Phodnicha Varan Recipe (Maharshatrian style)

Phodnicha Varan Recipe with step-by-step pics. Podnicha Varan is a light and delicious Indian lentil recipe popular, especially in the state of Maharashtra.

In India, the varieties of dal are as diverse as the country itself. Each region boasts its unique methods of preparing and savoring this staple ingredient. In Indian households, dal chawal stands as the epitome of comfort food. This dal recipe is from the land I was brought up in – Maharashtra.

The name Phodnicha Varan is a combination of two Marathi words. Phodni means “tempering” and Varan means “dal or lentil curry”. In English, Podnicha Varan would read as tempered dal.

Traditionally the varan is paired with steamed rice called bhaat and this combination is popularly known as varan bhat. The meal is complemented with side dishes like vegetable curries, pickle.

During the Ganesh Chaturthi festival in Maharashtra, varan bhaat (made without onion and garlic) is traditionally offered as bhog (Naivedyam) to Ganeshji. Naivedya offered includes varan bhat along with dry potato sabji.

Varan bhaat is considered a nutritious and balanced meal due to the combination of protein from lentils and carbohydrates from rice.

Difference between Varn and Phodnicha Varan

Varan and Phodnicha Varan are both Maharashtrian dishes with subtle differences:

1. Varan: It’s a basic Maharashtrian dal prepared with pigeon peas (toor dal) cooked with turmeric and salt.

2. Phodnicha Varan: This is essentially Varan with a tadka (tempering) made with spices like cumin seeds, mustard seeds, garlic, curry leaves, and sometimes green chilies or red chili powder. The tempering gives it a more robust flavor profile compared to the regular varan. It’s a bit more aromatic and spicier than the plain varan.

The key difference lies in the tempering or tadka added to the Phodnicha Varan, which gives it an extra layer of flavor compared to the simpler, milder Varan.

About Phodnicha Varan Recipe

Podnicha Varan is typically made from lentils. It is seasoned with a variety of spices giving it a flavorful and aromatic taste. The resulting dal is often slightly thick and flavorful.

Every region in Maharashtra has its own style of making phodnicha varan. There are many versions of varan with slight variations in the ingredients. The recipe I am sharing today was shared by a Puneri friend’s mother.

The podnicha varan needs very little time and effort, making it a perfect meal on a weekday or on weekend. I make varan atleast 2-3 times in a week. My kiddo loves it and because of yellow color, he calls it as yellow dal.

I cook this dish whenever I am bored of cooking special dishes, tired from work, or crave for comfort food.

Some people make varan with toor dal (pigeon peas), moong dal (split green gram), masoor dal ( red lentils) or even mix lentils.

Reasons to try

Easy & straightforward.

Comfort food.

Beginners & bachelors friendly recipe.

Need just a handful of ingredients.

Apt for everyday meals.

This recipe can be easily doubled or tripled.

Vegan.

Pro Tips

Choice of dal: Use toor dal (split pigeon peas) for an authentic taste. You can mix lentils for a creamier texture.

Do not skip Tempering (tadka or phodni): The tempering or tadka is a crucial step in making a flavorful phodnicha varan.

Adjust spice as per preference: Green chilly is the only spice in this dal. So adjust the quantity as per taste.

Consistency of dal: Adjust the consistency of the dal according to your preference. Some people like it thick, while others prefer a slightly thinner consistency. Add water if it’s too thick or letting it simmer longer to thicken if it’s too thin.

Simmer the varan for 10-15 minutes: Simmering the dal on low or medium flame allows the ingredients to interact and infuse their essence and flavor into the dal.

Ingredients

Dal: This recipes uses split pigeon peas lentils (tuvar, toor dal, arhar dal).

For the tempering (tadka): You will need oil, mustard seeds, cumin, garlic, curry leaves, green chilies, onion, turmeric powder, and coriander leaves.

Seasoning: salt.

Garnishing: corinader leaves.

How to make Podnicha Varan (step-by-step)

Cooking the dal

1 & 2. Rinse the dal well until the water runs clear. Add it to a pressure cooker or an instant pot along with 2-3 cups of water and 1 tsp oil.

3. Cook the dal until it is soft and mushy. I cook the dal in the pressure cooker for 3 whistles on high flame and 2 whistles on low flame. Turn off the flame, let the pressure release naturally.

4. Once the pressure is released, open the lid, Use a dal whisk (steel or wooden) and mash the dal until smooth. Keep it aside.

Tempering

5. Heat oil in a pan over medium flame. Once the oil is hot, add mustard and cumin seeds. Let them splutter.

6. Add crushed garlic, roughly chopped green chilies, curry leaves, and asafoetida. Saute until the garlic turns light golden color.

Adjust the number of green chilies to achieve the desired level of spiciness.

7. Add roughly sliced onions and saute until they turn soft.

Note: Make sure the onion doesnot change color.

8. Turn the flame to low and add turmeric powder and salt to taste.

Note: Adding turmeric powder to the oil will give a vibrant color to the varan.

8. Add chopped coriander leaves in the tempering itself as it gives a nice flavour to the dal.

Note: Maharashtrians do add coriander leaves to the dal and curry.

9. Now pour the whisked dal and water according to the consistency preferred.

10. Mix well. Turn the flame to high and let it come to a roaring boil.

11. During this heating process, a foamy scum may rise to the surface.

12. Skim off this scum using a ladle or serving spoon.

Note: Removing the scum helps in achieving a clearer and cleaner varan. It also helps prevent boil-overs and mess on the stovetop.

13. Turn the flame to low and simmer the dal for 10-15 minutes.

Taste test and add seasoning, if needed.

14. Finally add the chopped coriander leaves and turn off the flame. Give a good mix.

Note: This adds a burst of freshness to the dish.

15. Maharashtrian style Phodnicha Varan is ready. Serve it hot with steamed rice, ghee and choice of side dish.

Serving Suggestions

Podnicha Varan is best enjoyed when served hot. The varan is poured over the rice, and the combination is typically served with a dollop of sajuk toop (ghee/clarified butter).

Varan bhaat is often accompanied by a simple side dish, papad, and or pickle.

Storage Suggestions

Phodnicha Varan will easily last for 3-4 days when stored in an air-tight container in the refrigerator. Reheat before serving, you can reheat in a pan or microwave until nice and hot.

Add in a little hot water while reheating as dal tends to become thick after refrigeration.

Variations

Varan is staple in many Maharashtrian households, and its variations can be found across different regions.

1. Tomato, tamarind, or kokum may be added for a hint of tanginess.

2. Can add some goda masala to enhance the flavor.

3. Can also add fresh grated coconut towards the end.

More Related Recipes

Sambar

Spinach Dal

Tomato pappu

Garlic Pepper Rasam

Tomato Rasam

If you’ve tried this Easy Podnicha Varan Recipe, then don’t forget to rate the recipe and leave a comment below! Feedback and suggestions are highly appreciated. Also, please share the recipes with your friends and family members.

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Recipe Card

Podnicha Varan Recipe (Maharshatrian style)

Author: Santosh Allada
Phodnicha Varan is an easy Maharashtrian style tempered lentil recipe. It makes an excellent comfort food and a quick meal option that is ready in less time.
Prep Time 5 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 35 minutes
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian, Maharashtrian
Servings 4 people

Ingredients
  

  • 1 cup Toor dal (split pigeon peas)
  • 3 cups Water
  • 1 tsp Oil

For Tempering

  • 2-3 tbsp Oil
  • 1 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 7-8 numbers Garlic pods (crushed)
  • 8-10 numbers Curry leaves
  • 1/2 tsp Asafoetida
  • 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder
  • 4-5 numbers Green chilies (adjust as per taste)
  • 1 small Onion (roughly sliced)
  • 3-4 tbsp Coriander leaves (roughly chopped)
  • Salt to taste
  • Water (for consistency)

Instructions
 

Cooking the Dal

  • Rinse the dal well until the water runs clear. Add it to a pressure cooker or an instant pot along with 2-3 cups of water and 1 tsp oil.
  • Cook the dal until it is soft and mushy. I cook the dal in the pressure cooker for 3 whistles on high flame and 2 whistles on low flame. Turn off the flame, let the pressure release naturally.
  • Once the pressure is released, open the lid, Use a dal whisk (steel or wooden) and mash the dal until smooth. Keep it aside.

Tempering

  • Heat oil in a pan over medium flame. Once the oil is hot, add mustard and cumin seeds. Let them splutter.
  • Add crushed garlic, roughly chopped green chilies, curry leaves, and asafoetida. Saute until the garlic turns light golden color.
  • Add roughly sliced onions and saute until they turn soft.
  • Turn the flame to low and add turmeric powder and salt to taste.
  • Add chopped coriander leaves in the tempering itself as it gives a nice flavour to the dal.
  • Now pour the whisked dal and water according to the consistency preferred.
  • Mix well. Turn the flame to high and let it come to a roaring boil.
  • During this heating process, a foamy scum may rise to the surface. Skim off this scum using a ladle or serving spoon.
  • Turn the flame to low and simmer the dal for 10-15 minutes.
  • Finally add the chopped coriander leaves and turn off the flame. Give a good mix.
  • Maharashtrian style Phodnicha Varan is ready. Serve it hot with steamed rice, ghee and choice of side dish.

Notes

Use fresh and tender curry leaves.
Adding coriander leaves at two stages enhances the taste and flavor.
Asafoetida aids in digestion. You can skip it to make gluten free varan.


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