Panchmel Dal – Rajasthani Cuisine
Rajasthani Cuisine: The culturally rich and colorful Rajasthan, the largest state in India has many distinctive attributes to its credit. The war-like lifestyles of its residents, the lack of green leafy vegetables, the scarcity of water, the need for food that could last for several days without having to be heated, have all had their influence on the cooking in this arid region.
One such, extensively loved traditional complete meal is a set of three dishes called ‘Dal (lentils) – Baati (a form of bread) – Churma (sweet/dessert)’.
In any Indian meal, lentils form a main source of protein, therefore boasting a prominent place. A variety of lentils are incorporated in the everyday cooking. One can note variations in the cuisine and manner of cooking of lentils, every few miles in India.
This preparation is named ‘Panchmel Dal’ which literally means the blend of five different lentils. ‘Panch’ meaning ‘five’, ‘mel’ pronounced with emphasis on the ‘e’, meaning ‘blend’.
tuvar dal – 1/3 cup (split pigeon peas)
chana dal – 1/3 cup (split yellow peas/bengal gram)
mung dal – 1/3 cup (split de-husked gram gram)
urad dal – 1 tbsp (split de-husked black gram)
mung bean – 1 tbsp (whole green gram)
ghee – 2 tbsp (or oil)
cloves – 3
bay leaves – 2
cumin – 1 tsp
green chili – 2 slit
asafoetida – 1 pinch (avoid asafoetida if on a gluten-free diet)
red chili powder – 1-3 tsp (as per taste)
turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
coriander powder – 1 tsp
amchoor powder – 2tsp (dried mango powder)
garam masala powder – 1/2 tsp
tamarind puree – 2 tsp
water – 4 cups for the dal; and 3 tbsp for mixing with spice powders
salt to taste
- tuvar dal - ⅓ cup (split pigeon peas)
- chana dal - ⅓ cup (split yellow peas/bengal gram)
- mung dal - ⅓ cup (split de-husked gram gram)
- urad dal - 1 tbsp (split de-husked black gram)
- mung bean - 1 tbsp (whole green gram)
- ghee - 2 tbsp (or oil)
- cloves - 3
- bay leaves - 2
- cumin - 1 tsp
- green chili - 2 slit
- asafoetida - 1 pinch (avoid asafoetida if on a gluten-free diet)
- spice powders>>
- red chili powder - 1-3 tsp (as per taste)
- turmeric powder - ¼ tsp
- coriander powder - 1 tsp
- amchoor powder - 2tsp (dried mango powder)
- garam masala powder - ½ tsp
- tamarind puree - 2 tsp
- water - 4 cups for the dal; and 3 tbsp for mixing with spice powders
- salt to taste
- firstly, wash all the lentils with water twice and drain. adding 3 cups of water cook this in the pressure cooker. at the first whistle simmer for 10-15 minutes. turn off the heat and allow it to cool naturally. I prefer using the pressure cooker to cook the lentils always as this ensures not just quicker cooking but also less chances of nutrient loss.
- now prepare the spice powder mix, by mixing 3 tbsp of water to the spice powders taken in a bowl. mix well to remove lumps.
- one the lentils are cooked and ready, in a pan, heat 2 tbsp of ghee (or oil). add cumin seeds, cloves, bay leaves, green chilies and asafoetida. stir.
- once the cumin crackles or turns a darker shade and the green chili appears roasted on the surface, add in the spice powder solution which has been prepared. stir for 1-2 minutes.
- now add in the cooked lentils, salt, tamarind puree, adding additional 1 cup of water (or more as per the consistency desired) and bring it to a boil. simmer and cook for 5-7 minutes while stirring on and off to avoid burning.
- serve hot with Baati and Churma for a traditional complete meal OR serve with any flat bread or rice.
do not forget to stir on and off while the dal is cooking.
traditional dishes make use of ghee, which is clarified butter adding a wonderful aroma to the dish. for a vegan version, use oil.
some prefer to add amchoor powder (dry mango powder) at the very end once the heat is turned off. I prepared the solution with all the spice powders added together.