Saturday, June 5, 2010

Three Dishes for dinner!

We may have company tomorrow. In anticipation of that, I made three dishes tonight. Well, technically four if you count the Basmati Rice.

Here is what I cooked tonight!
  1. Paruppu Usili - Lentil Crumble with Green Beans
  2. Eggplant Podi Curry - Eggplant Curry with a special spice mix
  3. Drumstick* and Onion Sambar - This is a thick lentil dish that is used as a gravy for rice and other dishes
*Drumstick - Moringa oleifera

Here are the recipes:

Paruppu Usili
This dish can be prepared with Cabbage/Banana Flower instead of Green Beans.

Channa Daal - Split Yellow Peas - 2 cups
Toor Daal - aka Daal - 1/2 cup
Mustard Seeds - 1 Tbsp
Curry Leaves - 10 (finely chopped)
Red Chilies - 8
Asafoetida - a pinch
Olive oil - 5 Tbsp
Grated coconut - 1/4 to 1/2 cup
Cilantro - chopped - 1/4 cup

  1. Chop-up the green beans into 1 cm long pieces and cook them in water. Pay close attention so they don't become mushy. Drain the excess water and keep aside.
  2. In a mixing bowl, soak the Channa Daal, Toor Daal and the chilies for about 30-45 minutes in hot tap water.

  3. Drain the water and grate the ingredients in a food processor or blender. The key is to grate/crumble and not make a fine paste of the lentils.

  4. In a large pan, heat up the oil. Splutter the mustard seeds and add the curry leaves and a pinch of the asafoetida to the hot oil. Turn down the heat.
  5. Add the lentil and chili mix to the hot oil and saute until golden brown.
  6. Add the cooked green beans and the grated coconut to the hot mix and saute for about 10-15 minutes on low heat.
  7. Add salt to taste and cilantro as garnish.
Drumstick and Onion Sambar
There are two common ways of preparing sambar: a) use ready-made sambar powder/mix b) make your own sambar wet-mix. I consider the latter the real McCoy and I personally like the taste of sambar prepared using the latter technique.
Toor daal 2-3 cups
Tamarind paste - 1 Tsp
Drumsticks - about 10 1"-2" pieces
Onions - 2 cups - chopped
Coriander seeds - 1 Tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 Tsp
Red Chilies - 5-6
Fenugreek Seeds - 1 Tsp
Shredded Coconut - 1/4 cup
Turmeric powder - 1 Tsp
Garnish: chopped curry leaves and cilantro
  1. Cook the lentils until soft in a pressure-cooker or in a conventional sauce pan.
  2. In a sauce pan, roast the coriander seeds, cumin, red chilies. You may use a drop or two of oil if you like to roast these. I dry toast them.
  3. Grind the the ingredients from step 2 and the grated coconut in a blender. Use little water (the mix should be moist/wet but not runny).
  4. In a large sauce pan, heat up about 4 cups of water. Once the water starts to boil, add the chopped onions, drumstick and the cooked daal to the water. Turn down the heat a notch or two. Add the tamarind paste, turmeric and a pinch of asafoetida. Stir the mix so the lentils don't stick to the bottom of the vessel.
  5. Cook until the vegetables are cooked thoroughly.
  6. Add salt to taste and garnish with cilantro and the chopped curry leaves.
Eggplant Podi Curry
There are several ways to prepare Eggplant curry. The one I have described here is something close to my own heart.

Asian purple eggplant - 2 Lbs (chopped lengthwise into quarters - make 4 pieces out of each eggplant!)
Curry leaves - 5 - finely chopped
Mustard seeds - 1 Tsp
Coriander seeds - 1 Tbsp
Channa Daal - 1 Tbsp
Urad Daal - 1 Tsp
Olive oil - 1/4 cup
Red Chilies - 5

  1. Dry roast the coriander seeds, Channa daal and the red chilies. Grind them coarsely and keep ready.
  2. In a large heavy-bottomed pan, heat up the oil.
  3. Splutter the mustard seeds in the oil. Turn down the heat.
  4. Throw in the curry leaves and urad daal.
  5. Add the eggplant. Cook until the eggplant is tender.
  6. Add the spice mix from step 1 to the pan, stir in evenly.
  7. Add salt to taste and cook for another 3-5 minutes.
Traditionally in South India, the 3 dishes I have described in this post would be served with rice and Appalam (a lentil fritter) as pictured below:

Bon appetit' :)

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