Sunday, July 22, 2007

Varan Bhat (Dal and Rice)

Varan Bhat is to a Maharashtrian what rice and beans are to our Mexican friends. This is the one dish that for some reason never tastes as good in a restaurant as it does at home. More so for lunch than diner. And if you nail the combination of the dal, salt, lemon and ghee at the first helping, just stop. The second helping will never taste as good. A good batch of dal is probably the second yardstick for judgement that the mother-in-law uses against the new bride after the roundness of a chapati. Here's to a start to a good finger licking lunch.

1 cup Toor Dal (pigeon peas)
2 tsp Oil
1 tsp Turmeric
1/2 tsp Cumin Powder
1/2 tsp Asafoetida
2 cups water
Salt to taste
Lemon, sliced
1 tsp Ghee

In a pressure cooker cook the pigeon peas till they are completely soft and almost dissolved. (If you don't have a pressure cooker, boil in a pot till cooked.)
Set aside.
In a pot, heat the oil.
Add cumin and asafoetida and allow to cook in the oil.
Add turmeric and then the dal.
Whisk the dal and add water to achieve desired consistency
Add salt according to taste

Cook rice with a little extra water so that it is softer than usual.
Serve dal over rice generously and top it with salt, a few drops of lemon juice and ghee.