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Dal Chawal – Synonymous With Being Indian

Dal Chawal – Synonymous with being Indian

It was not until a few days back, while savouring the delicacy myself, that I realised how dal chawal should be elevated to the status of our national food. Just think about it. Chawal or rice is eaten along with dal or lentils prepared like a soupy broth in almost the entire country. Dal chawal in north and west, dal bhaat in the east and sambhar rice in the south, this special item is a must have in all households, though in different forms.

If you are Indian, there is no doubt that you would have more than once in your life, tasted the simple, staple and very often delicious Dal Chawal.

Eating Dal chawal in India, is as synonymous with being Indian, as is singing the national anthem, watching the Republic Day parade every single year without fail, hoping for a miracle when Dhoni is batting, cursing item songs yet watching them or feeling a parental pride for Sunita Williams or Satya Nadella, even though they are technically not Indians.

Just as feeling goose bumps when Sunny Deol raps a punch dialogue about patriotism to the green villain, or being teary eyed on reality dancing shows, eating dal chawal at least once a week is a very normal practice for us, Indians.

In fact, those who leave and settle elsewhere, eating dal chawal, in some strange way, keeps their Indianess alive. So I have heard from of-course reliable sources, including hindi movies.

It was not until a few days back, while savouring the delicacy myself, that I realised how dal chawal should be elevated to the status of our national food. Just think about it. Chawal or rice is eaten along with dal or lentils prepared like a soupy broth in almost the entire country. Dal chawal in north and west, dal bhaat in the east and sambhar rice in the south, this special item is a must have in all households, though in different forms.

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Reasons for popularity:

Highly nutritious and relatively cheap, this is a filling meal packed with all the energy and proteins that you need to carry out your daily activities. In some households, dal chawal is cooked every single day and surprisingly no one really ever gets bored of it.


Seven months old to seventeen to seventy, dal chawal is evergreen and popular across all age groups and is counted as a favourite. From a rich man’s delight to a poor man’s necessity, dal chawal like a true saviour can easily change form and appearances to fit into the required mould. Sprinkled with blistering ‘tarka’ of pure desi ghee along with spicy red kashmiri chillies, and the dal is ready to be served in buffets and on shiny dinner parties.

Accompanied by a raw onion smashed with the hardened hand of a farmer, the dal chawal is now ready to serve its humble master.

It is honestly quite hard to imagine life without dal chawal. What makes it even more interesting is that since there are so many types of dal (moong, chana and so on; won’t bore you with more and trust me there are many more), the variations in the preparation help break the monotony and also vary the supplements that are required by our body.

I almost forgot to mention, that at times, besides chawal, dal is also eaten with a preparation of wheat. For instances, the very famous dal baati churma of Rajasthan or dal ghakar of Gujarat, are mouth watering dishes which serve dal prepared with different forms of chapatti.

However, everything said and done, dal chawal wins hands down in the race for its widespread appeal and its definite traditional touch. I have to admit that if there is any nation that can be bound by food, then it must be ours.  That in itself is much to say, considering that though we glorify being united in diversity, we rarely have a diversity that keeps us united. Food achieves this mammoth task with ease. Gol gappas or puchkas or pani puri, aaloo bhaja or aaloo ki subzi, imirty or jalebi, and the list can go on, are more or less same delicacies with subtle yet trademark changes of different regions and tagged by different names.

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Dal Chawal, prepared and called different things in different regions, explodes in the mouth and fills our stomachs in the same way everywhere. Ummm…Yum, yum.

Featured Photo: Dal Chawal by Santosh Kumar GM

Tasneem

Quiet, reflective, introspective are the best ways to describe her. With a degree in Geography and work experience in the geo and mapping sector, Tasneem enjoys to spend time with nature and go for unplanned adventures. Reading and writing are her favorite things to do, besides watching movies and gorging on street food. Though a resident of Chennai, she feels she visits all those places that she writes and reads about.

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