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.

Rice and Lentil Cakes

Rice and Lentil Cakes

This is a delicious and healthy steamed dish that works as a snack, breakfast dish or even for supper. It has a mix of lentils or dals and minimal amount of oil. Wrapped in banana leaves, the steaming brings out a unique flavour.


(Serves 4)

Parboiled rice 125 g

Moong dal 50 g

Masoor dal 50 g

Tuvar dal 50 g

Urad dal 50 g

Chana dal 50 g

Salt to taste

Red chilli flakes 1 tbsp

Any Indian pickle masala 2 tbsps

Jaggery 1 tbsp grated

Coriander leaves, chopped

Mustard seeds 1 tbsp

Oil 4 tbsps + 1 tbsp

Yoghurt 2 tbsps

Eno fruit salt 1 tbsp

Water as needed

Asafoetida 1/2 tsp

Banana leaves cut into squares and rolled to form cone-shaped pockets.


Wash the dals and rice and soak for 30 minutes. Drain and grind to a paste along with the yoghurt and 2 tablespoons of oil. Add enough water to make a batter. Add salt and leave to ferment for 7 hours.

Add chopped coriander leaves, the pickle masala, jaggery and chilli flakes to the fermented batter. Add the Eno fruit salt and leave for a few minutes.

Heat water in a steamer.

Spoon batter into the banana leaf cones and steam for 30 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil and add the mustard seeds and asafoetida.

Unwrap the steamed cakes and pour the oil with mustard seeds over them.

Serve hot with chutney or pickle.

Lentils with Sausages

Lentils with Sausages

Almost three decades ago, I saw this being made on a TV cooking show. I made it, but it was too bland. Over the years, I have adjusted it to suit my family’s palate and now it is a mix of flavours from the red wine, garlic and olive oil. Accompanied by dinner rolls or bread, this makes a great supper.


(Serves 4)

Lentils or whole masoor dal 1 cup (200 g)

Green chillies 2, chopped

Onions 3 small or 2 medium, chopped

Garlic 5 cloves, two chopped

Coriander leaves, chopped, for garnish

Sausages 5

Butter 1 tbsp

Olive oil 2 tbsps

Peperoncino flakes 1 tbsp

Salt to taste

Vegetable oil 1 tbsp

Red wine 1 cup

Lemon wedges, optional


Add the butter and olive oil to a sauce pan and sauté the onions, green chillies and garlic.

Wash and drain the lentils and add to the sautéed vegetables. Add salt and peperoncino flakes. If you don’t have peperoncino, use any kind of chilli flakes.

Add about 2 cups of water and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and cook covered till the water is absorbed.

Meanwhile fry the sausages in a tablespoon of vegetable oil on medium heat. Add the three whole pods of garlic.

When the garlic pods are brown, take them out and add them to the lentils along with a cup of red wine. You can use any red wine that is available in your cupboard. I used a Zinfandel from Sula. Increase the heat to high.

When the wine is completely absorbed, transfer the lentils to a serving dish. Arrange the sausages on top and garnish with coriander leaves. Add a twist of lemon, though this is optional.

Serve hot with dinner rolls or bread and butter.

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.

Ada, health meets taste

Ada, health meets taste

This is comfort food, especially in winter. The aroma of the pancake cooking on a hot griddle will set your taste buds working overtime. This is a healthy option for breakfast, packed with proteins from all the variety of lentils that go into the batter.

Comfort food


(Serves 6 persons)

Idli rice 1/4 cup
Urad dal 1/4 cup
Moong dal 1/4 cup
Arhar dal 1/4 cup
Chana dal 1/4 cup
Masoor dal 1/4 cup
Whole red chillies 4
Til oil
Onions 2 medium, sliced
Green chillies 2
Ginger 1” piece
Curry leaves 4 sprigs
Asafoetida powder 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste


Mix the first seven ingredients in a bowl, add water and soak overnight.

In the morning, drain and wash the the soaked rice and lentils.

Grind it along with the onions, green chillies, ginger and curry leaves.

Add the asafoetida and salt and mix well.

Heat a griddle and apply oil. Pour a ladleful of batter and spread it like a pancake. Flip it over after 30 seconds.

Use all the batter to make similar pancakes.

Serve with idli chutney powder, onion chutney or pickle.