Tuesday, August 11, 2009

A Li'l Bit of 'merica

When it became clear a few months ago that I would be going abroad, it also became clear that I would have to tell myself sternly that I couldn't come back with stuff for the pantry that I would only throw out a while later. It's quite another matter that while I shopped very little, all my purchases were heavyweights which attracted their own set of consequences on the way back home.

One of them was a packet of split peas which I've never seen in the parts of India I live(d) in. Of course, I didn't want to make anything as ordinary as green pea soup with that - I had plans for it already, which I executed once I returned. It helped that I had had a great Bengali meal at Sandeepa's place when we met - Begun Bhaja, Dal, kaancha amer ambol/chatni Jhinge Chingri Posto, Pathar Mangsho, so I knew which book to consult for a split peas (matar dal) recipe as soon as I returned.

This is a book of Bengali cuisine called Pumpkin Flower Fritters by Renuka Devi Choudhurani and has a recipe for Split Pea Lentils With Vegetables. Since it's only been a little over a week since I've returned, I don't have too many veggies crowding the refrigerator so I made do with just one of the many listed in the recipe.

And that's the result in the photo - don't miss the jaunty chilli in that bowl - it arranged itself so, I didn't arrange it that way.

Split pea lentils/matar dal: 1 cup
Drumstick (vegetable): 1
Tomato: 1, small
Green chillies: 3-4
Salt, to taste
Oil: 1 tsp
Ghee: 1/2 tsp


Red Chillies: 2, broken into pieces
Bay leaf: 1
Panch phoron with some mustard seeds: 1 tsp
Asafoetida: A pinch

Strip some of the hard skin from the drumstick and cut it into two-inch pieces. Slice the tomato into 6 pieces and slit the green chillies.

Wash the dal in warm water and rub with salt and a little oil. Set to boil in a pan of hot water (I haven't mentioned the amount as I initially used just over one cup of water and then added as and when I needed).

When the dal is half cooked, add the salt.

After it cooks a little more, add the drumstick and a few of the green chillies. When it all cooks, remove from the fire.

Heat the oil and ghee and temper with the chilli, bay leaf and the panch phoron. Add the asafoetida and tomato. Saute for a few seconds and add the rest of the green chillies. Pour in the dal and boil for 2-3 minutes.

This entry goes to Susan's My Legume Love Affair - 14.

As I mentioned in my previous post, I had a great day out with Susan, whom I met in New York City. She planned a day of walking for us and took me through Wall Street and several other areas. We walked from about 10 a.m. to 6.30 p.m. One of our stops was Madison Avenue - as soon as we saw this scene, we had to stop and shoot several pictures of it.

I'm not sure how good it is technically, but for me, it felt like the sight of the day.


  1. hmm...it started. I was very much waiting for such posts on the stuff u've breought from U.S. This looks interesting Sra. And the green chilli is showing off to ensure the spiciness. And how did it taste ? Which one can we substitute for the green split peas ?

  2. I've enjoyed reading every one of your US related posts... not that your other posts are any different :)

    welcome back!

  3. Green split peas are often used here as substitutes for Indian pulses that are unfamiliar or hard to find for the typical, uninitiated American cook.

    That green chile *is* rather jaunty, now that you mention it, Sra. Sometimes the best shots are the ones that arrange themselves. ; ) Thanks for your tasty MLLA recipe.

    And your clicks of Madison Avenue are quite good, you know. You've captured what was a fantastic scene.

  4. I'm impatiently waiting for the rest of the "shopping" you did to unfold itself here. :)

    My untrained eye loves your picture.

  5. oh oh..drumsticks and dal and not sambar!? Anyway addition of panch phoron and bay leaf art is interesting for me :)

  6. Ah! The US trip relived :) Green chillies - I could eat just like that. Sauteed with no oil and a little salt. Bliss :)

  7. Yaaa bong recipe;-) we use matar dal a lot, & sometimes even soaked & made a batter instead of besan (or chickpea flour)

    Lovely shots!

  8. I have a matar dal with veggies in my blog too, same pinch. Only thing is when we cook matar dal we use the yelow split peas and not the green ones. Wonder how the green one would taste
    That's a beautiful shot. You are an authority on all things NY now :D

  9. this is a new recipe to me. looks so wholesome and yummy :) Nice pics.

  10. Ah you lucky gal meeting with these fantastic bloggers.

    We get green split peas here regularly. Will definitely give your Bengali recipe a try.

  11. you were in my fav city? used to live near it, not any more. try making masala vada with split green peas or adding them to adai.

  12. Great that you happened to meet a fellow blogger. Nice pic too.

  13. Dear Sra,

    I wish I had known -- I would have come down to NYC too ;)

    Soup looks lovely and so do your photos! BTW if you have more split peas, they're great cooked up as a thick stew with some browned carrots and onion -- the sweetness sets them off nicely :)

  14. Very interesting recipe. I have used this green split pea while making the seven bean soup.

  15. Oh, I am ashamed to say that I don't know what these split green peas you're talking about are :( Now I have to go look for these. :)

  16. Don't you love it when that happens and your dish just arranges itself for the "shot" ? :)\
    Your trip sounds wonderful - made even more by the fact that you got to meet these wonderful bloggers!

    I haven't been able to visit here as regularly as I would like, so making up for it in this visit! :)

  17. great photo on the Madison av! how many photos did u finally end up taking? can i see them?
    i was surprised to see so many varieties of dal when i went to Indian store here too.

  18. Oh wow....your dishes are posing all by itself to camera....great yaar....

  19. Sounds like you had a fantastic time in NYC. How nice that you were able to meet and spend time with people you got to know through this space!

  20. Cynic, I guess it's a browser problem or something, because I can see them. (I'm not very tech-savvy.) Please try a little while later.

  21. Wow, what a different way to cook lentils..looks yum.


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