Phodnicha Varan (Maharashtrian Style) | Tempered Lentil Curry

Phodnicha varan in English is translated to tempered lentil curry. Phodnicha varan is a nutritious, comforting & healthy lentil curry recipe made using turdal also known as split pigeon pea lentils or arhar dal.

Phodnicha varan / tempered lentil curry pairs best with steam rice along with dry potato sabji and some fried poppadum. This is a vegan, diabetic-friendly and protein-rich curry recipe.

This is a beginner-friendly and bachelor-friendly basic curry preparation. Making phodnicha varan (tempered lentil curry) is simple, easy and quick. This dal preparation is particular to the state of Maharashtra. Phodnicha varan is a staple in all Maharashtrian households.

Varan (lentil curry) is an integral part of Maharashtrian cuisine. Varan is paired with steamed cooked rice called bhat. This combination is popularly known as varan bhat. Varan (lentil curry) is made with or without onion and garlic. The traditional Maharashtrian varan known as goda varan do not contain garlic unlike phodnicha varan (tempered lentil curry).

Goda Varan (plain lentil curry without spices) is quite bland and is a little on the sweeter side due to the addition of jaggery (unprocessed sugar).

This goda varan is made by using lentils, hing (asafoetida), turmeric powder, salt & jaggery. This kind of plain lentil curry (goda varan) is often given to toddlers and they absolutely love it!

Traditionally Goda Varan (lentil curry) along with bhat (cooked rice) is offered as naivaidya (naivedyam) to God during festivals and auspicious occasions such as Ganpati Chaturthi, Navratri, Home Poojas, Gudi Padwa, Diwali to name a few.

Naivedya offered includes varan bhat along with dry potato sabji, coconut chutney, kakdi chi koshimbir (cucumber salad), poori, pakoda, shrikhanda to name a few. All the items that are offered as naivedya do not contain onion and garlic.

Leftover varan (lentil curry) is often turned into spicy, tangy and sweet curry known as Amti and sometimes it can be added to the wheat dough and kneaded to make dal paratha (flatbread) that is served mainly for breakfast.

There are 3 different ways in which you can cook the lentils here. One is using the pressure cooker to cook the turdal (pigeon pea lentils) which is the fastest. Another is to cook the lentil in a pot over the stove and the very recent one is to cook lentils in the instant pot. I have shared all the 2 versions here for pressure cooker & instant pot.

To make this Phodnicha Varan, I have used:

Turdal / Split Pigeon Peas Lentils: To make this recipe, the most preferred dal is turdal. However, if you do not get it handy, use split yellow moong dal or red lentils but the taste will differ in that case.

Spices & Herbs: I have used roughly crushed garlic here along with curry leaves, green chillies, mustard seeds, cumin seeds to name a few.

Coriander Leaves: They impart a nice flavour to this varan.

Oil: For tempering

Water: To adjust consistency

Beginner Friendly – Bachelor Recipes

Diabetic Friendly Recipes

Curry & Dal Recipes

Vegan Recipes

Maharashtrian Recipes

Food FAQ’s

Let’s see how to make Maharashtrian Phodnicha Varan – Tempered Lentil Curry with just a handful of ingredients in your home kitchen.

Serves: 3 Persons
Prep time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
Cooking level: Easy
Taste: Mild

For Varan (Lentil Curry)

  • 1 cup tur dal / pigeon pea lentils / arhar dal
  • 2 cups water for pressure cooking

For Tempering:

  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4th teaspoon turmeric powder (Haldi Powder)
  • 1/4th teaspoon asafoetida (hing)
  • 2 green chillies
  • 7-8 curry leaves (kadipatta)
  • 2 tablespoon cilantro/coriander leaves
  • 5-6 garlic pods (peeled & roughly crushed)
  • 2 tablespoon Oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Water for curry consistency
  • Rinse the turdal / pigeon / arhar dal well with sufficient water 3-4 times till the water runs almost clear.
  • Now add 2 cups of water to the washed dal and pressure cook till 6-7 whistles on medium flame.
  • Let the pressure from the pressure cooker settle down on its own before opening the lid.
  • Remove the dal from the cooker and add a cup of water to the cooked dal. Mash the dal using the backside of the ladle or a whisk. (The consistency of the dal depends on personal preferences. Some like it nicely churned while others like to have texture to their varan, hence adjust accordingly) personally, I like to keep my dal nicely churned making it smooth and silky.
  • Now our dal is ready, let’s head towards making the delicious Maharashtrian Varan.
  • In a Kadai / saucepan heat oil and add mustard seeds. When mustard seeds start crackling, add cumin seeds, asafoetida (hing), green chillies, curry leaves, & crushed garlic. I personally like to add a little bit of finely chopped cilantro /coriander leaves in the tempering itself as it gives a nice flavour to this varan / curry.
  • Be careful at this stage as the tempering might splutter a lot.
  • Fry this tempering for about a minute on low flame so that the flavour of garlic get infused nicely along with other herbs.
  • Now pour the dal into the tempering / tadka.
  • Add salt and turmeric powder. Adjust the consistency of the varan / curry and let it come to boil.
  • Maharashtrian Varan – Vegan Lentil Curry is ready. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with steamed rice.
  • At our home, we like to serve this with plain steamed rice along with roasted poppadums, garlic chutney or lemon pickle.
  • Rinse the turdal / pigeon / arhar dal well with sufficient water 3-4 times till the water runs almost clear.
  • Start the instant pot on saute mode. Heat oil and add mustard seeds. When mustard seeds start crackling, add cumin seeds, asafoetida (hing), green chillies, curry leaves, & crushed garlic. I personally like to add a little bit of finely chopped cilantro /coriander leaves in the tempering itself as it gives a nice flavour to this varan / curry.
  • Be careful at this stage as the tempering might splutter a lot.
  • Fry this tempering for about a minute on low flame so that the flavour of garlic get infused nicely along with other herbs.
  • Now add the washed dal into the tempering / tadka.
  • Add salt and turmeric powder. Add 2 cups of water, adjust the consistency as per your preference.
  • Close the lid with vent in sealing postion.
  • Now change the setting of instant pot to manual or pressure cook mode at high for 5 minutes.
  • Once the instant pot beeps, let the pressure release naturally for about 5 minutes.
  • Then realease the pressure manually.
  • Phodnicha Varan – Tempered Lentil Curry is ready.
  • Garnish with cilantro / coriander leaves and serve.

Note:

While serving varan / curry sprinkle some lemon juice which adds a nice tang to this curry.

If you want you can add either onion or tomato in the tempering and cook them till tender. This type of curry also has imparts a nice flavour.

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