Varan – A Simple Dal from Maharashtra

Varan - A Simple Dal from Maharashtra
Varan – A Simple Dal from Maharashtra

Every state in India, absolutely each one of them, has some variation of a simple dal that is the favourite of its native children. Mudda Pappu or Gatti Pappu in Andhra, Parippu from Kerala and Tamil Nadu, the Bengali Masoor Dal, Dhaba Style Dal Tadka from the North….. The list is endless.

And Dal-Rice is perhaps THE comfort food for most Indians.

In Maharashtra, the simplest of dals is called Varan and there is no more a comforting food in the world than Varan Bhaat (Rice with Dal).

Varan is mandatory in all festive meals and apart from the Shrikhand and Puran Poli, this is the the most anticipated part of a traditional Maharashtrian meal for me.

I dedicate this post to the memory of Seema, a part of the my company’s start-up team, whom we lost much too young two years ago to a very rare disease. This month would have been her 8th wedding anniversary and it was in this context that I was thinking of her.

While reminiscing about Seema with her mentor Mr. Shinde, we remembered what a pretty bride she was and that was perhaps the last time we had a delicious, traditional Maharashtrian Lagnachya Pangtiche Jevan (the traditional Maharashtrian sit-down wedding meal) was at her wedding.

Sadly traditional meals are increasingly becoming a rarity now-a-days with buffets with a very secular menu becoming the norm. 🙁

How to Make Varan

Serves: 4

Time: 30 Minutes


  1. Tuvar Dal, Arhar Dal, Kandi Pappu or Split Pigoen Pea – 3/4 Cup
  2. Hirvi Mirchi or Green Chillies – 2 or 3
  3. Kothambir or Finely Chopped Fresh Green Coriander – 1 tbsp
  4. Curry Leaves – 6
  5. Haldi or Turmeric – 1/4 tsp
  6. Jeera or Cumin Seeds – 1/2 tsp
  7. Rai or Mustard Seeds – 1/2 tsp
  8. Hing or Asafoetida – A Large Pinch
  9. Ghee or Tup – 1 tbsp
  10. Meeth, Namak or Salt to Taste

Method to Make Varan

  1. Wash and soak the tuvar dal in 2 cups water for about 15 minutes.
  2. Pressure cook till the dal is completely mashable.
  3. Use a whisk, a churn or a heavy ladle to completely mash the dal.
  4. Add about 1/2 to 3/4 cup water till the dal is pourable consistency. Varan is slightly thin in consistency. 
  5. Add the turmeric and salt.
  6. Mix well.
  7. On a medium flame, bring the Varan to a simmer.
  8. In a ladle, heat the ghee.
  9. Add the mustard seeds and wait till they splutter.
  10. Add the cumin seeds and wait till they just start to change color.
  11. Turn off the heat.
  12. Add the curry leaves and slit green chillies.
  13. Mix well and let the tempering rest for a few seconds.
  14. Add the tempering to the simmering Varan.
  15. Take off the heat.
  16. Mix the tempering.
  17. Cover and let the Varan rest for 5 to 7 minutes.
  18. Take off the cover.
  19. Add the finely chopped coriander.
  20. Serve hot with bhaat (hot steamed rice), limbu (a wedge of lemon), and tup (ghee).
  21. Savour every morsel. 🙂
Varan - A Simple Maharashtrian Dal is a must for every festive meal in Maharashtra including Ganesh Chaturthi, Satyanarayan Pooja, Lagnyachi/Wedding Jevan
Varan – A Simple Maharashtrian Dal

I had originally provided a vegan option  by specifying oil in the list of ingredients. However, I then deleted that because Varan without Tup or Ghee is sacrilege!

If you want a slightly spicier version, try Tuvar Dal Amti.