Monday, 15 September 2014



Simple tea biscuits which have a long history and a wonderful legendary story.
The Dutch had left the shores of the West Port City of Surat, India in the 1700's where a flourishing bakery was handed over to Faramji Dotivala. This baker continued to produce the breads for the local British community left behind. Once the Brits too lessened in numbers, the bread's popularity diminished and the wasted bread was soon distributed to the local poor. Having the advantage of being fermented with an ingredient called Toddy, there was little chance of the bread ever catching fungus, prolonging the life of this staple yet making it harder to eat. One thing led to another and the local doctors suggested that this stale bread be given as a convalescent food to patients as it was easy to digest and filled their stomachs. Dotivala started producing smaller specially dried bread buns, and ' batasas' were soon produced using the same toddy, flour and water! They were round balls of dough made to be eaten with a cup of sweet tea. They were hard enough to be dunked into the tea and not fall apart.
Years later, the Batasa was changed to a richer version with an addition of butter and or ghee/clarified butter. With alcohol prohibition taking place, Toddy was replaced with yeast or even completely omitted in the recipe.
Besides the cities of Surat, Navsari and Pune where Batasas are rivalled to be called their own, it was and still is a staple sold in Irani Tea Houses in Mumbai and until recently in Karachi. Sadly it is all dwindling down in numbers as many of the owners and bakers have moved to other pastures. Let's hope we can soon walk through the doors of the first wonderful Chai House in North America!

Current day situation:
Made from few ingredients, some like their batasas crisp while others like them flaky. There is also an amazing cheese batasa now popular amongst Canadians. The option to add cumin or caraway seeds; toasted slivered almonds still remains the same. Happily the shape continues to be mainly round like the original buns!


4 cups sifted flour
1 tbsp semolina
3 tsp baking powder
1 1/2 tsp salt

1 cup soft  butter 8 ozs/ 226gms

8 tbsp cold water
 In a bowl mix the dry ingredients
Add the softened butter in little pieces. With the tip of your fingers crumble the mixture till it resembles little beads. You can alternately use two butter knives or place all of it in a food processor using the pulse button. Add the cold water 1 tbsp at a time until it all comes together.
Do not over knead.
Roll out into a long even sausage on a lightly dusted floured surface. 
Cut this into 48-60 pieces.
Roll each one very lightly into a ball. Place this on a baking sheet.
Preheat the oven to 325F/165C. Cook for 30 minutes. Lower the temperature to  275F/135C and cook for 30 minutes. Now lower the oven temperature to 225F/105C and cook until it cooks and dries from the inside which will be another hour plus. 
Leave to cool and store in an airtight box. 

If you have a food processor it will take less than 5 minutes to put this together. Overturn cut into 2 or 4 equal pieces and work with one at a time. It is more even and quicker.
Keep the baking trays ready with grease proof paper or grease the tray lightly with butter. You will need two large cookie sheets to fit all of them.  
The trick is to dry the batasas from the inside and so the heat variation is very important. 
Batasas should have a light pinky colour and not be white.
Try to keep them all even. 
Optionally add either 
2 ozs toasted slivered peeled almonds
1 tsp cardamom powder
2 tsp caraway or cumin seeds
I like mine plain and simple.
Yeast gives them a definitive aroma and taste which I am not too fond off and so do not use it in my batasa. 

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Thursday, 11 September 2014

Rewa or Semolina Pudding


4 oz salted butter
4 oz semolina
5 oz sugar
3 eggs
2 cups+ milk
1 tsp vanilla essence
pinch of salt
1 flat tsp ground cardamom powder
2 oz slivered almonds
1 oz raisins
1 tbsp oil 

In a pan melt  butter on a low heat.
Add the semolina and fry it till all the aromas emerge and the it bubbles and cooks, stirring it constantly, about 5 minutes.
Add to this the sugar. Mix  well, take the pan off the heat.
In a bowl beat eggs, add a little milk to this and strain it through into the pan, mixing it all the time so that it all does not curdle. Return to low heat and add about 2 cups of milk. Keep mixing till the mixture thickens and coats the back of your spoon. 
Now add vanilla essence, ground fresh cardamom powder. 
To serve roast or pan fry lightly the slivered almonds and raisins and sprinkle all over the top. 

Freshly ground nutmeg can be added too.
The texture of the rewa will depend on the semolina, the finer it is the less textured it will be. 
Taste for vanilla essence
Frying the almonds and raisins is a quick option, but leave it on a paper towel to drain before sprinkling.  To fry, gently heat the oil, add the almonds and after a minute add the raisins for less than a minute. Keep a plate ready to overturn immediately. It will burn rather quickly!
Add more milk to soften as and when needed. It will harden as it cools.
Keep the eggs at room temperature and the milk tepid warm to help you along.
Use a whisk to stir as it prevents the lumps

For more recipes click on link

Niloufer's Kitchen: Quick and Easy

Niloufer's Kitchen: A Sweet Trio

Sunday, 7 September 2014

Meat Biryani; Lamb/Mutton/Goat

Lamb Biryani

Biryani: a word that has lately become popular here in the West. It seems to be generalized referring to anything that has rice and meat/fish chicken vegetables all cooked together! 

While in all honesty there are many different varieties and specifics to an authentic biryani. The spices and the protein like the meat, chicken, prawn or fish  should be marinated and cooked separately while the rice is boiled with its own spices in a different pot. The two combined through steaming create the one fantastic dish. 

Growing up I remember visiting the large open Kitchens of a famous Bohri caterer where the Biryani was being cooked in a hue deep pot, sealed on top with dough to avoid any steam from escaping. The rice was par-cooked before adding it to the pot of meat. This would finish off cooking with the intense steam created within. The end result  being a moist and delicious dish. I can still recall how each grain of rice would fall perfectly as the aromas were simply divine. The trick was the shameless addition of generous amounts of ghee or clarified butter to be able to achieve that feat.

Globally, regionally, country specific and even race and area specific people have created their versions of a Biryani to suit their personal taste. Some have saffron added, while others orange and yellow food colouring. While flavours vary from cardamom to the kewra/kewda;an extract from the Pandanus flower typical of North India and Pakistan. 

To myself a biryani must have yogurt, saffron and cardamom for the perfect flavour besides of course the umpteen other spices. The lamb must be accompanied by wonderful fried or roasted potatoes and the lamb/mutton/goat must be with bone for best results.

I can only recommend that it is the Bohri community that probably makes the worlds best Biryani. One can only try to compete with that!!

Meat Biryani with potatoes and  topped with soft boiled eggs

1 tbsp oil
3/4 kg or 1 1/2 lbs pieces; choice of lamb/mutton/goat meat, bone in
1 finely chopped  raw large onion
2 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
2 tsp coriander powder
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 finely chopped green chillies
2 tsp garlic puree
1 tsp ginger puree
1 tsp salt

2 large finely chopped tomatoes
1 cup water

2 large onions, fried to a golden brown and crushed

1 cup yogurt, slightly beaten with a spoon and seasoned with a pinch of salt and a pinch of sugar plus
1/2 tsp saffron threads, crumbled

1/2 cup ghee or oil
3 large potatoes, peeled and cut into pieces 

Bay leaf
6 cloves
6 peppercorns
1 tsp whole cumin
6 cardamom pods, pounded
1 cinnamon stick
1 whole pod of garlic, peeled and sliced or hand chopped

3 cups rice, boiled with salt and 1 tsp oil and drained off all water

Step 1
Heat 1 tbsp of oil and saute the meat and then all the spices. Do this on a medium flame and keep stirring from time to time. Add the tomatoes and 1 cup of water, cover and cook for 45 minutes to an hour till the meat is soft and tender. The cooked meat mixture should be fairly dry.
Let it cool down.

Step 2
Add the crushed fried onions, yogurt and saffron mixture. Mix and keep aside at room temperature.

Step 3
Heat the 1/2 cup oil
Fry the potatoes until cooked, they must be crisp from the outside and soft from the inside. Sprinkle them with salt.
Add the whole spices for just a minute to the potatoes. Swirl and overturn all of it including the oil into the meat mixture.

Step 4
Wash and boil the rice with salt and oil. Throw away all the water and immediately tip the rice on to a flat thal/tray/ foil. This will ensure that every grain keeps separated.
Let it cool just a bit.

Step 5
Assemble the Biryani.
Alternate with mixture of meat and potatoes and layer it with rice, starting with the meat and topping up with the rice. Sprinkle the top with a pinch of crushed saffron to give it a gorgeous hue of golden yellow.

Cover tightly with a thick layer of foil and a lid, or with a tea-towel and a tight lid.
Steam over hot simmering water for 1 hour.
Serve hot.

I like to salt the meat mixture, the yogurt mix, the potatoes and rice individually to ensure it is not salty  and not bland.
Try to keep the pieces of meat and potato equal. 
To cook the potatoes correctly, it is best to ensure they are wiped dry, the oil is hot in a shallow skillet and they crisp up on a medium high flame. Once that is done, cover the skillet  and lower the flame to a gentle simmer. Allow them to cook for 20 minutes. This will steam and cook them from the inside. Now raise the heat and add the dry spice for a minute. Swirl and overturn into the meat.
Add or subtract more chilli according to your taste. This will be medium spicy hot.
Optional choice of serving is to layer it in the dish you wish to serve it in. Sadly you cannot display it as above but it still tastes just as good! 
Golden fried onion and eggs top this beautifully.
This biryani does not necessarily need a raita or dal as it should be moist enough.

For more amazing and fun recipes to try click on
 Niloufer's Kitchen : Moroccan Cuisine

Wednesday, 3 September 2014



As a noun it is Lightning or then literally translated means in a flash of lightning. Flamboyance too defines the French word E`clair. Could we possibly have had a more appropriate name for these delicious morsels of exquisite pastry which can vanish in seconds; like lightning no doubt! 

The choux pastry is made easily and then piped in finger length for eclairs and in round balls for profiteroles.

Traditionally Creme Patissiere; a custard with or without sherry is filled in both, but alternately fresh cream or even ice cream is used. Chocolate or coffee glazes these eclairs  while caramel generally top up the profiteroles.

Chocolate eclairs and coffee eclairs filled with creme patisserie
Choux Pastry 

In a pan heat on a low flame,
1/2 cup salted butter
1 cup water
now add
1 cup flour and mix well, it should make a roux. Cook for a minute or two.
Cool for 5 minutes.

Pour the mixture into a food processor and with the machine running add 4 eggs one at a time allowing it to process and give a sheen to the mixture.
Pipe the eclairs with a piping bag on a greased baking tray or lay out a sheet of parchment paper instead.
Bake in a preheated oven of 375F/190C degrees for 20 minutes and then on 350/175C for another 20 minutes until well baked through.
Slit and fill with creme patisserie or fresh whipped cream.
Will make 18 to 24 eclairs depending on the size you pipe out.

Creme Patisserie
2 cups cream
3 tbsp flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 cup sugar
2 egg yolks
1 tsp vanilla
1 tbsp sherry
In a pan mix the sugar flour salt and cream. Whisk to cook over a low flame. Bring to a boil for a minute or two.
In another bowl mix 2 egg yolks vanilla and sherry, mix it well. Now add 1 tbsp of the hot mixture to the egg and beat it well. This will temper the eggs so they don't curdle. Now through a sieve push the egg mix into the cream mix and keep mixing. Bring it back to the stove for a minute to allow the eggs to cook through. Keep stirring to keep it smooth. Put a piece of cling film over the custard so it does not form a skin over it.

Chocolate Topping:
Heat 1/2 cup cream lightly, add 100gms/4ozs dark chocolate pieces with 1 tbsp corn syrup,. Cover, turn stove off and leave for 10 minutes. It will now be melted, mix gently until just combined. You can even swirl the pan and not use any spoon to mix! Cool till its perfect thickness.
Hold each prepared eclair between two fore fingers and dip the top part of the pastry into the thick melted chocolate. Turn it right side up immediately and allow to dry. It will harden and stick automatically.

Coffee topping:
In a bowl mix with a spoon
100gms butter
100gms icing sugar
2 tsp coffee granules melted in 2 tbsp  hot water

If you don't have an icing bag use a large ziploc bag, fill in the choux pastry mix, twist to make a cone, and snip of the edge of the bag! No washing and no cleaning.

If you cannot find corn syrup, substitute 2 tsp of sugar. Heat the sugar and cream first before adding the chocolate.
Use 55% to 70% dark chocolate. Any less is not dark enough, any more can leave a bitter after taste.
The cream Patisserie is available ready to fill in delis across the UK and Europe. Just add a dash of sherry or rum if you prefer.
Whipped cream with pieces of fresh strawberries or other berries tastes superb. 

For more delicious recipes click the link below.
Niloufer's Kitchen: French Bistro
Niloufer's Kitchen: Soups

Saturday, 30 August 2014

Khatai/ Nan-Khatai biscuits


Persian and Indian the sweet biscuit has its own charm. Variations of it stem from using flour, semolina, rice flour, wheat flour but it must have butter and often is mixed with ghee/clarified butter.
As the region separated from one large Empire, so did the biscuits!

The Persian cuisine makes these with rice flour or chickpea flour and calls it Nan-e- Berenji. They flavour their delights with rosewater and rose petals and tend to use poppy seeds to dot them. Their biscuit is smoother in texture and melts to the touch of the tongue.

The Indians add semolina to plain  flour and call it Nan-Khatai, the origins of which come from the areas of Surat in Gujarat. We tend to flavour our Khatai with cardamom and nutmeg powders and decorate it with an almond or cashew nut. 

As the Zorastrians moved inland to Navsari and Pune so did their fine foods. It leaves behind a healthy competition of which of the three cities produces the best of  tea time snacks. 
The Chai-Khana or the Irani tea house/Irani Cafe`s was ever so popular in the subcontinent for decades. A reasonably priced meeting place for the locals of the area a free "Club" for many; An opportunity to enjoy a cuppa with a savoury or sweet treat to go with it any time of day or evening.
Looking forward to visiting a Chai-Khana in North America soon? I can already imagine one with WiFi and lots of technology in view, yet the scrumptious treats will be savoured by the new and old cultures with sheer delight of the era gone by.
Khatai or NanKhatai, Parsi style with a delicious cup of tea.


Mix together
8ozs  soft butter
8ozs sugar

add in and mix to form a large ball 
2 1/2 cups flour
3 tbsp semolina
pinch of salt
2 tsp cardamom
1 tsp nutmeg

Make 22-24 small balls, place on a sheet like a disc and gently flatten them on a baking sheet. Cut a X mark lightly on each one . Put 4 slivers of almonds on each quarter, pressing it in firmly but gently.

Bake in an oven of 350 degrees for 12 –15 minutes.

Cool completely and store in an airtight container.

If the mixture is dry, add a spoonful of milk or yogurt.
The Khatai should be pinky in colour, but it always darkens a little more from the bottom. 
The softness will depend on how much you flatten each disc of ball. The flatter you press the crispier it will be. The fatter you keep it the softer and chewier it turns out. 
Leave it to rest for 30 minutes before baking if you have the time.
They freeze beautifully before baking. I prepare them in batches and bake straight from frozen whenever desired. Use sheets of parchment paper to keep them separated.

For more Parsi recipes click
Niloufer's Kitchen:Quick & Easy

Monday, 25 August 2014

Guar Jhinga- Guar/Cluster Beans with Prawn

Guar Jhinga

Guar or the cluster bean is another kind of flat bean mainly grown in the Indian sub-continent. Research also shows that the hot and arid lands of Texas grow it as it produces guar gum  which is used in many products as a preservative. Its roots originated in parts of Africa.
Guar can have a slight bitter aftertaste. This is particularly defined with over ripe vegetables and minimal with young /kumri guar. 

We used to enjoy Guar growing up with prawns added to it or mutton/goat/lamb pieces. However , my grandmother in law who was an excellent chef, used to make this with small meat kebabs. I can still remember the absolutely delicious taste of her everyday simple food she could magically produce.

Guar and jhinga served with rotli/chappati

Guar jhinga
Prawns with Guar beans

3 tbsp oil
2 large onions finely chopped
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground garlic
1 ½ tsp cumin powder
1 tsp red chillie powder
1 tsp green chillies finely chopped
1 ½ tsp salt
2 large tomatoes
1 /2 kilo tender guar beans
2 small green raw mangoes peeled and sliced
1 cup water
½ kilo prawns, shelled, deveined and washed
2 tbsp jaggery

Heat the oil and fry the onions till golden brown. Add in the spices and simmer for a minute or two.
Add the tomatoes and cook for another minute.
Now add the guar and mangoes. Add about a cup of water and bring to a boil. Cover the pan and cook the guar beans for 45 minutes till almost cooked through. The water must all evaporate. Lastly add the prawns and the jaggery and cook for another 10 minutes stirring often. Keep on cooking and stirring until little oil comes up on the sides of the pan.

Remove the string from the guar bean and cut into two or three pieces. The younger the bean is the tender the string and skin is. 
Guar takes an hour to cook sometimes. It must become soft enough to eat but not into a mush. 
You know when it is ready when the drops of oil rise to the side of the pan. This is called tayl per avanu.  It is true for a lot of this particular regional cooking.
You may substitute kebabs for prawns if you wish.

For more Parsi regional recipes click on
Niloufer's Kitchen: Autumn

Niloufer's Kitchen: Quick & Easy

Friday, 22 August 2014

Mithu Dahi/ Sweet Yogurt

Mithu Dahi/Sweet Yogurt

Yogurt or dahi, is made from milk and the bit of actual yogurt. This in principle is similar to the sourdough bread which needs a starter to prepare. 

I recall my grandmother who made a fresh bowl every morning, removing a spoonful or two to before serving for the next days preparation, for eating dahi with lunch was a routine and not an option. This reserved yogurt is referred to as the 'jum-un' or the binder.

Healthy for the stomach lining and the gut, yogurt cools down the spices added to Indian cuisine. If anyone is wondering if it is rather strange to include a sweet yogurt with lunch, it is best to think of it as a mouth cleanser. Similar to a sorbet served between the courses of haute` cuisine at a very chi chi French restaurant!!

Sev and Mithu Dahi

Sweet Dahi/Mithu Dahi

10 cups whole milk 1 cup sugar
1 cup curd/dahi

Mix the milk and sugar. Bring them to a boil, stirring it along to quickly melt the sugar. Lower the heat and gently simmer it till it reduces to 8 cups. Remove it from the fire and cool it till tepid warm. Add a pinch of salt. Start heating your oven to reach 300F/150C degrees. 

Switch it off now.
Apply 1/2 cup of ready curd all over the dish, (you wish to use to serve it in), and add another 1/2 cup of curd into the milk, mix well. Gently add all of the warm milk into the bowl. Cover the yogurt with a lid or lightly, do not seal it. Place into the already heated oven which is preheated and shut off. The oven should not be ON at this stage. This should set in 2 1/2 hours. Let it jiggle but not runny. Remove from oven, allow to cool completely before refrigerating.

It is best to use whole milk for a rich flavour.

If your yogurt is a tinge sour it is the starter yogurt that has to be changed. The fresher the "jumun" the more perfect the result.

The perfect dahi should be spoonable without breaking but not thick like mousse. The more you boil down the milk the creamier and heavy it will be.

Optionally add a few drops of vanilla essence to while the milk is cooling down.

For more recipes click on
Niloufer's Kitchen: Quick & Easy

Wednesday, 13 August 2014

Dhun Dar nay Patio( lentils, rice and curry)

Dhun Dar nay Machi Patio
Golden Lentils and Fish Patia

The basic meal of a typical Parsi household on any festive occasion is a trio of rice, lentil and thick curry called Patio; pronounced Pa-tea-O and not a patio. 
It was combined to make it simple, quick and yet special. Healthy, ageless and timeless it continues to be the staple option of menu on any given birthday, navroze or new year globally. Many serve it at a Navjote, Jashan or any auspicious day.
I have shared my family recipe of a delightful fish patio with drumsticks, sekta ni singh. You may omit the drumsticks and enjoy it just as a fish patio.
Optionally there is a choice of a prawn patio or jhinga no patio if you prefer

The Parsi Patio/Patia is a choice of fish or prawn/shrimp and not of any poultry or meats. However a vegetarian version is made up of eggplants and also from the pumpkin or kohru/kadu. A perfect balance of sweet, sour and spice makes it just right. 

The Dar/Lentils
8 ozs  tuar dal/pigeon peas( not oily)
8 ozs red split  masoor dal
¾ tsp turmeric
1 tsp salt
4 oz salted butter

Wash  the lentils and place in a stock pot with 4 cups of water. Add the turmeric and salt to it. Bring to a boil and cook the dal on a medium fire for 40 minutes. The water can be topped if necessary. Add the butter and pulse the lentils to a thick but liquid mash.

The Fish Patia
3 tbsp oil
2 large onions finely chopped
¾ th cup of dried dessicated coconut ground to a paste
2 tsp ground ginger
2 tsp ground garlic
2 finely chopped green chillies
2 whole green chillies
1 tsp red chillie powder
1 ½ tsp ground cumin
½ tsp turmeric powder
¾ cup tomato pureed
2 large tomatoes cut into 3 pieces each
2 raw green mangoes peeled and finely chopped or ground
¾ th cup of fresh coriander leaves finely chopped
10 scraped drumsticks cut into 4 inch pieces
1 ½ tsp salt
1 tbsp jaggery
½ kilo of fresh firm fish like salmon,surmai or cod, haddock or halibut

Heat the oil and fry the onions till golden brown, add the ground  coconut turning all the time till the coconut is very light pink. Immediately add in the ginger garlic and cook for a minute. Add to this the chillies, cumin, turmeric,salt. Cook for a minute and add the tomatoes and the mangoes as well as the coriander leaves.Finally the drumsticks. Add 3 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover and cook for about 1 hour on a medium flame. Check the drumsticks are cooked through and then add  the jaggery mixing well. Finally add the 0 fish for the last 15 minutes. Cook till just done.
The patia should be thickish, spicy and slightly sweet and sour. Add more jaggery or  lemon juice if required.

Serve this with white boiled rice, the dhun dar lentils, and the fish patia as one dish.


The Patia or Patio is also used in reference to a particular kind of pot used as a cooking utensil. It is the actual shape of the vessel  that denotes the name. Wide and flat but with bulging rounded sides is the best way I can describe it. 

The Greek language also refers to a very accomplished woman as a Patia!! It is a girls name which literally translates to highly intelligent and is derived from the word hypatia. Sounds rather interesting?

For more Parsi recipes to serve as a menu click on
 Niloufer's Kitchen: Quick and Easy

Sunday, 10 August 2014

Salted Caramel Ice cream

Salted Caramel Ice cream

The last year has made this particular ice cream more popular than any other. Wherever one turns everything is salted caramel. From  Popcorn to toffee and chocolates. Simply sauces to top waffle or pancake. Home made biscuits and cakes! 
Its a wow for all of us who love the flavour, but can be overly sweet for some no doubt.

On my summer holiday in Boston last year, we had an amazing SCI; ice cream bought from a local store. Since then there has been no turning back and it continues to be my most favourite. I do hope you try this out to enjoy the flavours.

Salted Caramel Ice cream with a topping of dulche de leche

Step 1
In a pan whisk together
4 egg yolks
¾ th  cup sugar
Add to this
1 cup of warm milk

Cook and strain through a fine sieve

Put this on a water bath to cool then and add 4 cups of cream

Step 2
In another pan make the caramel

On a medium high flame melt
1 1/4 cup sugar
Swirl over the heat until beautiful amber coloured.

Remove from the fire and add 1 cup of cream over the caramel; This will splatter so be careful.
Add 2 tsps coarse sea salt
1 tbsp of Tahitian Vanilla
Add the two mixtures together, taste for sweetness and add more cream if desired.
Squeeze the juice of half a fresh lemon or lime
Mix well and chill overnight.

Churn in an ice cream maker and serve while soft.

Caramel will get from light to dark very quickly. Stop when the golden amber colour is achieved else there will be a burnt flavour to the ice cream. To avoid splattering and getting scalded, use a deep pan for making the caramel. A stainless steel pan is always suggested for making caramel.
Use full cream so it tastes as rich as it is supposed to. Do not question the coarse sea salt or the squeeze of lemon and lime. It is the secret to this recipe.
You can use any good Vanilla available to you but I have chosen Tahitian over the others since it has a good flavour.

If you do not have an ice cream maker, semi freeze the mixture, then beat it with hand beaters, or in your food processor or even in a liquidiser. This will churn it for you and remove any crystals. Re freeze in an airtight box. 

For more recipes click on
Niloufer's Kitchen: Autumn

Thursday, 7 August 2014

Vaal ni Dar

Vaal Ni Dar

These beans are called harvested field beans. They are split and dried.
Once they are cooked they have a creamy, nutty and almost bitter yet not unpleasant taste. Besides a variety of spices it is best complemented when cooked with other ingredients like  coconut, jaggery and raw mango. Vaal is restricted to mainly Parsi, Gujarati and some regional  Indian cooking. It is more of a delicacy than a staple.
Yet, strangely enough it is available in most large cities across the globe.


2 tbsp oil
3/4th cup coconut shreds finely ground; desiccated coconut
2 cups Vaal dal, washed and soaked for an hour or two
3 fried crushed onion ( about 400gms/1 lb in weight as raw onion)
2 tsp crushed ginger
2 tsp crushed garlic
1/2 cup tomato, pureed
2 green chilli
1 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 1/2 tsp cumin powder
1 1/2 tsp salt
2 raw peeled mangoes or 1 tsp tamarind paste
3 cups water
2 tbsp jaggery or brown sugar

In a pan heat the oil and add the coconut. Saute` until aromatic and it turns slightly pink.
Add the ginger and garlic all the dry spices and cook for a minute. Add the tomatoes, mangoes and  green chillies and then the  Vaal dal. Top it up with the water and bring it to a boil. Lower the heat, cover the pan and cook until done. It will take an hour or more. 
Once it is ready, add the jaggery or sugar to taste and mix it well.

Serve warm with crusty bread or warm chapatis, some side salad and a wedge of lemon.

The Vaal dal is a speciality and can be an acquired taste.
Soaking it helps cook it faster.
Try not to buy dal that is broken into bits or has black spots or holes in it. That is a sure sign of it being very old and bitter.

This recipe is from over 100 years ago, but now there is a Kashmiri chili paste available in jars that can be substituted for the cumin, red chilli and turmeric powders. Use only 1 1/2 tsp of this in total to replace all 3 of the spices. It can be quite delicious yet slightly different.

To make life simpler grind the coconut after freezing it.

For more Parsi old time recipes from my family archives click on
Niloufer's Kitchen: Quick and Easy