Bhat Dal and Bhaja – a no frills bong meal

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“Lentils are friendly—the Miss Congeniality of the bean world.”
Laurie Colwin

What’s the staple food in West Bengal? Any guesses? If you answered fish, you’re suffering from a common misconception (another link). Fish is the most loved dish. But Bhaat (i.e. steamed rice, boiled rice or ubla chawal) is something that Bongs drool over. The Bengal region includes the largest delta (Ganga Brahmaputra delta) in the world and the loamy soil of this delta has favored the cultivation on rice. So, boiled rice has become the staple food, and the main source of carbohydrate among the people of this region. Useful Tip: Don’t ask a Bengali “did you have lunch?” Ask “Bhaat kheycho?”(“Did you have rice?”). The Bong guy will suddenly feel connected to you. Bangalir Bhaat ghum is proverbial – a Bengali usually dozes off post lunch, location notwithstanding.

Masur dal with radhuni

Rice is usually accompanied with some lentils and any kind of fry, potato, aubergine (brinjal, baingan, baigan), or any other vegetable. A platter of bhaat, dal and bhaaja (rice, lentils and fries) is one of the leanest, and thus, cheapest meal.

Lentil is prepared in several ways. The most preferred one is masur dal (also, musur dal, masoor dal, musuri dal, red lentil). Predictably, the spices used vary with the style of cooking musuri dal. My last two posts were on desserts (give links), thought of writing a simple and lean platter for today’s post. As they say in Bangalore, Enjoy Madi!

Serves: 2

Cooking time: 20 + 10min

Preparation time: 5+5min


For dal-

Red Lentil (Masur dal): ½ cup

Wild celery (Radhuni): ½ teaspoon

Mustard oil (Sarser tel): 1 tablespoon

Water (Jal): 1 ½ cup

Turmeric powder (Halud guro): ½ teaspoon

Salt to taste

For fries-

Pointed gourd (Patol/Potol): 4-6

Turmeric powder (Halud guro): 1 teaspoon

Sunflower oil (Sada tel) for frying

Salt to taste


For dal-

  • Wash the lentil well, put it in a deep boiling pan along with water and half teaspoon of salt and cook for about 10-15 min or till the lentil is fully cooked, add water if necessary
  • Heat the oil in a wok and add the wild celery to it
  • As the celery starts popping pour in the cooked lentil and add turmeric powder, stir to mix well
  • Simmer for about 2-3mins and take out of flame

For fries-

  • Peel off the pointed gourd and  make two inch long slits on both ends, alternatively you can also cut the pointed gourd longitudinally into two halves
  • Mix the gourd turmeric powder and salt to it
  • Heat oil in a frying pan and fry the pointed gourd till soft in low flame
  • Serve hot with warm rice and daal

Bhaat Dal Patol Bhaja

Hot Tips – While cooking the dal, you can also do it in a pressure cooker, allow two whistles before you take it out of flame.

Further Reading: Vegetarian Bengali recipes, some posts on a Bengali forum, Masur dal recipes,

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29 thoughts on “Bhat Dal and Bhaja – a no frills bong meal

  1. I had uchche diye mug daal with byashon+chaler gNuro diye kumro and alu bhaja for dinner with Rajasthai lime pickle on the side…it was heavenly.

  2. Hi Sudeshna

    This is the first time I visited your blog. I’m someone who’s least interested in cooking and have rarely been to my kitchen. But now, I’m about to get married to a Bengali and we both love to eat….and he will surely never cook. I believe, from now on i will be a regular visitor at your blog….and will get to learn alot…the bhaat dal and bhaaja is i guess the easiest and most convenient dish to start with…. I will surely try it before i get married and write in to you.

    1. Juhi,
      Wish you all the luck for a very happy married life. Please subscribe to the feed of our blog, and you’ll be able to get the posts delivered to your inbox. Do let me know if you require any help in the kitchen :).

  3. For months I have been searching for good traditional Bengali foods and it was today I found your site!! Keep up the excellent work. My mother sadly never taught me how to cook these basic dishes. Its wonderful to find recipes that are not only delicious but traditional!!

  4. Hi there,

    i had visited your blog long time back, i guess the blog design was different then. suddenly i got this link from my bookmark…and visiting again !! thankfully i had bookmarked this 🙂 this is such a nice blog, with mouthwatering dishes…dekhei mone hoche shob kichu ranna kore feli !! 😀 shob bangalir moton amaro priyo dal bhaat ar bhaja, splly potol bhaja, jeta ekhane ekebarei paina 🙁 and hope to try misti doi soon. yougurt ta deoar aage ki beat kore nite hobe ?? thanks for sharing . i cudnt find your profile/name btw … !!
    .-= Tulip´s last blog ..Vegetable Stir-Fry =-.

    1. Tulip,
      Actually we shifted from the old wordpress blog to our self hosted domain. That’s why I think you are seeing the difference. Thank you for bookmarking the blog, hope to get more feedbacks from you in future. 🙂

  5. Bengali’ s favourite one……..and My fav one too… a simple and tasty combination of Bengali meal……..Thanks for sharing…….

      1. Sudeshna,thank u for visiting my recipe blog…amar genaral blog(my web site address) e ele khushi hobo…tomar kitchen e ese mone hochhe…
        natun kore fire elam dhan-siritir tire,
        abar jeno bangalee hoye asbo ami fire,
        tumi kamon sahoj kore sajiyecho ei blog!
        dekhe amar mon bhore tai kori ei jogajog!!!
        .-= Indira Mukerjee´s last blog ..বাড়ি বদল =-.

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