Dalma- Nutrition, benefits, type and recipes
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If you want to eat healthy and tasty on a regular basis and/or, if you are in hurry, have minimum time to cook and/or, if you are vegetarian and looking for a nutritious preparation – Dalma is the dish to try.

Dalma is one of the most popular dishes in Odisha. It is prepared in every household almost on a regular basis. The mixture of pulses with vegetables makes it a complete dish to try with steamed rice or fermented rice (pokhal bhat).

We eat what we grow. This used to stand true till the last few decades.

As per archeological records, Dalma was invented by the Savaras tribe in Odisha. They used to add locally grown vegetables and pulses like – brinjal, papaya, elephant foot yam, pumpkin, chana dal, etc to prepare the dish. They used to offer this dish to Lord Jagannath. Later the dish was adopted by the king and become a part of the Chappan bhog of Puri Jagannath temple.  

Dalma has many local variations as per the availability of specific herbs, vegetables, and pulses.

Use various types of vegetables in Dalma
Pick any vegetables of your choice

Health benefits of Dalma –

It’s nutritious –

Dalma is a mixture of vegetables and pulses. You can use any 5-6 types of local vegetables in it. For pulses, tur dal, chana dal, urad dal, moong dal – you may pick any one or two varieties of your choice.

Mixed dal and vegetables complement each other and improve the nutritional profile especially the vitamins and mineral content of the final dish.

Rich in protein –

Dal/ Pulse is the primary ingredient of Dalma. It is a very good source of protein. Dalma is generally consumed with hot rice or with fermented rice.

You must have heard that plant sources of protein are not the best protein. But this is not true. There are nine essential amino acids that your body can’t produce. However, you need to get them through food. These amino acids are very important to conduct normal body function.

Generally, animal proteins are first-class proteins as they contain all the essential nine amino acids at the right concentration. However, plant proteins are generally deficient in one or two amino acids. That’ is the reason plant proteins are often labeled as second-class proteins.

Rice is deficient in an amino acid called lysine whereas pulses are deficient in methionine. When Rice is mixed with dal, they complement each other and complete the amino acid profile.

Therefore when Dalma is taken with rice, the combination improves the nutritional profile and becomes a first-class protein.

If you are a vegetarian, you must consider this dish on your regular menu.

You may use any type of dal for making Dalma
Choose dal as per your preference to prepare dalma

Rich in fiber –

Pulses are a good source of soluble fiber and vegetables are rich in insoluble as well as soluble fiber. You need both. So, Dalma is a good choice.

Soluble fiber helps to reduce the transit time of bowel movements. Insoluble fiber increases the bulk of your stool.

Apart from fixing your constipation, fiber also helps to control your blood glucose level. When one eats Dalma with rice, the fiber present in the food helps to slow down the release of glucose in the bloodstream. It helps to give a steady insulin response.

So, Dalma is healthy for people suffering from diabetes, PCOD, fatty liver, or for those trying for weight loss.

Rich in micronutrients –

The mixture of pulse and variety of vegetables enhance all the vitamin and mineral content of the final dish. Tampering with jeera, methi, kalonji, saunf, red chili, ginger, etc helps to boost the medicinal properties of Dalma as well.

Grated coconut is important ingredient in Dalma
Use coconut for making Dalma

Provide good fat –

Moderate addition of ghee and coconut in food gives health benefits as well as improves the flavor. It helps to control the blood sugar level, provide good fat, act as a lubricant to clear the bowel movement, and also helps to absorb the fat-soluble vitamins- A, D, E, K  present in the food.

Ghee is used in Dalma either for the tampering or it is added from the top.

Easy to prepare-

You don’t have to be a pro cook to prepare Dalma. It is very easy to prepare and takes only 20 minutes to cook. There are various types of Dalma prepared in the Odiya kitchen. You can pick the recipe based on your cooking skill.

One-pot meal and gives good satiety –

Dalma is a wonderfully healthy dish for your busy days. You get to have 5-6 types of vegetables 1-3 types of pulse all in one dish. Having Dalma with hot rice or with fermented rice makes it a complete meal. The combination is very filling and satisfies your hunger easily.

Tasty –

The addition of a variety of veggies with pulses, tampered with spices and ghee makes Dalma very tasty. The best part is you can adjust the degree of spices choosing the right type of Dalma recipe.

Variety –

There is various type of Dalma recipe. If you don’t enjoy spice try Habisa Dalma. If you are a spice lover, you may like masala Dalma. For vegetarians, temple-style Dalma is also a great choice. If you love nonveg, you may think of trying mutton Dalma.

You may add your choice of dal and veggies to it to make it easy.

 Types of Dalma and recipes

Since Dalma is regular food, people try many variations as per the convenience. Depending on your taste, food preference  We can mainly see 4 types of Dalma recipes –

  • Temple style dalma
  • Habisa dalma
  • Masala dalma
  • Mutton dalma

Temple style Dalma –

Temple style Dalma

This dish is prepared in an earthen pot which adds a specific aroma to the final food. This recipe is very close to what is followed in Puri Jagannath Temple for the daily offering.

Ingredients –

  1. Moong dal – ½ cup
  2. Arhar dal/ Tur dal – 1 cup
  3. Arbi – 6-8 pieces (medium size)
  4. Parwal – 6-8 pieces (medium size)
  5. Pumpkin – 8-10 pieces (medium size)
  6. Raw banana – 6-8 pieces (medium size)
  7. Brinjal –  8-10 pieces (medium size)
  8. Grated coconut – ½ cup
  9. Grated ginger – ½ cup
  10. Salt –  as per taste
  11. Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
  12. Cumin – 2 tsp
  13. Ghee – 2 tablespoon
  14. Cinnamon stick –  1
  15. Hing – 1 pinch
  16. Black peppercorn –  few
  17. Black Cardamom – 2
  18. Corender seed whole – 1 tsp
  19. Methi – 1tsp

Process –

  1. Wash the pulses thoroughly 2-3 times and discard the water
  2. Take a earthen pot and put 500ml  of water to boil
  3. Heat the water and add the soaked pulses in it.
  4. Cover the pot and let it cook
  5. After some time add turmeric powder, salt and the pieces of vegetables to the pulses
  6. Give a nice stir
  7. Add water if needed
  8. Cover the lid and keep cooking
  9. Dry roast – cumin, coriander, methi, clove, cinnamon, black cardamom, black peppercorn separately
  10. Mix the roasted spices and grind it to form powder
  11. Add ½ of  the powdered spices in the pot
  12. Add ½ cup of grated coconut in the pot
  13. Give a nice stir and keep cooking
  14. Take 2 tbs of ghee in a tampering pot and heat
  15.  Add 1 tsp of whole cumin seeds, pinch of hing to it
  16. Add this tampering in the pot
  17. Give a nice stir again
  18. Keep it for 2-3 minutes and serve hot

Habisa Dalma

Habisa Dalma
Habisa Dalma

This is a special type of Dalma which is prepared in the auspicious Karthik month of the Hindu calendar. Onion, garlic, turmeric, mustard oil, and potato are not used in this type of Dalma. Raw moong dal is the primary ingredient. As per the tradition, avoid roasting the moong dal before cooking this recipe. You may use a pot or pressure cooker to prepare this dish.

Ingredient –

  1. Moong dal – 1 cup
  2. Pumpkin –  5-6 pieces (medium size)
  3. Arbi – 5-6 pieces (medium size)
  4. Raw banana – 5-6 pieces (medium size)
  5. Brinjal – 5-6 pieces (medium size)
  6. Elephant apple/ Oou/ Chalta –  2-3 pieces
  7. Ghee – 2 tbs
  8. Cumin whole – 1 tsp
  9. Grated coconut – 1/2 cup
  10. Grated Ginger  –  1 tbs
  11. Red chilli – 2
  12. Salt – as per taste
  13. Bay leaves – 1

Process –

  1. Wash the moong dal thoroughly  2-3 times and discard the water
  2. Keep the moong dal aside
  3. Heat ghee in a pot
  4. Add red chilli, bay leaves, cumin, ginger to it
  5. After 1 minute add the moong dal and cut vegetables to it
  6. Add salt and water as needed
  7. Give a nice stir, cover the pan and allow to cook
  8. After 10-15 minutes or 1-2 whistle turn the heat off
  9. Add grated coconut and stir well
  10. Serve hot with rice

Masala Dalma

Masala Dalma
Masala Dalma

This is a modern version of Dalma which is regularly prepared in Odia households. You may alter the recipe as per your taste and availability of ingredients.

The main ingredient may be moong dal or chana dal or arhar dal. You may mix them or use any one or two types.

You may add a mixture of vegetables like -raw banana, arbi, pumpkin, potato, sweet potato, brinjal, beans, drumstick, radish, raw papaya, parwal, etc as per your convenience.

.You may use a pressure cooker for quick cooking.


  1. Moong dal/ Chana dal/ Arhar or tur dal – 1 cup
  2. Raw banana – 4-5 medium pieces
  3. Arbi – 4-5 medium pieces
  4. Pumpkin – 4-5 medium pieces
  5. Brinjal – 4-5 medium pieces
  6. Radish – 4-5 medium pieces
  7. Chopped onion – 1
  8. Crushed garlic – 3-4 cloves
  9. Grated ginger – 1 tsp
  10. Grated coconut – 2-3 tbs
  11. Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
  12. Chopped tomato – 1
  13. Salt – as per taste
  14. Bay leaf – 1
  15. Cumin Powder –  1 tsp
  16. Garam masala – 1 tsp (mixture of clove, cardamom, cinnamon)
  17. Paanch Phoron – 1tsp (Mixture of mustard, cumin, methi,fennel and kalonji seed)
  18. Ghee – 2 tbs
  19. Red chilli – 2

Process –

  1. Wash dal thoroughly 2-3 times and discard the water. If using moong dal, roast it before washing.
  2. Add dal, cut vegetables, chopped onion and tomato, bay leaf, turmeric powder, salt  in a pressure cooker.
  3. Add 3 -4 cups of water, cover the lid and allow to cook.
  4. Wait for 3 whistles and then turn off the heat.
  5. Don’t try to open the lid forcefully. Let the captured steam cook the food for some more time.
  6. Once the pressure is released automatically, remove the lid and keep the cooker aside
  7. Heat ghee in a small pot. Add cumin, red chilli, garam masala, panch phoron, crushed garlic and grated ginger to it. Stir for few seconds. Let the aroma come.
  8. Keep the flame low so that the tampering does not get burnt
  9. Add the tampering in cooked veg and dal.
  10.  Give a nice stir.
  11. Adjust the salt for taste and allow to boil quickly
  12. Add grated coconut
  13. Stir well again
  14. Serve hot with rice

Mutton Dalma

Cumin and red chilli powder is an important ingredient of any dalma recipe
Roasted cumin and red chili powder is an important ingredient of Dalma

As the name suggests, its usual Dalma added with mutton. It’s a special recipe from Odisha. You may categorize it under dal recipe or as a mutton recipe. Just like masala Dalma, you can pick any dal of your choice. However, moong dal is most favorite.

Ingredients –

  1. Moong dal/ Chana dal/ Arhar or tur dal – 1 cup
  2. Mutton – 6-7 pieces
  3. Potato – 4-5 medium pieces
  4. Pumpkin – 4-5 medium pieces
  5. Papaya – 4-5 medium pieces
  6. Parwal – 4-5 medium pieces
  7. Chopped onion – 2
  8. Grated ginger – 2 tsp
  9. Turmeric powder – 1 tsp
  10. Chopped tomato – 2
  11. Salt – as per taste
  12. Bay leaf – 1-2
  13. Cumin- Red chilli powder –  1 tsp (roast cumin and red chilli and grind it )
  14. Cumin – 1 tsp
  15. Garam masala – 2 tsp (Roast mixture of clove, cardamom, cinnamon and grind it)
  16. Mustard oil – 4-5 tbs
  17. Pepper corn- 5-6
  18. Green chilli – as per taste

Process –

1. Marinade the mutton with 2 tbs of mustard oil, 1 tsp of garam masala, crushed peppercorn, 1 chopped tomato, turmeric powder, and salt for 2 hrs.

2. Wash the dal thoroughly 2-3 times. If using moong dal, don’t forget to roast it before washing.

3. Take the marinated mutton along with its spices in a pressure cooker and cook till it is half done. Let the steam release automatically.

4. Take out the mutton from the pressure cooker and keep it in some other pot.

5. Heat oil in the cooker. Add chopped onion. Fry it till becomes golden brown.

6. Add the mutton to it. Add vegetables, washed dal, rest chopped tomato, turmeric powder, and salt.

7. Close the lid and allow cooking for 2-3 whistles. Turn off the heat.

8. Let the steam escape naturally. Open the lid.

9. Take oil in a small pan. Add grated ginger, green chili, cumin seeds, bay leaf,  rest of the garam masala to it. Stir for few seconds and wait for the aroma to release.

10. Add the tampering in the pressure cooker

11. Give a nice stir. Allow it to get to a boil quickly. Add cumin-red chili powder and remove from the flame.

12. Serve hot with rice or roti as per your choice.

Bottom Line –

Don’t underestimate the power of traditional Indian food. It took years of practice to standardize the recipes. Dalma is wholesome, nutritious, flexible, easy to cook, and almost a one-pot meal. If you haven’t tried it ever, cook this yummy Odia recipe now. You won’t be disappointed.

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Dr. Soma Chakrabarty is based in Hyderabad. She has 15 yrs of working experience in nutrition. She guides people to modify eating behavior and achieve goals for wellness. She believes in a practical diet that helps people to live rather than survive.

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  • Biswajita Mohanty , 6th August 2022 @ 12:05 am

    Completely agree. How elaborately you have written all the health benefits of our favourite dalma. This is my most favourite Odia dish which is not only healthy but easy to make. Love your write up ❤️

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