Rajasthani Panchmel Dal

Rajasthani Panchmel Dal

My weekends are usually brimming over with chores big and small, but this weekend– or at least this Saturday– I have swept my calendar clean for the event of a lifetime: Jon Stewart and Stephen Colbert’s Rally to Restore Sanity and/or Fear.

DC is a pretty exciting city year-round, overrun with events you can’t wait to go to and some you wish you never heard of. This is, after all, the nation’s capital and every voice, big or small, wants to be heard here. As a reporter I often covered these events and became blase enough to the point where now, if I hear of something interesting, my excitement never manages to break past my phobia of traveling in the suffocating crush of a Metro train at the end of the event.

But this time I’m psyched enough to brave it all. Desi and I have been counting the days and it’s not just us. Rarely has an event generated the sort of buzz in this very political city as this one has. Stewart has been broadcasting his show live from DC each night this week and there have been serpentine lines each day to get tickets. Everyone I know is going to the rally and almost everyone has relatives or friends coming in from out of town to attend.

I can’t wait!!!

I’ll be telling you all about it after. Meanwhile, our camera’s back in circulation and I finally have a wonderful recipe I can’t wait to share.

A good friend, Michael, recently wrote to ask me if I would try to post more curry recipes that are really low-fat and healthy. As most of you who read this blog know, I try to cook healthy and low-fat almost all the time. But there is always room for improvement and I do agree there are times when I can’t help but add a smidgen (or more) of coconut milk which– although not bad for you– is of course high in fat.

This dal, from Rajasthan along the west coast of India, seemed perfect because not only did I need the tiniest amount of oil– 1 teaspoon for a dal that would easily serve eight people or even more– but you can even omit it entirely and saute the ginger and garlic paste in water. By that I mean add your ginger-garlic paste to a dry skillet, add a couple of tablespoons of water, and stir-cook them until they just start to turn brown.

I snagged this recipe off Sanjeev Kapoor’s website and what sold me was the fact that he uses five different kinds of lentils: tuvar dal, udad dal, chana dal, whole mung, and whole masoor. Yum.

So here you go: a low-fat and healthy recipe that will have you licking your fingers until every last drop is gone.

Rajasthani Panchmel Dal


Low-Fat Rajasthani Panchmel Dal
Recipe type: Side
Cuisine: Indian
Serves: 8
  • ¼ cup tuvar dal
  • ¼ cup udad dal
  • ¼ cup chana dal
  • ¼ cup whole masoor
  • ¼ cup whole mung
  • 1 tsp vegetable oil, like canola
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 5 cloves (laung)
  • 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
  • A generous pinch of asafetida (hing)
  • 2 tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder, like paprika
  • 2 broken dry, red chillies (optional)
  • Salt to taste
  • ¼ cup finely chopped coriander leaves
  1. Soak all the lentils in enough water to cover by at least two inches, for a couple of hours.
  2. Drain the lentils and then add three cups of water, turmeric and some salt. Cook, covered, on the stove or in a pressure cooker until tender. If you are cooking on the stovetop, be sure to monitor the water level as the dal cooks because you don't want it all to evaporate and your dal to burn. Add more water if needed.
  3. Heat the oil in a saucepan. Add the cloves, asafetida, cumin seeds and broken red chillies.
  4. When the cumin sputters, add the ginger-garlic paste and cook, stirring, until it just begins to change color.
  5. Add the cumin, coriander and chilli powders. Stir to mix, then add the tomatoes.
  6. Cook, stirring, until the tomatoes break down.
  7. Add the dal and let it come to a boil. Add water if the dal is too thick. Once it's boiled, lower the flame and let it simmer around 10 minutes.
  8. Add more salt, if needed, and garnish with coriander leaves.
  9. Serve piping hot with rice or rotis.

Yearning for more food from the land of multi-hued peacocks and age-old palaces? Try my Peas and Carrot Subzi with Rajasthani Spices and Missi Roti.


And finally, a little after-dinner treat: my very pensive, very thoughtful, very couch-potatoey Opie. He’s a tad out of focus, but he still looks awfully cute, doesn’t he?
Perfect Opie

(C) All recipes and photographs copyright of Holy Cow! Vegan Recipes.

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  1. says

    That DOES look good, Vaishali!! And your kadai looks even better!! :0) Is it brand new?! I would NEVER be able to shoot with food in my kadai…. its horrendous from over-use!! :0PP

  2. says

    Happy, thanks. He really is a cutie, isn’t he? :)

    Priya, yes it would be heavenly with some rice and papad and maybe a little mango pickle? :)

    VegSpinz, they are the best!

    Shilpa, how wonderful. It’s supposed to be a lovely, sunny day too albeit a bit on the colder side at 60 degrees. So if you’re driving in from the warmer south, be sure to pack some sweaters.

    Harini-Jaya, Thanks!

    Shilpa, this is just my decorative kadhai :) –definitely not the one I cook in. Actually it’s a small one– just about five inches across, and rather cute.

  3. Samarpita says

    I agree that this dal is very very tasty. Infact I love it best when it is boiling. It gives off such an amazing smell.

  4. says

    I love this recipe of Sanjeev Kapoor’s….its just so creamy and delicious with all those flavours mingling!

    Have you tried ajwain or saunf in the tadka? it really lifts the dal!

  5. David says

    hello, can you please tell me how many cups of water and how many whistles I should cook the Rajasthani dal in the pressure cooker?



    • says

      Hi David, I have a “non-whistling” pressure cooker so I am always reluctant to give advice on this, since pressure cookers vary so much. That said, the general rule of thumb is about 3 cups of water for each cup of dal, and four whistles on medium heat. Hope that helps.

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