Saturday, August 31, 2013

Dal with Panch Phoron

My husband came back to the U.S. four days after we got married.  I had to wait for him to send me paperwork so that I could get a dependent visa and join him here.  Those were the good old days when airlines allowed you two checked pieces of luggage - each weighing 70 lbs.  So, apart from my clothes, I had enough space to bring quite a few things.  

I asked my husband to tell me things we might need, so that I can pack accordingly.  He told me not to bring any cooking utensils because he had a “fully set-up kitchen” here.  Thank God my mom insisted that I bring a pressure cooker with me.  My husband’s “fully set-up kitchen” included one saucepan, one skillet, two spatulas, one knife, one cutting board and a four place setting corelle set.

The pressure cooker I bought, came with this cookbook called Festival Cookbook.  It had some great recipes for the various festivals celebrated around India.  I would try out all kinds of recipes to try and impress my husband.  What can I say – I was young and naïve ….

Dal with Panch Phoron

Anyway, this book had a section on Durga Pooja.  One of the recipes in that section was for Panch Phodoner Chorchori.  It used a blend of five spices – kalonji (onion or nigella seeds), mustard seeds, methi (fenugreek seeds), jeera (cumin seeds), and saunf (aniseeds).  I had never heard of kalonji ever in my life.  Luckily for me, the asian store near my house carried it and I tried this dish for the first time.  I just can’t describe the aromas in my kitchen that day! I was hooked! 

I now use panch phoron regularly.  It is available as a premixed spice blend in my Indian store now.  

Here is what you need:

  • 1 cup moong dal (can also use masoor dal)
  • 2 tsp. ghee
  • 2 tsp. panch phoron (fenugreek seed, onion or nigella seed, cumin seed, black mustard seed and fennel seed in equal parts)
  • 2 dry red chilies crushed
  • ½ red onion, chopped
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 1” piece ginger, slivered
  • ½ tomato, chopped
  • salt to taste
  • ¼ tsp. turmeric powder
  • 1 cup chopped spinach (optional)
  • ½ tsp. freshly roasted and powdered cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp. dry roasted and coarsely powdered red chilies
  • chopped fresh cilantro for garnish


Here is how I made it:

  1. Cook the dal in a pressure cooker with enough water till done.  I use 2 ¼ cups of water for one cup of dal and cook for about 10 minutes on low after the first whistle.
  2. Heat the ghee in a saucapan.  Add the panch phoron and the red chilies
  3. When the mustard seeds sputter, add the onions and sauté for a few minutes.
  4. Add the ginger and garlic.  Sauté for a few more minutes.
  5. Add tomatoes, salt, and turmeric.  Cook on medium heat till the tomatoes become pulpy.
  6. Now add the chopped spinach and give it a quick stir.  Add the cooked dal and enough water.  Let this whole thing simmer for about 10 minutes.
  7. Garnish with the roasted and powdered cumin seeds, red chilies and chopped cilantro.
Serve hot with rice or rotis.

1 comment:

  1. Those who do not have a pressure cooker can soak and cook the dal for 20 minutes each instead of the method used here, soaking - lots of water, cooking only about the same volume as of dal.


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