Wednesday, May 16, 2007

Swift and Simple

It’s nostalgia time again at my blog. This dish stems from the days of my first job which often involved long and late hours. My colleague and friend would take me to her house to spare the relatives I was staying with the bother of having to open the door for me at that hour.

At her place, her mom would be ready with some hot food, after wolfing down which we would sit in my friend’s room and chat throughout the night and fall asleep only when dawn broke and our throats began to rasp and our eyes fell shut much against our will. Often, another friend would join us. Then we’d be up again at 9 or 10, by which time her mom would have breakfast ready. And then we’d unwillingly go about the rest of the day.

Her mother would often make this chaaru with moong dal. I remember a couple of tomatoes and an onion going into the pressure cooker along with dal, but my variation is to include many other vegetables and finish it off with a generous dose of lime juice, which provides all the flavour.

What you need:
Mixed vegetables, chopped – 2 cups (I used carrots, drumsticks, chikkudukaya/avarekkai, radish, yellow pumpkin)
Tomatoes – 1 big, chopped into small pieces
Onion – 1 medium, quartered
Green chillies – 2, slit lengthwise
Moong dal/Split, husked green gram – ¾ cup, boiled and mashed

Chilli powder – ½-1 tsp
Turmeric – a pinch
Salt to taste
Curry leaves – 5-10
Coriander leaves – to garnish

Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Fenugreek/methi seeds – 1/4 tsp
Oil – 2 tsp

Lime juice – from 2 big limes/as per taste

Pressure cook/boil the veggies till done – they shouldn’t lose their shape.

In a pan, heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds, let them splutter. Then add the fenugreek and the curry leaves.

Saute the onions till transparent. Then the green chillies till they lighten in colour.

Now add the mixed vegetables and the tomatoes. Add turmeric, salt and chilli powder. Saute for a minute.

Now add the mashed moong dal and dilute it with water till it reaches a thick soup consistency. Let cook for a couple of minutes. (I like it to be of light and flow-y consistency.)

Check for taste. Remove from heat. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Let cool completely. Stir in the lime juice.

Tastes good with papad and vadiyalu/vadams. I'm sending this off to Latha of Masala Magic who's hosting RCI-Andhra Pradesh this month.


  1. Sra,
    Chala bagundi, noru uruthundi choostunaene

  2. I liked this dal . My mung dal always turns bland. The vegetables must be adding to the flavour.I will try this next time:)

  3. another nostalgic post han? u used to get up after 9 in the morning? by the way which company is that which allows u to sleep till 9 in the morn;) he he he...
    coming to ur swift and simple saaru i make same way and call it nimbu saaru;) addition of vegetables in something i have not done. i like the idea of this wift and simple dish and today we r gonna have this for dinner:) will let u know how it turns out. thanks for the recipe sra:)

  4. Hi SRA, yours swift and simple looks delicious and yummy. I used to prepare this without vegetables. But this is one different variation, which i should try very soon. Thanks for sharing such a nice recipe.

  5. Delicious sra.Most of the time it's the simplest and the most humble dishes which tastes most delicious.
    I have similar experiences as a you ng girl,my firend used to drag me to her house and feed me Rasams etc.I have a Beetroot Rasam post like tis.Loved reading your's too,thanks girl:))

  6. moong dal looks very tempting, one of my favs :) for some reason have not tried methi/tadka in moong dal, will try it soon!

  7. Sra, such a homely dish. Shall i make some pulkas for this? Very nice. Viji

  8. dang. you could've called it "quick and simple" and sent it off to nupur for 'Q'. :-D

  9. hey Sra, how do you call it chaaru? it like sambar right? looks so yummy though. would be great with idlis. hmmm yummy.

  10. nice dal ....and vegges in them!!!...

  11. Sreelu, nijamgana? Thanks.
    Archana, do try it!
    Sia, your comments always make me laugh. Let's say I was in the political/Govt field ;-) ...
    Thanks Jyothi, we get ready-cut fresh veggies at our store - so I usually make this when I find them.
    Asha, I saw your post and remembered I had read it earlier!
    Sandeepa, charu is generally a thin, watery preparation, rasam, in other words. But we Telugus, when we add dal to the charu, call it pappu charu, which is thicker.
    Richa, I too, threw the methi in on a whim, can't say it made a difference. :)
    Oh yes, Viji, and get yourself some nice, kaaram potato chips, they go well with this.
    Bee, you're right, but I never seem to have the right dish to participate in that event!
    Sharmi, ah ... there's a bit of pride involved there. I prefer to say charu rather than sambar because it's a Telugu word, and strictly speaking, it's not sambar - all that sambar podi, etc, is missing. I suppose it's pesarapappu pulusu, but since it's thin, I've called it charu.
    Deepa, never seen dal with veggies? You should go around some of the Telugu blogs, girl - we dal and pickle everything!

  12. The dal looks great...I make something like this using red lentils(masur dal)...

  13. i will surely look for it sra , yeah u r true telugu girls are great in making pickles and dal's..will surely chk on that ...

  14. Hey, this curry is indeed swift and simple!! :) It looks really good!

  15. Sunita, thank you.
    Deepa, great!
    Ramya, thanks!
    Swapna, it sure is!

  16. Sra
    Sambar is not telegu and Charu is ? But Rasam has Dal in it too, doesn't it ? I thought rasam may or may not have dal but has to have tomatoes and no other veggies. Does that hold ?

  17. Sandeepa, I'll try to explain simply, let's see how I fare:

    Chaaru: generally a watery preparation.

    Pappu chaaru: Chaaru with the addition of daal, a little thicker and usually with veggies.

    Sambar: a thick watery preparation (but less thicker than daal per se) with vegetables and many spices including cumin, coriander, fenugreek, chana dal, pepper, urad dal ...

    Difference between sambar and pappuchaaru: The spices.

    Pappuchaaru is lighter spiced than sambar.
    And in my homes, a thickish, watery prep of veggies and dal is always referred to as pappuchaaru, not sambar.

    As far as I know, sambar is a Tamil preparation but even in AP, many people use the terms interchangeably. And we do make sambar, of course, because it's so similar to pappu chaaru, but they ARE different. What I meant in the other comment was that I wouldn't like to use one word for the other.

    Sambar is as much a popular, everday item in Telugu homes as idli/dosa is, I was just trying to be authentic.

    Now, rasam basically means essence. It's from Sanskrit, I suppose. Chaaru (dunno the evolution of the word) is the same as rasam.

    There are kinds and kinds of chaaru. Tomato is not a defining feature - the consistency is. Rasam/chaaru is a thin soup. Of course, the consistency within 'thin' varies. To confuse you further, daal water can be used for chaaru, but it won't be called pappu charu unless it's thick.

    There are many chaarus without tomato - pepper, jeera, garlic.

    ***In our parts, in the countryside, horsegram goes through a day-long process with coals in a hole in the ground to make a delicious stew called ulava chaaru - that is v v v thick, almost like thick chocolate sauce, but that's an exception!

    Please let me know if this is enlightening or had you more confused.

  18. Wow never knew theres so much to the sambhar and rasam. Very nicely explained Sra, kind of getting the essence. Just like we have different kinds of dals, with diff spices and veggies, no veggies etc. sambhar and pappu cahru might be like them

    Rasam is a whole different story and I always thought Tomato has to be key player in Rasam !!!

  19. sreela, in your coconot post i can neither see the picture, nor the 'comments' tab. i'm guessing it's colocasia anyway.

  20. sorry, you're not sreelu, you're sra. duh!!!

  21. Cannot see the pic or the comments section in "Coconot"

  22. Sandeepa, thanks.
    Bee, I couldn't publish the pic through Blogger so I used Picasa and it seemed fine when I went to bed. I'm still not able to publish pix. I've posted a question on Blogger help group about how to deal with this.

  23. I love dal so much, I can eat it daily. I like the idea of lemon juice at the end, that will definitely wake things up.

    Thanks for stopping by my blog. I do hope you visit again. Yours is very informative.

  24. Cynthia, thanks for visiting. Your pix of the breadfruit chips has me trying to find my mandoline - to try some sweet potato chips, though!


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