The weather has been really hot these days and with the temperature rising by the hour all I can think is of simple food and lots of cold water to drink.
As usual Sarita my cook came and asked me in the morning what would I like to eat for lunch and I thought what could be better than the humble Varan Bhaat (dal and rice) for lunch today.
So basically Varan is a dal made by simply boiling Toor dal (pigeon peas) along with some turmeric powder and asafetida, the cooked dal is mashed, some cumin seed powder, jaggery and salt is added and then the dal is further boiled till it’s nice and thick. This humble varan tastes best when eaten along with hot steamed ambe mohar rice (a variety of rice that grows in Maharashtra which literally means mango blossom as it has a strong aroma reminiscent of mango blossoms) and a dollop of home made tup (ghee)
So the varan is a vegan preparation which is a typically from the Maharashtrian or Goan cuisine which is served on all occasions.
In most Maharashtrian homes varan, bhaat is served as the first course followed by chapatti and vegetables.
A varan, bhaat, tup and limbu (lemon) is a complete meal by itself. Proteins from the dal, the carbs from the rice, fat from ghee and vitamin C from the lemon makes it a complete meal.
Most Maharashtrians even today have this at breakfast. I would always find it very unusual till I realized we also have Idli, sambar and chutney for breakfast using the same ingredients.
Long ago I had heard a story of a women who on her death bed told her sister in law that after she dies her son should be fed nothing more than varan, bhaat twice in a day as she was aware of the sister in law ill treating the son after her death. The mean aunt was more than happy to fed the mother less soul remains of varan, bhaat along with some ghee and lemon wedge. The boy in turn grew up to be healthy and strong, as his aunt was not aware of the goodness of this simple meal, unlike the mother.
So today its Varan, bhaat, tup and limbu for me!