Dal ka Phara or Fara is a very popular snack if your visiting eastern Uttar Pradesh or Bihar. The ‘pithii’ or the filling is made of ‘chana dal’ a.k.a split chick peas. Alternatively, this filling can also be made with ‘urad dal’ a.k.a skinless white lentils. However, it’s always made using the former in our house. The outer covering that holds the filling in place is made with rice flour a.k.a ‘Chawal ka atta’. These along with some spices and condiments makes for an delicious and tempting dish which is vegan and also gluten free. 🤗
The Phara is then either steamed or boiled in some salted water. Some people even choose to shallow or deep fry these dumplings once they are steamed or boiled. However, I do not do that. I feel the actual taste lies in keeping it as it is and thus making it much more healthier than the fried ones! That’s how my Mom makes them…and they taste divine 😘 Yes…most of these traditional recipes that I make come from her kitchen…stuff that I have grown up eating and savour the most!
What I like with these personally is my Mom’s spicy, tangy Pudine aur Dhaniye ki Imli Wali Chutney! Doesn’t the sound of it make you drool….it’s one of my favourite dips/ chutneys to go with anything savory and I always have a little porcelain potful sitting in my refrigerator 😉
So this time when my Mom was visiting us, I told her to teach me how to make these Pharas the traditional way and She did! She made the first couple of them as I watched her closely and then she guided me to make the rest….which obviously don’t look too perfect but I managed!! It’s a little lengthy procedure no doubt, but not very difficult if you follow the little tips.
The filling which is made with chana dal needs to be organised first by soaking the dal for at least 5-6 hours and then so on and so forth…..every bit worth the effort!
I will also share the recipe of the delicious Chutney that you see in the pictures! But that’s not even the best part, the best part is that my Mom modelled for me again…..this is her experienced hand which you had also seen in Vanilla Sponge Cake made in a Pressure Cooker, again her recipe!
So let’s get started….read carefully. It’s simply but a little technical….
Yield: 7-8 pharas
Equipment: a large open mouthed pot, measuring cups/ spoons, a large mixing bowl, a small mixing bowl, a slotted spoon, a basic blender.
For the outer covering:
1+1/2 cup rice flour (I use store bought)
salt to taste (season carefully, as we will season the filling too)
2 tsp refined oil
warm water as needed to knead a dough
In a large mixing bowl, take rice flour and season with some salt. Then add oil. Slowly, add the warm water a little at a time and make a dough. This is a Glutenfree flour, hence the dough will break if much pressure is applied. Once the dough comes together, cover it with damp kitchen napkin for 15-20 mins so that the dough absorbs enough moisture.
For the filling:
3/4 cup chana Dal (split chick pea)
2″ piece fresh ginger
1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves
salt to taste
2-3 nos. green chillies
1/2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera dana)
a pinch of hing (asafoetida)
Wash the dal well and soak in about 2 cups of water for 5-6 hours.
Next, drain all the water from the soaked dal.
Place the dal in a blender jar. Add very little water, season with salt, ginger, green chillies, coriander leaves, cumin seeds and hing. Grind them together until you have a smooth paste.
Remove the paste in a small bowl.
Assembling the Phara:
Keep a small bowl of water handy and weyor fingers and palms well. Take a lemon sized ball of the dough. Using your fingers and palms flatten the dough to a circle of 3″ diameter. The thickness should be approximately 1/2 a cm but not more as they won’t cook well otherwise.
Then place about 1-2 tbsp of the filling in the centre of the flattened dough and gently fold over the dough to cover the filling and pinch the edges to secure the filling within.
Do the same for the entire dough and keep the uncooked pharas ready on a plate.
Now, heat about 2 litres of water in a large pot, season it with some salt. Once it comes to a rolling boil, drop 3-4 pharas at a time. Let them boil on medium flame for about 5-8 mins. They will float on the top once they are cooked.
Using a slotted spoon, carefully remove the boiled Pharas from the water and place them on a plate. Cut one of them to see if they are cooked, if the dal is set and looks dry, it means the dal and the rice dough are both cooked well.
Do the same with the remaining uncooked pharas too, serve them hot with Chutney.
If you wish to steam them, do steam them as you steam Idlis in a idli cooker. Cook time will be 12-15 mins and cut them to check if they are cooked.
1 cup fresh coriander leaves
1/2 cup fresh mint leaves
4-5 cloves garlic
2 nos. green chillies chopped
1 nos. small onion sliced
4-5 tbsp fresh tamarind pulp
salt to taste
water as needed
Take all the ingredients in a blender jar and blend until smooth. Adjust the consistency by adding more or less water. This Chutney keeps well for 10-12 days in a porcelain or steel or glass jar under refrigeration.
This is one of my favorite versions of Dal-Chawal if you ask me! Healthy, filling and delicious 😘