Kalai Daal, probably pronounced as Kolai Daal comes from Bengal.
It has been a pretty busy day. I actually woke up early, went for a Yoga Day celebration and also blogged about it. I wrote another post on the Indonesian Food Festival at the Westin but don’t worry. I haven’t forgotten today’s daal.
As #30daysofdaal progresses, I have almost exhausted my own family recipes and well known Maharashtrian recipes. Now I have to dig deeper to bring you daal recipes from other regions of India. Of course this wasn’t the plan. I wanted to mix up the different regions rather than do a bunch from just one. But the logistics of sourcing my recipe ingredients, grocery shopping etc. created its own particular order, and hence the daily recipes are dictated by what’s fresh in the fridge and what’s stocked in the pantry.
I am a big fan of Bengali cuisine inspite of being vegetarian. Funnily enough, I hadn’t tasted a lot of Bengali food when I ate fish. It was only after becoming a vegetarian that I fell in love with Panch Phoran. Go figure!
I have already blogged about my favorite Aloo Poshto and Bengali Green Peas Kachori here. Although the photos are from my bad photo days, the recipes are tried and tested and yum. You must try them sometime.
So onward march to today’s daal. White Urad daal is generally designated as Idli-Dosa daal or South Indian daal in our family. I was intrigued to learn that there is a favorite Bengali dish that uses this split white urad daal. The recipe is pretty simple with a ginger and fennel seed paste (ada mouri bata) and green chillies for seasoning and flavor. And that is it.
You know how much I love simple recipes so I was hooked on the concept of this Biuli Daal or Kalai Daal the moment I read about it.
I did or do have an outstanding question on whether turmeric should be added here. I checked on the Web and as always there are many versions. Some people don’t have turmeric as an ingredient but their daal looks yellow. Some don’t and their daal looks a weird greenish brown. This offbeat color seemed more authentic because it seemed to be the color of the spice paste and I decided to go with a no turmeric version. Turmeric actually has a strong taste and it will add a different level of complexity which I can do without.
The white urad daal is pressure cooked. Some people recommend roasting it before cooking to get rid of the sticky texture. Well sticky or creamy is relative! For today, I have omitted the roasting step and just gone ahead with cooking the daal.
I used mustard oil. This was the first time I used it, I think, although the family uses it for fish etc. I let the oil smoke and then added the paste. The whole aroma was out of this world, and nothing I have whiffed before.
Kalai Daal or Biuli Daal is served with Aloo Poshto, a spicy and creamy potato curry in poppy seed sauce.
Kalai Daal or Biuli Daal – Bengali Recipe
- 1 cup white urad daal
- 2 inch ginger root
- 2 Tbsp fennel seeds
- 2 green chillies – jalapeno or Serrano
- 3 Tbsp mustard oil or canola oil
- 2 tsp sugar
- Salt to taste
- Cook urad daal in pressure cooker.
- Soak the fennel seeds in hot water for some time, and then grind to a paste.
- Heat oil in a wok and let it start smoking.
- Add chopped green chillies and the spice paste.
- Fry until aromatic and oil leaves the sides.
- Add a bit of water to prevent sticking and fry the spices for 5-10 minutes.
- Now add the daal and 2-3 cups of water.
- Add salt and sugar and bring to a boil.
- Simmer while stirring. The daal is sticky and will easily stick to the pot.
Serve hot with rice and Aloo Poshto as a fantastic Bengali meal. Maybe watch Byomkesh Bakshi while enjoying this treat from Bengal?
Hope you enjoy this simple vegan recipe.