Spinach Dal

1spinach dal

This time our India trip wasn’t exactly a vacation. Our to do list was a long one but at the end of it, we could scratch off most of the items in the list. That meant our days would be spent outside going from one place to another, ticking off things from our list once they get done. 

One of the things was to sort out our personal things left behind in Chennai. We had rented out our house with one bedroom used as our storage. It was a huge task going through each and every thing, give off whatever we didn’t need and bringing back everything else to my in laws place. It sounds simple but it honestly was time and effort consuming. It took more than 2 complete days to get the stuff back to my in laws place and even more to sort it out.  I got a lot of stuff back to US including cooking books, food props and even my favorite wooden board. 

This recipe is from a bunch of print outs that I brought back from there. I just couldn’t throw it out even though it’s ten plus years old. So that makes the recipe a perfect candidate for Cooking from Cookbook challenge. It’s protein rich so that makes it good for Blogging Marathon #80 as well. 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup moong dal
  • 1/2 a medium tomato, chopped
  • a pinch of turmeric powder
  • 1 bunch of spinach, about 250 gms
  • 3 green chillies
  • 1/2″ piece ginger
  • 1 garlic clove 
  • 1 teaspoon ghee
  • 1 teaspoon each jeera seeds and mustard seeds
  • salt and lemon juice per taste 

Method:

  1. Wash and clean the dal.  Pressure cook along with the chopped tomato, a pinch of turmeric powder and enough water to cover everything completely.
  2.  Grind half of the spinach bunch with green chillies and ginger. Chop the rest of the spinach and keep aside.
  3. Once the dal is cooked and the pressure is released naturally, heat ghee or oil in a pan. Add the jeera seeds and mustard seeds. Let it splutter.
  4. Add the garlic and once it’s brown slightly, add the chopped spinach. Sauté for a few minutes. 
  5. Add ground spinach and cook for a few minutes. Add in the dal and salt as needed. Add water to bring it to the consistency you prefer and bring everything to a boil. Taste test and adjust the seasonings. Take off the heat and add lemon juice if preferred. 
  6. Serve with hot rice, a spoonful of ghee and a papad on the side.

2spinach dal
This goes for the September Week 4, Cooking from Cookbook Challenge Group.
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Pumpkin kootu without coconut

1pumpkin kootu

Yesterday, I posted a kootu recipe with spinach and lentils and coconut in it. Today’s recipe is also a kootu, but with pumpkin, moong dal and no coconut. This is a very simple dish to make and tastes excellent. My son likes this dsh since its not very spicy and has a very mild sweetness from the pumpkins. Sometimes the pumpkin gets replaced by a combination of chayote/chow chow and carrots.

This is my friend’s recipe and  one I had tried many times now. I have been using  powdered hing for a long time now, but I am slowing making the switch to whole asafoetida. Hing aids in digestion and is used in almost all the places where you use lentils and beans. There is a nice and noticeable difference in aroma and flavor when using the whole hing.

The problem with whole hing is that it comes as a block and becomes rock hard in a day or two after you open the packet. My MIL told me that it is soft when its right out of the box. So that’s the time to cut it into very small pieces or make small balls using your hands. You have to store the pieces in air tight jars with a tablespoon or two of whole wheat sprinkled in. The wheat prevents the pieces from sticking together and becoming a solid mass again. At the time of cooking, you take a small piece and use it as usual. If a couple of pieces stick together, you can soak it in water overnight and by next morning, it would have melted. The flavor of whole hing is so much better than the powdered version.

Read on for the pictorial and the recipe.

4pumpkin kootu

Serves : 3

Recipe Source: My friend Mangalambigai

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup moong dal
  • 1 teaspoon jeera seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • a good pinch of hing
  • salt to taste
  • 1 medium tomato
  • about 1 cup of chopped pumpkin

For the tadka

  • 1 teaspoon ghee or oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 red chillies, optional
  • 5-6 curry leaves

Method:

In a steel bowl, add the washed dal, chopped tomato and pumpkin pieces, jeera seeds, a good pinch of hing and salt as needed.

Add 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder and enough water so that it covers the dal completely by about an inch on top. Pressure cook for about 3 whistles.

Once the pressure releases naturally, open the cooker and mash it a little using a ladle. Heat oil or ghee in a separate pan, add mustard seeds. Once it splutters, add the red chillies and curry leaves. Add this tadka to the kootu and serve hot with rice, papad and pickle. If the kootu is dry, you can add more water and bring it to a boil.

3pumpkin kootu

 

 
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Keerai Mulagootal – Keerai Kootu

keerai_mulagootal1

Indian meals have at least one lentil based curry everyday. I use the term curry on a broad sense here. When we say Indian curry, the image is that of a creamy, red color gravy with ghee or oil running on the top. But that’s not what you eat at home everyday. Everyday cooking is a completely different than what you get in restaurants.

On an everyday basis, rice is served with a lentil based gravy and some veggies on the side. A popular South Indian gravy is sambar, which is toor dal or pigeon pea cooked with vegetables in a tangy tamarind base. Rasam is another one. In my house, the Kootu comes to a close third place.

There is no single recipe for sambar or rasam or kootu. There are so many different variations for each of these. You can make sambar 5 days a week and yet come up with five completely different flavors each day. For example, this kootu here is a combination of spinach with lentils and coconut. I have another version coming up soon which has pumpkin cooked with dal and with no coconut. So the taste is completely different even though the base of the dish is same.

Kootu is usually a mix of one or  more vegetables cooked with lentils and then rounded off with ground spicy coconut paste. So the recipe has three components. Cooked lentils, cooked vegetables and finally the roasted and ground coconut spice paste.  The coconut paste imparts flavor and it also helps thicken the gravy a bit. What goes into the coconut paste also differs from recipe to recipe. And sometimes its completely skipped also.

Today’s recipe is spinach kootu. This is about a bunch of spinach cooked with lentils. I cannot say that I was a big fan of this preparation when I was a kid, but it is one of my favorites now. I love my mother in law’s mixed vegetable version a lot. It is her weekend special along with masicha keerai (spinach, mashed and cooked in a tamarind base). I am yet to blog that recipe, but will do it soon.

Read on for the recipe.

keerai_mulagootal3

Recipe adapted from: Subbu’s Kitchen

Ingredients:

To saute and grind:

  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 2 tablespoons urad dal
  • 3-4 dry red chilies
  • 1 teaspoon jeera
  • 1/4 cup coconut
  • water as needed

For the kootu:

  • 4 cups spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 cup moong or toor dal, cooked separately
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 dry red chillies

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a pan. Roast 2 tablespoons urad dal, 3-4 red chillies. Once the dal turns brown, add 1 teaspoon jeera seeds and turn off the heat. Once cool, add to a mixer jar along with 1/4 cup coconut. Grind to a smooth paste adding a little water.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a pan, add one teaspoon mustard seeds and 2-3 red chillies to it. You can do the tadka later, but sometimes, I prefer to do it together. Once it splutters, add about 3-4 cups of cleaned and chopped spinach. Add a little water and let it cook. 

Cook 1/2 cup moong dal (or toor dal) with 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder separately. Add the dal to the spinach once its cooked.

Mix well, add water as needed and add the ground paste. Mix everything in, adding salt to taste. Add water as needed to bring it the consistency you prefer. Serve with rice and pickle.

keerai_mulagootal2
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Parippu Usili – Pressure cooker method

3parippu-usili

My husband is a big fan of parippu usili. Which is bad, because making usili is kind of time consuming. First, there is this matter of soaking beans. So waiting time of a couple of hours. Then you have to roughly grind it and then steam it using steamer or idli vessel until cooked. So in addition to the steaming time, there is a whole bunch of extra vessels involved now. And then you have to cool it and crumble it again. So some more time until the dal mix cools down. So all in all, though the actual effort is not much, there is a whole lot of extra vessels and some waiting time too.

So can you imagine the world’s laziest person making this dish on a regular basis?

Yeah…I didn’t think so too.

But my husband hasn’t given up hope yet. He still gets cluster beans every single time he goes to the Indian store. But compared to before, I make this more often. Ever since my mother in law taught me an easier way to prepare usili. The pressure cooker method.

There is a lot of wait time in this method too, but the number of vessels involved is lesser and the quantity of usili you get is more. I serve usili with rice, so I have to cook rice anyway. The usili gets cooked along with rice in the pressure cooker. I just reuse the same vessel which I use for soaking the dals for pressure cooking. So no extra vessels. The mixer jar which we use for grinding the dals is used again (without washing, so that its not wet) to pulse the dal once it is done pressure cooking. This way, you get a lot more lighter and fluffier usili than crumbling with hands would give. Also, this gives more quantity since you have less clusters. Technically, there is not a lot of improvement than the traditional method, but to me somehow, this method feels easier.

4parippu-usili

Usili has lot of lentils in it, so it usually gets served with a gravy that doesn’t have any lentils on it. Here, I have served it with moru curry (buttermilk spiced with onions, ginger and chillies), coconut sambar and a coriander leaves thogayal.

Rice and vadam (fries) complete the dish. A South Indian platter like this is my husband’s favorite :-).

Read on for this slightly different preparation than usual.

1parippu-usili

Ingredients:

  • 1/4 cup toor dal (pigeon pea dal)
  • 1/4 cup chana dal
  • 3 red chillies
  • a good pinch of hing
  • salt as needed
  • 2 cups of chopped beans or cluster beans
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

 

Soak 1/4 cup toor dal and 1/4 cup chana dal for 2-3 hours at least. Drain water completely and pulse a couple of time in a mixer/blender along with 3-4 red chillies with required amount of salt and a good pinch of hing.

 

You want to get coarsely crushed dal at the end of it, not a smooth paste. Don’t bother cleaning the mixer jar. Set it aside. Take the dal mixture in a pan and pressure cook it along with rice. I cooked it for 5 whistles.

 

Once the pressure is released and the dal is cooled down a bit, transfer it back to the mixer (see, I told you not to wash :D, we don’t want it wet) and pulse again for a couple of times to get a kind of fluffy and crumbled dal.

 

Cook two cups of chopped beans or cluster beans with salt as needed separately. Here I have cooked it in Instant pot for 2 minutes. Let the pressure release naturally. Now to assemble this dish together, heat 1 or 2 teaspoons of oil in a pan. Add 1 teaspoons of mustard seeds and curry leaves, if you have. Let the seeds splutter.

 

Add the dal mixture, see how fluffy it has become by pulsing in the mixer!! Add the cooked beans and mix well. Let the flavors mingle for a couple of minutes and then take off the heat. Serve with rice and any sambar of your choice.

2parippu-usili

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