Thursday, April 3, 2014

Bootor Dali (Chana Dal, Bengal Gram Dal)

Today I am posting a recipe from Assam. Everyday this month I will post a recipe from a different state in India.


Assam is the largest of the north eastern states of India. It is a beautiful state. I vaguely remember the plane ride to and from Tejpur from a trip we took when I was 8 or 9 years old. The vast expanse of the river Bramhaputra is something I will always remember.

Assam is known the world over for its tea plantations. I remember as a child my parents bringing home a variety of local brews from our trip. I have never been fond of tea or coffee so I do not know what it tasted like but it smelled heavenly.

Assam has a large heritage of hand looms and other cottage industry. My mother had brought home a mekhala or Assamese sari. We used to wear it when we played dress-up. It had a round ankle length skirt that was tucked over an underskirt. There was a matching long scarf that was draped around the body and over the shoulder. Both pieces were decorated with delicate needle work.

A few years later my father had to visit Dibrugarh often for work. Dibrugarh is a city on the banks of Bramhaputra and is a vast plain formed by the river. With yearly rainfall around 200 cm and Bramhaputra threatening to spill over its banks the houses in this city that are located by the river are built on stilts.

The recipe I chose for this state is called bootor dali which literally means chana dal. I found it on the blog written by Sunita Bhuyan. Sunita is from Assam and though she has not blogged for a while her blog is very interesting. Do visit her and look around.


This is an everyday recipe in Assamese households. It is a simple but tasty dal preparation that brings out the flavor of channa dal. A little Masoor dal is added to this dish as it cooks quicker than the chana dal and helps thicken it.

Channa dal is one of the more flavorful dals so I expected this dish to be tasty. I add channa dal to my every day dal when I feel like I want a change. But since I do not use onions, ginger or garlic in my every day cooking I never cook dal this way. This dish was so flavorful it took us completely by surprise. I will be making this again.

I made this dal almost dry without gravy so I could serve it as a side dish. You may keep more liquid if you wish.

You will need
1 cup chana dal
1/4 cup masoor dal
1/2 onion, minced
1 Serrano pepper, deseeded and minced
1 tsp. cumin powder
1 tsp. ginger garlic paste
1 tsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. jaggery or sugar
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1 bay leaf
1 tbsp. olive oil
a bunch cilantro, chopped, divided
salt to taste

Wash the chana dal and masoor dal, drain the water and keep aside.


Heat oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds and bay leaf to it. When the seeds change color add the onion, ginger garlic paste, pepper and turmeric powder to it. Saute until the onion is cooked. Add a little water if needed.


Add jaggery or sugar and mix well. Add the chana and masoor dal to the pan. Cook the dals for a few minutes until the mixture comes together. It should take no more than 7-10 minutes.


Add enough water to completely cover the dals and then a quarter cup more. Bring it to a boil. Transfer the contents to a pressure cooker. In my pressure cooker I place the weight when the steam starts to escape and leave it on high heat for 10 minutes. Turn off the heat and let the pressure drop. This is equivalent to three whistles. Transfer the contents back to the pan.


If the dal is too dry then add a little water. Bring it to a boil on medium heat. Season with salt and add most of the cilantro. Let it simmer for another 2-3 minutes. Turn off the heat, garnish with remaining cilantro and serve hot with poli or parathas.


This is my entry for day 3 of BM #39 for the state of Assam. Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM#39.









22 comments:

  1. Thick channadal looks fingerlicking, a nutritious side dish for rotis..

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  2. super comforting dal and roti.. enjoyed reading the stories around Assam

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  3. Such a comforting and delicious dhal..perfect with rotis.

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  4. wow thats an super inviting bootar dal there :) make me hungry now !!!

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  5. nice combination of flavors and simple recipe hence doable, good choice

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  6. Such a delicious dal preparation! Lovely....

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  7. Comforting dal indeed. I haven't tried combining both these dals. Shall try next time.

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  8. Simple and comforting dal!!! good to read your stories about these places!!

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  9. That is a comforting and delicious dal.

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  10. Perfect for rotis. Looks so inviting..

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  11. That's surely one healthy dal combination Varada..very nicely done..It's always so wonderful to read about our childhood memories right..thanks for sharing..

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  12. You cook no onion or garlic everyday? How can you? Wow I need to dig your cooking a lot more. As for this dal its delicious.

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  13. Perfect combo with chapathi..So simple and easy to make..

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  14. Such a lovely combo of dals! Looks really good..

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  15. I made the same daal and we all loved it..your version looks great too...

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  16. Nice way to make this dal dish.It was nice to read your childhood memories :)

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  17. Daal looks delicious. It is nice to read about your childhood memories associated with the state.

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