The Dawoodi Bohra cuisine is very unique — in variety and the presentation of food. On special occasions the entire family sits around a huge thaal and eats from one plate. Even after 6 years of being part of the vibrant Bohri community I am as fascinated as I was when I first sat in the thaal during one of my wedding functions. The first food in the mouth is plain salt. Just a pinch of salt, I learned is to clear the palate and activate the taste buds, preparing one for the frenzy of culinary attack that follows.
This year we were blessed to have the entire extended family together for Eid. Me and Sikander were the last ones to join, arriving just the day before Eid, on the last day of Ramadan. In our community, the traditional dinner on the last day of ramadan is a simple daal chawal palita (lentil rice with flour based curry) also called daal chawal palida/ sarki. There is no particular reason, but I guess after a month of fasting and the heavy Iftar food, everyone wants a simple meal. We reached home late evening around 7pm and the warm palita after the 24 hours of flight meal was like heaven. I told my sister-in-law “this by far was the tastiest palita I have had!”.
Daal Chawal Palita is my favourite vegetarian Bohri cuisine food. Spicy and tangy; warm and comforting. It is very simple to cook, but takes time as it needs the lentil, rice and palita to be cooked separately. But they can all be done simultaneously and thus it is faster if there are multiple burners.
Daal Chawal Palita (Lentil Rice with gram flour based curry)
By Ashima Goyal Siraj
Preparation time: |Cooking time: |Serves: 4-5
for the Daal – Chawal (lentil rice)
1 cup basmati rice
1/3 cup toor daal
1/4 cup dried deep fried onions
for the palita
4 tbsp gram flour
1 medium onion, chopped
1 medium tomato, chopped
1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
2-3 green chillies, finely chopped
4-5 pieces of kokum or dried amchoor
2 tsp coriander powder
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 tsp turmeric powder
salt to taste
4 tbsp oil
lemon juice and lemon pickle to serve
- Wash and soak the rice and toor daal separately for about 15-20 minutes.
- In a deep pot, bring 2 cups of water to boil, drain the rice and add it to the boiling water. Add 1/2 tsp salt and 1 tsp oil. Mix well and let it cook on medium heat till the rice is cooked.
- In a separate pot, heat 1 tsp oil, add the soaked and drained daal. Add 1/4th tsp turmeric and 1/4 tsp salt. Add 1 cup water and let it cook on medium flame till the daal is cooked and there is no water. The water added is just enough so that the daal is cooked dry, and not like a regular lentil preparation where it has a lot of water. The daal should not be mushy. If there is excess water drain the daal. You can use this water in cooking palita.
- In a broad platter, layer the rice, daal and sprinkle dried deep fried onions on top. Keep covered while the palita is cooking. You can also keep them in oven on the lowest temperature to keep warm. Some of my aunts cook the rice to 3/4th and then after layering with cooked daal, put the vessel on heat again till the rice is cooked.
- In a pressure cooker, heat 3 tbsp oil. Once the oil is hot, add chopped onions, chillies and ginger garlic paste. Sauté for 5 mins until the onions start to turn soft.
- Add the besan (gram flour) and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
- Add the coriander powder, turmeric powder, red chilli powder and salt. Mix well and after about a minute add about 3 cups of water. The palita is very runny, almost soup like consistency
- Add the chopped tomatoes and kokum/dried amchoor pieces. Close the cooker and pressure cook on high for 2 whistles. Reduce the flame and let it cook on low for 15 minutes.
- After 15 minutes, remove the pressure cooker from heat and let it stand till all the steam has escaped on its own.
- Lightly mix the daal chawal and dried onions and serve with palita on the side.
- Serve yourself first some daal-chawal and then add palita on top. Mix it all up. Add a little lemon juice and/or lemon pickle to taste.