Pahari Gahat ki dal (Horse gram dal)

Pahari Gahat ki dal (Horse gram dal)

On my visit to the Garhwal Himalayas in the northern Indian state of Uttarakhand, my friend’s cook introduced me to a local lentil, a variety of horse gram. The local residents make this using a herb that grows in the region, jambu, and a native spice called gandherni.

I could not get it where we were staying, however, as it was remote with only a tiny shop selling essentials at the foot of the mountain. So I decided to try to cook it with the ingredients available in my friend’s kitchen. It turned out delicious with a lovely, earthy taste.


Gahat ki dal 1 cup, soaked for two hours

Turmeric 1 tsp

Garlic 10 cloves, chopped

Ginger 1” piece, chopped

Onion 1 large, sliced

Tomato 1 large, chopped

Coriander powder 1/2 tsp

Red chilli powder 1 tbsp

Garam masala 1 tsp

Green chillies 3, sliced

Coriander leaves 1 bunch, chopped

Tomato 1 small, sliced

Salt to taste

Mustard oil 1 tbsp

Cumin seeds 1 tsp


Wash and steam the dal with the turmeric in a pressure cooker.

Heat the mustard oil in a wok and add the cumin seeds. When they stop sputtering, add the garlic. Sauté for two minutes.

Add the ginger and sauté for 1 minute.

Add the sliced onion and sauté till they turn translucent.

Add the tomatoes and cook till they become soft.

Add the cooked dal.

Add the coriander powder, red chilli powder and salt.

Add 1/2 cup water and cook covered for 10 minutes on a low flame.

Add the garam masala and cook for another five minutes.

Serve hot, garnished with green chillies, coriander leaves and tomatoes.

Moong Dal

Moong Dal

When we were a newly married couple, my husband and I used to cook dinner together. We had a lovely terrace off the kitchen in our first home. We would take a drink each — my preferred drink was and is Coca Cola — and we would concoct all kinds of delectable dishes. One of our favourites was the simple moong dal, made with tomatoes, onions, garlic and fresh coriander leaves. We would team it with paranthas or rotis and rice and with fried fish or prawns as a side dish.


(Serves 3)

Moong dal, split 1/2 cup
Onion 1 medium, chopped
Tomatoes 2 medium, chopped
Green chillies 2, chopped
Garlic 5 cloves, chopped
Turmeric 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder 1 tsp
Cumin seeds 1/2 tsp
Ghee 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves for garnish, chopped


Wash and drain the moong dal. Add the onions, tomatoes, green chillies and garlic. Add water and boil.

Add salt, turmeric and red chilli powder. Simmer till the dal is cooked completely. Add water as needed.

Heat the ghee in a small frying pan and cumin seeds. When they stop sputtering, add them to the dal.

Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice or roti.

Lauki Chana Dal (Bottle gourd with Bengal gram)

Lauki Chana Dal (Bottle gourd with Bengal gram)

I was not a big fan of the bottle gourd or any member of the squash family. Till I got a bumper crop from the garden and the fresh bottle gourd with firm fleshy white meat and no seeds or very tender seeds turned me into a fan. The only dish I would make from bottle gourd or lauki was kofta curry. Then I tried my hand at this humble dal and surprised myself at how tasty it turned out. Using chana dal (split Bengal gram) gives the dish a lovely creamy texture.

Creamy and wholesome


(Serves 4 persons)

Bottle gourd or lauki 1 1/2 cups, peeled and cubed
Chana dal 1/4 cup
Onion 1, chopped
Tomato 1 large, chopped
Mustard seeds 1 tsp
Garlic 4 cloves, chopped
Red chilli powder 1 tsp
Coriander powder 1 tsp
Turmeric 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil 1 tbsp
Coriander leaves a few sprigs, chopped
Mint a few leaves


Soak the chana dal in water for 30 minutes. Drain.

Add oil to the pressure cooker and sputter the mustard seeds. Add the onions and fry till they turn translucent. Add the garlic and fry for a few seconds. Add the tomatoes and fry till they soften. Add the spices. Saute for 1 minute.

Add the chana dal and the cubed lauki. Add salt and mix well. Fry for two minutes. Add enough water to cover the dal. Close the lid and let it cook on high flame for one whistle and on low flame for four whistles. Switch off the heat and let the pressure cooker cool.

Take the lid off and check the gravy. If needed, heat it till the gravy thickens.

Garnish with coriander leaves and mint and serve hot with rice or bread.