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Bengal Gram Lentil (Cholar Dal)
- Duration: 20 mins
- Serves: 4 people
Spice Level: Medium
In old Bengali kitchens, Cholar Dal was cooked on a slow wood fire till each grain turned soft but still held its shape. The soft texture of the dal was a measure of the cook's skill. Today, homemakers who pride themselves in achieving the authentic taste may use the gas stove to cook the dal, but they have to keep the flame consistently low to impart the unique taste that comes from slow cooking.
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A special at Bengali wedding feasts, the Cholar Dal is enjoyed on special occasions even today. The thick aromatic dal with whole spices and coconut milk is sweet and rich in taste. Kishmish (raisins) are also added to the dish to give it an added sweetness. On a lazy Sunday brunch, Cholar Dal is also a favourite accompaniment to pulao and luchi (Bengali equivalent of puri, made with maida and fried in ghee).
- Split chickpeas(Chana dal) (1 cup)
- MTR Haldi Turmeric Powder (½ tsp)
- Bay leaf(Tejpatta) (1)
- Salt (to taste)
- Sugar (a pinch)
- Whole red chillis(Sabut lal mirch) (2)
- Green cardamom(Hari elaichi), ground (3)
- Cinnamon(Dalchini) (1 inch)
- Cloves(Laung) (4)
- Ginger(Adrak), ground (1 inch)
- Cumin seeds (Jeera) (1 tsp)
- Ghee (3 tbsp)
- Coconut, freshly shaved (a spoonful)
- Raisins(Kishmish) (1 tbsp)
- Coconut milk (200 ml, roughly 1 cup)
- Water (2 cups)
- Wash the dal thoroughly and transfer to a pressure cooker. Add haldi, tejpatta, salt, and sugar. Top with 2 cups of water.
- Pressure cook on low flame through 5 whistles and then let the steam escape.
- In a deep pan, heat ghee on medium flame. Add the coconut shavings and fry lightly till they turn light brown. Drain the shavings on a tissue paper and keep aside.
- In the same pan, add sabut lal mirch and sauté till it turns dark red.
- Add dalchini and laung. Sauté for half a minute and then add adrak, jeera, and elaichi powder. Stir for a minute and take the tadka off the flame.
- Open the lid of the pressure cooker and bring the dal to a boil on high flame.
- Lower the flame and pour the tadka over the dal.
- Add the kishmish, fried coconut shavings, and coconut milk to the dal. Stir and bring it to a fresh boil. Check seasoning. The dal should be slightly sweet.
- Take it off the flame and serve hot with steamed rice or luchis (Bengali equivalent of puri, made with maida and fried in ghee).