Tag Archives: paanchphoron

Tadke vali Masoor ki Daal

The very first time I cam back home for a holiday from boarding school, this daal was one of the things that Ma made for my first meal at home the day I arrived, along with bhindi ki subzi, boondi ka raita and plain white rice, because that combination had always been my favorite meal since I was very small.

I guess Ma saw from my reaction just how much I missed these things in the school mess, so every visit after that first one, for the next six years, till I started working and set up a kitchen of my own, she continued to make these dishes for my first meal each time. She still does, in fact, sometimes when I go back to see her in Jamshedpur with the girls.

So when I made this daal for the boulanger’s customers this Tuesday, I did so with a certain feeling of nostalgia.

It was then all the more wonderful to find out later that day that it got a response the boulanger called “tres bonne” (which means very good, or excellent as when it is said with the appreciation that the boulanger‘s voice showed) and so he wants to include it among the things that I will cook for next Tuesday.

This is one of those recipes of Ma that I follow quite faithfully.

1 cup of dhuli masoor (red lentils)

1 onion, peeled and chopped fine

1 tomato, chopped fine

1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric powder

1/2 or 1 tablespoon of chopped green coriander

1/4 teaspoon each of the five spices that make up paanchphoron

1 tablespoon of sunflower oil

1 tablespoon of ghee (or a second one of oil)

Wash the daal thoroughly and soak in water for an hour or two (the daal can be cooked without soaking it beforehand and in this case it will usually need a little longer to cook).

Pressure cook the daal with salt till the grains are quite soft and well-blended. Add half a teaspoon of turmeric powder and mix it in well.

In the meanwhile, heat the oil plus the ghee in a frying pan. Add the paanchphoron as described here and when the seeds begin to crackle, add the onions and fry till they begin to turn a dark-ish brown. Add the tomatoes next, and cook till they are quite soft; by this time the oil will begin to appear a little on the sides of the mixture. Mix in the green coriander now, fry everything together for 1/2 a minute, then add this mixture to the daal and simmer it for 5-6 minutes.

The daal can of course be tempered with only cumin seeds, or with cumin seeds and mustard seeds, instead of with paanchphoran and the green coriander is an extra too. But the latter two ingredients together spell magic here 🙂


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Achari Paneer


This dish really does have a deliciously tangy, chatpata taste -akin to that of pickles – that does justice to its name. Shri and our guests on Saturday liked it a lot.

When I first came across this recipe, in  a fantastic cookbook called “The Art of Indian Cuisine”, I was delighted because a) it uses all the spices that make up my beloved  paanchphoron b) other than the time required to make the paneer – which in fact in many places can be bought in a store – the rest of the process seemed pretty simple and quick.

But on closer reading I saw that it also requires quite a large number of green chillies. I couldn’t quite get my head around the surprising – to me – number specified and so I used far fewer (and I substituted kashmiri chilli powder for regular red chilli powder) when I cooked this dish on Saturday.

Achari Paneer

600 gms of paneer (the recipe for matar paneer describes how to make paneer; you’ll need 4 liters of milk and 400 ml of yoghurt to make this quantity of paneer)

400-500 gms of yoghurt (the original recipe says 1 cup but I wasn’t sure how much that meant. So I sort of  eyeballed the paneer and decided to use 500gms which worked out fine)

3 medium sized onions, chopped fine

4 tsp of fennel seeds

2 tsp of cumin and mustard seeds

1 tsp of fenugreek seeds and nigella seeds

2 (or a few more, if you like) green chillies, slit lengthwise in half

2 tsp each of sugar, turmeric powder and kashmiri red chilli powder

3-4 tsp of dry mango powder (amchur)

3 tsps each of garlic paste and ginger paste

salt to taste

5 tbsp of sunflower oil

Cut the paneer in to 1″ or slightly larger cubes. Mix the sugar and the 3 dry spices in to the yoghurt and whisk it well.

In a large frying pan, heat the oil, then add the 5 whole spices in the sequence I have suggested for paanchphoron.

Once the whole spices start to crackle and turn brown, add the green chillies and the onion and fry  till golden brown. Add the garlic and ginger pastes next, and fry for another couple of minutes.

Turn down the heat a little now, and add the yoghurt mixture, and cook till the yoghurt is cooked/absorbed. At this stage, the cooking oil will rise to the surface, and you’ll see it has a lovely rich red color. Add the paneer pieces and salt, and fry everything together for 4-5 minutes. Add a cup and a half of boiled water, turn up the heat a little, and simmer till the gravy is as thick as you’d like, turning over the paneer pieces once in a while.

This dish needs to be made at least 3-4 hours ahead of eating, to allow time for the paneer to soak in the flavors, and for the “achari” taste to develop.

There is lots of yummy flavor here to savor. Enjoy !

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