The humble 'dal' and its regional presence
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The humble 'dal' and its regional presence

Indian states abound in recipes and strong flavours that are enjoyed across the country

The humble 'dal' and its regional presence

Every afternoon, the Indian household is filled with the strong smell of roasted garlic and red chili, the reason is 'Tadke Wali Daal'.

From north to south, from rich to poor, all consume dal in their respective innovative ways. Its widespread utility has made dal the Indian counterpart of a man's bread and butter: dal roti or dal chawal.

Indian states abound in recipes and strong flavours that are enjoyed across the country. Moreover, the humble dal is a store of fiber, carbohydrates, and is typically gluten-free. They also provide various vitamins and minerals. A daily intake of lentils can help in ensuring a healthy heart, maintaining cholesterol levels, and keeping you energetic.

You may be aware of delicious types of dal, but have you tried these traditional recipes:

Dal Dhokli


There is nothing like a bowl of warm Dal Dhokli on a Sunday afternoon. The dish, popular in Gujarati and Maharashtrian households is made with toor dal and white dough. Unlike most Indian dishes, this requires no bread or rice.


For dal: Rinsed toor dal, peanuts, 1 tsp ghee/clarified butter, 1 tsp mustard, few curry leaves, tomato (finely chopped), 1 tsp ginger garlic paste, small piece of jaggery, 1 tsp lemon juice, 2 tbsp coriander (finely chopped)

For dhokli: Wheat flour, turmeric, ajwain, oil and kashmiri mirch.

Method: In a large kadai, heat 1 tsp ghee and splutter tempering. Add 1 tomato, 1 tsp ginger garlic paste and saute until tomatoes turn soft and mushy. Further, add in cooked dal, 1½ cup water and mix well, adjusting consistency as required.

Also add ¼ tsp turmeric, ¾ tsp chilli powder, ¼ tsp cumin powder, ½ tsp coriander powder and ¼ tsp garam masala. Combine well making sure all the spices are mixed well. Additionally, add cooked peanuts, small piece jaggery, ¾ tsp salt and 1 tsp lemon juice.

Once the dal comes to a boil, drop in dhokli pieces and mix well. Cover and boil for 10-15 minutes or until dhokli is cooked completely. Finally, add 2 tbsp coriander and enjoy dal dhokli.



The Bihari Bagiya is a traditional recipe that almost all children have grown up eating there. The dish is a sort of rice flour dumpling with a filling of sweet and sour filling of dal. It is served with tomato or mint chutney.

Ingredients: 1 cup rice soaked for 4 hours or 1/2 cup rice flour, 1 teaspoon oil, 1 pinch salt, chana dal (bengal gram dal) soaked for 3 hours, green chillies, chopped inch ginger, cumin seeds, ajwain (carom seeds) and coriander (dhania) leaves.

Method: Grind the soaked rice and smoothen paste using water (approximately 1/2 cup). Dilute the ground batter by adding water (approximately 1.5 - 2 cups) to get a thin batter consistency. Add salt and oil to the batter and mix well.

Transfer the batter to a heavy bottom kadai or vessel and start cooking over low heat. It might look as if the dough is turning lumpy and sticking to the ladle but keep stirring till the entire batter cooks for 12 - 15 minutes over low flame.

To make filling, drain excess water from soaked dal and grind dal along with green chillies, ginger, garlic, salt, carom seeds, cumin seeds and peppercorns to make a coarse paste. Heat a kadai/wok over low flame with a teaspoon of oil and add the ground paste. Keep stirring till the dal cooks well and they get a powdered/crumbly texture. Switch off and add the chopped cilantro leaves.

After shaping the pithas, take one ball at a time, pinch the corners and shape the balls to make a cup and spoon the dal stuffing. You can also use gujiya mold to shape the pithas. You can also shape the pithas like dimsums/wontons/kozhukattai/modak. Seal gently by pinching the ends using greased fingers.

Place the pithas in the greased steamer and steam them for 8-10 minutes, to enjoy this healthy and tasty recipe.

Ram Ladoo


The delhi streets would probably be empty without ram ladoos available in the markets. The moong dal pakoras with spicy chutney and grated onion is a city favourite.

Ingredients: Moong dal, chana dal, ½ tsp cumin seeds, 1 pinch asafoetida (hing) and oil for deep frying.


Rinse ½ cup moong dal (120 grams moong dal) and ¼ cup chana dal (50 grams chana dal) a couple of times in water. Then soak both the dals in 1.5 cups of water for about 3 to 4 hours or overnight. If you want you can also just use ¾ cup moong dal and skip chana dal. Next, drain all the water and add the soaked dals in a grinder or blender jar. Then add ½ inch ginger (chopped), 1 green chilli (chopped), ½ teaspoon cumin seeds, a pinch of asafoetida, and ½ teaspoon salt or add salt as required.

Without adding any water, grind to a consistency that is not too fine, but semi-fine or slightly coarse. While grinding, grind in intervals. Scrape off the sides of the jar and then continue to grind. Do not add any water while grinding. If you are not able to grind, then add very little water (a few teaspoons and then grind). Remove all the batter in a bowl and keep aside. Before frying, remember that beating the batter incorporates air, which in turn helps to make the batter light and fluffy.



Zunka is a traditional Maharashtrian dry sabzi or gravy made with besan or chickpea flour. It is a spicy besan curry that is typically prepared as a side dish for bhakri, a traditional Marathi bread but can also be served with chapati.

Ingredients: Besan, oil, mustard, cumin, hing, Kashmiri mirch, chili and onion.


Heat 2 tbsp oil and splutter 1 tsp mustard, 1 tsp cumin and a pinch of hing. Add 4 clove garlic, 1 chilli and saute well. Now add 1 onion and saute until the colour slightly changes. Further add ¼ tsp turmeric, 1 tsp chilli powder and 1 tsp salt. Saute slightly without burning the spices.

Now, add 1 cup besan and saute on low flame. Saute for 5 minutes or until the besan turns golden and aromatic. Further, sprinkle ¼ cup water and mix well. Keep sprinkling water in batches until the mixture turns moist. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the besan is cooked completely. Give a good mix making sure there are no lumps. Finally, add coriander leaves and enjoy zunka.