Friday, 8 July 2016

Fruits of labour

Fruits of labour

You shall eat the fruit of the labour of your hands; you shall be blessed, and it shall be well with you. (Psalm 128:2)

I can never make a potful of varanphal without remembering this psalm. Not only does the idea of “fruit” echo with this Marathi dish with such a quaint name (varan as in a daal lentil soup and phal as in fruit), but it also resounds with the same feeling of blessedness.

The psalm describes the blessedness of the virtuous, who enjoy the fruit of their past labours in the present, and are also assured of their future welfare.

In the same vein, varanphal is made in my family usually when we are back after a long, hard day at work when we need a hearty and wholesome meal quickly.

The blessedness comes from the righteous feeling of having put in an honest day’s work. It comes from the pleasure of tucking into a bowlful of hot varanphal topped with some ghee toop or phodni when you are cold, hungry and tired.

The height of bliss is when you feel the warm, silky phals sliding effortlessly down your throat and into your gut and lasts their whole evening, fortifying you for the morrow when another hard day awaits you.

Varanphal (Dal Dhokli or Chakoli) 

This dish is comforting in more ways than one! It saves you the hassle of making a full meal by incorporating dal, roti and subzi -all in one.

You can even make this using pasta, as I have, with lasagne sheets or even short cut pastas like macaroni.

1 cup well cooked toor dal (or masoor)
A ball of firm dough, made with atta salt and a little ajwain/oregano – enough to make 7-8 rotis
1½ cups mixed vegetables evenly cut- carrots, beans, potatoes, pumpkin, eggplant, peas
1 medium onion, chopped
½ cup raw peanuts
¾ cup chopped tomatoes
1 tsp lemon juice or tamarind extract as per taste
1 tbsp sugar or gur or suitable amounts of sweetener
1 tsp Garam Masala, Goda Masala or Sambar masala
Red Chilly powder to taste
3 tbsp oil
1 tsp mustard seeds
A pinch of hing
7-8 curry leaves
2 tablespoons chopped coriander to garnish
1 tbsp grated coconut (fresh or desiccated)
Topping - extra oil for tadka or ghee


In a large thick bottomed pot, heat the oil and add the mustard seeds to splutter. Add the onions and curry leaves and cook for a minute or so, then add the vegetables and the tomatoes a minute later.

Let the vegetables sauté for a few minutes and add the garam masala/sambar masala/goda masala, hing, chilly powder. Mash the cooked dal and add it to this mixture and add about 4 cups water. Let the dal boil for some time and add the salt, lemon/tamarind juice and sugar/gur and let the dal simmer.

Roll out a large chapati and cut it into 2 inch squares (or any bite size shapes) with a knife or a fluted pastry cutter.

Drop these pieces into the boiling dal, making sure they don’t stick to each other. This daal needs to be fairly thin and watery, as the dough pieces are going to thicken it. The varanphal also thickens on keeping.

Mix once, making sure the pieces do not stick to the bottom, and let the dal simmer while you make the other chapattis in a similar manner and add the squares to the boiling dal. Make sure each time you add the pieces of a chapati, you stir the mixture to loosen any pieces sticking to the bottom.

Once all the dough is in, adjust the taste and water again. Let it simmer, covered if the pot is large enough, till all the dough pieces are cooked well and float onto the top.

Garnish with coriander and grated coconut.

Serve hot with ghee or some extra phodni, pickles and papad.

This also tastes great the day after.

1 comment:

  1. Nice! I have not had this with vegetables.. will try your version! :)


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