Cauliflower Dal with Panch Phoran

by on January 17, 2008
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Sometimes a recipe comes along that’s so spectacular that you feel compelled to climb your way up to the top of the nearest alp and sing like Julie Andrews, giddy and overflowing with such love for the world that the power of your emotions threatens to send you skidding down the mountain on the backside of your lederhosen.

Or you could just blog about it.

Either way, this is one of those recipes:

Cauliflower Dal with Panch Phoron

I know it doesn’t look like much, a little lumpy and gloppy and overly orange, but this combination of red lentils and cauliflower tastes out of this world, all because of panch phoran.

Panch phoran (also spelled panch phoron and panch puran) is a Bengali blend of five spices– fenugreek, mustard, kalonji (nigella), fennel, and cumin, in equal amounts. (In Bengal, radhuni would be used instead of mustard, but it’s not available in the U.S.) You can buy this spice blend in Indian grocery stores or you can make it yourself. Since I would have had to go to the Indian store to buy fenugreek and kolonji seeds, it was just as easy for me to pick up the pre-mixed package for $1.99.

panch phoran

It may well be the best two bucks I’ve ever spent. I’ve cooked with 4 of these spices before and love them alone and in combination with other seasonings, but somehow combined, they turn into a kalidoscope of flavor. Each bite tastes different from the next–first a little cumin combined with mustard, then fenugreek with fennel, and so on, the flavors shifting and blending with each other and the other ingredients. I’m not equal to the challenge of describing their flavors, but Barbara at Tigers and Strawberries devoted an entire post to panch phoran that’s sheer poetry. She writes:

When I drop those seeds into a pan of hot oil with a sizzle and a clatter, I am called backward to a time long ago and forward to a time that never was, into memory and dream, into a familiar strangeness. When I smell the wafting song of their voices coming together, I find myself very much at home.

Cauliflower Dal with Panch PhoranIt was thanks to Barbara’s evocative essay that I went searching for panch phoron last week. After looking at recipes online and in some of my cookbooks (particularly Madhur Jaffrey’s World-of-the-East Vegetarian), I decided to make a fairly standard dal and add the seasoning to it. Including cauliflower was a last minute idea–I just love a one-pot meal, so if I can get my vegetable and protein all in one pot, I’ll do it. I can’t find any precedent for mixing cauliflower and masoor dal, so don’t consider this an authentic Bengali recipe. Just consider it delicious–and kid-friendly, if my daughter is any indication. (It’s probably the first time she’s ever taken cauliflower to school in her lunchbox.)


Cauliflower Dal with Panch Phoran
If you want a more assertive panch phoran taste, grind an additional 1/2 tablespoon of it and add it during the last 10 minutes of cooking.
Serves: 6
  • 1 1/2 cups masoor dal or red lentils
  • 4 cups water
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 teaspoon salt (or to taste)
  • 1/8 teaspoon canola or grapeseed oil (or canola oil spray)*
  • 1 tablespoon panch phoran
  • 1 large onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste (or 1 tsp. minced ginger)
  • 16 ounces diced tomatoes (or 1 can)
  • 1 head cauliflower, cut into small florets)
  • 1/2 cup water
  1. Pick over and rinse the lentils and add them to a pot with 4 cups of water and turmeric. Bring to a boil and reduce heat to low. Simmer until the dal is tender, about 20 to 35 minutes. When done, add salt and set aside.
  2. While the dal is cooking, prepare the vegetables. Heat a large, deep skillet, preferably non-stick. When hot, add the oil and shake it to spread it around. Add the panch phoran and stir. (You may instead use oil spray; spray before and after adding the panch phoran.) When the first seed pops, immediately add the onion, garlic, pepper flakes, and ginger paste. Stir and cook until the onion softens, about 2 minutes. Add the tomatoes, cauliflower, and 1/2 cup water, and stir. Cover and cook until the cauliflower is just tender, about 10 minutes.
  3. When the dal and cauliflower are both done, add the dal to the cauliflower mixture. Stir well, and check seasoning, adding more salt if needed. Simmer gently for about 10 minutes to allow flavors to blend. Serve hot, over rice if desired.
Tempering the spices in just a tiny bit of oil keeps this dish low-fat while preventing the harsh flavor that can come from burned seasonings. If you absolutely refuse to use even minuscule amounts of oil, you can try dry-toasting the panch phoran, but you do so at your own risk!Once you try panch phoran, I hope you'll be as excited about it as I am. If so, here are a few recipes you can use it in:
Nutrition Information
Serving size: 1/6 of recipe Calories: 193 Fat: 1g Carbohydrates: 34g Sodium: 378mg Fiber: 16g Protein: 15g

Kale with Panch Phoran from Tigers and Strawberries
Bengali Red Dal Curry from Kalyn’s Kitchen
Pumpkin and Potato Curry from Indian Food Rocks
Aloo Rasedaar from The Budding Cook
Bengali Cauliflower and Potato Chechki from Bon Appegeek


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{ 61 comments… read them below or add one }

1 SusanV August 1, 2009 at 1:50 pm

Here are the nearly-80 comments that were lost when the blog moved in 2010:

Blogger Suganya said…

Panch phoran pic is so creative.

9:49 PM, January 17, 2008
Blogger LizΒ² said…

This looks spectacular! That description of every bite being a different sensation sounds incredibly enticing, I’ll be sure to snap up some panch phoran if I ever spy any!

10:08 PM, January 17, 2008
Blogger TBC said…

Susan, I discovered the joy of cooking with panch phoron only recently. Isn’t it amazing how this blend of spices can transform the most ordinary-tasting dish into one that’s bursting with flavors? Love the brilliant orange color of your dal.
BTW, thanks for the mention!:-)

10:33 PM, January 17, 2008
Blogger Manisha said…

Barbara is so right about panch phoron!

I’m very curious about your daughter taking this cauliflower in her lunch box. How do the other kids respond when she opens it up and the wonderful-to-us smells waft out? I ask because my daughter has a tough time. The kids around her say yeow or tell her that her lunch is disgusting. She refuses to take any ‘smelly’ food – including tuna sandwich or cheese ravioli – to school anymore as she is done telling them that they are being disrespectful.

11:24 PM, January 17, 2008
Blogger Eve Love said…

wow. this looks sooooooo good. mmmhh…

11:36 PM, January 17, 2008
Blogger Eve Love said…

wow. this looks sooooooo good. mmmhh…

11:36 PM, January 17, 2008
Blogger Melisser; the Urban Housewife said…

I’ll have to try this! I love the red lentil cauliflower curry from Veganomicon, so I would think I’d love this as well. I’m a bit leery of the fennel seed though, it’s not really my thing!

12:38 AM, January 18, 2008
Blogger Vegetation said…

Mmmmm yum this sounds absolutely incredible! Fingers crossed I can find kalonji in Australia (there are no Indian grocery stores I can find around where I live sadly).

2:30 AM, January 18, 2008
Blogger Nupur said…

That picture of the panch phoran is just so eye-catching! Made my day πŸ™‚

6:34 AM, January 18, 2008
Blogger Kalyn said…

I agree with you completely about how amazing this tastes. I was completely in love with it when my nephew made it for me! It’s just one of the best flavor combinations ever. Cannot wait to try this recipe too.

7:26 AM, January 18, 2008
Anonymous jkvetter said…

Cannot wait to try this recipe. I have to do a search for an Indian market in my area. I haven’t seen one. Looks really good, Susan

8:23 AM, January 18, 2008
Blogger Anke said…

This sounds delicious. I love red lentils with veggies but I’ve never heard of panch phoran. Will have to try it πŸ™‚

8:27 AM, January 18, 2008
Blogger Calimaryn said…

Not only does this look lovely but I bet it tastes out of this world. My mission for the weekend, find this lovely spice combination and make this recipe! Thank you so much.

8:30 AM, January 18, 2008
Blogger mustardseed said…

Oh..I have fennel, mustard and cumin seeds, my Indian friend’s mom has fenugreek, and the last one..I have no idea what that is. Care to enlighten me?

9:12 AM, January 18, 2008
Blogger SusanV said…

Manisha, my daughter went through a phase where one of her friends was calling her food names and she didn’t want to take anything that looked “yucky.” Fortunately, that seems to have passed–I don’t know if they stopped teasing her or if she grew a thicker skin. She’s never complained about smell, but I wouldn’t be surprised if that happens with cauliflower.

Mustardseed, kalonji is also called nigella sativa. There’s a good discussion of it (and its many names) at Gernot Katzer’s Spice Pages.

9:42 AM, January 18, 2008
Blogger Manda said…

MMMMMM This looks to DIE for.

10:30 AM, January 18, 2008
Anonymous Shannon said…

I love cooking with bengali five spice! I’m so glad other folks are discovering it, too! I’ve never heard it called “panch phoron” before, (I buy it at the asian market, so the english translation on the label may be somewhat suspect!)…but it’s the same ingredients, so I’m guessing it’s the same stuff! I’m definitely trying this out, though…thanks for the recipe!

10:56 AM, January 18, 2008
Blogger evolvingtastes said…

Panchphoran, masoor, and cauliflower – that is a winning combination! Just lovely.

Been an occasional reader of your blog, and this is perhaps my first comment here.

3:35 PM, January 18, 2008
Blogger robotslingshot said…

MMM, so excited to learn about a new spice combo! I’ve been curious about making indian food, as its so rare to find delicious Indian food in a restaurant nowadays… I really appreciate this post!


5:29 PM, January 18, 2008
Blogger mustardseed said…

Hm..maybe my Indian veg friend’s mom can enlighten me..she makes really comforting food!

Dahl and basmati rice mixed together is comfort food to the Indians(baby food too), and sometimes it just beats mac n “cheeze” hands down.

5:08 AM, January 19, 2008
Blogger B said…

Susan, I love your blog. It’s great. Your dialogue or commentary is wonderful. I have printed this recipe and I plan on making it this weekend. You are truly inspiring!

7:02 AM, January 19, 2008
Anonymous Anonymous said…

This looks good and I’m going to try it today as I’m in the mood for cauliflower and lentils! I couldn’t find kalonji so I will go with the other 4 spices. It appears you don’t grind the spices, is that correct?

thanks for your fun recipes!

8:43 AM, January 19, 2008
Blogger SusanV said…

That’s right, barb–the spices are left whole. Hope you enjoy it!

9:06 AM, January 19, 2008
Blogger Minti said…

The dal looks delicious. I have yet to try Panch Phoran – now its on my list!

7:46 PM, January 19, 2008
Blogger Fatchan said…

Time for me to crack out the free nigella I got sent. I was wondering what to do with it! I’ll comment and let you know how it all went.

11:12 PM, January 19, 2008
Blogger . . . said…

so . . . have i told you lately that i love your blog?

11:10 AM, January 20, 2008
Blogger kayness said…

Never heard of Panch Poran but now it ‘s #1 thing for me to look out in Indian shops, and luckily there’s quite a few where I live!

11:18 AM, January 20, 2008
Blogger Catherine said…

This looks delicious! I love the red lentil and cauliflower combination. Beautiful!

11:50 AM, January 20, 2008
Blogger Karyn said…

I bought some panch phoron on my first trip to the local Asian market – I’ve added it to everything since, with terrific results. I especially like it with sweet potatoes and winter squash.

I also added some to red lentils, which I then put over whole wheat farfalle. Sadly, my camera died, so I’m not posting it to my blog (at least until I make it again).

3:12 PM, January 20, 2008
Blogger ChocolateCoveredVegan said…

Looks like another recipe of yours I’ll have to try!

4:15 PM, January 20, 2008
Blogger Fatchan said…

Had it last night, was very delicious. We have leftovers for tonight. You were right about every bite being a different flavour!

7:46 PM, January 20, 2008
Anonymous Anonymous said…

Hi Susan! I love your blog. I wanted to suggest that you try to make Kitchery soup. It seems along your style, for it is both healthy and delicious. What do you think?

8:02 PM, January 20, 2008
Anonymous monica said…

I make dal all the time but never made it with fennel and onion seed. This was fabulous – made it last weekend and just enjoyed some leftovers for lunch. Thanks for the recipe. It’s a keeper!

6:58 AM, January 21, 2008
Anonymous PlaysWithHorses said…

This recipe gave me an excuse to finally visit the Indian market that I drive by every day to and from work. Made this recipe today and it is fantastic! Thanks!!

12:27 PM, January 21, 2008
Anonymous Anonymous said…

A couple FYIs:

1. In the absence of any Indian groceries I checked my local (Washington, DC) World Market and found panch phoran there, $1.49 for a 1-oz bag.

2. The Weight Watchers recipe builder calculated this recipe at 4 points per serving (for 6 servings, without oil). But I input 1 pound of cauliflower instead of one head; maybe that’s what pushed it up a point.)

Thanks for the recipe; can’t wait to whip it up πŸ™‚

4:12 PM, January 21, 2008
Anonymous Anonymous said…

I made this tonight for my family, with a backup in case my picky girls (age 7 and 4) didn’t like it. I was concerned that they might find the whole fennel seeds a little too much, but they both pronounced it delicious (or as the four year old says, Dewicious!)

It was a hit with everyone. DH and I had two (large) helpings each. I’m looking forward to leftovers.


7:10 PM, January 21, 2008
Blogger Aileen said…

Thank you for this wonderful recipe, the introduction to panch phoran and your writing which had me running to my local Indian grocer sans lederhosen.
Each bite was a flavor dance! Question. Mine did not look like your wonderful photo as the masoor dahl I used was not red lentils which at my grocer is another “dahl”. My dahl was the more traditional brown lentil. Is that why it did not break down the way the red lentils do which cook much faster? Have you found cooking dahls covered or uncovered affect their consistancy? Thanks for the inspiration!

4:32 AM, January 22, 2008
Blogger Gramma Mary said…

Thanks, Susan, for introducing me to a spice combo I had never heard of. I love Indian food but I can never make it as good as what I can get in a restaurant and it has too much oil so I don’t go! But this came out as wonderful as the description. I shall make it often!

7:29 PM, January 22, 2008
Blogger Kiri said…

I made this tonight. It was fantastic! I love the little bursts of flavor you get, especially through the fennel seeds. I had to sub the cauliflower (didn’t have any) for kumara and I also threw in some silverbeet (got a garden overflow at the moment so it goes in everything!). I was really surprised that the spices cooked in such a small amount of oil but they did! Thanks for the inspiration. πŸ™‚

12:02 AM, January 23, 2008
Blogger kotzebue said…

Susan, you’re getting so popular, it feels weird to leave a comment, like I’m a stalker or something.

I ran out to Penzey’s and grabbed this collection of spices. I had to buy them individually, but no matter. I didn’t look carefully at your recipe, so now I know: I had to use more! I think I went with 1/2 tsp each, but I could have done much more for the amount of lentils we cooked.

7:52 AM, January 23, 2008
Blogger bazu said…

Thank you SO much for this post- I just picked up some Panch Phoran seasoning mix and was wondering what to make – this post is a goldmine!

9:45 AM, January 23, 2008
Blogger VeganLinda said…

The entire family loved it! I wasn’t sure it would be tasty enough for hubby and me, but I was wrong. My eight year old and 3 year old couldn’t get enough of it!

1:17 PM, January 23, 2008
Anonymous Anonymous said…

I made this last night — it seemed a little bland. I added some more salt — still bland. I finally resorted to Louisiana Hot Sauce — a few tablespoons. Sheer perfection.

11:45 AM, January 24, 2008
Anonymous sher said…

I love red lentils so much, so I’m thrilled to see this. They taste so good, and are very comforting.

12:22 PM, January 24, 2008
Blogger Natalie said…

This looks like an amazing taste sensation. I am going to get these ingredients and give it a go! Your photography is gorgeous as usual.

7:54 PM, January 24, 2008
Blogger Anardana said…

I can’t wait to make this!

9:11 PM, January 26, 2008
Blogger zlamushka said…

Susan, this is one of the most beautiful dishes on your site. I am very excited to try this one.

6:22 AM, January 27, 2008
Anonymous Suzie from One Chubby Vegan said…

This was very good! I need a little fat in my diet because I am an avid gym-goer and also on Weight Watchers… the fat helps me stay full. I made this tonight with my own Panch Phoran spice blend. (I live on Long Island and we have many, many Indian groceries around!!!) I added 1 TB of canola oil, and one tsp of Earth Balance. I also added more garlic, more ginger, and more panch phoran than called for. To supplement the 2 oz of tomato that my can was missing, I added 2 chopped tomatoes.

I think that the dish doesn’t really need the added water along with the cauliflower and tomatoes. The cauliflower provides a lot of water on its own. I added the water anyway, and I found the dish to be a little bit liquidy for my tastes. Otherwise, it was just lovely!

I served it over brown basmati rice , and garnished with some chopped cilantro.

Thanks for a very good recipe!!!!

5:09 PM, January 27, 2008
Blogger talula_fairie said…

This was so delicious! I really love how the panch phoran works in this recipe. I really enjoyed it. Thanks!

9:42 PM, February 17, 2008
Blogger zlamushka said…

Susan, I just made a gallon of this and had it on Sunday, Monday and Tuesday for all meals. I just could not get tired of the panch phoron taste. Very addictive. I love the fact that all the spices are whole. I am looking forward to trying more of your PP recipes.

12:52 PM, February 26, 2008
Blogger Ramki said…

Hi Susan,

Have included your dal as a model recipe in the One page cookbook at

/Thanks for the recipe

1:15 AM, March 12, 2008
Blogger Barb said…

I rushed to my Indian grocery store yesterday morning… found the panch phoran… my husband made the Cauliflower Dal last night… it was a bit bland with 1/8 tsp red pepper flakes… so I added 1/4 tsp more… had leftover dal for brekky and it’s perfect…

I don’t know if I’d go for the panch phoran again tho… I’m not a fan of fennel/anise/licorice so I might use just the other 4 spices individually.

We’ll be eating the dal for the next 3 days at least.. next time I’ll make half the recipe!

It’s a delicious recipe.. thanks!!!
Barb in Australia

4:37 PM, April 12, 2008
Blogger David said…

This dish is FANTASTIC. I love it. Thanks so much Susan, this is definitely my favorite recipe. I eat a bowl of it without anything else — and it’s filling. Although some naan would be great with it too. Superb!

1:17 PM, September 09, 2008
Blogger inmorocco said…

this dish is so great…i don’t even know what to say! i definitely was SO excited, when in preparation for this dish, i luckily stumbled upon a big bag of panch phoran for about $1.50. i mean, it’s huge…and it makes this dish SO great. i’m so thrilled to cook with it more. thanks!

1:32 PM, March 06, 2009
Anonymous marian said…

A wonderful receipe. I’m glad I tried it. It is already a favorite – something to be prepared often for our family. Thanks very much.

7:53 AM, April 08, 2009
Blogger talula_fairie said…

I just made this again and I still love it!!! Btw, it’s excellent served with quinoa.

8:29 PM, April 17, 2009
Anonymous Anonymous said…

Just made this tonight and it was very good, but I was surprised that it was just a tad bland. I used just a smidgen of spray on the spices since I try to not use any oils (fat free sprays are after all 100% fat), so maybe they didn’t cook enough. I do like my Indian foods a little on the spicy side though. What spices would you suggest adding to this to liven it up without killing off the other delicate flavors or without resorting to using more oil?

8:53 PM, April 18, 2009
Blogger SusanV said…

Sorry it wasn’t spicy enough for you, anon. It’s definitely a mild dish. If you’d like it hotter, consider adding some dried red chilies when you pop the panch phoran. Or you can use powdered chili powder (the kind from an Indian grocery, not the Mexican seasoning) or cayenne when you add the tomatoes.

6:05 PM, April 19, 2009
Anonymous Louise H. said…

I added a cup of dry Medium grain bulgur at the end and let it sit overnight to thicken. In the morning a made them into patties and cooked them in a pan with some PAM spray! They were delicious!

2:58 PM, April 23, 2009
Anonymous Anonymous said…

I had everything for this recipe except the panch phoran! However, I really craved Indian food tonight, so I subbed Indian 7-spice blend instead. Delicious! My husband and kids loved it!

6:05 PM, April 30, 2009
Anonymous BrΓΆst said…

Looks lovely. Thanks for a great blog.

10:24 AM, May 04, 2009
Anonymous Elements for Life said…

hmm..never heard of that spice before, I would love to try that in some raw dishes. thanks.

10:15 AM, May 14, 2009
Blogger Kim said…

Thanks for sharing the info about panch phoran; I am crazy for Indian food and make a lot of dals, so I must try using that spice mixture! I’d never heard of it, it sounds divine. This dal looks great – and lovely photos, as always. I like the new look of the blog, by the way! πŸ™‚

If you’ve never stumbled across my blog, I’d love for you to take a look!

Kim at

1:04 AM, May 22, 2009
Anonymous Anonymous said…

Thanks for this great recipe! We found it was even better the next day. We followed your suggestion of adding an extra 1/2 TBSP of the panch poran during the last 10 minutes. Even though I am normally a low sodium cook, we thought adding more salt really brought out the flavor. We served it with pineapple and mint/cilantro chutneys and people loved it!

2:03 PM, May 23, 2009
Blogger MAJ said…

This is by far the best recipe I’ve made from this website! I had to fudge the panch phoran a little since I live in Chile, but I think I came close to the mix. Thanks so much!

9:23 PM, May 25, 2009
Anonymous Jen said…

This recipe inspired me to make my first 100%-from-scratch dalh! Thanks so much Susan (:


4:38 PM, May 30, 2009
Blogger Maddy said…

Susan I’m a HUGE fan of your blog! I’m a bengali and panch phoran is like our signature combination of spices. Its heavenly and I know you agree! I remember while growing up I saw my mother cook most veggies with this combination and no other spices and the taste would be out of the world.. I was so excited to see this recipe on YOUR blog that I absolutely had to comment πŸ™‚

11:54 AM, May 31, 2009
Blogger jkm said…

This recipe is my new favourite. The first time I made it, I didn’t have all the right spices and it was ok…but when I finally got the right spices…WOW….
By the way..I really enjoy your website. I became a vegan early this year when my cholesterol was determined to be through the roof. You have helped me re-learn to cook. My cholesterol is down 30 points after the first 3 months.

11:56 AM, June 06, 2009
Anonymous Wendy said…

This was absolutely delicious. We will definitely make this recipe again. Thank you so much for sharing it!

2:03 PM, June 08, 2009
Blogger Babs said…

Tomorrow I will be making a special trip to the Indian grocery down the hill from my house for Panch Phoran so I can make this.

I have a half a head of cauliflower languishing in my fridge. Now I know what it’s been waiting for. πŸ™‚

9:35 PM, June 13, 2009
Anonymous Dianne said…

What a wonderful experience it was to make this as my *first* Indian-style dish! I’ve always been scared of the long lists of different spices needed to make Indian food, but this was all in one handy-dandy little packet and took no more than 45 easy minutes. I enjoyed mine with the cornmeal-poppyseed roti from Veganomicon. I love your site!

10:44 PM, June 14, 2009
Anonymous Anonymous said…

I just made this 2 nights ago and it was FABULOUS. Thank you SO much for all your wonderful, healthy recipes! I will be trying MANY more of them soon!

6:18 PM, June 23, 2009
Anonymous Anonymous said…

I found your blog over a year ago and I only found this recipe *today*. I have no idea how this tragedy occurred because this dish is absolutely delicious. Delicious, delicious, delicious. I love Indian food and cook it all the time but this was a first with the panch porun. Yet another tragedy I only discovered this blend of spices today. I threw in two small red potatoes since I wanted to hearten up the dish especially since I only had a cup of lentils left in my pantry. Looking forward to my delicious leftovers tomorrow. Thank you, Susan!

8:32 PM, June 23, 2009
Blogger Sasha said…

Looks delicious!!!

10:05 AM, June 29, 2009
Anonymous Mandy said…

Hi! This sounds delicious! Can I ask what ‘red pepper flakes’ are please? I’m from the UK and live in New Zealand. Is it like red capsicum flakes, or chilli?

Thank you

4:31 PM, July 27, 2009
Blogger SusanV said…

Hi Mandy! Red pepper flakes are dried red hot peppers (capsicum) that have been chopped but not powdered. You can see bits of skin as well as seeds. People often sprinkle them on pizzas here in the US.

6:09 PM, July 27, 2009
Anonymous Blackhorserider said…

I made this the other night. I really enjoyed it! Thought some new potatoes would go well with it so I’m going to try that next time.

I was all over trying to find panch phoron. Neither co-op had ever heard of it. I did find all the individual spices except for Kalonji so I just mixed my own. Wasn’t sure on the ratio’s so I just winged it.

Thanks for the recipe!


2 Blackhorserider September 2, 2009 at 11:09 am

I made this the other night. I really enjoyed it! Thought some new potatoes would go well with it so I'm going to try that next time.

I was all over trying to find panch phoron. Neither co-op had ever heard of it. I did find all the individual spices except for Kalonji so I just mixed my own. Wasn't sure on the ratio's so I just winged it.

Thanks for the recipe!


3 Zoey December 13, 2009 at 9:20 pm

Hi Susan,

My family LOVES this dish! Do you think I could make it in the crockpot? If so, how would you do that?


4 Volo February 23, 2010 at 11:52 pm

This was really delicious Susan! I made up my own batch of ponch phoron. Didn't have any nigella seeds (back to Indian grocery I go next month!), so I subbed some onion flakes. In hind sight I doubt the onion flakes added anything. It's still got great flavour though, I look forward to trying out the rest of my new spice mixture in the other recipes you posted.


5 Nichole March 11, 2010 at 11:01 pm

Thanks for the recipe Susan. Really good! I blogged about it here:


6 CJ March 17, 2010 at 11:23 pm

I absolutely love this recipe! I make a batch and then eat it for breakfast each morning and it keeps me full until lunchtime. So ridiculously yummy. For any Weight Watchers folks, I calculated it at 2 pts for a 1 cup serving (assuming 6, 1 cup servings).


7 Lucy April 16, 2010 at 12:28 pm

thanks so much for introducing me to panch phoran. i love this recipe, and have also tried it with sweet potato, and added peas.


8 Kellyzkool May 1, 2010 at 6:37 pm

This dish was both easy and elegant! I’ve wanted to make it for a long time but couldn’t find the panch phoran. Finally got all of the components and made up my own. This looks and tastes like something you would order in a restaurant. I’m on low sodium so no salt and low salt tomatoes, but it was delicious! I have lots of yummy leftovers too!


9 Dyan May 9, 2010 at 8:11 pm

Amazing! Thanks to a new taste aversion to lentils, I’ve been making this with split peas instead, but it’s still completely delicious. Agreed that it tastes like something from a restaurant. And it makes my apartment smell like panch phoran for days. (This is a good thing, really!)


10 lorettaanne August 15, 2010 at 9:07 pm

Just made this for the third time- the first using the panch phoran which is 5.00 a packet here in NYC btw. It’s great over roasted red potatoes – thank you Susan.


11 Terri September 4, 2010 at 5:55 pm

Made this tonight for dinner – Yummy!!! This was so easy, tasty and filling. Served it with rice and saag. I have tons left that we will have for lunch. Love your recipes!


12 kensingtoncooker November 24, 2010 at 8:22 pm

This stuff is delicious! I was planning to take some to the family’s Thanksgiving celebration but unfortunately have had the flu. The dal part of the recipe alone is so good that I make it often and enjoy it by itself or with rice. And the panch phoran is a wonderful discovery in our kitchen, thanks to you. I like the earlier commenters’ ideas about using this recipe with potatoes too and will try it soon .I’ll bet this qualifies for the “Readers’ Favorites” category. Thanks again Susan.


13 Fiona December 1, 2010 at 8:40 pm

I really wanted to like this because I love Indian food but neither my fiance nor I cared for this at all. I may have a made a mistake with the panch puran however (99 cents for a bag at my local Indian grocer in San Jose, CA). I wasn’t sure how to tell when the seeds were popping. They were sizzling and making quiet popping noises so I figured they were popping. But the sound wasn’t loud at all so maybe they weren’t popping and that’s why this dish wasn’t all that flavorful. There was a slight taste of black licorice in this dish (from the fennel?) and I can’t stand the taste of black licorice. My fiance does like the flavor of black licorice though and he still did not like this dish. I don’t have non-stick cookware so I had to use quite a bit of coconut oil also to keep the seeds from sticking. Oh well.


14 Robin January 23, 2011 at 8:02 pm

I just finished a huge helping of Cauliflower Dal with Panch Phoran. Amazing! I have always loved Indian and Indian-inspired dishes, but never really thought I could make them myself. How exhilarating to know better now! I’m so glad to have found your blog and look forward to trying many more of your recipes.


15 Sarah January 27, 2011 at 11:30 am

you will be pleased with all of susan’s other recipes… i don’t even bother to look at any other recipe site anymore- this is my go-to for everything now πŸ™‚


16 Sarah January 27, 2011 at 11:27 am

Holy Moly! I made this and it is amazing!!!!!!!! The only thing different that I did was not add the panch phoran (I havn’t located it in any market near me yet, but working on it). It is so good and is such a warm, yummy comfort food that I don’t have to feel guilty for! LOL It make a nice big batch so I’ve had lunch this entire week πŸ™‚ It will be a weekly staple in my house from now on …ok, back to eating it….


17 janet @ the taste space July 12, 2011 at 3:23 pm

We used the panch phoran recipe from 660 Curries and inadvertently added 3x the amount of spice. But it was a fabulous recipe, Susan. I don’t like fennel and I still liked it. πŸ™‚


18 Missy August 6, 2011 at 9:28 pm

This recipe was beyond fabulous! The whole family loved even my 2 yr old! I didn’t have the ginger paste or pepper flakes. I added a little cayenne pepper and powdered ginger. I can’t say enough how delicious it was and will become a weekly dish for us πŸ™‚ Thanks so much for the recipe.


19 rebkos October 26, 2011 at 11:52 pm

Made this for my family tonight and served it over rice. My husband and I LOVED it! I have been trying a new recipe from your blog almost every night and have yet to be disappointed, but this was one of our favorites. We’ll definitely be making this again! Thanks!!!


20 Pam January 3, 2012 at 11:56 am

This time I made this with a panch pooran from a different spice company and it was much better.
I think sometimes the spices lie around in the store too long and you can get a bad batch.
This was much better and at the end I felt it needed a tiny touch of sweet so I added a couple of
tablespoons of golden raisins. It tasted pretty good.


21 Heidi Leanne January 26, 2012 at 4:58 pm

Yum! I cannot wait to try this – and the panch phoran!


22 Timothy Morris January 27, 2012 at 9:54 am

I just enjoyed this dish over LGBR for lunch with chopped scallions as a garnish. Very yummy. This will become a staple for sure.

Thanks for your work Susan. I recommend your site to all my vegan friends.


23 Lila Wells April 19, 2012 at 3:48 pm

OMG! I love this! I’ve wanted to make dal for a long time and this one is fabulous. I brighten it a bit with a Tbl. of lemon juice or vinegar (my first batch tended to the bitter side), and richen it with a cup of coconut milk. I could eat it once a week. The leftovers are the best.


24 Stephanie E-L May 3, 2012 at 6:21 pm

I’m making this for the first time tonight! I ordered the panch phoran from Amazon and bought the rest of the ingredients today. I’ll admit, I cheated and used regular lentils because I needed to use them up, so mine isn’t as pretty. I’m hoping it tastes as good though!


25 Sofia May 5, 2012 at 11:58 pm

This dish was absolutely amazing! The whole family loved it. It was so hearty and flavorful! The can of tomatoes I used was unusually sour, so I added the juice of one orange to mellow the flavor out a little bit, and it added just the right amount of sweetness. What a perfect meal! Thank you so much, Susan.


26 sukifrance May 16, 2012 at 11:41 pm

I am so looking forward to a new spice experience. In the recipe you say, “If you want a more assertive panch phoran taste, grind an additional 1/2 tablespoon.” However, I don’t see instructions in the body of the recipe regarding the grinding. I would have just added the whole seeds. But maybe the packaged version is ground already?



27 Susan Voisin May 17, 2012 at 7:04 am

I use the whole seeds in the recipe, but some people like a stronger flavor, so in addition to those whole seeds, they can add ground seeds to increase the flavor.


28 Lisa D May 21, 2012 at 3:31 pm

Mmmm, what a delicious, easy, and fascinating introduction to dal (or in my case, my first ever bite of anything East Indian). True enough, the longer it sits the more sumptuous the taste combinations. When picking out the ingredients for this dish, I forgot to get any ginger, so I used a few pieces of crystallized ginger that I had in the fridge, lightly rinsed and finely minced. Frugal, healthy, yummy meal. By the way, that it was, in your words, “a little lumpy and gloppy and overly orange,” was the very reasons it caught my attention. Beautiful. Thank you!!


29 Suzanne May 25, 2012 at 8:50 am

This sounds wonderful and I’m making it soon! Thanks for posting this recipe.


30 Krista English July 24, 2012 at 10:48 pm

So good, Susan! I love this. We made it tonight exactly as written though we made our florets mini, mini b/c we’re not huge cauliflower fans. Even my kids ate it up, one liked it a lot and the picky one said no, but he ATE it all. So, I’m not sure I believe him and will judge it by his plate instead! haha


31 Susan September 18, 2012 at 8:34 pm

Made this last week and going to make it again – fabulous. I have been serving it over dino kale that I sliced into ribbons. Outstanding! Thank you.


32 Kristin October 30, 2012 at 10:43 am

Hi Susan, I made this last night and loved it. It was even better for brunch today πŸ™‚ THANK YOU.


33 Carol Kuntzman November 13, 2012 at 11:12 am

This Cauliflower Dal with Panch Phoron was wonderful!! Each time I reheat a big bowl I add a half tablespoon of creamy peanut butter and a tablespoon or two of almond or coconut milk. It adds a deep richness that complements the unique flavor bursts of all of those Panch Phoron seeds. This is a very unique and satisfying dish that keeps me going for the day without needing any kind of bread, crackers, or snacks with it. I couldn’t find the Kalonji seed so used black sesame seeds and I also added Turkish red pepper flakes for a little heat and garnish on top. Thanks for this outstanding recipe…


34 Kim M December 2, 2012 at 2:14 am

This is amazing and has become my new favorite dish. I literally make a batch each week and have a bowl most days. It is so rich and deep in flavor.. Thank you for sharing!


35 Kathryn January 15, 2013 at 4:28 pm

I’ve been dreaming about this lately – picked up a head of cauliflower today!


36 Leila January 21, 2013 at 12:25 am

I tried this recipe. It is really good. I especially was glad of the ‘recipe’ for the panch phoran blend. And my husband, who thinks I’ve gone crazy in my new cooking.., he like it too!! Double thanks..


37 systema March 24, 2013 at 4:03 am

Lentils – Cauliflower and Panch Poran – what more could you want !!!


38 janet @ the taste space April 4, 2013 at 12:17 pm

Finally shared my version.. this is an oftentimes repeated recipe for us, Susan. We increase the spices, though. Thank you so much for such a delicious recipe.

This is our version:


39 Adam Hall April 18, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Which gets the 4 cups and which gets the 1/2 cup of water ? I assume the lentils get the 4 but just checking.


40 Susan Voisin April 18, 2013 at 4:30 pm

Yes, the ingredient are in the order in which they’re used, but I’ll edit the recipe to be more specific.


41 sushmita May 15, 2013 at 3:46 am

I am an Indian, i use paanch phoron in number of my dishes….i have never read or thought of such a beautiful description that u guys have written about paanch phoron. These seeds are magical..


42 Pastiche Paradis June 9, 2013 at 11:24 pm

I can’t wait to try this recipe. I just ordered Panch Phoron from Spices, Inc., where I get all of my exotic spices delivered to my house (it saves me lots of trips looking for spices, plus the prices are great!) I’m so excited to get my order in the mail and try this recipe. I do have a question. How to you pronounce panch pheron? I’ve looked all over the internet and can’t find a pronunciation. Is it like pawnch (ch as in cheese) four-ON or four-uhn? Or is panch more like pawnk (ch like in chameleon “k” sound?) Just wanted to know how to say it in case I have to verbally share it, ask for it, or explain it! Thanks for the recipe!


43 Susan Voisin June 9, 2013 at 11:31 pm

I really wish I knew! I’ll have to ask the next time I’m buying it at the Indian grocery store.


44 Anna October 10, 2014 at 2:42 pm

Panch is pronounced as in “Pancho Villa.” The ph is not pronounced like an “f” as in English, but as a “p” , followed by a little puff of air-like “hu”. (P and ph are two different letters in Sanskrit and Hindi.) You can certainly get away with just pronouncing it “poran,” with the emphasis on the second syllable, if it’s hard to get the p-h sound.


45 Tracy Wood June 14, 2013 at 4:36 pm

Made this for dinner tonight….house smells incredible….it’s resting in a covered pan…..rice is in steamer….beer is at the ready…..great Friday meal!


46 Mamachandra September 14, 2013 at 3:59 pm

Susan, after reading this post soon after you posted it, I immediately ordered some panch phoran to add to my spice collection and to make this delicious sounding recipe. I still haven’t made the recipe, but I did use it in roasting cauliflower and ended up creating a family favorite on my end….even if it did take me til today to actually blog about it.

As always, thanks for all of the inspiration! I plan to make this recipe (finally!) before the end of the month. πŸ™‚


47 Renee December 15, 2013 at 6:32 pm

I love this Cauliflower Dal! Just made it for 2nd time tonight.
I am wondering if I can make the vegetable part of this and then freeze it? Will it ruin the flavor or texture? I have a lot of cauliflower now so I was wanting to use it. Thanks for a great website.


48 Jessie January 16, 2014 at 10:12 pm

I made this tonight, increasing the panch phoran to 3T, substituting ghee for the oil, and adding a few handfuls of chopped chard toward the end. It was very tasty! Definitely a new flavor profile in my Indian cooking repertoire. Cayenne spices it up nicely too πŸ˜‰ Thanks Susan!


49 caroline harris March 28, 2014 at 6:48 am

Is the calorie content right for this dish? Without the cauliflower it works out to over 200 cals each according to my calorie counting website.


50 Jennifer June 1, 2014 at 7:53 pm

This was so delicious! Thank you for this recipe. I loved it and will definitely make it again!


51 Paul June 2, 2014 at 9:03 pm

Add panch phoron to a small amount of oil (until the mustard seeds pop) and a dash of Asafoetida (hing) . Throw in cubed zucchini and coat all the pieces with the spices. Cover for a few minutes on medium heat and finish by pan frying the zucchini in it’s own juices until they are slightly golden. It gives it a wonderful nutty flavor! I’ll never have zucchini any other way (diced sweet red bell pepper in the last few minutes of the cooking process makes for a nice addition to the flavors and color). Don’t over cook the zucchini – they should be tender but firm – not mushy.


52 Anna October 10, 2014 at 2:35 pm

I love this recipe. It is a family favorite, so much so that I’ve almost used up a large jar of panch phoran that I purchased when I first found this recipe. I always add the optional ground panch phoran at the end. I think I’ll make this dal again tonight! Thanks for your wonderful blog.


53 Jill January 22, 2015 at 1:19 pm

Sounds amazing. I was just at New India Bazar on Polk Street in San Francisco last week buying hot curry powder! I’ll have to go back and get the panch phoran. Can’t wait to try this one!


54 oceanfrontcabin April 5, 2015 at 8:52 pm

Hi Susan: I made your recipe for Cauliflower Dal with Panch Phoran last night (and had leftovers for tonight). I added lots of baby spinach, a few mushrooms, and served it over Trader Joe’s organic tri-color quinoa. I put it on a big platter in the middle of the table. We not only thought it was delicious, we also thought it looked gorgeous-I think the contrast of the spinach changed the look of it a lot.

Thanks so much for this recipe (and all of yours, for that matter)


55 Amy September 1, 2015 at 1:23 pm

Is there a way to adapt this to use an Instant Pot? Thank you!


56 Michael Gaddis January 19, 2016 at 8:17 pm

So glad to be reading and enjoying your recipes again.

Question: Do you use the whole seeds for all five spices?


57 Jean Heath January 21, 2016 at 1:18 pm

Love the taste of panch poran, I do a great recipe with panch poran butternut squash with mango and fennel powder – this is next on the list.


58 Kelly February 8, 2016 at 2:33 pm

Funny story – Many months ago I wanted to try this recipe so I called several Indian grocery stores to buy panch phoran. None of them knew what I was talking about. Over the weekend I was in the Savory Spice shop looking for a certain curry powder mixture and found it. Luckily I remembered the recipe was from your site, because I am now in business to make this!


59 ha ha February 14, 2016 at 10:10 pm

should the panch poran be ground or used whole?


60 Susan Voisin February 14, 2016 at 10:57 pm

Used whole. For a little extra flavor, you can grind a little extra and add it.


61 Kristin August 11, 2016 at 11:58 am

So, I have an issue with cauliflower. I really like it quite a bit, but I hate cutting it into florets. I know, weird, but it causes me to buy cauliflower and then have a stand-off with it while it taunts me from the fridge drawer. I also never know exactly what I want to do with it, but almost every time, I end up making this recipe when I finally run out of other veggies. I’m always glad I did, ’cause it’s one of my very favorites. Anyway, I woke up this morning knowing we were getting down to the cauliflower part of the week, and started thinking about how this would work in the Instant Pot. IT TOTALLY WORKS!! I toasted the spices using the saute function, threw in the other stuff, cut the cauliflower in 4 hunks (I could have gotten away with leaving it whole – it just fell apart with a spoon), and popped the lid on. I let it go 8 minutes and let it come down some (about ten minutes) before using the quick release. Next time, I’m going to try 5 minutes, because everything was definitely WELL-cooked, but it really came out great. Word to the wise: Don’t do what I did and be distracted while the spices are toasting. A few of mine burned a little bit, so there was a slight bitter note every once in awhile.


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