One chef, one recipe: Gahat Daal ka Phanu by Chef Gajendra Singh Bisht

The Executive Chef of the Niraamaya Luxury Wellness Retreat and Spa in Solan shares his recipe for this nutritious homestyle favourite that’s popular in the mountains.

The beautiful Niraamaya Luxury Wellness Retreat and Spain Solan, Himachal Pradesh, where he heads the kitchens is all about wellness and rejuvenation. Chef Gajendra Singh Bisht has therefore designed a detailed spa menu that offers everything you’d expect from a high-end establishment and incorporates fresh vegetables, micro greens and herbs grown in their own kitchen garden, dishes that are sugar free, gluten free, vegan, etc.

There is a lot of customisation too, as menus are created for long-staying guests depending on their nutritional needs and metabolic profile in consultation with the in-house experts.

Gahat daal ka phanu, horsegram,lentils, vegetarian, indian cuisine, regional, chef
Executive Chef Gajendra Singh Bisht, Niraamaya Luxury Wellness Retreat and Spa, is proud of pahadi cuisine and its healthy benefits. Image: Priya Pathiyan.

What is interesting though, is how the local Himachali dishes such as phalda, madra, chha mutton, etc that are made using curd and mildly flavoured with spices such as cardamom, are also incorporated into the diets because of their natural, health-giving properties. As is this Gahat Daal ka Phanu made with kulthi daal or horse gram, which is a dish from the chef’s home state, Uttarakhand.

Eating horse gram is supposed to be helpful in everything from treating kidney stones to weight loss. Pahadi cuisine in general, he tells us proudly, is hardy, hearty and almost always good for health. And if this tasty and nourishing lentil dish is anything to go by, we can see why mountain folk are so fit.

Gahat daal ka phanu, horsegram,lentils, vegetarian, indian cuisine, regional
Gahat Daal Ka Phanu is rich in flavour but not heavy on the tummy. Image: Shutterstock/


  • 100 gm gahat daal (kulthi daal or horse gram)
  • 1 tsp jhakhiya seeds (Himalayan wild mustard)
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 tsp finely chopped ginger
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 pinch hing (asafoetida)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 500 ml water
  • One tbsp chopped coriander


  • Soak gahat daal in water for six to seven hours.
  • Grind to a paste in a mixer.
  • In a saucepan, heat ghee, add jhakhiya seeds, and the chopped ginger and garlic.
  • Sautée until golden brown.
  • Add cumin powder, turmeric powder, hing, salt and daal paste.
  • Cook for five minutes on slow heat, then add water and cook for 10 more minutes.
  • Garnish with chopped coriander and serve hot.

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