Paandhra Varan aka ‘No Turmeric’ dal

Dal without any turmeric is inconceivable, yet here is proof that it can be equally delectable.

One from the Goan side of the family this time.  It remains a firm childhood favourite and still features on the request list for aai during my visits home.

Simple ingredients complement the simple looks of this dal. Don’t be deceived though – the chilli and garlic can pack a mean punch!

It’s best paired with rotis, along with a plain-ish side that won’t distract you from the taste of this dal.

Paandhra varan aka No Turmeric Dal


3 fistfuls of moong dal, 1 per person (approx 3/4 cup)

1-2 green chillies, slit in half

4-5 pods of garlic, slivered

1/4 cup coconut milk

3 + 1 tablespoons oil*

1 onion, finely sliced ( OR 3-4 tablespoons of fried onions)

salt, to taste


  1. Wash and soak the moong dal in warm water for about an hour.
  2. Pressure cook or boil, till mushy.
  3. In the meanwhile, take a thick bottomed pan and heat 3 tablespoons of oil.  Fry the sliced onion till it is nicely caramelised and crispy.
  4. Drain the onions on a paper towel and keep aside for later.
  5. In the same pan, add the remaining 1 tablespoons of oil and heat it.
  6. Add the green chillies and let them sizzle.
  7. Next add the garlic to the hot oil but don’t let the slivers brown. Reduce the heat and swirl them around the pan for a couple of minutes until the oil is seasoned with the chillies and garlic.
  8. Your pressure cooker should be cool enough to be opened, by now. Mash the moong dal until it is pasty. Add a little water, if required. What you are aiming for is the consistency of porridge.
  9. Now add this dal to the pan with chillies and garlic. Cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes. Moong dal tends to thicken easily so add a little water, at this stage, if you need to.
  10. Season with salt.
  11. Now add in the coconut milk and simmer for another 5-7 minutes on low heat, stirring often to prevent the dal from turning lumpy.
  12. Give it a final swirl and turn off the heat. Add the fried onions.
  13. Serve immediately.

If you are making the dal in advance, add the onions as garnish, just before you eat. This will ensure that they add a lovely texture to the otherwise smooth dal.

I like to add them to the dal about 10 mins ahead of serving, like mum does, so the dal soaks in the flavours of the caramelised onions.

Serve with hot rotis. I like to eat this with some potatoes, but then, of course, I would!

This is certainly an unusual dal and it certainly lifts the spirits and the mood.

Bon apetit!

About The Weekend Baker

Weekend baker, Yoga enthusiast, curious cook, collector of cookbooks and traditional recipes. Stop by and say Hello!
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