April 11, 2012

Tetor or Bitter dal and a new series introduction

tetor or bitter dal

My parents are visiting and that means our menu has more Bengali food cooked by my parents nowadays. Whether it is regular macher jhol (fish curry) with salmon or mooger dal or special delicacies like this bitter or tetor dal and chingri macher malai kari, we have been relishing all of this and more regularly.

As I try to record my parents recipes, I have been thinking for some time now about how to add their personal touch to the blog posts. I thought about video, but they're not very comfortable with it and doesn't work. Then I started thinking about audio and the more I thought about it, the more feasible it seemed. When I spoke to them, they were open to the idea as well.

So I am launching a new audio series where I will have short podcasts with my parents describing the recipes in Bengali. This is very personal project. Just having their voices recorded for eternity telling me how to cook some of my childhood food is very dear to me.

It's the first one and has it's glitches, but hopefully it will get better. The podcast is a conversation between me and my mom about tetor dal.

Coming back to the tetor dal, I was never a big fan growing up. However as time passes, I have come to appreciate the dal and the karela and try to incorporate it more in our diet.And since my mother is here and is making it, this is the best time to record it on the blog :)

Even though it's called bitter dal, it really isn't. It's mild flavored dal with karela or bittergourd in it. 

This Dal is best enjoyed with rice and some green chilli or katcha lanka, and some veggie fritters. Mostly, it's served at lunch and is considered part of traditional Bengali lunch.

Tetor Dal

tetor or bitter dal

1 cup moong dal
1/4 lauki/lau (bottlegourd) cut in big pieces (should be about a cup and 1/2)
1 karela (bittergourd) cut in thin slices
1/2 tspoon methi seeds
2/3 tspoon cumin seeds
2/3 tspoon mustard seeds
1 bay leaf
2 tspoon grated fresh ginger
1 tbspoon ghee (clarified butter)
3 tspoon oil
2/3 tspoon turmeric powder
salt to taste

Saute the moong dal on medium heat for a few minutes till the aroma comes. Wash and then put it in a pressure cooker withthe bottlegourd pieces. Add 1/2 tspoon turmeric powder, 1 tspoon oil and salt to taste. Cook it to 3-4 whistles till the dal and lau is cooked.

Mix the bittergourd pieces with salt and turmeric and keep it aside for 10 minutes. Then heat 2 tspoon oil in a pan and stir-fry them till they are done. Keep it aside.

In a saucepan, heat the ghee and then add the bay leaf. Then add the methi seeds, cumin seeds and the mustard seeds in that order. Then add the ginger and saute for a minute. Add the bittergourd, and then the dal and let it all mix and cook together for 3-4 minutes.

tetor or bitter dal

Take it off the heat and serve hot with rice.

This tetor dal is going to The Well Seasoned Cook - Susan's 46th Legume Affair. Thanks Susan!

I have finally created a Faacebook page for the blog where we can have more conversation about food, recipes, and life in general. Please go to https://www.facebook.com/ahaarblog and "Like" the page. 


  1. Being a non-bengali could not get a word of what was said but having said that I think its a marvellous idea this, recording mum's voice for eternity. Good luck with it.As long as there is mum's recipe to go by for people like me I am all for it!!The recipe is yummy.Love it.

  2. That is a wonderful idea and I love the tetor dal. It reminds me of my mother's cooking

  3. I think it is a marvelous idea... ALl the Best with it...
    Love the dal too...

  4. Looks yum ....I make this too..

  5. Yum,,,this is new for me,..)

  6. That is a beautiful idea Mandira! My Bapi has my voice and songs recorded from my childhood but I've never thought of recording theirs.

  7. Thats a very beautiful thought Mandira..listened the podcast..last e narkel'er bishoye mention korlen mashima and thats how my ma likes to make..all the best for this series..I happened to record my grandmothers singing but lost it somewhere..never thought about recording the voice for recipes..am so looking forward to this series..hugs and smiles

  8. I just resolved to eat bittergourd regularly but I still can't get used to the idea of it in dal - we get karela sambar here. My grandmother once made a pickle, oil-free, I think, with lime juice and red chilli powder in which she soaked slices of bittergourd. It was really tasty.

  9. Dal looks super comforting, wish to have some..

  10. beautiful idea Mandira. loved listening to it.
    tetor dal has always been my fav during the summer months. love it.

  11. Thank you everyone for your encouragement and love. I hope to keep recording their recipes while they are visiting me.

    @Sharmila I have some from my childhood too :)

    @Jaya - thanks, kept postponing for a long time and then took the plunge.

    @Sra - in this the karela is added at the end, so it's not really bitter, but it can be an acquired taste. Would love to get the recipe for the pickle :)

    Thanks @Sayantani.

  12. I L-O-V-E tetor dal. Ami diabetic and karela is supposed to be good for you and hence try to incorporate in my diet as often as possible. And this dal is on my top list. Tobe ami daal ta baaji na. So its kancha moonger dal with lau and korola/ ucche. Eibaar bheje try korbo. Sure will like it. And I have liked ure facebook page too...

    1. Thanks Pee Gee. Looking forward to your recipes.

  13. I never liked tetor dal as a kid. Now of course I am only too eager to make it.
    Recording your parents voice is such a unique idea Mandira. Didn't get time to listen to the podcast, will do soon.
    Notun Bachor e Mashima-Meshomoshai ke amar pronam janio ar tomader shobar jonyo onek shubhechcha roilo plu chotto A'r jonyo onek hugs and good wishes

    1. Yeah Sandeepa, I have been wanting to do the recording forever and am just now getting round to doing it. Tumi Kemon acho?

  14. What a lovely idea, Mandira, to record voices of your parents! The dal looks wonderful- I really shy away from bitter gourd but this recipe I will certainly try.

    1. Nupur, I never liked it as a kid, but relish it now every time my mom makes it.

  15. Hi Mandira, thanks for visiting my blog. Oh I love your podcast...a lovely idea...waiting for many more to come :-)

  16. Hi Mandira,
    Clicked in here from Jaya's blog and this particular recipe look intriguing. I will definitely try this. Overall I am quite familiar to bong food, but never heard of a bitter daal like this. It's healthy and I think I would like the taste as well.

    Great blog you have :-)


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