What’s in a name? A lot!

Have you ever wondered how much a name of a dish affects the “appetite”? Well, I have! And I have found out that it does affect me, at least, a lot. Even before you make yourself taste it, it is your brain that prepares your tongue to taste that morsel, isn’t it!

For me, it is always the words- the name first- that prepare my mind for it even before the eyes see it. Ah, the name suggests how it would be -the imagery. Does the bring the imagery of a royal household ? Or does it bring in front of your eyes lush green fields or waterfalls or a sea side? Or does it remind you of a “dhaba”, the rustic simplicity, and the radio playing on in the background? Or does it remind you of watching your beloved gobble down a dish? The name of the dish HAS to evoke emotions! After all, food is basically manifestation of emotion! Think again, of the names of the dishes that you have eaten simply because their names made you curious and eager to try them out!

I still remember, long ago, I was just probably into my college freshman or sophomore year, when I had the chance to visit Udaipur. And there I came to know of a sweet -‘Dilbar-jaan! It was just some sweet boondi in sugar syrup with rose petals and all (unnecessary) paraphernalia. And yet after decades, it lingers on my mind, bringing out the same romantic smile of a dreamy 17 year old, then! In my opinion, nobody names them like people in the North of India. They are simply the best! While we, the people from Maharashtra are worst. No romancing the words,here. In fact some of the tastiest of the dishes have some horrible names!

So, today, let me take you through a recipe which is a common comfort food across India. As promised, it won’t have more than 3 to 5 ingredients and it would just be your pantry staples. The dish that I am talking of is what colloquially we- most of Indians say the essential for what mankind keeps running around- the “daal-roti“! (Yeah for many it is daal-chawal– lentils and rice) So, this is essentially a one dish meal, where pieces of roti – the daily flat bread in most Indian households. are dunked in the daal– boiled lentils. Simple enough? Yeah! It is a classic combination where the proteins are complemented with the carbohydrates. It comes in as many variations as Indian diversity. (Observe the diversity in the names as well)

So, in parts of Maharashtra it is called – “varanfal” – we come straight to the point! There is varan– the boiled lentils and there is fal– the pieces of roti. It is also called as chakolya in some other parts. The people of Gujarat call it “daal-dhokli“- a little diversion there- the daal is straight to the point while the dhokli could be because the flour of the roti pieces may contain gram flour – a major ingredient of another popular dish- dhokla. Maybe. I am not sure. The daal– the lentils- also show significant variety from being simple, plain boiled just with salt to addition of spices, tamarind and jaggery.

And if you are thinking “this seems to be a cousin of the pasta!” Well, yes! Seems like! Didn’t I say that the basic food is more or less the same all over the world? The difference is instead of daal, it is the pasta sauce.

But what steals the show is what the dish is called in north India. It is called “daal ki dulhan” ! Look at the way it raises your curiosity! Which one of the three – the varanfal, the daaldhokli or the daal ki dulhan– would catch your attention if not fancy! For me, it is daal ki dulhan!

So, here we go with the recipe. I saw this recipe on Chef Ranvir Brar’s channel for the first time. That is when I heard the name, it aroused my curiosity and compelled me to try out and blog!

Boil the daal that you prefer. I prefer a mix of arhar or tuver daal, moong daal and masoor daal. Add a teeny weeny spoonful of vegetable oil or ghee, a pinch of turmeric, a pinch of asafoetida- the hing, and boil till well cooked and easily mashed. I prefer the pressure cooker. The oil will help it to cook faster and smoother.

While the daal gets ready, get your roti dough ready. Yeah the normal roti/chapati dough. Nothing special. The whole wheat or the multigrain. Whatever you use daily. And then get going to make your dulhan out of the roti dough. Make small roundels -like you make puris, and pinch from both sides. You may want to use a drop of water or milk to seal the closed ends. I didn’t quite feel the need to. Remember the flours that we use are different, so do what feels right. Make cute shapes. Doesn’t matter if they don’t come out dainty.

Now, give a nice and simple tadka- the tempering to the daal. nothing fancy. A nice dollop of ghee. Add jeera, hing, green chillies and turmeric. Add the boiled daal and some water. Adjust the salt. NO onion, no tomatoes, no other masalas. Just keep it simple. And then, when this simple and yet aromatic daal starts boiling, lower the flame and allow those cute shapes of rotis in! Allow them to swim in the daal to their heart’s content. Keep the flame low and allow the roti to cook. Should take around 5 minutes. Cook with your heart and you will know. Just like love. You simply know when it is just right!

That’s it! Serve your daal ki dulhan piping hot! Add a extra dollop of ghee. Comfort food. Complete food. Simple Food.

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