Dhungar Daal


dhungar daal .JPG

Good news is that on my birthday, darling husband has got me a lightbox for food photography.  I had to inaugurate it. And so, decided on making the Dilliwalas soul food, Dhungar Daal.

Childhood memories of innumerable Punjabi meals were imprinted in my tummy. And I could never figure why I could not replicate the taste in my kitchen . Till I chanced upon the secret – using a burning coal to smoke your dish-The Dhungar Method .

I started with washing, soaking and  pressure cooking Arahar Daal and Moong daal in equal measure. In today’s case, 1 small bowl each, seasoned with salt and turmeric and pressure cooked  to 3 whistles.

I chopped an onion, two tomatoes, and 4-5 green chillies, grated a knob of ginger  and finally chopped cilantro to garnish at the end. In a deep pan or earthen cooking pot, I added 1 teaspoon of mustard oil and once the oil was screaming hot, I added a pinch heeng, followed closely by onions.  As the onions became transparent on high flame, I added Ginger and stirred continuously.  Soon as the onions starts sticking to the pan bottom, its time to add green chillies and tomatoes. Fry on slow flame till it starts leaving oil. Add 1 tbsp of red chilly powder, 1 tbsp of coriander, 1tsp turmeric powder, 1/2 tsp garam masala, salt to taste and 4 tbsp  of  kasuri methi and fry till the masala is cooked.  To this I added the already boiled daal and cooked till the masala and daal homogenises (approximately 10 mins. Add boiling water to this mix if the daal seems too thick. However, this daal is of a thicker consistency. Once the daal is cooked, I poured it into a serving bowl as the tadka and Dhungar will be poured directly onto this

On a separate flame, I burnt a piece of natural or wood coal till its a shining ember. This Dhungar coal smoking method takes a bit of time, so simultaneously, in a tadka kadahi, I added 2 tbsp ghee. On heating, I added 1tsp jeera, 2 tsp heeng and 3 whole red chillies. When golden brown, I poured this tadka over the cooked daal. By now, if the coal is ready, put it in a steel/ceramic bowl, pour 1/2tsp ghee on it and instantly place the bowl lightly on top of the daal. Cover this serving bowl with a heavy lid so none of the Dhungar smoke escapes. Let it infuse in the daal for ten minutes and your Dhungar Daal is ready to relish. Take the bowl of coal out and pour the ghee that was in it, onto the daal. Garnish with cilantro . I serve  with roti, naan, baqarkhani kulcha or rice. Lunch saw me eating this with rotis, accomapanied with Black Pomfret Cutlets (Meghna’s recipe, coming up soon) and hari chutney



*Dilliwalas – A sentimental, greedy state of being, experienced by resident and Diasporic people of Delhi

*Arhar Daal – Split Red gram lentil

*Moong Daal – Split Green gram lentil

*Tadka – Tempering

*Ghee – Clarified butter 

*Garam Masala – Ground spices

*Kasuri Methi – dried fenugreek leaves

*Kadahi – Pan

*Jeera – Cumin

*Heeng – Asafoetida

*Roti, naan, baqarkhani kulcha – Kinds of Indian Bread

*Hari Chutney – Mint or Cilantro dip




One thought on “Dhungar Daal

  1. This made me salivate as I read….stomach is still making funny sounds…i’m Sure this smoking method can be used in many more recipes…and yes the fish cake recipe should acknowledge its rightful maker, my mother!

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