This forms one half of the ultimate (for me atleast!) comfort food – Varan Bhaat. The other half is simply boiled/steamed rice. Varan for me is something which I had always taken for granted, simple sounding & simple tasting, surely it must be very simple to make. Although it is very easy to make, I initially struggled to get the exact taste & consistency of the Varan that Mom used to make.
Varan can actually have 2 forms, one where the lentils are simply boiled and then salt and a bit of turmeric powder are added and mixed well. This is the version served in festive meals & weddings, on the mound of rice along with Tuppa (Ghee) and Sambhar.
The other version involves tempering the cooked lentils and this is what this post is about. There are no Masala powders (Spice Mix) involved. The procedure is very simple and the ingredients are all routine ones.
As for my struggle to get the right taste & balance, it all started because I had always felt that Mom used a lot of ‘unnecessary’ stuff while making Varan. In those days, according to me, Curry leaves & Coriander were something that came in the way of enjoying something tasty. I always picked out these two from any food item and would complain about it. If we had to take them out later on, why add them to the dish in the first place? Same was the case with the Varan, so naturally when I tried to replicate it, I skipped both of them and ended up with a very bland tasting Dal.
And so it happened every time, I would either skip the curry leaves or the coriander and look for an excuse to explain the difference in the taste. All this even while I remembered that Mom always said that those were the things that imparted the taste to the Varan. But now I am ‘older & wiser ‘, so I know that these are a must. In fact both these are a mandatory part of almost everything I cook nowadays.
So here it is, the comforting & delicious Varan. Although the list of ingredients might look very non-glamorous, don't skip any of them as that will definitely alter the end result.
Varan / Tavvi – Simple Lentils
- 2 cups of cooked Toor Dal (Split Pigeon Pea) – I cook this in the pressure cooker, the consistency should be such that the Dal should give in easily when mashed with the back of a spoon.
- 1 tblsp Oil
- 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
- 8-10 Curry Leaves
- 1/4 tsp Hing (Asafoetida)
- 1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
- 2 Green Chillies, slit lenghtwise
- 1/2 tsp sugar
- 2 tblsp Chopped fresh coriander
- Lime juice
Heat oil in a deep pan. Once hot enough add the mustard seeds. As they beging to splutter, add the curry leaves and Hing.
Add in the tuermic powder and the slit chillies and stir.
Roughly mash the cooked dal and add it to the tempering along with half a cup of water.
Add salt and sugar and mix well. Bring this to boil and simmer for about 4-5 minutes.
Next, add in the chopped coriander, mix and let it cook for a further 2-3 minutes.
Switch off the flame, wait for a minute or two and add the lime juice and combine.
Serve hot with Rice. It also makes for a great accompaniment with Chapati-Bhaji.
This comforting bowl of lentils is going to Sunshinemom at Tongue Ticklers, who is hosting the current edition of My Legume Love Affair-13, an event originally started by Susan (The Well Seasoned Cook).