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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Dal Sukhno/ Dried Masur Dal

I have found that Masur dal post on my blog has become the most popular post. In most Bengali households masur or red lentil is the most important of all pulses served. Whenever there is some left out masur dal in the refrigerator my mom always makes the Sukhno dal (Bengali for dried pulses), though it can be prepared with fresh masur dal also. It is a best accompaniment of warm rice served at first of the meal. This preparation had been one of my favorite dishes in lunch. Its simple to cook and absolutely yummy.

Dal Sukhno

Dal Sukhno


Masur dal (Red lentil): ½ cup

Onions (Peyaj): 2 medium sizes

Turmeric powder (Halud guro): ½ teaspoon

Green chili (Kancha lanka): 2

Mustard oil (Sarser tel): 2 tablespoon

Salt to taste and 3 cups of water


  • Wash the masur dal well and cook as instructed here
  • Simmer the dal for further 5 -6 minutes so that the dal gets absolutely dried up
  • Serve with freshly chopped onions and mustard oil

Aal sukhno (Inage 2)

My tip: While simmering the dal to dry, constantly stir it so that it doesn’t get stick to the bottom of the vessel.

Masur Dal/Red Lentil Recipe

Legumes are a very important part of our meals. In my family, I have seen my mom cook dal for every meal. Be it an accompaniment for paratha, roti or rice, dal is always there. Among the all types of legumes found in the market, the one that is very popular in my family is the masyr dal, that too it is cooked in a very simple but special way. It tastes so good.

Masur dal is a lentil which is also a part of the  legume family. Lentils have a very high percentage of  proteins, and also essential amino acids like isoleucine and lysine. But, they lack in the other two essential amino acids, viz.,  methionine and cystine. Iron which is an important source of nutrition is present in high quantities in lentils and is adviced for pregnant ladies, adolescents or those who suffere from iron deficiency.

Serves 4


Red lentil (Masur dal): 1 small bowl

Onion (Peyaj): 1 small, finely chopped

Green chili (Kancha Lanka) : 1 or 2, chopped

Turmeric powder (Halud guro): ¼ teaspoon

Mustard oil (Sarser tel): 1 teapoon

Water : 2 cups

Salt to taste


•·        In a pan pour in the water and masur dal with the salt and put to boil

  • Let it boil for 10 to 12 minutes, add water if necessary
  • Heat the oil in a wok and sauté the onions
  • Pour in the now boiled dal
  • Add turmeric powder and green chilies and stir so that the turmeric powder gets mixed well
  • Bring to boil and let it remain for 2 to 3 minutes, then take out of flame


Masur dal tastes good with naything, so just try it with anything you want. Check for more updates here, till then .Happy Cooking and Happy Eating .

I am sending this post as a second entry to My Legume Love Affair, Seventh Helping! hosted by Srivalli, the event actually is the brain child of Well-Seasoned Cook Susan.


Also sending the recipe to Sara for her Weekend Cookbook Challenge: 36

The post on way to the FIC-January event hosted by Sunshinemom, the color of the event being Yellow this month.


Also sending it to Ramki’s  “Recipes for the rest of us” .


My fiancee is in love with this dal, he just licks his fingers whenever I cook it, so here it goes for the lovely event, Just for you hosted by Alka.


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