Mawtor dal bhate (Mashed and Spiced Yellow Split Peas)

By Ratna

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Painting  the  landscape  around  my  neighbourhood  can be  a  child’s  play  right  now. Swoosh!  Swoosh!  A  big  stroke  with  Cerulean  blue  and  another  one  with  Cadmium yellow.  The  outline  of  an  old  barn  or  a  grain  silo  in  the  distance  and  you  are  done.  The  Canola  fields  stretching  out  as  far  as  the  eyes  could  see  complimented  the  blue  sky.  This  quite  often  reminds  me  of  the  mustard  fields  in  India.  Travelling  by  car  or  train  in  the  countryside  during  the  winter  months,  the  eyes  see  a  sea  of  yellow.  The  two  are  so  similar  to  look  at,  yet  so  different  in  taste.  Canola  oil  is  bland  while  the  mustard  oil  is  perfectly  capable  of  watering  the  eyes  and  nose.

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Mustard  oil  gives  the  zing  when  added  raw  to  any  food.  In  Bengali  cooking  we  often  take  advantage  of  that  and  make  a  bland  boiled  potato  or  lentil  into  a  delicacy  with  a  punch.

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Growing  up  in  India  those  days,  handwashing  dishes  was  the  norm.  Rendezvous  with  Dish  washer  was  a  later  event.  Summer  holidays  would  mean  taking a  daylong  train  ride  to  my  grandparent’s  home.  Food  was  packed  for  the  journey  in  shiny  stainless  steel  tiffin  carriers.  Food  that  would  not  stale  for  the  length  of  the  journey.

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The   preparation  for  the  journey  used  to  be  as  exciting  as  the  journey  itself.  The  Dhobi  (  Washerman )  was    given  strict  instructions  as  to  when  the  clothings  were  to  be  delivered  by.  A  couple  of  days  allowance  was  always  factored  in,  knowing  all  too  well  that  Ganesh  our  Dhobi  would  always  break  his  promise .

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Ma  used  to  cook  the  Mawtor  Dal  Bhate  often  on  the  day  of  the  travel.  It  cut down  dishwashing  on  the  day  of  the  travel  and  kept  one  satiated  for  a  good  length  of  time.  The  lentils  providing  adequate  protein.  The  added  spices   made  it  so  tasty  that  one  didn’t  miss  other  courses  for  lunch.

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Mawtor  Dal                                          Two  cups

Grated  coconut                                   Two  Tbsps

Salt                                                       To  taste

Mustard  oil                                           One  and  half  tsps.

Red  chillies                                          A  couple,  sliced  thinly

Cilantro                                                Chopped,  one  tsp


Soak  the  dal  overnight.  Grind  it  to  paste  with  minimum  water  next  day.  Cook  rice  in  a  pan.  Let  it  come  to  a  boil.  Make  round  balls,  roughly  the  size  of  golf  ball  with  the  ground  dal.  Slowly  drop  these  balls  one  at  a  time  in  the  same  pan,  waiting  a couple  minutes  in  between . Let  it  cook  with  the  rice.  It  takes  about  fifteen  minutes  for  the  balls  to  be  firm  and  done.  Fish  them  out  of  the  pan  and  place  in  a  separate  bowl.  Add  all  the  other  ingredients.  Mash  them  together.  I  used  a  masher  only  because  it  was  very  hot  to  touch.  Form  into  balls  again.  Enjoy  with  plain  rice.

Inside  Scoop;

All  measurements  can  be  adjusted  to  taste.

The  ground  dal  looked  a  bit  runny,  maybe  I  was  heavy  handed  with  water.  I  used  a  muslin  cloth  to  strain  the  extra  water  out.

I  used Basmati  rice  and  found  that  the  rice  was  a  bit  overdone  for  my  taste   by  the  time  the  dal  balls  were  firm.  Using  either  brown  or  Jasmine  rice  would  be  a  better  idea.

I  did  not  mention  how  many  it  serves.  The  sizes  of  the  dal  balls  are  arbitrary  and  can  easily  be  adjusted  to  need.

2 thoughts on “Mawtor dal bhate (Mashed and Spiced Yellow Split Peas)

  1. A better idea is to cook in the rice water after cooking the rice. That way the rice cooks perfectly and the dal balls too get done.

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