Tuesday, October 07, 2008

Legumes All The Way!

I know it's a month-long event, and it's only the beginning of the month, but I was beginning to get anxious when no mails announcing contributions for MLLA-Fourth Helping arrived in the first few days of this month. The only legume dishes being made, it seemed, were those in my kitchen and I was wondering if posting all of them would be seen as hogging space, and attention. After all, I'm the host, is it right for me to post so many? Funny how the ethical dilemma of a host in the food blog world plays out - a real-world host is expected to make as much as s/he can, but would that be deemed an attempt at monopoly in the virtual world? What do you think?

I tried quelling these qualms for a few days by accepting an invitation to a certain social networking site and immersed myself in locating cousins and friends, having them discover me and the messages that dot our pages, how much of ourselves we are revealing, whether I should put up a picture, risk revelation, but the call of the blog is too insistent and loud to ignore. Funnily enough, it calls out as stridently even when I don't have my usual wit-/humour-/anecdote-laden (and yes, humility-laden) pieces to say, which leaves me feeling blue and wondering how I can sustain the blog ...

A couple of these dishes are rediscoveries, and one in particular was one I used to classify as "Oh-that-same-old-tiresome-must-eat-but-why-the-hell-should-I" salad. Made with moong bean sprouts, some tomato, some cucumber, an eighth of a medium-sized onion and a simple garlic-steeped-in-lemon juice dressing, it WAS zingy, but wouldn't have featured here except for Aparna's insistence.

The other rediscovery was of tomato pappu, or toor dal made with tomatoes. I know there are a number of recipes out there for this very basic, very typical Andhra dish, those even simpler than mine, but when I cook old favourites, the standards I aspire to are my grandmothers', not out of any unreasonable, fanatical loyalty to tradition but simply because they tasted better.

All you have to do for this recipe is this:
In a pressure cooker (or pan),
- take half a cup of washed toor dal (pre-soaking will help it cook faster and softer in a shorter time)
- 4-5 chopped tomatoes (the sourer varieties would be nice),
- 1 cup of tamarind juice (extracted from a small fistful of tamarind soaked ahead of cooking time in a cup of water)*,
- some more water,
- a small onion, chopped up
- 1 or 2 green chillies, slit
- a pinch of turmeric

Make sure the dal is well covered by the water(s) but not overwhelmed by it.

Let it whistle 2-3 times and then cook it on simmer for another 5 minutes.

Let the pressure drop on its own and mash it as much as you can.

Add the salt and some red chilli powder, if you like, at this stage.

If it's too watery, thicken it down by cooking it some more on medium heat, uncovered.

Temper with mustard, cumin, split and hulled urad dal, crushed garlic and curry leaves in a teaspoon or two of oil. You can even add a tiny bit of onion to the tempering. Garnish with some chopped coriander.

* In fact, you can even cook this without the bother of the tamarind extract - you can simply plop the tamarind into the pressure cooker along with the rest of the ingredients and mash it all up together. Accomplished cooks do that but I've not had much success this way.

** I find that adding the tamarind juice after the cooker's opened and then boiling it down works best.

And now we come to the discovery of the day - a moong dalma. You may remember my Orissa posts but soon after those, I acquired a book on Oriya cuisine and adapted this recipe from there.

Green gram/moong dal: 1/2 cup
Potato: 1, peeled, cubed
Small brinjals: 2, cubed
Drumstick (the vegetable): 1/2, cut into 1-inch-long pieces
Cubed radish: A fistful
Cubed carrots: A fistful
Red chillies: 2
Mustard seed: 1 tsp
Cumin powder: 2 tsp
Water: 1-1/2 cup
Oil: 1/2 or 1 tsp
Turmeric: A small pinch
Dry-roast the dal, wash it.

In a pressure cooker, or pan, place the dal, turmeric and all the vegetables except the drumstick.

When you sense the cooker's about to hiss (or just before the dal reaches the crumbly stage), remove from fire, open carefully and add the drumstick. Close it again and let it hiss once. Temper with the mustard and red chillies. Add the cumin powder. Mix well.

Eat well! And Happy Dasara!

Don't forget to send in your entries for My Legume Love Affair - Fourth Helping, originally created by Susan. The details are in the sidebar.


  1. What lovely, legumey entries.. :) I know i was supposed to send you the sundal.. I hope to have one more for you.

  2. No legume event should go without toor dal for sure so you did the right thing. Moong Dalna is something that I got to try.
    Happy Dasara!

  3. Hey, don't put the blame on me.:)
    Personally, I do love these simple salads and I make them often depending what vegetables (or fruit sometimes) I have. The y also happen to go very well with an Indian meal, whether rice or chappathis.
    This post is a true legume affair! Lovely.

  4. You can make that sprout salad interesting by adding peanuts and bits of raw mango. Adding mango makes it yummy.:)

  5. There is nothing wrong in posting multiple entries for your own event, it is just another way of advertising your event... :)

    I know, I know... I owe you an email :) Haven't forgotten... but don't worry you will get it way before the due date :)

    Now I am off to find you on that social networking site ;)

  6. oops..i posted my entry almost a week back and forgot to mail you. Sending it right away

  7. What a lovely array od legume dishes Sra...it would be a crime not to post them :-) Btw, i'm having a similar salad for lunch today ;-)

  8. I would say post as many as you want.
    I will surley make something and wend you.
    Have not made any legumes at all after comming from India.

  9. wow nice entries for the event.

  10. teh tomato toor dal recipe is something different...will be trying out soon.

  11. Nice reading this post. All ur legume recipe rocks.... YUM!

  12. While I go through certain blogs, I get hooked up with their pictures and then read the recipe..
    While I am here, with you, I get drowned in the amazing way you do the write up, with ur excellent command over the language,..that too with that spl touch of humour..he he..
    P.S-..yet to go back and go through the recipe ;)
    ..and abt bananas,Sra,attempt only if you like the cooked form of it..I have seen ppl say "yuck" once they are not used to this...or try with just li'l of it.whether you like it.. :)..

  13. Hi sra
    carry on with your good work..those muses are natural but there are many like us who would want to know more...not taking part now but surely will, when academic pressure lessens down..i still love your recipes and the post is wondeful to go through.

  14. Ya I am thinking of trying this tomato dal for along time since I saw this in Mahanandi's...
    Will def try yours, Sra :)..

  15. great entries, and i love the tomato pappu will surely try it:-)

  16. Laavanya, so where are they?!!!
    Indo, do try it. This book I have has kinds and kinds of dalma.
    Aparna, I had sprouts with me again and I felt lazy to make a salad so I sundal-ised them!
    Vidya, I didn't want peanuts - I usually reserve those for carrot salad!
    Sig, did you find me? I saw you on one that I enrolled in and promptly abandoned last year - this is a new one and I'm beginning to wonder if it's any fun or I'm not interesting enough! But I'm sure you'll recognise me if and when you see me!
    Delhibelle, thanks!
    Sunita, thanks for the vote of confidence.
    Happy, thanks, am looking forward to it.
    Bhawana, is yours going to be one of them? :-)
    Priyanka, do let me know how you found it
    Sukanya, wow, thanks!
    Bharathy, thankyouthankyou. Actually, I did say yuck a few years ago, only, after seeing all these blogs, I feel like giving them a second chance. If you try the dal, tell me how it turned out.
    Anamika, you're sweet. Thanks.
    Shreya, great! Tks.

  17. If you don't want to post multiple entries, you can put my name on those and post, he he just kidding. You should post all those Sra, I like all your recipes. Will be sending mine soon.

  18. Sra, too many legumes isn't it ? U should add as much ginger and garlic to digest them all and oh where did my dieting friend gone ? Is she got lost under the mountain of legumes ? Am planning for couple of other entries too. Let me see how things work.

  19. And I thought it was just me. The turnout so far for WHB this week is very light. We'll see what happens. I could wind up with a "complex." :|

    Keep the recipes and belles lettres coming, Sra. Tangy meals and tart musings work for me.

  20. simple and healthy dishes...the sprouts are just right. heard somewhere that if they are sprouted for too long, its not as nutritious. Guess you are having fun with MLLA!


  21. Thanks for offering comments on my blog Dreampsaces. I looked into your "legumes" wirte up and felt good and hungry. I am trying out some today . :-)

  22. Uma, LOL! That was funny!
    Varsha, welcome, and thanks.
    Ni, I was wondering why no one said this - these are stuff I made over days, not all at one go - I'd have exploded!!!
    Susan, thanks. Tangy meals and tart musings sound poetic.
    Jai, yes, I've heard that said too. My dad used to sprout them really long, imagine they were noodles and eat them :)
    Vetrimagal, thanks for visiting!

  23. Sra,
    Moong Dal salad is my fav , and with a little dash of lemon juice ,OMG its just mouth-watering .
    I will be sending you a mail before the deadline dont worry ..
    hugs and smiles

  24. That is an array of "leguminous" dishes...

  25. yummmmm...i love tomato pappu...the only problem is i overeat on the rice when i make this....