Dal Bhorta Recipe | Mashed Lentils

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Dal Bhorta, a traditional dish from Bengali cuisine, is a flavorful and comforting preparation that celebrates the rich flavors of lentils and aromatic spices.

“Dal” refers to lentils, and “Bhorta” translates to mashed or puréed.

This dish involves cooking lentils until they’re soft and then mashing them with an array of spices, herbs, and sometimes vegetables, resulting in a textured and delectable dish.

Dal Bhorta is not just a simple lentil dish; it’s a blend of diverse flavors and textures that showcase the unique culinary artistry of Bengal.

Dal Bhorta

Key Takeaways:

  • Dal Bhorta Definition: Dal Bhorta is a comforting Bengali dish featuring mashed lentils (“dal”) combined with aromatic spices and sometimes vegetables. “Bhorta” translates to mashed or puréed.
  • Flavors and Textures: Dal Bhorta offers a blend of rich lentil flavors, earthy spices, and fresh herbs, resulting in a creamy and comforting texture with balanced spiciness.
  • Culinary Artistry: This dish showcases the culinary artistry of Bengal by harmonizing diverse flavors and textures, creating a unique and nostalgic experience.
  • Serving Options: Dal Bhorta is commonly served with rice, roti, chapati, paratha, or naan. It complements these accompaniments by providing a delicious and satisfying meal.
  • Cooking Tips: To make the best Dal Bhorta, choose quality lentils, rinse and soak them, cook until soft, mash to desired consistency, and balance spices for optimum flavor. Experiment with ingredients for a personal touch.

The Ingredients

Dal bhorta ingredients

How to Make Dal Bhorta (Step by Step Images)?

1. At first, put a wok on the gas stove and heat it up. Then, add 1 cup of water and simmer it.

Adding water to the wok

2. Add the lentils and turmeric, and mix everything well. Now, let the red lentils boil and discard any foam forming while they are boiling, using a spatula.

Adding lentils to the kadai

3. Once the lentils are boiled, make them thick. Turn off the flame and let them cool.

Making boiled dal thick

4. Next, add 1 ½ tbsp of oil to the wok and let it heat up. When the oil is hot, add the dry red chilis and sauté them. Once they are done, take them out of the wok and keep them aside.

Frying red chili

5. Now, add the garlic cloves to the wok and sauté them lightly. Add the chopped green chilis and sauté them as well. When they are lightly fried, turn off the flame.

(Expert tip: Do not over-fry the garlic cloves, or the aroma will disappear.)

Lightly frying garlic and chili

6. Take the fried red chilis, remove the stems, add a pinch of salt, and smash the chilis. Add the sliced onion and mix it well. Repeat the same with the garlic cloves and chopped green chilis. Add the mustard oil used for frying the chilis and mix everything.

Mixing red chili, salt, green chili, and onion

7. Now, add the boiled lentils and mix all the ingredients thoroughly. Add ½ tbsp of salt and mix it well with the lentil mixture. Finally, add the chopped coriander leaves and mix them in. Drizzle a bit of raw mustard oil into the mixture and mix it up.

(Expert tip: Cool the lentils before mixing, as the taste will enhance based on how well you are mixing it. Raw mustard oil enhances the flavor.)

Adding boiled dal and coriander leaves

8. Dal Bhorta is ready to be served.

(Expert tip: Add the salt & chilis as per your preference.)

Dal Bhorta is ready

Pro Tip for Making Dal Bhorta

Here are some pro tips to help you make the best Dal Bhorta:

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Choose the Right Lentils: The choice of lentils is crucial. Yellow or red lentils (masoor dal) are commonly used for Dal Bhorta due to their quick-cooking nature and creamy texture when mashed.

Rinse and Soak: Rinse the lentils thoroughly under cold water until the water runs clear. Soak them for about 15-20 minutes before cooking. This can help reduce cooking time and improve their texture.

Cooking the Lentils: Cook the soaked lentils in a pot with enough water until they are soft and easily mashable. You can add a pinch of turmeric and salt to the water for flavor. Once cooked, drain any excess water.

Mashing: Use a potato masher or the back of a spoon to mash the cooked lentils. You can make it as smooth or as chunky as you prefer. Some people like a few whole lentils remaining for texture.

Ghee (Optional): Adding a small spoonful of ghee to the dal bhorta just before serving can greatly enhance its taste and aroma.

Adjust Seasoning: Taste and adjust the salt and spice levels according to your preference. Remember, the flavors will intensify a bit as the dal bhorta sits.

Experiment with Ingredients: While the classic recipe involves lentils, spices, and onions, feel free to experiment with other ingredients like grated coconut, crushed peanuts, or sautéed vegetables to add your own twist.

Consistency: Depending on personal preference, you can adjust the consistency by adding a little water to achieve the desired thickness.

Remember, cooking is an art, and you can always adjust the quantities of spices and ingredients to suit your taste.

What to Serve with Dal Bhorta?

Dal Bhorta is a flavorful and comforting dish that pairs well with a variety of other foods. Here are some traditional and complementary options to serve with Dal Bhorta:

Steamed Rice: This is the most common and traditional accompaniment for Dal Bhorta. The soft and creamy texture of the dal contrasts nicely with the fluffy rice.

Roti or Chapati: These Indian flatbreads are perfect for scooping up the dal and enjoying its flavors. They provide a slightly chewy and substantial texture.

Paratha: Parathas are flaky and layered flatbreads that are also excellent for soaking up the dal. They add a delightful buttery richness to the meal.

Naan: Soft and pillowy naan bread is another great option for mopping up the dal. Its slightly chewy texture complements the creaminess of the dish.

Puri: Puri is a deep-fried bread that puffs up while cooking, resulting in a light and airy texture. It’s a bit indulgent but pairs well with dal.

Remember, the goal is to create a well-balanced and satisfying meal with a mix of textures, flavors, and nutrients. You can mix and match these options based on your preferences and dietary requirements.

How Does Dal Bhorta Taste?

Dal Bhorta Featured Image

Dal Bhorta is a dish that offers a delightful combination of flavors and textures. Its taste can vary slightly based on the specific spices and ingredients used, but here’s a general idea of how Dal Bhorta tastes:

Creamy and Comforting: The mashed lentils in Dal Bhorta create a creamy and comforting base. They have a soft texture that’s easy to scoop up and enjoy.

Nutty and Earthy: Lentils have a natural nuttiness and earthiness that come through in the dish. This flavor is complemented by the spices and seasonings used.

Balanced Heat: Depending on the amount of red chili powder or green chilies used, Dal Bhorta can have a mild to moderate level of spiciness. The heat is usually balanced by the creamy lentils and other ingredients.

Freshness from Herbs: Chopped coriander leaves (cilantro) are often added to Dal Bhorta just before serving. This brings a burst of fresh and herbaceous flavor to the dish.

Comforting Warmth: The overall taste of Dal Bhorta is warm, comforting, and satisfying. It’s the kind of dish that feels like a hug in a bowl.

Overall, Dal Bhorta offers a harmonious blend of flavors, spices, and textures that come together to create a delicious and memorable dish. It’s a staple comfort food that’s enjoyed by many in South Asian cuisine.

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Dal Bhorta Alternatives

If you’re specifically looking for alternatives to Dal Bhorta that focus on “bhorta” (mashed or minced vegetables), here are a few traditional options from Bengali cuisine:

Potato Bhorta (Aloo Bhorta): Boiled potatoes are mashed and then mixed with chopped onions, green chilies, mustard oil, and spices. This dish is simple yet flavorful and often served with rice and a drizzle of mustard oil.

Eggplant Bhorta (Begun Bhorta): Roasted eggplant is mashed and combined with onions, green chilies, mustard oil, and spices. It has a smoky flavor and pairs well with rice and a dash of ghee.

Pumpkin Bhorta (Kumro Bhorta): Boiled or roasted pumpkin is mashed and seasoned with mustard oil, spices, and sometimes grated coconut. It’s a comforting dish commonly enjoyed in Bengali households.

Green Banana Bhorta (Kanchkolar Bhorta): Boiled green bananas are mashed with mustard oil, green chilies, and spices. It’s a unique dish with a slightly tangy and spicy flavor.

Raw Papaya Bhorta (Pepe Bhorta): Raw papaya is peeled, grated, and then mixed with spices, mustard oil, and other flavorings. It’s known for its refreshing taste.

Radish Bhorta (Mulo Bhorta): Grated radish is mixed with mustard oil, green chilies, and spices. It’s a simple and wholesome bhorta option.

Mashed Spinach Bhorta (Palong Shaak Bhorta): Blanched spinach leaves are finely chopped and mashed with mustard oil, green chilies, and spices. It’s nutritious and full of flavor.

Water Spinach Bhorta (Kalmi Shaak Bhorta): Water spinach, also known as kalmi shaak or water morning glory, is boiled, mashed, and seasoned with mustard oil, chilies, and spices.

Taro Leaves Bhorta (Kochu Shaak Bhorta): Taro leaves are boiled, mashed, and combined with mustard oil, green chilies, and spices. It’s a popular dish in Bengali cuisine.

These bhorta dishes are typically served as a side dish with steamed rice and often accompanied by a pinch of mustard oil for extra flavor.

They celebrate the natural flavors of vegetables and are beloved for their simplicity and comforting taste.

Recipe Card:

Dal Bhorta Featured Image

Dal Bhorta (Mashed Lentils)

By Mita Mondal
Dal Bhorta is a traditional dish from Bengali cuisine that involves mashing cooked lentils (referred to as "dal") and mixing them with aromatic spices, herbs, and occasionally vegetables. The term "Bhorta" translates to "mashed" or "puréed."
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 15 minutes
Total Time 30 minutes
Course Dinner, Lunch, Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4
Calories 260 kcal

Ingredients
  

  • 200 grams Red lentil (cleaned & soaked for 10 mins)
  • ½ tsp Turmeric powder
  • 6 cloves Garlic
  • 6 pieces Green chili (chopped)
  • 1 piece Onion (chopped)
  • 1 tbsp Coriander leaves (chopped)
  • 3 pieces Dry red chili
  • 2 tbsp Mustard oil
  • Salt to taste

Instructions
 

  • Begin by placing a wok on the gas stove and heating it. Pour in 1 cup of water and allow it to simmer gently.
  • Introduce the lentils and turmeric to the wok, ensuring a thorough mix. Allow the red lentils to come to a boil. During the boiling process, use a spatula to remove any foam that forms.
  • Once the lentils have reached a boiled consistency, achieve a thicker texture. Turn off the flame and let them cool.
  • Heat 1 ½ tablespoons of oil in the wok. Once the oil is hot, add the dried red chilis and sauté them. Once they are ready, remove them from the wok and set them aside.
  • Lightly sauté the garlic cloves in the wok. Add the chopped green chilis and sauté them as well. Once they are gently fried, turn off the flame.
    (Expert tip: Avoid over-frying the garlic cloves to preserve their aroma.)
  • Take the sautéed red chilis, remove the stems, add a pinch of salt, and crush the chilis. Mix in the sliced onion and combine thoroughly. Repeat this process with the garlic cloves and chopped green chilis. Incorporate the mustard oil used for frying the chilis and mix everything together.
  • Add the boiled lentils to the mixture, ensuring a comprehensive blend of all the ingredients. Incorporate ½ tablespoon of salt and ensure an even distribution within the lentil mixture. Finally, introduce the chopped coriander leaves and mix them in. To enhance the flavors, drizzle a small amount of raw mustard oil into the mixture and blend.
    (Expert tip: Allow the lentils to cool before mixing, as this enhances the taste. Raw mustard oil intensifies the flavor.)
  • Your flavorful Dal Bhorta is now ready to be savored.

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Notes

Lentil Choice: While red lentils (masoor dal) are commonly used for Dal Bhorta, you can experiment with other lentil varieties for unique flavors and textures.
Soaking Time: Soak the lentils for about 15-20 minutes before cooking. This helps reduce cooking time and improves their texture.
Cooking Consistency: Ensure that the lentils are fully cooked and soft before mashing. Overcooking can lead to a mushy texture.
Tempering Technique: The tempering process infuses flavors into the oil, enhancing the overall taste of the dish.
Spice Level: Adjust the amount of red chili powder or green chilies based on your preference for spiciness.
Ghee Addition: For extra richness, you can add a small spoonful of ghee to the finished dish.
Mustard Oil: Raw mustard oil drizzled at the end elevates the dish's flavor. Make sure to use food-grade mustard oil.
Salt Adjustment: Taste and adjust the salt after adding all the ingredients, as some components like sautéed onions may already have salt.
Fresh Herbs: Adding chopped coriander leaves just before serving imparts a fresh aroma and flavor.
Cooling Before Mixing: Allow the boiled lentils to cool before mixing with other ingredients to enhance the flavor profile.
Personalization: Feel free to experiment by adding grated coconut, crushed peanuts, or sautéed vegetables for your unique touch.
Consistency Adjustment: Depending on your preference, you can adjust the consistency by adding a bit of water.
Serving Options: Serve Dal Bhorta with rice, roti, naan, or other flatbreads for a satisfying meal.
Cultural Connection: Dal Bhorta isn't just a dish; it's a connection to Bengali heritage and cherished flavors.
Remember, cooking is about creativity and personalization. Make Dal Bhorta your own by adapting these notes to your taste preferences and culinary style.

Nutrition Info (Estimation Only)

Nutrition Facts
Dal Bhorta (Mashed Lentils)
Amount per Serving
Calories
 
260
Calories from Fat 72
% Daily Value*
Fat
 
8
g
12
%
Saturated Fat
 
1
g
6
%
Polyunsaturated Fat
 
2
g
Monounsaturated Fat
 
4
g
Sodium
 
883
mg
38
%
Potassium
 
557
mg
16
%
Carbohydrates
 
35
g
12
%
Fiber
 
16
g
67
%
 
3
g
3
%
Protein
 
14
g
28
%
Vitamin A
 
226
IU
5
%
Vitamin C
 
6
mg
7
%
Calcium
 
44
mg
4
%
Iron
 
4
mg
22
%
* Percent Daily Values are based on a 2000 calorie diet.
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Conclusion

Dal Bhorta is a unique “easy-to-cook recipe” for all Indian and Bangladeshi families.

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The goodness of red lentils and the wonderful taste of garlic and chilis make it a wholesome side dish for your dinner and lunch.

The drizzle of raw mustard oil makes it even more delectable. You can enjoy it with roti or steamed rice.

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