Of all the dishes that mark the Bohra cuisine, if I had to pick one that is extremely unique and representative of our food, it would be Dal Chawal Palidu (Lentil rice served with a curry.) In most Bohra households, this dish typically signifies a happy occasion such as the start of the New Year or a birthday, so I have many special memories associated with it. And though I’m not too fond of vegetarian food, Dal Chawal Palidu (also known as khuddal palidu) has always been one of my favorite dishes – simple, nutritious and yet extremely delicious!

You Will Need (This recipe serves 4):

For the Dal Chawal (lentil rice)

  • 1 cup toor dal (also known as toovar dal or split pigeon peas)
  • 1.5 – 2 cups of rice
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder (haldi)
  • 4 cloves of garlic, chopped
  • 5 whole black pepper corns
  • 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
  • 1-2 bay leaves
  • 1” piece of cinnamon
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 2 medium-sized green chilies, chopped
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Chopped scallions for garnishing (optional)
  • Salt to taste

For the Palidu (curry)

  • Leftover lentil/dal water (see method for details)
  • 1 tsp methi
  • 4 cloves of chopped garlic
  • 1 small onion, chopped finely
  • 4-5 curry leaves (optional)
  • 2 tbsp besan or (gram flour or chickpea flour)
  • ½ tsp red chili powder or according to taste
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp coriander-cumin powder
  • 3 tbsp oil
  • Coriander (cilantro) for garnishing (optional)
  • Drumsticks – 6-7 pieces, cut to 3” size each). As an alternative, you can also use a small or medium-sized bottle gourd (calabash) or dudhi (cut into small pieces.) I prefer drumsticks since it adds an interesting flavor and texture to the palidu or lentil curry. You can buy the drumsticks fresh or frozen (these come cleaned and chopped) from an Indian store.


For the dal chawal

  • Boil the toovar dal in water in a pan over a medium heat for around 10-12 minutes or until it is almost cooked, adding turmeric and some salt. (The dal should remain whole and not turn mushy.) Strain the water from the dal and keep it aside.
  • Heat oil in a pan. Add the garlic, black peppers, cumin and bay leaves. Once they start crackling, add the chopped green chilies and onion. After the onion starts browning, remove the mixture from the heat and mix in the cooked toor dal and keep aside.
  • Cook the rice until it is ¾th done and layer it over the cooked dal in a cooking pot. Add around ¼ cup of water, cover the pot with a lid and let the rice mixture steam on a low flame for 5 minutes. Cook until the rice is completely cooked.
  • I like to garnish the dal-chawal mixture with some scallions though this is my personal preference and completely optional.

For the palidu

  • Heat oil in a pan. Add the methi or fenugreek seeds, curry leaves, chopped garlic and onion. Once the onions soften, add turmeric, red chili powder and the coriander-cumin powder.
  • Add besan (gram flour) to the mixture and sauté for two minutes on a medium flame, stirring continuously. Add little water, if necessary, to prevent the mixture from burning.
  • Add the drumstick pieces and stir for another minute.
  • Add the leftover dal/lentil water to the mixture and let the mixture boil slowly.
  • Cook the palidu till it boils and the drumsticks are cooked (it should turn soft and fleshy from inside,) adding more water if necessary.
  • Garnish the palidu with coriander (cilantro.)
The lentil and rice mixture must be eaten along with the palidu. Traditionally, this dish is served with some papadums and pickle, adding some wonderful crunch and spicy tang to it. If you have any interesting variations to this dish or a different way of making it, please feel free to share your comments on this blog.