different versions. It is satisfying as well as nutritious, as it has both carbs and proteins, as prescribed by dieticians these days. It is also easy to make. 15 minutes in the pressure cooker and it’s ready.

Needless to say, the way of cooking the pulses is different in every household, so are the ingredients. Let me write down my style:

  • Use different daals:
    We have yellow moong daal, masur daal and toor daal mixed for everyday use. So that is one option. I take only toor daal, when I am making simple varan bhat, the typical Maharashtrian वरणभाततूपलिंबू. (Some people add jaggery/sugar to the plain daal, I personally am against it.) I sometimes use only green moong daal. Sometimes, only yellow moong daal. Sometimes all these mixed, alongwith a handful of chana daal. My mother makes a dal with Urad dal, called Ghute घुटं, but I don’t like it one bit, so I don’t cook it at all.


  • Use different phodni/tadka/vaghar:
    I sometimes pour tadka on the daal and bring to a boil. Other times, I make tadka and pour the daal on it and then boil.
    Some of the combinations I use are:
    * oil-hing-rai-green chilies-curry leaves.
    * oil-hing-jeera-red dry chili-garlic
    * ghee-jeera-green chilies
    * the Bengali panch-phoron.
    * tomato-green chilies-garlic-curry leaves
    * Amul butter for dal fry
  • Other ingredients:
    * Use either of these – kokum/tomato/lemon/tamarind
    * Use fresh coconut-tomato
    * Use goda/kala masala, or no masala at all. Daughter prefers ‘yellow daal’, without the homemade kala masala.
    * Use sambar powder instead of kala masala.
    * Add methi leaves or kasuri methi or spinach leaves.
    * Add some vegetable to the daal. Pieces of radish, brinjal, turai (दोडका), pumpkin, etc. give a different taste to the daal. It also adds volume and character. My mother cooks daal with onions or boiled potatoes sometimes, that is quite tasty.
    The Konkani people make a Vatapachi Daal वाटपाची डाळ. Vatap is a mixture of onion, fresh coconut, jeera, turmeric, salt, and green chili. Grind all this together, add to the cooked daal and boil. No need of tadka.
    Coriander is a must with all daals, to add flavour, colour, look, as well as nutrients.

This article can’t be complete without my favourite dalvange – daal with brinjals – डाळवांगे. It is finger licking yummy, especially when cooked by me eldest aunt, or my mother. I make a decent dalvange but it is nowhere near theirs. The recipe? Cook toor daal and a handful of chana daal together. While the cooker is resting, chop brinjals in square size. Roast a piece of dry coconut on flame. Crush it with some jeera once cool. Make tadka of oil, hing, raee. Add the brinjals, curry leaves, red chili powder. Let the brinjals cook. Add the daal to it. Add the crushed coconut-jeera, some grated ginger, salt, jaggery, kala masala and bring to a nice boil. Add enough water, it thickens after some time. Add coriander. This tastes great after a few hours. So leftover Dalvange is to die for. Just warning you.

Tomato Saar

This is just the daals, using pulse/s. Other accompaniments that act as Daal in terms of their pairing with rice can be:

  • Saar can be made with coconut milk or buttermilk. Tomatoes are cooked and the puree is mixed with either of these. A tadka of ghee-jeera, crushed garlic, slit green chili, salt, sugar are enough to make a tasty saar for a rainy day or a cold evening.
  • Pithle is made with mainly besan, but also with Kuleeth flour, moong daal flour. One variety is simple – just a tadka of oil, hing, raee, turmeric, green chili-curry leaves, salt. If one wants a spicier or tastier version, you can add onion, garlic, tomato, drumsticks, etc. One variety is made with adding curd-milk to besan. Some people mix besan with water well before adding it to tadka, some add water to tadka, bring it to a boil, and then add dry besan mixing well. Each gives a different taste and flavour.
  • Kadhi made with buttermilk. Its taste is enhanced by adding cucumber, snake gourd, radish, etc. A special kadhi is called Kadhi-gole or kadhi-bhaji, besan balls or bhajiyas/pakode are added to the buttermilk kadhi. Plain buttermilk is given a tadka of ghee-jeera, added some salt and had just like that, without heating it. Another kadhi, especially made in Konkan, is made with buttermilk, but without besan. Fresh coconut and garlic are grinded in the mixer and this is added to buttermilk. A tadka of oil-hiing-raee is poured on it and then heated. Always good to remember not to heat kadhi much.
  • Kalhan is made with water in which sprouts have been boiled. Cook Chana, moong, kuleeth, etc with enough water in pressure cooker. Separate the water. Add buttermilk to this water. And a tadka of ghee-jeera, crushed garlic, slit green chili, salt, sugar take this to another level. Healthy and tasty drink is ready.


Mrinmayee Ranade is a senior journalist and loves to travel. She does not consider herself a great cook, but a conscious cook. 

  1. लेख वाचला
    अस वाटत की हा कागदावर प्रिंट करून
    स्वयंपाकघरात लावावा.
    अगदी साग्रसंगीत कृती.

    1. तुम्ही असं म्हणावं हे किती मोठं कौतुक. खूप आभार.

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