Saturday, July 28, 2007

Rice-Lentils (Daal-Chaawal)

Rice is a staple food in many parts of India, especially in the South. This is certainly true in my home state of Maharashtra (the state in red at right). There are many varieties of rice around the world, each with its own flavor and texture. The rice in India tastes very different from the rice commonly eaten in the U.S. It has a more distinct fragrance and is less sticky. The most popular variety in Maharashtra is called "Ambemohr" (pronounced 'uhm-bay-mo-her'). Another variety that is known worldwide from India is "Basmati" ('baas-muh-thii'). The Hindi word for rice is "Chaawal" ('chaa-wuhl') In Marathi, "Daal-Chaawal" is "Aamati-Bhaat" In Hindi, this is written as दाल- चावल.

Fresh, steamed rice is commonly paired with "Daal." The word Daal means skinned and split lentil. There are many varieties of beans, lentils, or pulses: Moong, Toor, Chana, Chole (chickpeas), Chawali (blackeyed peas), Masoore (Western lentil), Urad, and many other varieties. For many Indians, Daal-Chaawal is a good combination for someone who is on-the-go and wants a quick, nutritious meal.

Serves 1

Chaawal Preparation:
  • 1/2 cup of rice ( cleaned and washed )
  • 1 Tbsp butter
  • 1 cup of water
  1. In 1 quart pan, boil the 1 cup of water with the butter.
  2. Pour the 1/2 cup of rice into the pan, and reduce the heat.
  3. Let it simmer for 10 minutes , while partially covering it.
Keep the pan on the lowest heat setting, cover it completely, and let it sit there for another 10 minutes.

Daal Preparation:
  • 1/2 cup daal ( Toor daal )
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric (1/4 twice)
  • 1/4 tsp Asafoitida ( 1/8 twice)
  • 2 tsp salt
  • 2 tsp Corriender seed powder
  • 1 tsp ground Cayenne pepper powder (Chili powder)
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp phenugreek seeds ( methi)
  • 1/8 tsp citric acid (this can be substituted by tamarind, aamchur [dried raw mango powder], kokum, V8 juice, or tomato juice)
  1. In a separate 1 quart pan, put the measured amount of daal (1/2 cup per person for full meal of daal-chaawal only) and wash it by changing water 2-3 times.
  2. For every 1/2 cup of daal, add 1 cup of water. Add 1 teaspoon oil, 2 teaspoon salt, 1/4 teaspoon turmeric (haldi) and 1/8th teaspoon asafoitida (hing).
  3. Cook in pressure cooker or on stove directly for about 30 minutes on medium heat.
  4. Make sure that the daal is cooked and gets mushed by spoon. Adjust the consistency according to your liking by adding water.
  5. In a small measuring steel pan, add the remaining oil and heat it. To make sure it is hot enough, add a seed of mustard. If it makes a sound, the oil is ready to make "Tadakaa" in Hindi or "Phodni" in Marathi.
  6. When the oil is ready, add all the mustard seeds. When they stop making sounds, remove the pan from the heat. Add cumin seeds, then phenugreek seeds, followed by asafoitida and remaining turmeric.
  7. In the pan with the daal, add dhania powder, Cayenne powder, and the citric acid. Add tadakaa carefully and let it simmer for 10 minutes.
Variations of daal :

I.Varan- Bhaat : This is a favorite first course of full Marathi meal. For this version, after step 3
of the daal preparation, daal is only stirred, with about 1 tsp jaggary added. It is a good starting baby food as well.

II. Sambar: In step 4 of the daal preparation, many vegetables (about 1/2 cup altogether) are added and cooked until soft. In step 6, sambar powder is added.

III. Mogar: For moong daal, I prefer tadakaa of ghee with cumin and asafoitida. Garnish with dry mint leaf powder or ginger paste, and serve with fresh lemon piece on the side.

IV. Palko mogar: In cooked mogar (see III above), chopped spinach leaves are added.

V. Urad daal: Urad daal is very sticky. Once cooked, I prefer adding stirred yogurt or buttermilk and ginger paste,
instead of citric acid . The tadakaa should be made of only ghee and cumin seeds.

VI. Katachi aamati: Whenever "Puran poli" is made, katachi aamati is made also. While boiling chanaa daal, now
for every 1/2 cup of daal, add 2 cups of water. After the daal is cooked completely, the water is strained off and used for making katachi aamati. The special garnish for this is roasted dry coconut and cumin powder.

Saturday, July 21, 2007


Thank you for visiting my page. I will be posting recipes from my homeland of India soon.

Most of my cooking involves vegetarian dishes, as I am vegetarian. However, vegetarianism is very common in the part of India that I am from. I call my cooking "fusion" because, instead of merely sticking to the original, traditional recipes, I let my recipes evolve as I have been exposed to new flavors and methods of preparing these cultural dishes. I like to mix and match various vegetables based on the season, availability, and my personal tastes. Again, thank you for visiting, and I hope you enjoy the food you create!