Dhandar – the dal for all seasons and all reasons

Dhandar Final 620 x300

My in-laws recently went on vacation for a week and I got to be queen of the mansion. Glamourous right? Wrong. Each day I was wracked with worry on what to cook next. The one day I did know what to cook was the day that they were coming back however.

You will hear numerous Parsis say that, “Going on vacation and eating rich food is all fine, but on the day that I come back home, I want Dhandar boss.” There is nothing quite like the simplicity of this yellow dal to end a vacation and feel like you are right back where you belong – home.

Vacations aside, Dhandar is the Parsi equivalent of ‘chicken soup’ I believe. Served to kids and to adults on weddings, navjotes, birthdays and whilst recuperating, this is one dish that all Bawi Brides must perfect! However, in case you don’t have it down pat yet, here’s how you make it in 5 easy steps. Ingredients are at the bottom as always.

First, soak the toor dal in water atleast for 3 to 4 hours. This step is crucial in ensuring the grains break down effectively and will make your dal more creamier.

Soaked-Dal- LR

Once soaked, drain out all the water. You will note that the raw dal has almost expanded by half its size – this is a good thing!

Expanded Dal

Next, pour the dal into the pressure cooker with about 4 cups of water. Add in the turmeric and the salt.

Dal-in-Cooker - LR

4. Cook on high until the cooker gives out 3 whistles and then another 10 minutes on low heat. Once the dal is off the heat, you will need to wait a while before opening the cooker. The dal will have soaked up the water and it should look something like below:

Dhandar-cooked - LR

Give it a quick blend using a hand blender or if you wish to have an arm workout with a whisk and there you have it – amazing, simple, fabulous Dhandar.

Being a Dhandar purist, I recommend having this just as it is and that you serve it with fluffy steamed rice. To add some zing, add green chutney or Methiu Achaar on the side works best for a weekday dinner. If you have the time and need to impress, Dhandar is best served with a Fish Patio on weddings, birthdays and other celebratory occasions.

* Many Parsis also like giving the Dal a ‘Waghar’ or a tadka as it’s usually called. To do so, simply shallow fry some jeera and finely chopped garlic with ghee in a separate bowl. Some even add cumin seeds, slit green chillies and fried sliced onion should you wish to ‘Gujarati-fy’ the Dhandar. Once the waghar is ready, pour into dal for extra creaminess and zing.

To make enough for 6 you will need:

2 cups raw toor dal
2 teaspoons turmeric powder
salt to taste
4 – 5 cups water

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  1. Delna Mistry says

    Hi Perzen,
    First of all, you are doing a great job!!! So Well done sweetie.

    My little twist on Dhandar: When you open the pressure cooker and whisk the dar, add one fresh tomato quartered and let it bubble on the stove while you do the “Waghar”. And last but not the least once you switch off the stove, add a dollop of pure ghee and two teaspoon of sugar.

    Have Fun

  2. firozee says

    Hi Perzen,

    I hope you are the little girl of my friend Shernaz ex Darukhanawalla. She is a very good cook and I guess you have taken the talent and knowledge from her.

    I just tried your lagan nu custard for my friend’s father’s 100th birthday tomorrow. I will definitely keep posted after the feed back I get from my hubby and friends.

    As Delna mentioned you are extremely doing a good job.

    Take care

    • says

      Hi Firozee aunty,

      Yes, I am indeed Shernaz’s daughter and I’ve learnt everything I know about cooking (and eating) from her! Look forward to your feedback and I hope you enjoy the site!


  3. Kairas Kabraji says

    Dhandar is not a description of dar as such. Dhan denotes rice in the holy trinity of dhan dar patio. So it actually means “chawal dar” or spoken more usually in Gujarati as dar chawal. The dar on its own is mori dar. Glad you use toor ni dar. We now use moong but in my childhood in my mamaiji’s house it was always toor.

  4. Delshad Master says

    hi perzen,
    like i’ve told u before, i follow ur recipes regularly.
    helps me stay in touch wit my roots.
    i was wondering if u had a recipe involving papetis (baby potatoes).
    i recently bought some from the local farmers’ market and wanted to cook something authentically bawa-ish with them.
    if u do, kindly e-mail me a link or better still a recipe.
    a quick response will b greatly appreciated.
    lots of love and keep up the good work,

    • says

      Hi Dilshad,

      Am sorry for not getting back to you sooner. Don’t have a specific recipe for baby potatoes but you could definitely try them in the Khatu-Mithu Gosht and they would taste yum.

  5. Amy says

    Hi, Perzen. Can you please tell me why you drain the soaked dal before adding more water and pressure cooking it? Won’t that lead to a loss of water-soluble vitamins? I always cook dal in the same water, so wondering if that’s wrong and, if so, why.


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