Monday, August 06, 2007

Kalai Dal ar Alu Posto

Kalai er Dal | Biulir Dal | Aloo Posto

Kolai er dal | Biuli r Dal with Alu Posto

Kalai Dal or Biulir Dal (Bengali Urad Dal) with Aloo Posto(Potatoes in a poppy seed paste) or Alu Seddho (mashed potatoes with a dash of mustard oil) is the best thing that can happen to a Bengali during a lulled summer afternoon lunch. This dal is made with white Urad and flavored with a sweet ginger-fennel paste. In the original avatar, this dal has a slimy texture, a characteristic which some love while others hate. In my recipe of Kolai er Dal I suggest lightly roasting the dal and then cooking it for the ones who don't eat Biulir Dal because of the texture. 

Sometime back I had to go to the city every day during the work week. Now unlike Bee and like Nabeela, I am not a city girl. Though we live a commutable distance away we hardly drop in to be a part of the city crowd. We are happy with our quiet green neighborhood and the proximity to the “Big Apple” has not rubbed the city life on us.

However I do not grudge the rare trips I need to make. I like to wait for the bus on a crisp morning and also love the fact that I can get an hour & half sleep while in it. I think I sleep a pretty deep sleep on the bus with my mouth open and even softly snoring. It leaves me pretty refreshed, and I don’t think anyone minds because most of the bus is doing the same.

Ok but this not about my sleeping habits so let’s not digress. The one thing I like about these early morning occasional ventures is the stores in the city. No, I am not talking of Saks 5th Avenue. I am talking of the small ineffable stores wedged between the tall structures, keeping a brave front, trying to hold on to their uniqueness of not being a part of a chain. I wonder what they sell. I see a sign saying “Lotto” and I try to peer through the thick bus window. I think I see a counter running through the length of the stores and I remember….

Yes, it reminds me of “Maulbi Saab ki Dukan”* just opposite to my school bus stop, my one stop shop for all my stationery needs for most of my school years. I remember Maulbi Saab in his checked blue-green lungi , white fez cap and almost luminescent white beard standing behind a counter that ran across the center of his shop. The counter kept the customers far removed from the merchandise and in turn gave Maulbi Saab an all encompassing power. I had to wait patiently for my turn for the Maulbi Saab or his grandson to be free and then I would ask for the Royal Blue Chelpark ink that I needed. I could not sample the Sulekha Violet ink if I wanted to or rummage through the crisp notebooks on display far from me.

The limitations of these choices mad me satisfied with what I needed alone and taught me not to go looking for stuff beyond my needs.

A lesson long forgotten when I hoard unknown boxes of spices and trifles, I don’t intend to use, just because I have an easy access to them.

It's not that I don’t love the choices a departmental store gives me, I do love the independence. But when I madly rummage through the aisles of Wal-Mart looking for a particular Dora kiddie water bottle, a part of me still yearns for the green shuttered Maulbi Saab’s Dukan and the polite Maulbi Saab in his blue-green checked lungi and white fez and I wish I could just go up and say “Ek Dora Purple & Pink Water Bottle dijiyega”** and come back home happy.

* a store run by the Maulbi** Give me a Dora Pink & Purple water bottle

Aloo Posto with Kalai Dal, Aloo Posto, Kalai Dal

But lets go back to the Dal I made today. Kalai er Dal is a dal made of split white (skin removed) Urad Dal, very typically Bengali and also a favorite in many Bengali homes.

Kalai er Dal with Alu Posto or Alu Seddho (mashed potatoes with a dash of mustard oil) is the best thing that can happen to you during a lulled summer afternoon lunch. Flavored with Ada-Mouri bata (a paste of ginger and fennel seeds) this sweet smelling dal can take two different avtaars. If you do not roast the urad dal and cook this Dal, it tends to get a bit slimy. Many people do not like the slippery texture though I loved it.

If you dry roast the dal before you cook it though, the slimy texture is gone and you get the flavorful dal without the slippery feeling.
This dal is best enjoyed with white rice. In a Bengali home it is served with alu posto or alu seddho and is typically served during a quiet lunch for the family. Usually not part of a menu for a larger audience it is for a quiet meal with the close family.

Alu Posto - is a dish made with potato and a paste of poppy seeds. Recipe is here. It can be found in both Bengali & Oriya cuisine
Alu Seddho - is a Bengali style mashed potato to which finely chopped onion, green chillies and a dash of mustard oil is added


Kolai er dal | Biuli r Dal 

What You Need

Split White Urad Dal ~ 1 cup
Green Chillies ~ 4-5
Hing or Asafetida ~ 1/4 tsp

Mouri or Fennel Seeds ~ 2 heaped tsp
Ginger ~ 2" piece
Grind the above with a little water to make a paste
This is Ada-Mouribata ( a wet paste of Ginger and Fennel Seeds) 
Water ~ 3 & ½ cups for boiling the Dal in pressure cooker and 1 cup later


How I Do It

Dry roast the Urad Dal till you get a fine roasted smell and about 50% of the lentils turn a light brown. Wash the roasted Dal. If you like the slimy texture and do not want to roast it, you can skip this step.

Pressure Cook the Urad Dal with almost 3 times the water and about 1/2 a tsp of Turmeric powder. When it’s cooked lightly mix it with a wire whisk. Do not mash it up. It may take 4-5 minutes to get done after the pressure build up OR one whistle in a whistling pressure cooker.

Wet grind the Fennel seeds and the Ginger to a coarse paste.

Heat Oil in Kadhai. I used Mustard Oil, but you can use Vegetable Oil too.

Add the slit Green Chillies and the Asafoetida
Add the wet paste of fennel and ginger which we Bengalis refer to as ada-mouri bata
Fry the paste for a little while, and when you get the sweet smell of the masala
add the cooked dal. Sauté for couple of minutes.

Add about 1 cup of water, salt and bring to a simmer. Cook until the flavors are all well melded.
This is not a very thick dal so check the consistency accordingly.

Enjoy it with White Rice, Alu Posto and some Bhaja (Fried Veggie friters). Alu Posto recipe is here.

For the recipe of this Dal and more Get my book hitting the stores soon.

Trivia: Urad Dal is very nutritious and is recommended for diabetics, as are other pulses. Though very beneficial in limited quantities excessive intake causes flatulence, which some sources claim can be prevented by adding a little asafoetida, pepper and ginger in the cultinary preparations.
The product sold as "black lentil" is usually the whole urad bean or urad dal. The product sold as "white lentil" is the same lentil with the black skin removed.(Source:


  1. Awesome! Kalai Daal and alu posto! wow .. and ofcourse, dont forget aloo shedho ... Just awesome!

  2. Ei alu seddho likhechi to.... amar favorite with Kalai Dal

  3. Oh sorry! Drooling over the photograph je ki bolbo. Kalke hi plan korchilam aloo posto babanor jonno.

    Aar ofcourse, ektu lebu diye daal ta khele daroon!

    Btw, amar baba'r arekta favourite chilo, aloo, begun, karela plus kalai dal (Naam ta mone porchena).

  4. Aloo, begun, karela diye Kalai er Dal... o bujechi oita holo "gota seddho", sometime during winter kora hoi. Amar Dida korto specifically on the day after "Arandhan", when she did not light up fire to cook.Amar bhalo lagto na tokhon...ekhon hoyto pele chete-pute khabo

  5. what a unique dal. 5 tsp fennel? wow. i have lucknowi fennel, which is more slender than the yellowish fat fennel. will try it with that.

  6. Bhison Yummy :). Posto is my alltime favourite food and I just loved the "Postor Boda" back in India. How is little S feeling now ?

  7. Liked the way you made us stroll through your comfort shopping zone to ur comfort food :) You can take my prawn fritters to go along with ur dal and alu posto...ur perfect comfort food :D


  8. hehhe...saw the comment....I guess we should meet up for tea/coffee :))

  9. Ok, this is on my to-make list - I don't use much fennel, so discovery time!

  10. I thought it's Oriya cuisine post! Looks good and I saw Aloo Posto as Oriyan too but made with Poppy seeds ot Til? Urad dal dal (:D) looks great,I will try.
    LOL @sleeping with mouth open AND snoring on the bus!!Whoa!! I would like a photo of that!!;D

  11. Even I have lotsa of fennel sitting in my shelf. Should try this, thanks for sharing

  12. check the comment sec'n. ...doubts answered .


  13. I love that plate of food...I also loved reading all that chit-chat in Bengali...more so because I can understand each and every word of it:D...couldn't resist...monta Kolkata chole gayechilo...have I said it right:)...haven't been in touch for quite some time...was quite fluent in Bengali during our stay there :)

  14. lovely looking plate Sandeepa. After long time I got to read your nice post. the Dal sounds easy and nice. should give it a try.

  15. Hmmm, I use lot of split urad in my everyday cooking but never made dal . alu posto sounds very interesting. I should try sometime.

  16. never tasted or made dal curry with urad dal. I uually make it with moong or toor dal. nice post..

  17. Fantastic meal and lovely story! I will surely try the tadka with fennel. We also make urad daal only after roasting. This meal looks so inviting, Sandeepa! Simply yummy!!

  18. urad dhall wo thats very new to me i buy urad split urad only for frying masala gotto to try this. thanks dear and of course thats a lovely writeup i too do the same while travelling in bus he he :)

  19. We love this; actually the 'slippery' feel of the dal makes it special, so I wouldn't roast it! As for posto, we make it with potatoes or jheenga.

  20. Kalai Dal looks yummy. I have never tried it before. Do you have the Aloo Seddho recipe anywhere? Just want to make sure if it is the same mashed potato with raw mustard oil and chopped onion that my MIL/SIL make to have with Pakhala (cooked rice soaked in water overnite). Mouth-licking pics, dear! Thanks for sharing.

  21. yumm ! U again reminded me of those lovely days ... have lots of aloo posto & then sleeep . Btw , do u also like Jinge posto ? Its my fav !!

  22. Nice intro Sandeepa... I can imagine you sitting in the bus with your mouth open... coz that is exactly how I am in flights... (haven't been in a bus in a while, otherwise that would be the same too... :))... And the worst thing is my head keeps falling off my neck to my neighbor's shoulder... now thats embarassing... :)

    I loved reading the post, but I am exactly the opposite though... I love getting lost in a big store, looking for something, and finding more stuff along the way...If you could ask for the purple Dora water bottle, you would've never found that blue Diego lucnh box..(or something else cute like that, you get the idea ;)) :)

    Oh, and the daal looks lovely too.. I think someone should collect all the regional varieties of daal preparations and make a round up... ultimate comfort food...

  23. Nice write up. I like one stop shops where I can walk up to the counter and ask, instead of searching high and low for the elusive thing I need. Worse, I sometimes end up buying things I don't need and don't find the thing I came in for!!

    My MIL makes a similar dal which she calles White Dal. The nice thing is it cooks fast.

  24. I left an almost similar comment at Sh just now..... and the same for you as well...
    You have this vivid style of writing which puts the reader on that very scene... I could see you as a kid waiting patiently for your turn to come at the maulabi sahabs dukaan. :) I wish I could read more of you!! (Now thats a hint!! ;) )

  25. Sandeepa, :) I see a lot of Sandeepas on the bus sleeping away, I knod of envy them 'cos I can't for some reason but read a lot of books.

    The plate looks oh so comforting. I have not used urad dal by itself. Will try this and the Alu Posto too Yum

  26. Bee
    5 tsp of fennel may yield a little more of the paste, but its fine. You can go experimental and add more than 6 tsp of the paste too, doesn't harm I guess with a cook who can cook. With the noveau cooks I would suggest to stick to 6 heaped tsp of the paste

    Postor Bara mone koriye dile, shiggiri banate hobe mone hoy :)

    Your prawn vada's are out of this world. I will have them just by themselves, maybe with a cup of hot tea if you please:)

    If you want to use fennel also try a chicken curry at Sailaja's which uses a lot of fennel. It is very good and the sweetness of the fennel makes it awesome.

    updated the post after seeing your comment. About the pic..ahem..I am not going on a bus with you ever :)

    Usually I don't use a lot of fennel in my cooking too. Some of the recipes call for them. But for me this Dal has to be had with the proper side dishes, just by itself does not do justice

    Ekdom thik hoyeche, tumi Bangla ektu o bholoni :) Got it ?

    Again what I told Padma, you have to have it with Alu Posto :)

    For Bengalis, Alu Posto is the ultimate food. I am yet to meet a Bengali who does not like Alu posto.

    I make mostly Masoor & Moong Dal at home. Urad, Toor and Chana are occasional visitors :)

    Don't you use the black urad ?

  27. Roopa
    I think outside Bengal and maybe Orissa, this Dal is not consumed much as a Dal that is

    I like the slippery feel too but the hubby doesn't, he is a "dhabba" on a Bong name, Bangali'r Kalonko jake bole :)
    But I prefer alu posto to jhinge posto

    I think I am talking of the same mashed potatoes your MIL/SIL makes, not much of a recipe there

    I like alu posto way better than jhinge posto :) Actually I used to get mad when Ma made jhinge posto


    Thats the point. I DO NOT want a Diego lunch box. Why buy unnecessary stuff, which I always do anyway :)
    I DO LOVE these stores though, and I DO NOT like to go up and ask for a certain salwar kameez and be told that its not my size ;-) (has happened you know), for that I definitely prefer one where I can browse.

    But for certain everyday stuff, I would rather go to a one stop shop instead of spending an hour searching

    See I was justifying myself to Sig in amy prev comment, thats my point

    Oooooooooh thanks so much :) You are always so generous with your complements.

    I am unable to read in a bus or a car. In fact even if I need to look up the map in a car I get flustered. Some problem up there :)

  28. Sandeepa, I was looking for this dal for sometime now. One of my colleague s told me that he makes dal with urad dal, I asked him for recipe and he said it is made like normal dal. I didn't know what that meant. Instead of asking him again and again, I kept on looking for this. Usually we use urad dal for dosas, idlis only, so I was very skeptic in trying a actual dal with it. I will surely try this soon...

  29. Sandeepa, I've outgrown all the big-time NYC department stores, many of which are owned by the same conglomerate & have the same merchandise. Boring. (But I know what you mean about independence.) I like the small, fun little places that sell everything and anything without any law and order.

    I'd like thatcolorful plate of savories put directly in front of me right now. : )

  30. Hi Sandeepa - I did make your masoor dal. Just blogged about it and aloo posto. Great minds think alike! My friends loved your dal...

  31. i have said this before and i'll say it again: i love the little bit of introspection/reminiscence before you talk about the recipe. it makes your blog appeal to people who aren't necessarily here for the recipes!!!

    and those old-style shops certainly have a unique character, don't they.

  32. I totally understand what you mean about the small shops. I do like the choice in large dept stores but my head sometimes reels with the volume I have to go through to find what exactly I want, and most of the time I return exhausted from the shopping. On the other hand, shopping in small shops in India (for clothes especially)..the whole experience of sitting coolly while the shop owner bring out exactly what you want (don't know how they do it), while sipping the tea/coffee/soda that the shopkeeper provides sometimes always makes me feel elated and relaxed...maybe I am old-fashioned.

    About the Dal: somehow aamar ei daal ta temon bhalo lagto na...janina keno. But I have never made it myself, so will do so with your recipe.

  33. Guess what! Kal ratire, posto'r bara baniyechi after drooling the whole day!

    Daal, aloo shedho and posto'r bora (although musoor daal with fullkopi baniye chilam)

  34. Kalai'er dal and alu posto the ultimate comfort food, the bhaja is like icing on the cake! Looks delicious. The first time I made kalai dal in grad school my non-bong roomie was so horrofied that anyone eats urad dal as dal and not in dosa/idlis :-) Your post for many different reasons brought back many different memories.

  35. Alright, the only thing I need now is some achar. Hurry up. I'm hungry :)

  36. Sandeepa, as usual a brilliant post.

    I agree with Sig. I love my independence of choice and so the Walmarts are like a stressbuster for me.

    Just thought I might add, gota shedhdho does not have karela... My folks are from East Bengal, so never had it before marriage. My MIL makes it the best I have tasted so far... and I have been doing the same recipe for past 10 yrs... When you cover next Saraswati Pujo, will post this one. It is for the "Sheetal Shoshthi", dayafter Saraswati Pujo.This day, women of the house are supposed to get a break from cooking etc. and hence are supposed to have everything cold, cooked the earlier day and a cold but tasty mixed pot called "gota shedhdho".

  37. ki moja aaj onek din porey kalai dal khelam and discovered your blog via Anamika's - lovely lovely blog

  38. I've had urad dal in the dal makhni prep, which I am not fond of. And I also has white urad dal in a Hyderabadi restaurant. Again, didn't like it.

    But I have a lot of urad dal at home and this recipe is something I am going to try. :-)

    And as Sig says, I do that on the plane all the time. In a bus, that too in Delhi, I am ever so awake!!

  39. roasting is new to me, but since i love the slimy texture and my hub don't i will surely try it.
    I too wish someone would just hand over stuff to me when i am in a hurry to finish a shopping list.

  40. Hello,

    Just surfed on over here from CHOW and wanted to say that your blog is beautiful! Lovely photography, and I'm itching to try some of the recipes. Thanks!


  41. Shilpa
    I answered at your blog, the Dal he must be talking about is the N.Indian kind I think because not many people outside Bengal know about this dal

    NY sure has a lot of such places

    Thanks :)

    Awwwwwwwwwww you are just being too sweet

    My Hubby too does not like this dal if slimy, I however like it but only with sides I mentioned :) Tomar katha shune sari'r dokan er katha mone parche and they used to even serve cold drinks during summer

    Bah...heavvy fast

    You made Kalai Dal even in grad school. You are genius. Actually I don't make this that often and so the surprise :)

    One more Dal for you :)

    Bong Working Mom

    Please send your "gota seddho" recipe with pic if possible when you make it. Shall be a very good contribution to the blog
    I have never made gota seddho !!! My Dida used to as I said. You must be avery good cook to still maintain all the traditions.

    Eve's Lungs
    Thank you :)

    I like Dal Makhani but never had the Hyd version

    You make this dal, really ? How ? I meant I haven't heard any non-bong making it ever.

    Thanks and welcome

  42. hi sandeepa..i know it could have gotten worse with the last name!!! lol!!!

    and i did try alur dom was nice husband loved it..i like mine without sugar while he likes it with sugar so we have decided to take turns on how we cook it :)

    i shall try kalai dal and alu psoto next..i have a packet of poppy seeds lying in my pantry for long. Haven't tried it is the time i guess!!! :)

    and i love alu can something be so simply made and yet so tasty....

    u get the foodie in me talking, so i had to tell u this , this being summer vacays time , i'm experimenting a tad more in kitchen than i do otherwise, and i tried hummus the other day was neat and so simple...have u tried making it at home, ever???

    Oh, and we had a coupla friends over for dinner last night ...they loved daal tempered with panch phoron :)

  43. Kolai daal aar alu posto hoche ultimate!!! alu shedho too...
    I would pair musur daal-alu shedho and kolai daal-aluposto...and I can swap them anytime...

    But A-senior is a "dhabba" (as you call it) slimy fish...bangalir naam e kolonko//..


  44. daarun!!! posto bara khunje khunje eikhaane pounchegelam. shob pelam, posto bara kintu nei. what could be that recipe, by the way.

  45. ha posto bara recipe ta onek khujlam, kintu pelam na. Sobai Alu posto r recipe tai bolchche...

  46. I love alu posto. I love alu sheddo.

    Your post got back memories of ink stained fingers and 'Chinese pens'.

    Did you grow up in Calcutta?

  47. You write Beautifully....I know hw to cook this dal..but the Maulvi saab story was is something I return to read...:)
    We had a similar store (oops! Dukan) too....:)

  48. Thank you for the Recipe!! This was always my most favorite dal of all!!

  49. Beautiful write up Sandeepa :)...I remember as a kid I used to hate Kalai-er Dal and decline to eat it whenever Ma made it along with Alu Posto...but tomar post pore hotat eto khete ichchey korchhey...especially Ma-er haate banano Dal :)...the local shop we had was called Prabir Kaku-r Dokaan and it still exists and my daughter loves to visit the store whenever we r in India...

  50. Someone has copied certain paragraphs from this Recipe. Link:

  51. Thank goodness for the link above. What a mean trick for the OP to post photos + a story, only as a teaser to go buy her book. Damned if I will

    1. Damned you come and read this post. Shame on you


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