Split Green Gram with Kidney Beans (Tarka Daal) and glimpses of North Bengal

I was born into a family that was bitten by the travel bug. My parents have been taking me on tours ever since I was 2 and half years old. My very first trip was to Darjeeling, the Queen of the Hills – a place I think every Bengali goes to at least twice in one’s lifetime. I remember it being very cold and I remember my Ma trying to boil something over a very small stove. My Ma tells me that she was boiling egg for me to eat, as I was not eating anything.

Mountains have always appealed to me than the sea beaches. There is so much beauty and serenity. Mountains are majestic and awe-inspiring. My most favorite destinations were in Himachal Pradesh I loved the overnight bus journeys. I absolutely loved to eat that the roadside dhabas. My favorite things to order would be “tarka daal” with “paratha” slathered in butter – those good ol’ days. I was so much in love with that tarka daal that my had Ma recreated it in her kitchen and this was one of the few recipes I had brought with me to the US.

It has been so long now that I he eaten at a roadside dhaba that I have forgotten the taste of the “tarka daal”. But somehow my version always… always reminds  me of those stops in the middle of those cold nights, eating my favourite dhaba food and drinking hot tea.

In the last 10 years I have vacationed only once in India and there was no gorging on paratha and tarka daal involved. However it was in the mountains and the views were breathtaking. These photos are from that vacation in Lava-Lolegaon-Rishap – 3 quaint little towns nestled in the foothills of Himalayas and a  part of the Darjeeling District of West Bengal. There was thukpa and there was momo – both delicious – but there was no paratha & tarka daal and no overnight bus journey.


  • 1 cup of split green gram (green moong daal)
  • 1/3 cup of  kidney beans (rajma daal) soaked overnight
  • Whole garam masala – 2 cinnamon sticks, 3-4 cloves & 3-4 green cardamom (I like to crush my garam masala just a little using the mortar & pestle.
  • 2-3 green chillies or more if you prefer it hot – chopped or slit
  • 1 medium tomato – chopped
  • Onions – diced – about 3/4 cup
  • 1/2 cup of roughly chopped
  • 1 tbs oil
  • 1 tbs of grated garlic
  • 1 tbs of grated ginger
  • 1 tbs of kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves)
  • 1 tsp of cumin powder
  • 1 tsp of coriander powder
  • Salt to taste 
I used a pressure cooker to cook this.

How I made it:
  • Added oil to the pressure cooker and the whole garam masala.
  • Once the garam masala started spluttering a little in went the onions, green chillies, ginger & garlic.
  • After cooking the above till the raw smell was gone I added the the chopped tomatoes, coriander & cumin powder and cooked for some time
  • Added the split green grams & the kidney and stirred well so that everything gets nicely coated in the masala.
  • Then went in the chopped cilantro and the kasuri methi. I always crush the kasuri methis lightly by rubbing between the palms. I just love that aroma.
  • Added enough water to pressure cook so that it cooks through. Few whistles and you are all done.
I love to eat the tarka daal with chapati as well. Now I will eat some, while dreaming of the mountains.

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