January 11, 2016

#BengaliRecipe - Cholar Dal

"It's Cholar Dal today."
"Are we having any party or some occasion to celebrate?"
Yes you got it right. There are some dishes that are meant for celebration. And if there is nothing, it will light up your mood only hearing that particular dish is on the menu. Cholar Dal is one such dish. We Bengalis love to devour cholar dal at any time of the four meals. Say it for breakfast or evening snacks with Luchi or Kachuris or in our lunch and dinner with rice or pulao. Among all the dals my favourite one is the Cholar dal. So to feed me Dal my mother used to the make the meals gleesome for me by making cholar dal often. She is a wonderful cook and has magic in her hands. But the way my Mamani (my elder Mashi/ Maternal aunty) used to cook, nobody can beat the taste. And the recipe has gone with her, along with many more old traditional recipes. Now I regret for not noting down them. I have seen her often using hing/Asafoetida in most of her dishes, eve in cholar dal too. That used to give an extra hint in the taste to ask for several servings. She died at 86 but till her death she tried to cook by herself and all with home-grinding masalas. She would religiously sit for hours every morning with Mortar and Pestle to grind her dry masalas. She was a cancer survivor, but she never let us know that she was once ill. We have seen her maintaining a strict healthy regime and diet and devoting much of her time in cooking delicious dishes. All her dishes were all most without any spices but that taste and aroma still I can feel on the tip of my tongue. She had a magic too in her hands. And we used to wait when she would be sending some dishes for us. I tried to replicate her recipe. It is almost near, but not like her.
Cholar Dal
Cholar Dal or Chana Dal or Bengali Gram Dal - 1 cup
Hing/ Asafoetida - a pinch (Optional)
Tomato - 1 medium Chopped
Ginger Paste - 1 tspn
Turmeric Powder - 1/2 tsp
Coriander powder - 1/2 tsp
Cumin Powder - 1/2 tspn
Red Chili Powder - As per taste
Whole Dry Red Chili - 1 -2
Bay Leave- 1 -2
Whole Cumin Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Soaked Raisins - 1 tblspn (Optional)
Fresh Chopped Coconut - 1 tblspn
Grated Coconut - For Garnishing
Salt and Sugar as per taste
Ghee - 2-3 drops
White Oil - 2 tspn
1. Wash the Dal and soak for few hours. 
2. Boil it in a pressure cooker (4 to 5 whistles) with water, a pinch of turmeric powder and salt.
3. Take a Kadai. Heat the oil. Add hing/ Asafoetida. Soon after temper with whole dry red chili, cumin seeds and bay leaves.
4. Add tomato. Saute till it is soft and mashed. Add ginger paste and Saute till the paste starts to leave oil.
5. Add all the powdered Masalas and saute nicely. If it needs a bit water add the juice of the boiled dal. 
6. Add the chopped coconut pieces and stir saute for a minute. Now add the boiled dal. Add salt and sugar. Add the raisins.
7. Cook for a while (See Notes), add the ghee and then take it off the stove and garnish with grated coconut. Serve hot with rice, luchi/puri or roti.
i] The consistency of the dal should be not runny or too thick. 
ii] Taste wise it is slightly on the sweeter note. Therefore don't forget to add the exact amount of sugar that the taste asks for. 

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