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.
My Legume Love Affair Tomato dal/pappu Dalma Oriya cuisine Moong Dal Blogging Event hosting MLLA - Fourth Helping