Saadha Varan literally means simple daal. This daal is the most basic component of an Indian meal, especially a Maharashtrian meal. A traditional Marathi meal starts with plain rice and this daal, served with ghee and lemon.
#30daysofdaal is going strong here at kamalkitchen.com. If you are just joining us, I urge you to check out other fabulous daal recipes in this series. I have embarked on this project to reintroduce a daily dose of daal in my diet. Daal, which is generally made from some kinds of lentils is a vital source of protein in a vegetarian Indian meal. It has firm place next to the roti, vegetables, rice and salad.
In Marathi tradition, there is a certain way a meal is served on the plate. And then there is a certain sequence in which every item is served. Kerala Blog Express really highlighted the cuisine of Kerala among other aspects of the state, and the blogosphere and social media were flooded with images of a Kerala Sadya meal served on a banana leaf. Well, I wish our Maharashtra Tourism does something similar to popularize the cuisine of Maharashtra. We have plenty of cultural and geographical diversity and a wide variety to offer in terms of cuisine.
So anyway, the meal starts with something as simple as this plain daal and rice. A spoonful of ghee is a must and then a wedge of lemon is squeezed over the daal/ rice to liven up the simple flavors. This course is followed by masalebhat or spiced rice, then roti or puri, various vegetables and the meal ends with rice and curd.
When I was younger I used to love wedding feasts because they always served food in this sequence. I grew up considering white rice as an enemy and so it became more and more attractive to me. Being sick with fever or a cold meant I could beg for this simple daal-rice meal and get away with it.
There is a certain way of serving this rice, and I have tried to portray this in an artsy way. LOL. As I was plating this dish today, I remember how I sometimes (when I was being particularly difficult) used to insist my granny went through the extra steps of putting the rice in a mould and serving it like this. And I realized it is probably the Indian equivalent of cutting a grilled cheese sandwich in fancy shapes. So moms the world over go that extra mile in pacifying their kids, sometimes to quell a tantrum, sometimes to see them smile. Kids think up similar ways to make grownups pander to them.
Human nature largely remains the same wherever you go in the world.
This daal recipe would not deserve the moniker of saadha or simple if it had too many ingredients. Actually, even the jaggery and hing I am adding here is not common through the state. It is a peculiarity of my mom’s family but my dad totally doesn’t care for adding even a pinch of anything sweet here.
Maharashtrian Plain Daal Recipe – Saadha VaraN
- 1 cup toor daal
- 1 Tbsp turmeric ground
- ¼ tsp hing or Asafoetida
- 1 Tbsp jaggery or brown sugar
- Salt to taste
- Cook toor daal with turmeric in a pressure cooker for three whistles and 15 minutes steam on low flame. Do not hurry the pressure afterwards too because we want the daal to be soft and well cooked.
- Churn or whisk cooked daal and add jaggery, hing and salt.
- Heat on low flame and simmer until it is creamy and has desired thickness.
- I would add some water to thin it out and then simmer for a while.
- Serve hot with rice, ghee and freshly squeezed lemon juice.
Saadha Varan is as simple as Marathi food can get. This is a super simple recipe and the foundation of a traditional Maharashtrian meal.