Monday, October 22, 2012

Chholar Dal and Luchi for Durga Puja!

It's the third day of Durga Puja- Ashtami. Bengalis all over are flocking to puja pandals to catch a glimpse of the goddess and then there are people like me who will go anywhere to eat puja food. The Calcuttan inside me suffers bouts of depression if I don't see and hear some Durga Puja sounds every year- I'm sure all my Bong readers empathise with this sentiment. 

To stay true to tradition, here's a recipe for a Bengali favourite- Chholar Dal and Luchi.



1 tbsp vegetable oil
6 green chillies slit down the middle
1 tsp garam masala powder
1 tbsp coriander powder
3 bay leaves
1/4 small cubes of coconut
1 tsp red chilli powder
1 dry red chilli
1 tsp turmeric powder
4 tsp sugar
250 gms bengal gram (chana dal)
1 tbsp cumin powder
Salt to taste 

How to make Chholar Dal :

Wash the chana dal well. Boil it with 4 cups of water. Add the turmeric, cumin, garam masala and green chillies. 

Add salt and sugar to taste. (This dal is supposed to be sweet so don't worry about adding all the sugar). Mix well and stir till the dal is thick and well cooked. 

Time for the tadka. Heat oil in a small wok. Add the bay leaves, dry red chilli and garam masala. When it stops spluttering, add the tadka to the dal. 

Add the coconut pieces to hot oil and fry till golden brown. Add this to the dal once fried. 

And just like that, this sweet, spicy, coconutty dal is ready to eat with luchis. And in case you don't know how to make luchis, here's the recipe.


1 1/3 cup Flour (Maida)
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp sugar (optional)
3 tbsp vegetable oil
1/2 cup warm water or as needed
Oil for deep frying


Blend the flour, salt and sugar in a bowl. Add a bit of oil and water and knead to a firm dough. Cover the dough and set aside for about 30 minutes. Knead the dough again for a bit. Make small balls of the dough and cover with a damp cloth. 

Take one ball of the dough and dip one side of it into the oil and roll in out into a 4 inch flat circle. Repeat for the remaining balls. 

Heat the oil in a wok till its quite hot. Add the luchis to the hot oil and make sure that is it covered in oil. Flip it over and let it cook on the other side till its golden brown. Serve hot with chholar dal or alur dom. (The alur dom recipe is coming up tomorrow!)

Friday, October 19, 2012

Corn Colonel Burger at Burgs, Bandra

I was quite disappointed to find that the Tofu burger had vanished from the Burgs menu. But the other vegetarian options more than make up for the sudden disappearance of the Japanese style tofu burger. The Asli Indian, Aubergine Delite, Corn Colonel and Gardenia are all pretty good. You can ask them to give you a vegan sauce or dressing and ditch the cheese in some. I also recommend the Inferno super hot hot sauce! 

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Vegan Omega-3 from Unived

As a vegan, it is not unusual to hear the phrase "But where do you get your omega-3 from?".  And at a time when everyone is touting the benefits of omega-3 fatty acids, as a vegan it is quite tricky to find a non-animal derived supplement. Omega-3 fatty acids are a type of polyunsaturated fat that helps lower blood pressure, prevents heart disease, boosts brain health and could even treat depression.

Most vegetarian sources of omega-3, like flaxseed oil, chia seeds and purslane are made up of a omega-3 fatty acid known as alpha-linolenic acid (ALA). The omega-3's found in fish and fish oil are docodahexaenoic acid (DHA) and eicosapentaenoic acid (EPA). ALA does not have the same health benefits as DHA or EPA. The human body can convert ALA from plant sources into EPA and DHA but it requires more metabolic work.  So the question is- where do you get vegan DHA from?

Unived, a vegan healthcare company offers omega-3 supplements where the DHA is extracted from non-genetically modified microalgae. DHA that is derived directly from micro algae is free from the toxins that fish may carry.

In 2011, Whole Foods had to pull DHA derived from krill (tiny relatives of shrimp living in the Antarctic) because of sustainability issues about the harvesting of krill. Large animal populations rely on krill and harvesting krill could lead to their decline. The funny part is that krill was supposed to solve the threat of overfishing to fulfil the high demand for DHA. So it made sense to go straight to the source- to algae. There are algae that make omega-3 of the flax seed variety. And there are microscopic algae that make DHA itself. So cutting out the middleman makes sense, for the animals as well as us.

Other vegan products by Unived include Vegan Red Yeast Rice, Vegan Vitalitea, Vegan Activitea, Vegan Digestea. The products are priced between Rs 500- Rs 1600. 

Unived products are available online at and at other online stores ( You can also find their products at Nature's Basket (Bandra W & Warden Road), Serenity (Bandra), Dhoop (Bandra), Solanki Medical (Bandra), Danai Book Shop (Bandra), Cafe Columbia (Pune).