Goan Coconut Dal, Goan Varan, or simply Goan Dal, is a simple but flavorful dal from the tropical state of Goa. “Varan” is the word for dal in Marathi and Konkani, the language of Goa.
Goan Coconut Dal is often part of the food cooked for Ganesh Chaturthi, Ganesh’s birthday celebration. During Ganesh Chaturthi, people bring a Ganesh idol into their homes and care for it for several days – someone must accompany the Ganesh idol whenever he is in your home.
When the celebration ends, you take him and put him in the ocean to send him home.
When I lived in Bombay, I remembered everything shutting down for Ganesh Chaturthi. During this festival, you would go and visit everyone who had a Ganesh, and they would have desserts to serve for every guest.
If you stayed for a meal, your host would often serve Goan Coconut Dal, but this is also an everyday meal-type dish. As a dal, it is a healthy vegetable source of protein.
Traditionally, you would have to grind coconut with water to make the coconut milk. It was a lot of work. Fortunately, today you can easily find coconut milk in most grocery stores.
Goan Coconut Dal
- 1 cup tuver dal (or moong dal)
- 2 cups water
- ½ tsp turmeric, ground
- ½ tbsp ghee
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 cup coconut milk
- ½ tsp cumin ground
- 1 tbsp ghee (or vegetable oil)
- ⅛ tsp asafoetida (hing)
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- ½ tbsp cumin
- 2 dried red chillies
- 15 curry leaves
- Rinse 1 cup tuver dal. Add to instant pot. Add two cups of water, 1/2 tsp salt, turmeric and ghee. Cook for 8 minutes, followed by natural pressure release for 15 minutes.
- Once the dal is cooked, stir and mash with the back of a spoon about 4 or 5 times. This is to break up the lentils and bring out some of their creaminess.
- Add coconut milk and 1/2 teaspoon of ground cumin. Boil for 5 minutes with the lid off (use the sauté setting if using an Instant Pot).
- In a separate, small pan, make a tadka: heat 1 tbsp of ghee or oil. Add asafoetida, mustard seeds, cumin, chillies and finally curry leaves, allowing each to toast a little before adding the next.
- Mix half of your tadka into the lentils. Then top with the rest.