Monday, May 17, 2010

Daler Bora -- Lentil Fritters

Has anyone been following "Along the Grand Trunk Road" on NPR ? It was last week that I heard first of the series when Philip Reeves started out on his journey from Calcutta and spent a good few hours searching for the start of the road, with a banter typical of Calcutta on the background.

For a route of such enormous historical stature, the Grand Trunk Road makes a surprisingly modest start to its journey across the breadth of northern India, through Pakistan to the Hindu Kush.

Maps suggest that the road sprouts out of the heart of India's great eastern city, Calcutta (also known as Kolkata), not far from the banks of the mighty Hooghly River, a distributary of the Ganges.

But if you go there -- as NPR did, at the outset of our trip along this ancient highway -- the starting point is not particularly easy to find.

Residents of Calcutta love nothing better than a good debate; the city's famous for its militant left-wing political activism.

Stop in the street and ask local residents where the road begins, and they will happily launch into a lengthy argument on the subject.

We were finally directed to a large banyan tree, beside a railway crossing, where a small throng of truck drivers were sitting in the shade, drinking tea out of clay cups, and playing cards. There was a consensus among the drivers that we had found the right place -- the spot where the Grand Trunk Road began during British colonial rule when Calcutta was the imperial capital.

I couldn't follow the series on the air waves thereafter but I am reading it on their site.

On May 14, NPR was at the city of Aligarh along the G.T Road and they threw a very pertinent question. In India, Can Schools offer a path out of Poverty ? Millions of Indians definitely think so and education is highly rated amongst the mass but the Government obviously thinks otherwise and very little thought is given to public education.

India has some stellar educational institutions. The government-supported Indian Institutes of Technology churn out thousands of world-class engineers every year.

The fields of medicine and business have similar elite colleges. Hundreds of thousands more young men and women graduate from colleges and universities just a rung or two below in terms of excellence.

Yet as students toil in classrooms and coaching centers, desperate to get into these elite institutes, even larger numbers of Indian youths barely get a start. Last year, UNICEF estimated that about 8 million Indian children between the ages of 6 and 14 were not in school.

And those that do attend are educated at government-run primary schools like the one in Nandpur Pala, a village just outside the city of Aligarh on the Grand Trunk Road. We visited the school as part of NPR's series of stories on the lives of people living along the route that crosses India and Pakistan

Isn't that so true ? In a country where education holds such high esteem, it seems abstruse that literacy rate is so low . And even getting a primary education when you can modestly afford it, is not easy either.

The other day someone in the family who lives in the technology hub in the southern part of India was discussing the lengths they had to go to get their two year old admitted to a reputed school. The reputed school is one of the few which do not demand huge sums of donation and so has a stringent entry policy. The two year old was interviewed by a posse of 4 teachers to be admitted into what but a 2 hours play class.

I am sure my kids would be illiterate if they were in present day India.No way would I allow 2 year olds be asked questions on color, creed, alphabet or animals. Yeah, I might grill them on such things but not any stranger throwing such stuff at innocent minds, thank you.

Follow the series here, I am sure there will be some very nice moments along the road.


There is nothing great about Daler Bora or Lentil fritters. Every cuisine has its own version of it. Simple delights to tide you on rough days.

What is different about today's dal bora is how I made them, using a strange contraption that looks like an instrument used by aliens in 6000BC and later excavated from Harappa. It was this, this and this and this that played a major role in me ordering this strange stuff for only $10 on the internet. Yeah, they sell such relics from the past on the internet and call it Dutch with a still stranger name, ebelskeiver pan.

You would think there is a link between the Dravidians and the Dutch, yeah more similarity than the "D", for this same Ebelskeiver pan is popular in Southern India as the Appe pan or the Paniyaram Pan( a staple in the South Indian kitchen as my friend indosungod says).

I had never ever heard or seen such a thing in all my life in India and so though I bought it in December, it sat uptight and conscious waiting to be of any service.. And then this gave me the push and since then I have been on a roll. I have made pakodis and fritters and all kind of fried stuff that I would normally not make much.

With this pan my oil usage was way less. I did not have to heat a whole lot of oil for frying only to be thrown out after use. Also my pakodis/ boras/fritters were tiny and cute which meant we could eat more of them thinking we were doing portion control.

This time it was the very Bangali Dal er Bora made in the Southie Appe Pan, something like Mani Ratnam making a Tollywood(Bengal's Holywood) movie.


Daler Bora/Lentil Fritters

Soak 1/2 cup of Matar Dal(split peas) & 1/2 cup of red Masoor Dal in water for half an hour. If you want only Musur Dal er bora, You can increase the masoor and decrease the Matar till Matar Dal becomes 0 cup. If you don't have matar dal use chana dal.

In the blender add

the soaked lentils
1" piece of peeled and chopped ginger
3-4 green chili
1/2 cup of water

and make a smooth paste.

Add salt to taste to this paste. If you wish add 1 tsp of roasted cumin powder . Since I was making niramish bora I did not add any onions. Ok to tell the truth I forgot and decided it was a niramish bora. But you can add 1/2 of an onion chopped fine.

As a reader "khabarpagol" says in the comments, finely chopped corriander leaves and a few nigella seeds in the batter makes the bora tastier. So go ahead and add that.

Beat the lentil paste with a fork till everything is well mixed up.

Now add oil to each of the round slots of the ebelskeiver pan and heat. Since my pan is cast iron, I add a little more oil(about 2tsp oil in each slot) for the first batch. For the next batch, I just add drops of oil along the edges.

Add a spoonful of lentil paste in each of those dark crevices and see the oil merrily bubbling around. Keep the heat at low medium. Once one side is golden brown with the help of a fork, a spoon or a skewer turn the other side and cook till both sides are brown and crisp.

If you do not have this pan, don't fret, you can always fry this the regular way.

Tomorrow I will tell you what I did with these daler bora or fritters, other than eating them just like that of course.


  1. I have been listening to the series every morning, it is around the time I drop DD off at the bus stop. No South Indian home would be without that contraption, called paniyaram pan in my parts.

  2. i have this pan,..and i keep using this for so many things,..;-) wil be wiatn for ur tomorrows post

  3. I finally got hold of an appe pan and do enjoy using it, but deep stuff once in a while is always welcome to me. Daler bora emni emni e shesh hoye jaye ... kichu bananor jonne rakhte parle? :-)

  4. I meant deep fried stuff ...

  5. I love them too. I use moong dal most of the time.

  6. Whenever I am driving Tushar, I always put on NPR and he HATES it, specially the way some of the hosts speak, SLOWLY! He covers his ears and shouts "AHHHH!!!! Kill me, NOW! Who are these people?!":D

    Love the low fat Bondas, great color and easy too. I have 2 of those pans, cast iron Indian and Dutch one too. Got to be very careful about those hot iron handles. I am used to well insulated handles usually of other pans, I have grabbed this handle to flip the appes and screamed like little girl once. Then bought a handle cover (like a tube) made just for that hot iron handle.

    Love all the cast iron pans except the fact they can burn your hand real bad if you forget and grab them without wearing insulated gloves.

    It rained here finally! :)

  7. Your bondas looks great. Nice to see the pan available on amazon! I would never have thought to look for it amongst Dutch pans!! Cool find! Thanks for letting the world know! We shall no longer be appe-pan-deprived now!

  8. We make something like that called "kunuku" with leftover "adai batter". I ve the non stick pan,...
    I cannot listen in my car my son will swallow me for the blabla :) I can read i guess...

  9. lovely snaps.... and equally easy recipe too.

  10. bong mom, generally i agree with everything you say, but this time I have to put my foot down. Nothing great about daaler boRa!!!!!!!!!! This is the tastiest snack that ever existed on the face of earth!!!!! I am really really missing them right now. Ami daaler boRa khabo, ekhhuni :(........

  11. We didn't have this pan, nor do I remember others around us having it (or serving such stuff) - in our homes, at least where I grew up, they would be just deep-fried freestyle in oil! It's only after I met some Tamilians that I learnt about this pan and paniyarams. I've been tempted to get it but I would only use it once in a blue moon so perish the thought!

  12. compeletly new one for me and healthy too...

  13. I have that appam pan and dal vadas have been on my mind for a while....maybe today's the day! Just yesterday I heard on the news that India has a plan to achieve 100% literacy by 2020... yeah it takes that long for literacy, basic education will arrive only after that! My nephew was interviewed all sorts of things at 1 1/2 years only to get into play school...there's too much pressure on a child in India!

  14. Dal bara's are a popular snack at Mumbai office canteens too.

    The kids of most of my friends go to school even before they are two :(

  15. heavy/deep frying thekhe eyia beshi healthy mone hoye ..and dal bora khete bhishon iche hoche,tobe amaar mik chi jodi sath daye to :)..
    hugs and smiles

  16. I remember when I was in Hyderabad i used to snack with a special kind of dal tasted somewhat like our Bengali Bora but it was also different in its own way. I love to eat Dal bora with musurir dal..yummy
    Btw that dutch pan looks interesting

  17. Have one of those pans, a real heavy heirloom that I treasure.:)

    There are many good schools in India where they don't have "interviews" to get in, but these are the exception rather than the rule, unfortunately.

    Its a pity in the past, politics has been about getting votes and staying in power and education for our children doesn't seem to have been a priority with the government. But I am seeing a change and hopefully things will improve sooner than later.

  18. I've been meaning to get one of these pans for so long- you've reminded me again :-)love 'dalir bora' (interesting how our languages have such subtle differences )

    As for the education part, I wouldn't have let my two year olds be grilled by strangers,either. But, then, I can afford to say that, being in the UK; who knows what would have happened if I were in India- bowed down to the pressures of the system? I really don't know :-(

  19. Sandeepa,
    Many good schools don’t do these stern interviews and there is always hope in every situation.(I went thro all the process of facing interview and interviewers for my daughter's admission back home, that was not pleasant but I don’t see any other way round,unless we ourself create some more schools and places for every child)..If we can’t amend some things, then we shouldn't be saying against it. Why not start educating a poor child for free at home or sponsor a maid's child for a beginning inspite of blaming politicians or system for a change.
    hugs and smiles

  20. ami ei borhate ektu kalojeere ebong dhonepata diye thaki. ei recipeti mosur dal diye khub bhalo lage!!

  21. Thanks KP

    Tip ta recipe te add korlam

  22. I have a cooking book where recipes from the truck roads, ilove that book as it is so colour full but i don't think it has to do anything with the programme you mentioned.
    I don't havethis pan :-( i wish i bought one in India when we were there last time.
    I have seen som kind of pan here were they make a swedish dessert in it.

  23. I haven't EVER listened to the NPR on radio. I've always read articles.

    That said, saw your post on Desipundit :) Then had to come back here to tell you how I love this. I make this batter every now and then for my Adai (?) and I'd love something like this apart from just adai!

  24. I heard only bits and pieces of it, when he interviewed some girls of the Presidency college in Calcutta. Thanks for the online link, will look at it.

    As regards to the kids education in Inida, it is amazing and scary at the same time. The amount of information 3 year olds are taught is appalling. Agree that my kid will be considered an illiterate there.

    thanks for the mention Sandeepa, using this appe pan is turning out to be a good investment considering the oil it is savin for deep frying.

  25. Yeah, I might grill them on such things lol
    I'd have made a chutney out of them :)
    btw, the lentil fritters look great, we call it paniyaaram at home; delicious snack!!! I don't have a paniyaaram pan, gotta get one !!

  26. Was the pan you bought the one in the last link (last 'this'). This pan has been sitting in my amazon cart for ages. Your post might just tip me over the edge and me press the order key. I mean this one :
    That's the one you bought na?

    Can't wait to use it to make dal vadas and nayyi appam

  27. Lavanya

    yeah that is the one I bought. I had got the reference from Jugalbandi(

    It is cast iron and the first couple of times it needed a lot more oil than I thought. Since then it has been great though. They say, The more you use, the better it gets seasoned and less oil is needed

  28. Thank you, Sandeepa! I think that's where I'd orginally found the rec too..Just bought it- can't wait!!

  29. The lengths we go to to avoid deep frying sigh....but the good part is that a Bong who has never heard of the "Aapai chatti" uses it and a Tam who has never heard of Daler Bora gets to see it and learn the recipe!! Yaay for oil-wuzzes :)

  30. Aiyyo RShan

    I could have never guessed you were Miri

  31. hi this is really tasty.. i fried it in pan........thanks for this recipe..

  32. nice recipes..I always follow your recipe.Abt that pan, I dont have gas is it good to use on electric heater stove? and when I try to make these bora paste,kemon jeno jhol theke jachhe tai bora banabar somoy thik chhoriye jachhe pan korbo?

  33. KC

    Do you have that pan ? I use it on gas stove. You can also use a regular kadhai to fry the bora

    Batter ta ki beshi liquid mone hochche ? Add a little maida to thicken the paste or add a little more dal to make the paste thicker

  34. Hi I lovethis website, as a new person to bengali cooking (after marrying a bengali) I am still getting to grips with bengali recipes, My husband loves his Bengali food, and I can see why, so many delicious recipes. One recipe I am looking for (hope someone can help), is something My husband calls noon bora.... I know that it has ginger,tumeric,onion,salt,water and ground rice, which makes a dough that you cut round peices from and fry... I was wondering if anyone had the recipe, and the quantities of each ingriedient, if you can help that would be great, I love these and can't wait to be able to cook them and more importantly eat them :)

  35. Dear Sandeepa
    In search of a different Daler Bada recipe I landed here ( where else to go!!) and it was like searching for GT road and landing at the right place, the did i land at right your blog..
    I never tried matar dal bada after coming to delhi, dont get the right stuff...Just came back from Cal with fresh stock ...and will make it soon...of course will make your Bada-r jhal
    Have nice week ( whatever is left of it)

  36. Ushnish Da

    Amader bari te sudhu Musur dal diyeo ei bara ta hoi. Jhaal korle recipe ta bolo, amar recipe ta sketchy, exact measures nei

  37. Bori aar bora tey difference achhey, bori ta sundried hobey aar Bora bhaja. Amar favourite bori holo musur daler, aar sun pai na (UK :) ) boley oven ey bake kori for abt three hours at 90 to 100 deg C. Dollops gulo tey musur daal bata (puro jol jhoriye niye, noyto consistency ashbey na)noon aar kalo jeerey olpo. Teen ghonta porey ready to cook

  38. What a great idea to use the Appe pan. I have had mine for almost a year without putting it to any use. And the bora looks so cute too. Thanks.

  39. Can this pan be used in normal gas oven?

  40. What's the difference between motor daal and chana daal?

    1. Motor daal is spilt white peas and chana daal is spilt chickpea

  41. Hi... I also added some Kalo jeere.... it tasted awesome.... thanks for the receipe...


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