A Sindhi, fond of food, moving away from home, goes through various stages of food swings. Initial days are hard, trying to adjust to the taste of food different from his palette. Then comes the excitement of trying new food, new cuisines, new tastes. Exploring different restaurants, food joints , takeaways etc., thrills him/her. But soon the novelty wears off, and then begins a new phase of craving simple home made food.

So its like a Sindhi who has just moved abroad, complains and moans about the pathetic food facilities, but having no choice, thrives upon pizza and burger, juices and fruits, and yeah, not to forget Maggie. After burning holes in pockets, eating sandwiches of all sorts, trying local cuisine, surviving on eggs and chicken, pasta and noodles, it's time for a déjà vu , visiting Indian Restaurants to have just a few bites of simple Dal Chaawal (Lentils and Rice), not without cursing the taste and price tag!

That's why Dal Chaawal is considered ultimate comfort food for us, easy to make, easy to digest, satisfying our hunger as well as craving for the simple home made food.

Lentils are known to be tremendously beneficial to our bodies. Combine these with some rice, a vegetable side dish, some salad, a phulka (or roti) and you will get a wholesome, filling meal. The combinations are infinite, the recipes innumerable, the taste unbeatable and the feeling of having this while you are away from home is simply beyond description.

So let's come to the recipe of this much sought after comfort food of ours....

Dal Chawal

Recipe: Dal (Indian Lentil Soup)
Prep & Cooking Time: 30 mins (including time to cook the lentils)
Recipe Level: Basic/Beginner
Serves: 2-3 people
Recipe/Post by: Alka
1 cup Moong Dal/Yellow Split Moong Lentils
2 Tomatoes, finely chopped
3 Green Chillies, finely chopped
1 inch Ginger, peeled and finely chopped
¼ tsp Turmeric Powder/Haldi
Salt as per taste

For Tadka/Tempering:
1 tsp Cumin Seeds/Jeera
6-8 Curry Leaves
1 tbsp Oil (for Tadka/tempering)

Special Utensil:
Pressure Cooker or Heavy bottomed pan

  1. Pick and rinse dal a few times till the water runs clear. Soak for about 15-30 minutes.
  2. In a pressure cooker, mix dal and two cups of water. Let it come to a boil. Discard the scum floating on the surface.
  3. Then add chopped tomatoes, green chillies, ginger, salt, turmeric powder and one more cup of water (The water should be above the level of dal mixture).
  4. Cover the cooker with the lid and wait for 2 whistles.
  5. Whisk the dal when cooked.
  6. Now heat some oil for tempering, add curry leaves and cumin seeds, and allow it to splutter.
  7. Add this seasoning to the dal, mix it, adjust the consistency by adding water and simmer it for few minutes or wait for one whistle, if using a pressure cooker.
  8. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with plain white rice .

Special Notes/Tips:
  • Some prefer to cook this dal in a handi or an open vessel. In that case follow the same method as above, except adding more water, and cooking it on high flame for few minutes. Simmer it till almost cooked, soft and mushy.
  • I added some shallow fried okra(wash, wipe, slit and shallow fry , sprinkle some salt) after dal was done, and let it boil for a minute.

Generally dal-rice is always served with a side dish, which ranges from simple fried and spiced up potatoes, okra, brinjal etc., to healthier options like dry mixed vegetable curry, drumsticks in onion base, gobi aloo etc. This time it was paired with Capsicum and Onion Subji, a simple and tasty side dish, cooked in jiffy.

Capsicum and Onion Subji

Recipe: Capsicum & Onion Subji (Bell Pepper & Onion Stir Fry)
Prep & Cooking Time: Around 15 minutes
Serves: 3-4 People
Recipe Level: Basic/Beginner
Recipe/Post by: Alka

3 Capsicums/Bell Peppers of any colour
2 Onions
2-3 Green Chillies
1 large Tomato
¼ tsp Turmeric Powder/Haldi
½ tsp Coriander Powder
Little less than ¼ tsp Garam Masala Powder(optional)
1 tsp Oil
Salt to taste

  1. Wash and remove pith and seeds of capsicums. Cut these into large chunks. Peel and chop the onions finely.
  2. Heat oil in Kadhai or pan and add onions. Saute it till translucent, about 3 minutes.
  3. Then add chopped tomato and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add capsicum, and all other ingredients and cook on a high heat, taking care not to burn the mixture. You can lower the heat or add few drops of water if the vegetables start to burn and stick to the pan.
  5. Reduce the heat to low and place a lid over the pan. You can also add some weight to facilitate fast cooking.
  6. Sprinkle few drops of water in between if the veggie tends to sticks to the surface.
  7. This veggie does not take much time to cook, as soon as tomato appears to be skinny, its done!
  8. Enjoy a wholesome meal with some Rice, Roti/Phulka, Dal, Papad(popadum), salad etc.

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  1. Parita // 26 June 2009 at 15:05  

    Wow what a delicious and satisfying meal!

  2. Nags // 26 June 2009 at 16:16  

    The spread!! Alka!! It looks mouthwatering! Those mango slices are making me so homesick..

  3. meeso // 27 June 2009 at 00:58  

    Simple can be so delicious, and It's always what we go back to, no matter what else we are exposed to! Both recipes look wonderful :)

  4. bindiya // 27 June 2009 at 09:21  

    Mouthwatering pics!everything looks yummy!

  5. Medhaa // 27 June 2009 at 18:04  

    Hi u are back, love dal chawal anytime. looks great

  6. Pavithra // 28 June 2009 at 00:53  

    Wow that one complete meal in a platter,,so comfort and satisfying meal.. love to have if anyone makes for me...

  7. Divya Vikram // 28 June 2009 at 23:04  

    That is a lovely platter and those pretty mangoes!! Ahh!

  8. Jyoti // 29 June 2009 at 11:52  

    This is simple and so delicious. Just love the way you have presented it!

  9. Hari Chandana // 29 June 2009 at 22:01  

    simple and delicious recipe.. looks gr8

  10. Srivalli // 30 June 2009 at 10:17  

    wow Alka..those are simply toooo yummy!...

  11. egglesscooking // 30 June 2009 at 22:58  

    Truly comforting, Alka.

  12. Indrani // 10 August 2009 at 15:01  

    the whole plate is so lip-smacking, even mango is there...so yummmm, Alka

  13. Renu // 11 August 2009 at 06:55  

    mouthwatering pics......so simple and yet healthy and yummy !