Saturday, October 17, 2009

BHAJA MOOGER DAL ভাজা মুগের ডাল


Raniganj is a small coal town in Eastern India in west Bengal falling in Burdwan district.Every place has its own "smell" and Raniganj is no exception. My memories of Raniganj start with my first visit to "Mamar Badi" as a 14 year old lad and then many subsequent visits during summer holidays. Raniganj had two smells merging into one and giving off that "special smoky aroma" that I always associate with my MAMAR BADI Maternal uncle's house. The first was Anthracite coal smoke and the second was Begun Bhaja being fried on those coal Sigris with dollops of Mustard oil on iron tawa by Masima who stayed plumb next door. Masima was a frail lady of about 40 years. She was cooking Begun bhaja and Bhaja Mooger dal when I first saw her and that impression has always stayed with me.

BHAJA MOOGER DAL ভাজা মুগের ডাল

This is an unique method of preparation of Moong dal which tastes totally different from what we have it in Gujarat and other places. Only south India prepares Moong with rice after frying just like Bengali method. Apart from Raniganj, I loved this dal in a Hyderabad hotel where there was a Bengali cook who would every day prepare this dal for me whenever I visited Hyderabad. This is a recipe from him. I just made a small addition to it. I add Asafoetida in tempering and use of curry leaves.

Bhaja Mooger Dal

Bhaja Mooger Dal

Dal, Begun Bhaja and Rice

Mooger dal, Begun Bhaja and Rice

Ingredients :

Moong dal..... 200 gms
Ghee or oil..... 2 tbsp for frying
Ghee /oil for Tempering 2 tbsp
Red chillies.... 2-3 dried, broken
Shah Jeera....l/2 tsp.
cloves... 5 to 6
Bay leaves)..... 2 Nos
Cumin seeds powder..1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds.....1/4 tsp
Turmeric powder...1/2 tsp
cinnamon - 2 to 3 nos 1" pieces
Ginger- 2tsp shredded.
Asafoetida.....1/4 tsp
Curry leaves..... 1 sprig
Cilantro leaves....A few
Tomatoes (optional) 1 no


Wash Moong dal and strain it. Wipe any excess water with cloth/tissue paper.Spread it over a clean cloth under the fan and let it be completely dry . Dry for at least couple of hours.
Some traditionalists roast Moong dal direct in pan without adding oil or ghee.You may try this method too.

Dry roast or Fry Moong dal in a wok/pan in Ghee/veg. oil till Moong dal becomes golden shaded. DO NOT LET IT IT BECOME BROWN.Set aside.
Prepare other ingredients and arrange them in a plate.
I do not add tomatoes but you may if you like.
Dice tomato in small pieces and keep aside.

Take a pan/Patela and add 600 ml of water to fried dal, add Turmeric powder and set on medium temperature to cook. Keep stirring every two to three minutes to avoid dal sticking to bottom.Replinsh with hot water as and when water volume gets reduced.

If water is hard in your place, the dal should be cooked in a pressure cooker by adding about twice the amount of water of dal volume.
Depending upon the hardness of water, dal will take about twenty to thirty minutes to get cooked on direct heating method and slighly less in pressure cooker. Cook till done but not it should not be mushy. Add tomato pieces and cumin powder at this stage.

Take ghee/oil in a smallish frying pan/Tempering Ladle. Add dry chili peppers and mustard seeds and heat. When mustard starts to crackle, add Shah jeera, cloves, bay leaves and cinnamon sticks and in 5 seconds, add Asafoetida and curry leaves and then pour it over cooked dal.Cover it. Serve after an hour after re heating.Garnish with Cilantro/coriander leaves. It tastes best with Begun Bhaja and Steaming Rice.


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