Varan Bhaat is a simple and quick Maharashtrian style dal (lentils curry) and rice recipe. This nutritious and comforting meal is a staple in Marathi homes as well as part of many festive and auspicious occasions like Ganesh Chaturthi and Gudi Padwa.
In this post, sharing how to make Varan Bhaat using a pressure cooker and Instant pot with step-by-step pics and video.
Varan bhaat, tup (ghee), lonache (lemon pickle), papad, and batata bhaji was staple and favorite meal growing up.
The next day, mom would make Amti (tempered dal) from leftover varan to change things up, and that is so delicious too. Will share that recipe soon.
Back then, the likes of rajma, dal makhani were limited to restaurant meals. Now after marrying a Punjabi these are part of my everyday meals and love them too. But when when I crave comfort food, I need my simple Varan bhaat fix.
Mom, to date, makes varan bhaat pot in pot using her pressure cooker. I follow her recipe just prefer using my Instant pot but I am sharing both versions today.
What is Varan Bhaat
Varan is a basic and simple lentil's curry also known as dal in Hindi that is typically served along with rice called bhaat in Marathi and hence the name Varan Bhat. So basically Varan Bhaat is dal rice in its simplest form.
Varan is made from Toor dal, also known as split pigeon peas in English, and toovar dal, Tuvar dal, Arhar dal in Hindi.
There are many variations of Varan, like the one I’m sharing today is call Maharashtrian Varan that I grew up eating but there are also Phonidche Varan (with tempering), Goan style Varan (where coconut is added at the end), and God Varan (slightly sweeter in taste).
Maharashtrian varan is toor dal pressure cooked with turmeric, salt, and water and then tempered with ghee, cumin seeds, and asafoetida (hing).
It is served hot topped with ghee and a squeeze of lemon juice. Add sides of your preference like pickle, chutney, or bhaji and there you have delicious comfort food ready!!
Uses of Varan
Varan bhat is a staple in most Maharashtrian homes as an everyday meal as it requires just basic ingredients and is quick to make plus nutritious.
Since it doesn't have any heat or spicy ingredients, it makes great food for kids
It is also part of many special occasions like weddings and even offered as Prasad, bhog, or naivedyam on festive and auspicious occasions like Ganesh Chaturthi and Gudi Padwa since it contains no onion nor garlic.
You can also use the varan recipe as a base to make other dal's like dal fry, dal tadka, sambar.
Isn't that awesome!! Lets see how to make delicious and easy Varan bhat recipe!!
For Varan -
Lentils - I prefer using toor dal also known as Tuvar dal or split pigeon peas to make varan. You can also use yellow moong dal, pink masoor dal, or a combination of these.
Spices - Traditional Varan recipe uses basic spices like turmeric (for flavor and signature yellow color), salt, asafoetida/hing(aids digestion), and cumin seeds (for tempering tadka). It doesn't have any heat/spicy ingredients like green or red chili powder.
Ghee - for tempering. To keep it vegan use oil instead.
For bhaat (Rice) -
Rice - I have used basmati rice but you can also use sona masoori or ambemohar.
Spices - salt, you can add cumin seeds too if you like.
Ghee/oil - optional but recommended.
Please refer to the recipe card for exact measurements of ingredients.
Step by Step Method
For Instant pot:
1 and 2 - Rinse dal with sufficient water 3-4 times until the water runs clear.
3 and 4 - Transfer the rinsed dal to the main pot of Instant pot along with 3 cups of water, salt and turmeric. Mix well.
5 - Similarly, rinse the rice 3-4 times until the water runs clear. Transfer it to a stainless steel container that fits inside the main pot. Add salt, water, ghee/oil to it. Mix well.
6 - Add a tall trivet inside the main pot which has dal.
7 - Place the stain-less steel container with rice on it. Cover it with stainless steel plate (optional)
8 - Close the Instant Pot lid with vent to sealing. Pressure cook on manual (pressure cook) mode on high for 10 mins followed by a natural release.
While the dal is pressure cooking make the tadka.
9 - Heat the tadka pot or small pan on medium heat, add ghee to it.
10 and 11 - Once ghee is hot add the cumin seeds and hing to it. Mix well.
12 - Let it sizzle for 1 min or so and then take it off the heat. Be careful not to burn it.
13 - Once the pin drops, open the lid, using mits remove the rice container, and trivet. Be careful, they will be hot. Keep rice covered.
14 - Start Instant Pot on saute mode. Mash the dal with the back of the spoon until it's nice, smooth, and creamy. Skip this step if you prefer the texture.
15 - Add the tadka to the mashed dal and mix well.
16 - Adjust the varan consistency if needed. I added 1 cup more water. Bring it to a boil. Turn off the Instant Pot. Varan Bhaat is ready!!
For pressure cooker
Follow the same steps as the Instant pot above but pressure cook for 4-5 whistles on medium heat. This will result in softer rice which pairs well with Varan but if you don't prefer that, cook the rice separately.
Please note dal cooking time may vary based on the quality of dal.
Serve varan bhat piping hot topped with more ghee and a squeeze of lemon juice. Add a side of pickle, chutney, papad, or bhaji of choice to pair along.
I personally love any kind of potato dish with varan bhaat be it batata bhaji, potato stir fry, or batata kaap (kachari).
For festive meals, pair it with other recipes like Shrikhand, Poori, koshimbir, and kothimbir vadi to make it a complete feast.
Type of dal - Traditionally varan is made from toor dal but you can also use split masoor dal or yellow moong dal or a combination to make varan. Each dal has its own flavor and texture so depending on the dal used, the varan taste will change. Also, cooking times vary slightly.
Soaking dal and rice - is not required for this recipe. But to speeden the process, soak for 30mins and pressure cook just for 6 mins.
Vegan and gluten-free - skip ghee to keep it vegan and asafoetida to keep it gluten-free.
This dal thickens as it sits, so adjusts the consistency by adding water while heating.
To make it one-pot, simply add the tempering directly to the main pot before adding the dal for cooking. I just prefer to add it later for more flavor.
Leftover Varan - can be used as a base for making dal tadka, dal fry, or even sambhar.
Frequently asked questions
Allow leftover dal to cool completely then store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 4-5 days and in the freezer for 1-2 months. Reheat in the microwave or in a pot on the stovetop until completely heated through before serving. Adjust consistency with water as needed.
Yes, varan can be made in a heavy-bottomed pot on the stovetop. Just that it requires longer cooking time. To make it on the stovetop, simply boil the dal with turmeric and salt covered in sufficient water until the dal is completely cooked, and then add the tempering. Cook the rice in a separate pan.
More Maharashtrian recipes
Hope you enjoy this Varan Bhaat Recipe !! If you give this recipe a try, please rate by clicking stars ⭐️ on the recipe card. Thank you ❤️ ! You can also follow me on Facebook | Instagram to see what’s cooking in my kitchen!!
Varan Bhaat | Varan Recipe
To pressure cook the Varan (dal)
- 1 cup toor dal tuvar dal, arhar dal, split pigeon dal
- ¼ teaspoon turmeric powder
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 3 cups water
For tempering (tadka) the Varan (dal)
- 2 tablespoon ghee
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds zeera
- pinch asafoetida hing
For Rice (Bhaat)
- 1 cup rice using basmati rice
- ¼ teaspoon salt adjust to taste
- 1 teaspoon oil or ghee optional
For Instant pot Method:
- Rinse the dal rinse with sufficient water 3-4 times until the water runs clear.
- Transfer the rinsed dal to the main pot of Instant pot along with 3 cups of water, salt, and turmeric. Mix well.
- Similarly, rinse the rice 3-4 times until the water runs clear. Transfer it to a stainless steel container that fits inside the main pot. Add salt, oil/ghee, and water to it. Mix well.
- Add a tall trivet inside the main pot which has dal. Place the stainless steel container with rice on it. Cover with stainless steel plate (optional).
- Close the lid with the vent to sealing. Pressure cook on manual (pressure cook) mode on high for 10 mins followed by a natural release.
- While the dal is pressure cooking make the tadka.
- Heat the tadka pot or small pan on medium heat, add ghee to it. Once the ghee is hot add the cumin seeds and hing to it. Mix well.
- Let it sizzle for 30seconds - 1 min or so and then take it off the heat. Be careful not to burn it.
- Once the Instant pot pin drops, open the lid, using mits remove the rice container and trivet. Be careful, they will be hot. Keep the rice covered.
- Start Instant Pot on saute mode. Mash the dal with the back of the spoon until it's nice, smooth, and creamy. Skip this step if you prefer your dal with texture.
- Add the tadka to the cooked and mashed dal and mix well and adjust the consistency if needed. I added 1 cup more water. Bring it to a boil.
- Varan Bhat is ready!! Serve hot topped with more ghee squeeze of lemon juice with pickle and batata bhaji on side.
For Pressure Cooker Method
- Follow the same steps as the Instant pot above but pressure cook for 4-5 whistles on medium heat. This will result in softer rice which pairs well with Varan but if you don't prefer that, cook the rice separately.
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