Its a month now since my first post and I am really glad that I started my own blog! I am grateful to fellow-bloggers for their encouragement & appreciation! Since I started my blog with a Maharashtrian dish and its been a while since I posted one, I thought that this was a perfect occasion to share another of my favorite. The recipe that I am sharing today, was one of my preferred foods as a kid when my liking towards vegetables was limited. Whenever my mom asked me what I wanted for lunch/dinner, I would promptly reply, 'Varanphala'! This recipe uses the maharashtrian kaala masala and it is the ultimate one pot comfort food!
Varanphala, or 'Brown Pasta Sauce', as my 4 year old nephew calls it, is made using whole wheat flour and cooked toor(tuvar/arhar/yellow lentils) dal. 'Varan' means cooked toor dal in marathi and 'phala' which means fruit, refers to the diamond shaped pasta made from whole wheat dough that are cooked in the dal. Varanphala is pretty simple to make and ideal for days when you have run out of groceries. It can be served as brunch, lunch or even dinner. It is also popular in Gujarati cuisine and is called 'Dal Dhokli'. The way in which it is made can differ from family to family but the taste is always equally good and comforting. I have two different styles of making varanphala...one being my mother-in-law's recipe and the other being my mom's. Recently I had varanphala at a friend's place and she had a completely different way of making it, though equally delicious! I am going to list all 3 styles in this post and I hope everyone finds their favorite!
To make the Varan:
Cooked toor dal 1 cup
Kadhipatta leaves (curry leaves) 2-3
Tamarind pulp about 2-3 tbsp(readymade or homemade)
Gul (jaggery) 3-4 tbsp
Mohri (mustard seeds) 1 tsp
Jeera (cumin seeds) 1 tsp
Hing 1/2 tsp
Haldi (turmeric powder) 1 tsp
Lal mirchi powder (Cayenne pepper) 1-2 tsp
Kaala masala 2 tsp
Oil 1 tbsp
Water about a cup or two
Note: To make the tamarind pulp at home, soak dried tamarind (about the size of a ping-pong ball) in about 1/2 cup water for about an hour. Before using, squeeze out the pulp from the tamarind into the water and use the water to season any dish.
To make the Phala:
Whole wheat flour (atta) 1 cup
Water to make the dough
Salt 1/4 tsp
Cayenne pepper 1/4 tsp
Ajwain (Carom seeds) 1/4 tsp
First step to make varanphala is to cook the toor/tuvar dal. Wash the dal and add about 1&1/2 cup water and 1/2 a tsp of haldi and cook in pressure cooker for upto 3 whistles. While the dal is cooking, prepare the dough for the 'phala'. Take the atta, add salt, cayenne pepper and ajwain and then knead the dough as you would to make chapatis. Keep aside.
Once the dal is cooked and out of the pressure cooker, heat the oil in a kadhai. Add the mustard seeds. Once the seeds start crackling, add the cumin seeds, hing and haldi powder. Next, add the curry leaves and then mix in the cooked dal. Pour some water to thin it out a little. Season the dal with salt, cayenne pepper, kaala masala, tamarind pulp and jaggery. The taste of this varan should be sweet & sour. A variation to this would be to add more jaggery than tamarind pulp or vice-versa. The jaggery can also be skipped totally. Make sure that you add adequate water to the dal as the 'phala' or pasta has to be cooked in it. Taste the dal and adjust seasoning. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat and let simmer. The varan should look like this..
The next step is to make the 'phala'. Take a small ball of the dough, like so...
Roll out a thin chapati out of it, like this...
Now take a knife and cut into diamond shape as follows...
Add these to the simmering dal, cover and cook for about 5 mins.
'Varanphala' is ready to eat once white steam starts escaping the covered kadhai. Be sure to enjoy it hot with a dollop of ghee. Varanphala starts to thicken as it gets cold so make sure to eat it hot!
Variations to make the 'Varanphala':
Instead of adding cayenne pepper and ajwain, make the dough using jaggery water. For this, simply soak about 2 tbsp jaggery in some water and use this water to knead the dough.The procedure for making the varan is same.
The other variation is to omit the jaggery in the dal and instead, add a paste of dried coconut and cumin seeds. The 'phala' are made using the ingredients listed above.
Also, instead of using just toor dal, you can use a mixture of dals. Take equal quantities of toor, chana, split moong(yellow), and split masoor( pink in colour) dals and cook together in pressure cooker.