Daal-Rice & Okra Stir Fry


Atiparichayat avadnyaa… this old adage in Sanskrit warned-“Too much of a familiarity leads to disrespect”. Addressed to humans, with an advice to maintain a polite dignity in their interactions with others, this saying interestingly reflects the plight of some of their food as well. Daal-rice and okra stir fry is such a common meal across many Indian households, that at times it becomes synonymous with mundane and humdrum affair. As a kid, I used to definitely be less excited on knowing this dinner plan, than I would have been about having something more glamorous, such as seafood of my choice. And many of my friends would not be any different. Despite the lack of popularity, it continued to be made in our houses and now, as a grown-up, I can understand why. With a simple and careful preparation, it brings perfectly complementing food items and flavors. It combines vegetable protein (daal), carbs (rice), and fiber (okra) to make a vegan meal with complete proteins and a low GI. No wonder, it has become our favorite meal plan too 🙂 Especially, after having to eat out consecutively during travel, I do crave for its unassuming deliciousness.

Here’s the recipe.


Serves two


A) For daal:

1 cup split pigeon peas (toor/ arhar daal)
1 tomato
3 green chili peppers
2/3 teaspoon of turmeric powder
2-3 pinches of asafoetida
2-3 tablespoons oil for tempeting
2 teaspoon of mustard
2 teaspoon of cumin seeds
4-5 garlic cloves
1 inch piece of ginger
7-8 curry leaves/ a teaspoon of currly leaf powder
Salt to taste
4-5 cups of water

B) For Okra stir fry

1/2 kg okra
1 onion
2 tablespoons of oil to fry
1 pinch of asafoetidaa
2 green chili peppers
7-8 curry leaves/ a teaspoon of currly leaf powder
1 tablespoon of cumin powder
1 tablespoon of coriander powder
2-3 tablespoons of lime juice


A) For daal:

  1. Wash and soak daal for at least 15 minutes.
  2. In a lidded pot/ pressure cooker, combine daal, turmeric powder, pinch of asafoetida, tomato slices, half of green chili peppers (vertically slit), and two cups of water. Cook till daal is soft, but not mushy.
  3. In another pot, make a tempering with heating oil, and sauté mustard seeds, cumin seeds, crushed garlic cloves, julienned ginger, thickly chopped green chili peppers, curry leaves, and asafoetida, till fragrant.
  4. Add cooked daal, along with its water over this tempering. Whisk to mix thoroughly.
  5. Add remaining water. Adjust salt to taste.
  6. Bring to boil then reduce heat and simmer for another five minutes.
  7. Take of the heat. Serve when it is still hot but not scalding.

And that is it. No need to add any other fancy curry powder. For this meal, we had it with brown rice, but for lighter meals, I have had it just as a lentil soup.

B) For okra stir fry:

  1. In a pan, heat oil and fry mustard seeds, cumin seeds, green chili peppers, curry leaves, asafoetida over it, till fragrant.
  2. Add uniformly cut chunks of okra over it and sauté over medium to high heat till all the pieces are mixed with the tempering.
  3. Sprinkle with salt, cumin and coriander powders, and mix again.
  4. Now, in one of my most rebellious streak, I do cover this pan for about 5 minutes so that okra gets to partially cook in its own steam. In most of the Indian cooking, this is strongly advised against… because most people believe that it would make okra more sticky. My mother and mother-in-law would unanimously unite in the protest, if they ever come to know of my deviation 😉
  5. However, all through of my cooking, I have come to believe that five minutes of covering only helps okra to cook better, without getting it too dry. If you are on the conventional side, and prefer super-crispy okra fry, then do feel free not to cover the pan.
  6. In any case, after that short interval of about five minutes, I uncover the pan and then- stir fry okra constantly till its juices are either evaporated or integrated into the vegetable.
  7. Now, mix in the thinly chopped onion  and stir till it is lightly cooked. Cover the pan for few minutes, if necessary (why hesitate now, if you have already done it once!)
  8. Ensure that okra is cooked to your liking and take off the heat. Squeeze 2-3 tablespoons of lime juice over it and mix. Enjoy it with your daal-rice.

Alu Matar: Peas-Tomato-Potato Gravy


I have fond memories of this recipe. Now available all year round, green peas were once rather seasonal in India during my childhood. So the advent of winter would mean that Aai would prepare alu matar, or what we called as mataar chi rassa bhaji. Probably of north-Indian origin, this is a household version, which is lighter and vegan. It does not use ghee or dairy cream and instead relies on the slow simmering of starchy potatoes in the tomato-onion gravy for its richness.

Since, it goes well both with rice and chapati bread, it would often star in the menu on special occasions, especially the ones which required a vegetarian feast. Those big chunks of potato and green peas in tangy gravy would be as decadent and delicious as any meat curry to me.



2-3 cups of fresh green peas
2 tomatoes
4 small or 2 big potatoes
1 medium sized onion
1-2 tbspoon olive oil
3 garlic cloves
2 small green chillies
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1/2 teaspoon crushed fenugreek seeds
1-2 teaspoon coriander powder
1 tbspoon curry powder
A pinch or two of garam masala
Salt to taste
2-3 cups of water
1-2 teaspoon of sumac (optional; my own touch to the original recipe for an additional tang)


  1. Heat oil in a skillet. Fry crushed fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, thinly chopped garlic and chillies over it.
  2. Add turmeric powder and chopped onion over it.
  3. Once onion turn translucent, add potato chunks, salt, and curry powder over it. Mix properly to coat the potatoes in onion and spices. Cover and let the potatoes soften in the steam.
  4. Meanwhile, make a puree of tomatoes and add it to the skillet, with some more water. Let everything simmer slowly till the tomato-onion gravy thickens like a homogeneous sauce and potatoes cook completely.
  5. After potatoes are done, add the green peas. Sprinkle garam masala and sumac powder, at this stage. Cover and let cook further till peas are cooked.
  6. Adjust and water and salt to your liking at this stage. If you add water, let everything come to boil again, and then take off the heat.

Today, I enjoyed it with brown rice, but as noted earlier it would be perfect with any bread/ flatbread as well. I even remember sneaking its leftover out of fridge, and having it as chunky soup in a bowl to satisfy my late afternoon cravings… So that’s another way to have it 🙂