Oh my! I don’t think I can come up with an appropriate title for this post. How do I translate motor dal bhate in English? Just a ‘mash’ cannot possibly explain what ‘bhate’ means. 

Bhate, bhape, makha and more

Three words, which take up a huge portion of Bengali cuisine are bhate, bhape and makha. There have been several controversies with regard to these terms. Cuisine nazis turn up from every corner, calling out cooks and chefs who sometimes use the terms loosely or in an overlapping manner in their recipes. Having said that, sometimes, the recipes do overlap and you don’t have a specific term to mention it. 

Let me simplify it. ‘Bhate’ means anything that is cooked in rice. ‘Bhape’ means anything that is steamed and cooked. ‘Makha’ is a term to describe the mashing of ingredients with your fingers. Now, here comes the dilemma. In a lot of ‘bhate’ cases, the food is ultimately mashed with fingers. And then there are several other terms like pora (roasted), bhorta (scrambled) and so on. It is kind of confusing but that’s what makes the cuisine so interesting. Never mind, we are doing motor dal bhate today. 

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Motor dal bhate was cooked live on Instagram for #11daysofdal

In my previous post, I had written about mulo diye motor dal and what exactly is motor dal. Yellow split peas are regional to the Eastern part of India. Assam, Odisha, Bihar, Jharkhand, Tripura and Bengal use matar dal. It is different from the ‘matar’. These are yellow split peas and not the white variety which we use for making ghugni. Since we were also cooking one recipe for #11daysofdal, we decided to show this additional recipe. It is fairly simple and doesn’t take any effort at all. In case you want to watch the Instagram live for the same, you can watch it hereLink

For more bengali and other recipes – you can check our youtube channel – Cook with Pikturenama 

Steps of cooking motor dal bhate

Soak the dal in hot water for an hour. After that grind it into a paste with as little water as possible. It needs to be a thick paste. The best would be to grind on a silbatta but if you don’t have that, a grinder will work fine. Then place the dal paste in a muslin cloth or a cut dhoti and tie it nicely. When you are about to cook rice, drop the potli into the rice saucepan. Let it cook along with the rice. Once the rice is cooked, take the potli out and let it cool down. Open the potli. You will notice that the dal has become a hard round mass. 

In a mixing bowl, take the dal and using your fingers, break it apart, literally mashing it. Then add chopped onions, chopped coriander leaves, chopped green chilies, salt, grated coconut and some mustard oil. After that, it is only about mashing everything together. This is the same process you can cook chana dal too. I have always done moong and chana dal this way. It was my friend, Tanusree who mentioned that they would have motor dal this way too. In the case of moong dal, you need not make a paste. The dal cooks along with rice. 

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Serving suggestions

While serving, you can either bring it again as small lemon sized balls and serve it or just spoon it on a plate. Drizzle some more mustard oil from the top and serve it with steamed rice. The rice needs to be particularly hot to actually enjoy this to the fullest. 

Do try this recipe and share your feedback. You can reach out to us at our social media handles InstagramFacebook or any of our personal Facebook (Madhushree and Anindya) and Twitter profiles. Post a picture and tag us.

Bengali Motor dal Bhate pinterest

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Motor Dal Bhate

Yellow split peas cooked along in a pot of rice and mashed with onions, chilies, coconut and mustard oil.
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Course Main Course, Vegetarian
Cuisine Bengali, Indian
Servings 4 people


  • 1/2 cup motor dal yellow split peas
  • 1 no onion finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup grated coconut has to be fresh coconut
  • 1-2 nos green chilies
  • 2 tbsp mustard oil
  • 1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves optional
  • salt to taste


  • Wash the dal and soak it in hot water for an hour. After that, discard the water and grind it into a thick paste using as little water as possible.
  • Place the paste in a muslin cloth and tie the ends like a potli or a bundle.
  • When you are cooking rice, plate the potli into the pot and let it cook along with the rice.
  • Once the rice is done, take the bundle out and let it cool down a bit. Then open it and place the round hard ball of dal in a mixing bowl.
  • Using your fingers, break the dal and mash it. And then, add onions, chilies, salt, grated coconut and coriander leaves with mustard oil.
  • Mash it well and serve it with steamed rice.
  • Drizzle some more mustard oil over it while serving.
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