Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Cholar Dal / Bengali Chana Dal

Here in Abidjan, Lebanese population is quite large. As a result we have some wonderful Lebanese restaurants in Abidjan. I love their food. Its not too spicy but always loaded with flavors. I love their meatballs and kebbe. I love swavarma and their beautiful and frenzy smelling garlic paste. And I can almost eat everyday their Shish Tawook. Just prepare a wrap with a Lebanese bread, shish tawook, garlic paste, chili paste, lettuce, onion, tomato and some pickled cucumber and cabbage, and you are ready to have a blasting meal.

how to cook bengali cholar dal

how to cook bengali cholar dal

Our favorite Lebanese restaurant in Abidjan is L'automatic ~ The Automatic. They have two branches here, one in Cocody, Vallon and one in Zone 4 (zone quatre). The Zone 4 one is more furnished and better than the Vallon one. The Vallon L'automatic is more of a street side food station where we generally go for grabbing the food in our way, whereas the Zone 4 one is a perfect restaurant and its also just beside a lake, providing it a beautiful view and weather. They serve one of the best crisp Falafel in Abidjan. I just love their attire and the feel it gives.



how to cook bengali cholar dal

When I went to Kolkata last winter, I saw two Lebanese restaurants in Hatibagan. My sister said that there were more in other parts of Kolkata. Out of curiosity and of course hunger (lead by my enormous shopping frenzy), we went into one called "the Lebanese junction". But what I tasted there is a far cry of a proper Lebanese food. The chicken / Doner Kebab was not cooked properly and in my swavarma they gave an enormous dollop of the garlic paste along with the tahini paste and I left ajar with a mouthful of garlic and nothing else. The wrap they used for Swavarma was not even a perfect Lebanese bread, it felt more like naan. However my friend and sister said that they liked the taste and that big dollop of garlic paste. They also said that they started giving this big dollop out of demand. Hmmm....soo, I guess Lebanese food in Kolkata might have gone through a Calcatian fusion and they are loving it. After all, be it classic or fusion, what matters most is the taste..and if that is a winner, no matter what the recipe is you are also a winner.

how to cook bengali cholar dal

So next time when I visit Kolkata, I will taste more of them and enjoy the fusion aka transformation, and its a verified and known fact that Kolkata is famous for its street foods. Hands down.

how to cook bengali cholar dal

Now todays recipe id Bengali's very own and favorite, Cholar Dal, and you can say that there is an unwritten rule that cholar dal goes only with luchi / puri and nothing else. If you are eating veg and not eating rice, then luchi and cholar dal is not far away. In our home, when my mother observed any puja, she cooked vegetarian dishes for all of us. On those days, luchi and cholar dal was something we craved for. If you want your meal to be a little more gallant, add spicy dum aloo as another side dish, and I guaranty, you will lick your finger in the end.

how to cook bengali cholar dal

Cholar Dal / Bengali Chana Dal
Serves 4

how to cook bengali cholar dal

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups of chana dal 
  • 1 tbsp ghee / clarified butter (Cholar dal tastes best with ghee, but you can always use oil. In that case add a spoonful of ghee to the dal in the end.)
  • 1 big cinnamon stick
  • 1 large bay leaf
  • 3 cardamom
  • 3 cloves
  • 2 dry red chili
  • 1/2 stick of ginger piece - finely chopped
  • a handful of raisins
  • 1/4 cup of chopped fresh coconut (optional) (I did not have coconut so I garnished my dal with some chopped almonds)
  • 2-3 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp + 2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • salt
Method:
  • Soak the chana dal in water overnight. Wash and drain the water and cook in a pressure cooker with 1 tsp turmeric powder and salt, until the cooker blows 3-4 whistles. Drain the water and keep the dal aside. Do not throw away the water. We will need them later.
  • Heat ghee in a kadai or pan and put the cinnamon stick, cardamom, cloves, bay leaf and dry red chili powder.
  • As they start spluttering and sizzling add the boiled dal into it. Add ginger, turmeric powder and cook for 5-7 miutes or until the dal becomes thick and the water evaporates.
  • Now add the kept aside boiled dal water. I add only 1 cup, as I like my dal to be thick, but you can add as much as you want depending on your desired consistency of the dal.
  • When the dal starts bubbling add the raisins and chopped coconut pieces. Keep some coconut pieces for garnishing as well.
  • When the dal reaches your desired consistency add the sugar as "cholar dal" is always sweet in taste.
  • Mix well and put off the flame.
  • Garnish cholar dal / chana dal with the rest of the coconut pieces (in my case chopped almonds) and serve hot with luchi / puri along with some spicy dum aloo. 

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