Tag Archives: Maharashtrian

Comfort in a bowl – Varan

Indira seemed both interested and amused when I showed her this blog a few days ago. Both the sisters now look forward to watching me take pictures of the food these days, and eagerly wait to see them on the computer.

Even so, this evening I was pleasurably surprised when she told me, watching me serve her varan to her, “will you please put this recipe on your blog too, since I really love this daal?”.

It’s true, she does, as does her father.

Varan is a Maharashtrian way of cooking arhar daal, and I learnt to make it from my mother-in-law.

Both the girls have pretty much grown up on the stuff and it continues to be their favorite food in the whole world. Just like when they were babies, even now when all else fails to appeal they never say no to a bowl of this daal.

One of the things I have come to appreciate about this staple food of our home is that its gentle flavor complements the spice-rich taste of many everyday subzis.

It really does have the most soothing,satisfying taste, and I LOVE how simple it is to make.

Varan

1 cup (200 ml measure) of arhar dal, soaked for 1-2 hours

A tbsp of ghee

a pinch of asofetida

1/2 a tsp of turmeric powder

1/2 tsp of cumin seeds (optional)

1 tbsp of crushed jaggery

Pressure cook the daal in 3 cups of water, after adding salt to taste. When the daal is well-cooked (the grains should be fairly well blended), stir in the asofetida,ghee,turmeric and jaggery, and boil the daal for 7-8 minutes till everything is well mixed.

If you want to flavor the daal with cumin seeds, then add only the jaggery and the turmeric directly to the daal.

Now heat the ghee in a small pan, add the asofetida and cumin seeds to the ghee, then pour everything over the daal before boiling it for 7-8 minutes.

Serve the varan over plain rice, or drink it straight from your katora like soup, as we do sometimes 🙂

I’ll post the picture tomorrow; I think I’ll let the girls click this one.

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Carrot Koshimbir

Not just the four of us, but most everyone who has ever tasted this salad loves it.

I first found this recipe 8 years ago, when I invested in a book that has since become my cooking bible -Kaumudi Marathe’s “A Family Treasury”, a great collection on Maharashtrian cuisine.

My mother-in-law was a Maharashtrian, so my husband has grown up on varan, puran poli and salads such as the one I am going to write about today.

I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with Ma after I got married, though I did learn to make poha, puran poli, and varan her way. But since then, I have learned to cook many of my husband’s other favorite foods chiefly from this book. Thank you, Ms. Marathe !!

As to the salad – it is the form in which my kids like carrots best. And I have to agree with them, it is the nicest way I have ever eaten this vegetable too, barring my own mother’s-and grandmother’s- gajar ka halwa.

Carrot Salad

4 large carrots

3 tbsp fresh grated (or dessicated) coconut

3 tbsp ground peanuts(the koot I have mentioned earlier)

2 tsp sunflower oil

a pinch of turmeric, a pinch of asofetida

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

4-5 curry leaves

salt, sugar, and lime juice- to taste

1-2 tbsp fresh, chopped coriander leaves

Method:

Peel, wash and grate the carrots. Heat the oil in a small pan, then add the mustard seeds and wait till they pop. Move the pan off the fire (this keeps the ingredients that you will be adding next from getting burnt) and quickly add the asofetida, turmeric,cumin seeds and curry leaves. Stir them for a few seconds then pour this tempering over the carrots. Now add the coconut and peanuts, the salt, sugar, lime juice, and coriander, and toss everything well before serving.

If you want to make this a few hours ahead, then add the tempering to the carrots earlier but mix in the rest of the ingredients just before serving, otherwise the salad can become somewhat soggy, sometimes.

Also, while you can use dessicated coconut to save time, use freshly grated coconut if you can – this takes the taste to another level 🙂

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Filed under Picnic Food, Salads