Marrow Dal and Fried Marrow Skin (Khosha Bhaja)


My husband once asked a fellow foodie friend, who used to write for the food section of one of the large weekend newspapers here in the UK, for suggestions of ways to cook with marrow, to which her response was ‘you can start by throwing it in the bin’.  Ever so harsh but she is not alone! Many people often overlook the humble marrow and regard it as tasteless. I can tell you however, that marrow completely comes into its own cooked in Indian dal and even the skin need not be discarded as you can cook a completely separate delicious dish using it.


In the hot sweltering heat of an Indian summer, eating marrow is the perfect way to cool down as it’s made pretty much made of water. So by combining it with red split lentils to form a dal is a wonderfully satisfying way to eat marrow in all it’s glory. Gardens here in England are bursting with marrows at the moment and although I have none growing in my postage stamp garden both my mother and mother-in-law are supplying me with endless amounts of marrow.

So dive in and give this glorious dal a go. I bet you’ll even surprise yourself as to how good it tastes.


Marrow Dal

Serves 2-3

125g red split lentils

500g marrow, skinned and cubed (remember to keep the skin)

600g boiling water

1 tsp salt

half tsp turmeric

1 tbsp vegetable/mustard oil

1tsp Panch Phoran (Bengali five spice – see below)

2 green chillies, chopped in two

Panch Phoran is a uniquely Bengali (East India and Bangladesh) five (panch) spice mix. It has a magnificent aroma so I often use it in my red split lentil dals. If you cannot find a packet in your local Asian grocers you can make it yourself by mixing the following seeds together in equal parts: fennel, cumin, nigella, fenugreek and mustard. Store in an airtight container and it will last months. 

1. Rinse the red split lentils under cold water so as to clean them thoroughly. Repeat the process a couple of times.

2. In a saucepan add the cleaned red split lentils and 500g of boiling water. Add the turmeric and leave to simmer for 7-10 minutes. If the lentils begin to dry out add a little more boiling water.

3. Add the marrow and stir into the dal. Add a further 100ml of boiling water and continue to simmer for another 5 minutes.

4. In a separate pan heat the oil and when it is hot gently add the panch phoran. They will begin to pop immediately so keep them moving around the pan. Add the chillies and mix in together. Now pour the marrow dal on top of the panch phoran and chillies and stir in together. Add the salt and then simmer for couple of minutes. Let it cool slightly before serving. You may need to add more salt if required.

In India many people often add a little ghee (clarified butter) on top just before serving to give it that extra delicious taste. If you are watching your waste line simply ignore this step!


Fried Marrow Skin – Khosa Bhaja

Skin of a marrow

1 tbsp vegetable/mustard oil

1 tsp nigella seeds

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

pinch of chilli powder (optional)

1 green chilli, finely sliced

1 tsp salt

1. Peel the skin of a marrow and slice into fine, small strips. Place in a pan of boiling water and gently simmer for a couple of minutes.

2. Strain and place to one side. Heat a pan with oil and when it is hot add the nigella seeds. After a few seconds add the marrow skin followed by the turmeric, chilli powder, green chilli and salt. Cook on a low heat until the marrow skin begins to bronze.

Serve with the marrow dal above.

25 thoughts on “Marrow Dal and Fried Marrow Skin (Khosha Bhaja)

  1. TCF

    Looks nice! My mum does a similar scrum dish from Middle East. Red lentils, 1 grated carrot, onion, tiny bit of cumin, salt to taste and lemon juice. Yum. Will try with marrow next time. Never eaten it.

    • That sounds equally delicious. I am a huge dal fan – my fav comfort food. So nutritious and quick to prepare and importantly tastes wonderful. I am drowning in marrows at the moment – so keep trying to think of original ways to cook and prepare them. Thanks for commenting. Best Torie

    • Thank you. It’s one of my go-to comfort foods and I really do love having pieces of marrow in my dal. The fact that the skin can be used in another dish is an added bonus ;o) Thank you for commenting. Best Torie

  2. I WANT to like summer squash (I think we’re talking about the same thing–long, yellow, pretty bland?), but I’m afraid my general sympathies are with the food criticW. HOWEVER, given your predilection for pulling culinary rabbits ouf of your hat, and my fondness for dal, once more unto the breach. Thanks. Ken

    • Thank you so much for the feedback. I always love to hear from folk who make my recipes. I made my Bengali red split lentil dal (also on the blog) with butternut squash and fresh coriander this eve. Best Torie

  3. Josephina Olney

    Just made this for the first time. A little difficulty in getting the nigella seeds, but succeeded in the end. Loved the flavours. Only realised afterwards that you must have simmered the dal without a lid… It took ages to cook !? I always like trying different flavours.

    • Yes red split lentils should only take 15 mins max to cook. I keep adding water when it gets too thick and I remove any froth residue that comes to the top. Are you based in London? Are you able to get hold of panch phoron – Bengali five spice? I’m guessing you made a batch re my recipe. Thanks for you lovely comment.

  4. Pingback: Given a Marrow? Now what...!? at Pumpjack & Piddlewick

  5. cwcishere

    I made this yesterday (with some sundries) and everyone LOVED it. The dhal was much thinner than I’m used to, is that how it is in some Indian cuisines? Not a criticism just genuinely interested. Thanks for giving me such a great use of an unwanted marrow AND the panch phoran I never use!

    • Hi there, so pleased it was a hit. Dal consistency is really down to personal choice. Typically in India you eat it with your hands poured over a little rice to help absorb it. Certainly in temples it’s always been quite runny as it has to feed 1000’s each day. Plates are banana leaves and then you get one of two small veg curries too and then something sweet. Always a wonderful thing to experience when you are in India. I eat dal a few times a week and often (although not always) in a bowl with a squeeze of lemon for a light lunch of supper. Panch phoron is wonderful and very particular to Bengal. Im in the process of bringing all my recipes together in a cookbook – realistically nothing with be published until 2022 but there will be lots of easy everyday Indian recipes that I hope everyone will love. Watch this space. Best Torie

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