I originally found the recipe for this Toor Dal Pulao in the classic cook book, ‘Vividh Vani’. Written by Meherbai Wadia, this book was published approximately in 1867. Its an absolutely mammoth cookbook crossing two volumes and more than 1500 pages featuring almost 2000 recipes! While the scanned soft copy of this legendary cookbook can be found here, it is a dream of mine to some day be able to transcribe this book and rewrite the recipes for the modern Parsi cooking aficionado.
What can be so hard about it? Well, not only is the book entirely in Gujarati with measurements from the 19th century but it also is written with recipes in alphabetical order which means you find yourself scrolling through hundreds of pages when a recipe refers to another for a particular technique and so on.
In any case, while going through the index a year ago I came across an interesting entry called Toor Dal Pulao which piqued my curiosity.
While most Parsis will have Masala Dal with their Pulao this recipe actually called for whole grains of dal to be mixed in with the rice, almost like a khichdi of sorts. The original recipe was also surprisingly, vegetarian and when I made it following the instructions exactly, I found it to be a bit too simple.
I liked the idea of the Toor Dal Pulao too much to abandon it there and hence experimented with various things over the month. My recipe below has quite a few tweaks like the addition of kheema kebabs which all Parsis love as well as heavy lashings of cream and ghee to give the rice a nice flavour. Since most of us also like our Pulao’s to be a bit moist I created a cucumber and curryleaf raita to go with it which helps to cut through the richness. While my recipe calls for kheema kebabs, I have also replaced these with Kera na Kebab for my vegetarian clients and its been a bit hit.
Do try it out for your next party and let me know your thoughts!
Toor Dal Pulao
- 500 gram long grain rice
- 2 star anise
- 2 cloves
- 4 green cardamom
- 1 tsp salt
- 200 gram toor dal
- 1 tsp salt
- 1 tsp turmeric powder
- 300 gram mutton or lamb kheema
- 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
- 0.5 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 tsp red chilli powder
- 0.5 tsp garam masala powder
- 0.5 onion, diced
- 2 eggs
- 1 cup coriander
- 1 cup mint
- 2 spicy green chillies
- breadcrumbs to bind
- salt to taste
- oil for deep frying
- 100 gram fried onion (birista)
- 100 gram fried cashews
- 200 ml fresh cream
- 120 gram ghee
- 200 gram thick yogurt
- 2 tbsp ghee
- 0.5 tsp black mustard seeds
- 1 cucumber, diced
- 6 curry leaves
- 0.5 tsp salt
- 0.5 tsp dhana jeera powder
- Wash the rice and soak for 15 minutes.
- Cook the rice with the cloves, cardamom and star anise in excess water for about 20 minutes or until just done. Strain out the water and set aside.
- Wash the mince and drain out all the water.
- Add in all the spices, herbs and onion. Mix well.
- Add in the breadcrumbs, salt and eggs to form a thick kebab mix. Try to add as little breadcrumb as possible.
- Form into small cocktail sized balls and deep fry. In addition to this pulao these kebabs can also be used in a variety of other Parsi dishes!
- Soak the toor dal for approximately one hour.
- Take some boiling water in a saucepan. Add in the salt and turmeric powder as well as the toor dal.
- Without covering, cook until the toor dal is just cooked. The lentil should remain whole and have a slight bite to it - it must not disintegrate when touched like other Parsi dals.
- In a small pan, heat the ghee until sizzling.
- Add in the curry leaves, mustard seeds and dhana jeera powder. Mix for about 2 minutes until the leaves turn dark and the masala is cooked. Switch off the heat.
- Mix the diced cucumber with the yogurt. Add in the curry leaf tadka and mix well. Chill and serve with the pulao.
- Remove the cream, whisk with a fork and set aside.
- In a heavy bottomed pan or baking dish, add some ghee. Layer some rice, then the dal and the kebabs.
- Add about 1 - 2 teaspoons of the cream, the birista and the cashew. Top this with some more ghee.
- Repeat layers of rice, dal, kebabs, birista, cashew and cream until you reach the top. Garnish with cream and cashews. Cover your dish with foil.
- When about to serve you can seal the pan with a heavy lid place the pan on a tawa and warm it for 15 - 20 minutes until the steam combines the flavours. Alternatively you can also cover your baking dish with foil and warm this in the oven for a similar amount of time.
- Serve hot with the cucumber & curry leaf raita.