Hearty, delicious, and full of flavor, this Oriya lentil and veg stew is true comforting food. Mildly spiced, this vegan stew is a great one-pot dish that goes well with rice or bread. Dalma- lentil and veg stew is a healthy and nourishing example of our rich heritage of regional cuisine.
I have always felt that Indian food is not represented in full depth by its commercial outlets abroad. In the US, if you check any restaurant menu, you will see the same names again and again. It makes it appear as though Indian food does not go beyond Paneer Butter Masala, Instant Pot Veg Dhansak, Chicken Butter Masala, or Chana Masala/Chickpea Curry.
India has a rich heritage of regional cuisines, however, it looks like commercial establishments have shown no interest in showcasing the depth and richness of these. So if people are not aware of our ancient traditional food then I can't blame them. There should be some source somewhere to introduce everyone to the vivid culinary scene of our country.
One more misconception about Indian food is also that it is always quite spicy, which is not true. Indian cuisine has quite a few items which are not only mild but quite nourishing and fulfilling without adding those extra calories.
Dalma-lentil and veg stew is one such regional vegetarian cuisine. It's a stew made with lentils and lots of vegetables. A perfect tempering of a few spices and herbs takes this dish to another level. It's rich, hearty, easy, and most importantly, loved by all.
What Ingredients Are Used in Making Dalma?
Lentils- We are using split pigeon pea lentils or toor dal in this recipe. This lentil doesn't take much time to cook and best of all doesn't get too much mushy if you want some texture for it.
Vegetables- Traditionally, quite a few root vegetables are used in this stew. However, you can always choose the veggies that you want. I have used potatoes, green beans, eggplant, pumpkin, squash, radish, carrot, onion, and tomatoes.
Aromatics- Ginger and garlic are mandatory to enhance the flavor of any Indian food. In addition, green chilies and asafoetida make it really delicious.
Spices- Five spices (a blend of five common whole Indian spices) aka, Panch Phoran, is used in Oriya cuisine extensively. Besides Oriya, Bengali and Bihari cuisine also use it.
Dry red chili, bay leaf, black cardamom, turmeric powder, red chili powder, cumin powder, and garam masala powder are also used in this recipe.
Typically mustard oil is used, however, you can use oil of your choice. If you are not making this vegan, cook with ghee. That will make dal super aromatic and delicious.
Fresh coconut slices are really important to this recipe.
You can use fresh chopped cilantro for garnishing.
How to Make Dalma in the Instant Pot-
First of all, we will cook lentils in the instant pot. Make sure it's just half done. When the lentil is half cooked, you will cook all the vegetables and spices with it. Cooking time is really important since you don't want mushy vegetables. At the same time, you want the melt-in-the-mouth, creamy texture of lentils and vegetables.
After cooking is done, it's time for tempering/tadka; it is done with ghee/mustard oil/oil of your choice, panch phoran, cumin seeds, dried red chilies, asafoetida, and Kashmiri chili powder.
Garnish with fresh cilantro just before serving.
How Can You Cook Dalma on Gas Stove?
Cooking Dalma in a pan is super easy, however, it takes more time than the Instant Pot. Hence, you have to be really patient. Just follow the same process as the instant pot. Use medium flame and stir in between so that lentils and vegetables don't stick to the pot.
The thickness will depend on your choice. It doesn't matter whether you are cooking in an instant pot or a normal pot on the stove. I like my stew little on the thinner side, so I added a little water.
Dalma- Lentil and Veg Stew
- ½ Cup Split pigeon peas/Toor Dal
- ½ Cup Pumpkin cut in 1.5 inch square cubes
- ⅓ Cup Squash, cubed same as pumpkin
- ¼ Cup Green beans, into 1 inch length
- ¼ Cup Carrot Cubes
- ¼ Cup Shallots /White onion
- ¼ Cup Chopped Eggplant /brinjal
- ½ Cup Potato,cubed as pumpkin
- 1 Tsp Grated Ginger and garlic.
- ¼ Cup Chopped Radish
- 1 Medium Chopped Tomato
- 2 Black cardamom
- 2 Bay leaves
- 2 Green chilies(optional)
- 1 Tsp Turmeric Powder
- 1 Tsp Sugar
- Salt to taste
For the tempering
- 2 Tbsp Avocado oil /mustard oil /Ghee
- ½ Tbsp Cumin seeds
- 1 Tbsp Panch phoran/Bengali five spice
- 2 Dry Red Chili
- 1 Tsp Crushed Ginger Garlic (not ground)
- Pinch of asafoetida
- 1 Tsp Kashmiri red chili powder
- ½ Tsp Garam Masala
- ¼ Cup Fresh coconut flakes
- ¼ Cup Fresh Cilantro, chopped
- Wash lentils and cook with 2 cups of water, salt, and turmeric.
- For cooking in Instant pot turn on the instant pot.
- Add lentils, 2 cups of water, salt and turmeric. Cover the lid on and vent on seal-in position.
- Cook on high pressure for 3 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally.
- Chop all the vegetables and prepare everything for tempering.
- When pressure is released naturally, remove the lid.
- Whisk lentils with a whisk and add all the vegetables and whole spices other than written under tempering and garnish.
- Mix them once with a spatula. Add one cup of hot water to the instant pot.
- Cover the lid. Cook on high pressure for 2 minutes and release the steam naturally.
- Vegetables should hold their shape.
- Take a tempering pan.
- Add oil to it. When it's hot, add panch phoran or 5 spice, crushed ginger, dry red chili, cumin seeds, a pinch of asafoetida, and red chili powder.
- Cook it for around a minute. Do not let it burn.
- Pour it over the lentil and veg stew and stir it once.
- Add thin coconut slices or flakes.
- Garnish with fresh cilantro and serve.
- You can have this as a side with any grain or millet as well as just like that.