Dal Ki Baat: Move Aside Khichdi, Pulses Make Equally Yummy Recipes

What makes dal so special? Without dal, rice loses its dear friend and roti, though an ally of sabzi, looks forlorn.

3 min read
Dal Ki Baat: Move Aside Khichdi, Pulses Make Equally Yummy Recipes

There is one match made in heaven that happily lives on earth! Er no, we aren’t talking the ubiquitous and slightly-in-hot-waters khichdi, but the marriage of dal and chawal, eaten in accompaniment. Think hot bowls of rice made richer by warm, succulent, earthy, rustic pulses.

An indispensable part of Indian cuisine, pulses are a good source of protein. A colourful array of pulses – yellow, green, brown and black – cooked with spices and seasoning creates scrumptious blends. From Rajma to Sambhar and Panchmel dal to Dalma, infinite recipes with incredibly distinct taste, exist.

What makes dal so special? It is easy to cook, requires little time and complements any meal, whether rice or roti. The most important reason for its popularity is, however, its knack to complete a meal. Without dal, rice loses its dear friend and roti – though an ally of sabzi – looks forlorn.


To watch the sizzling dance of mustard and cumin, smoky asafoetida with onions or garlic or chillies or curry leaves, is an enthralling culinary experience. Innumerable variations of tadka fill the kitchen with an irresistible aroma and the whiff pervades the neighbourhood.

The taste of dal depends on HOW you permit onions, chilli, and garlic or curry leaves to behave. I have, in my time, come across three simple but effective variations to making dal!

  1. Sauté onions until brown, add green chillies and cook for two minutes. Whisk dal with salt, turmeric and chilli powder and pour. Add coriander and boil. Caramelised onions and green chillies impart a curried flavour.
  2. Sauté onions until translucent, add green chilli sliced lengthwise, curry leaves and coriander powder, stir, and let the powder turn brown and transfer. A new taste is born!
  3. Substitute white butter for oil, temper with a clove to flavour yellow moong dal and it imparts an awesome taste. The trick is to cover the vessel within a split of a second of adding tadka, to trap flavour.

I’ve always loved cooking dal. It started the day I watched my grandmother adding tadka. I remember how the mustard popped agitatedly as if it were participating in a crackling competition. My grandmother poured it into the already-boiled arhar dal on a heap of red, yellow spice powders, unmixed. As hot oil landed, these small heaps changed colour, the mixture sizzled – and an appetising aroma filled the kitchen, making me hungry.

Later, she explained that the secret of taste lies in not mixing the powdered spices. Even today, my grandmother’s recipe is my easiest, quickest and most favourite and immensely relished.

Here are a couple of recipes that I’ve tried and tested – and loved:


Panchmel Dal

This is a simple to make but delicious kind of dal.
(Photo Courtesy: YouTube screenshot/Rajshri Food)


¼ cup arhar dal

¼ cup yellow moong dal

¼ cup chana dal

¼ cup split masoor dal

2 tsp ginger,garlic, green chilli paste

¼ cup chopped coriander

½ tsp of cumin seeds

1 tsp coriander powder

¼ tsp turmeric powder

½ tsp chilli powder (optional)

½ tsp garam masala

2 tsp of oil

Salt to taste


Pressure cook the dals for three whistles. Let the mixture cool.

Whisk the dal, add salt.

Heat oil.

Add cumin seeds.

Add ginger, garlic, chilli paste.

Stir for two minutes.

Add all the spice powders and stir continuously. Don’t let them burn.

Add to the dal.

Add coriander and boil.


Badi and Masoor Dal

For this recipe, add badi to masoor dal.
(Photo: iStock)


3/4 cup masoor dal, split

5 moong badi pieces

1 tsp ginger garlic paste

2 tomatoes, grated

1 tsp coriander powder

½ tsp chilli powder

¼ tsp turmeric powder

Powder of 4-5 pepper corns, one black cardamom and one small stick of cinnamon

3 tbsp chopped coriander

Salt to taste

3 tbsp oil (1 tbsp for seasoning and 2 tbsp for frying the badi)


Saute badi in oil.

Add badi to masoor dal with enough water, pressure cook for two whistles. Remove from flame.

Heat oil.

Add cumin.

Add ginger garlic paste.

Add grated tomatoes.

Cook tomatoes.

Add all the spices and salt.

Blend dal, adjust water for required consistency, temper.

Add coriander and boil.


(Nupur Roopa is a freelance writer, and a life coach for mothers. She writes articles on environment, food, history, parenting and travel.)

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Topics:  Dal   Recipes   Khichdi 

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