Narkel die cholar dal and Winter morning breakfast tales

7:36 AM

Maa no matter how busy she was always made it sure that we eat well. Eating well for her not only meant balanced nutritious freshly made food but also food that creates memory. for a mother of three and a handicraft business owner this was not easy. So she had to wake up at the crack of dawn and then by some magic wand when Baba would help us with our studies, she would finish making 3 - fresh curries and something wholesome for our snack box ready by the 8.30. All three of us kids and baba used to leave by 9 and before that we were massaged with oil, bathed, dressed, fed and sent off to catch our school bus. Now that am living the same life I just wonder how she did it without chanting my mantra 'ar parina (can't do anymore)' several times a day.

I vividly  remember Once Baba's collegue came to our house on a Sunday morning for some work. We were having breakfast then and Maa invited him to the table. It was our usual Sunday breakfast of Luchi and Curries with some homemade sweets. For some reason that uncle's wife never made a spread like that as it was too time consuming for her so he was amazed to see that Maa still sticks to this old world tradition. He enjoyed the breakfast and became a regular to our Sunday morning table.

This is not only food but memory being carried from one generation to the other. The World needs more people like Maa who wanted to create a small world of of love and affection for her raise kids who are happy and connected. I think if all families can do that more than half of the World's problems would be sorted. Giving your kids a tradition and root to look back to and fall back upon is very very important. Think of the different Traditions, values, customs of this World and how fun it is to sit, discuss and share your own with others. That truly makes the world so exciting and thats what gives us our identity.

This recipe of Narkel die cholar dal or Bengal gram cooked with bits of fried fresh coconut is a pure vegetarian dish sans any onion or garlic. Bengal gram or Chickpea is one of the world's oldest cultivated grain and is very high in protein. No wonder Vegetarian communites are so very creative with this grain and there are so many different uses of this lentil through out India. Think of Chickpea flour or besan, the whole grains as chickpeas or the split Bengal gram India has so many varieties to share. Here is one such from the Eastern Part of Bengal.

NArkel Die Cholar Dal
(Serves 4 as accompaniment to Rice or Bread)

Bengal Gram: 1 cup
Ginger: 1.5" piece (grated or paste)
Coconut: 1/2 cup (Thinly sliced and then chopped)
Bay leaves: 2
Dry red chillies: 3
Cumin seeds: 1/2 tsp
Ghee/white oil a mix of both: 3 tsp

Wash and soak the lentil for 2-4 hours. Then place it in a pressure cooker, add 21/2 cups water, turmeric, 1/2 tsp ginger paste and cook on high for one whistle. Let the steam dissipate in itself. The dal should not be mushy. The grains should hold shape yet cooked through.
Alternative cook it in a pan for 30 minutes or till cooked.

heat 1/2 tsp ghee and fry the coconut till golden. Keep the flame low. Take out and keep aside.

In the same pan add more oil (keep 1 tsp ghee to sprinkle later) or ghee and temper with bay leaves, chilies, cumin seeds Once they splutter add the rest of the ginger paste and salt. It would splutter a lot. Cook till you get the aroma. now add the boiled dal and the fried coconut.

Mix and adjust the salt and turmeric. Bring it to a boil and let it simmer till you are happy with the consistency. We like our thick when we pair it with Luchi or Roti. Now add sugar, I added 11/2 tsp sugar as this should be little on the sweeter side. But you add as much or as less as you like.

Finally add the ghee and cover. Let it stand for 10 minutes under a lid.
Serve with Luchi, Roti, Paratha or rice.

No fail step by step Luchi recipe HERE.
Tinkona or Triangular paratha recipe HERE.

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