Varan (Dal) Recipe

Varan (Dal) Recipe
For any true Maharashtrian, Varan Bhath (dal & rice) evokes wonderful – even nostalgic, childhood memories. It is the absolute, quintessential Maharashtrian comfort food – hands down. Varan is so simple and so easy to make, it is basically just toor dal (split and skinned yellow pigeon peas) gently simmered until smooth and creamy. Bhath is the Marathi word for cooked rice. Together, the combination is a delicious match made in heaven. Varan bhath is not only a young child’s first food, it is also served at any celebration, festival and even weddings! It is truly that important to our childhood and Maharashtrian culture. Even today, my father eats varan bhath every night at dinner – it is a necessary requirement ☺.

Toor dal (also known as arhar dal) is an important staple in the Indian diet, especially in Maharashtra – where it is the dal of choice. Toor dal is healthy, nutritious and an excellent source of protein. This dal also cooks in a snap especially when using a pressure cooker but can just as easily be cooked on the stovetop.

The pressure cooker is absolutely indispensable in the Indian kitchen. It cooks dals, beans, lentils, vegetables, rice, chicken and lamb in mere minutes (as opposed to hours). The result is a fully cooked and tender final product that is cooked by a fast and healthy method. Pressure cookers can be a little intimidating at first, but I highly recommend using one especially for Indian meals. Pressure cookers will make your life easier and are a wonderful time saver. The newer modern pressure cookers are inexpensive and much safer to use. They are also easily available in most home and kitchen appliance stores.

VARAN BHATH (Maharashtrian Dal with rice)


1½ cups cup toor dal (split and skinned yellow pigeon peas)
½ tsp turmeric (haldi)
pinch of asafetida (hing)
salt, to taste
juice of ½ small lemon
ghee (clarified butter)
fresh lemon wedges


If you using a pressure cooker, cook the dal along with a small pinch of turmeric. The dal should be completely tender. Alternatively, you can also cook the dal on the stovetop. If you are cooking the dal on the stovetop, add the pinch of turmeric & enough water to cover. The dal should be completely tender & fully cooked. Then, using the back of a large spoon or ladle, slightly mash the dal against the sides of the pot. This will give you a nice creamy consistency. Lastly, add the hing and lemon juice. Bring to a gentle boil and serve hot with fragrant Basmati rice, a nice dollop of ghee and a squeeze of lemon. Eat, enjoy and repeat ☺.

Varan BOL photo 804492f9-7903-4161-ae58-51b04907d07d.jpg

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