With it’s green beans and carrot in a freshly ground south Indian coconut masala gravy, this recipe is a sure fire winner.
By Radhika Penagonda
As a young girl, I was always curious about the goings-on in the kitchen. Hovering around my dear aunt, the then head chef in my granddad’s kitchen was one of my favorite pastimes. Over the years, whether it was for my keen interest or my unsolicited opinions, somewhat naturally, I had earned a say in vital decisions such as the daily menu. Vegetables would be brought fresh for the next day, the evening before, in a green tarpaulin bag. Plastic had no place then. And in the morning, before leaving for school, I would dash to the kitchen to see what’s cooking for lunch. Whenever it was green beans, there were only two ways I would love them, either in a simple stir fry with freshly grated coconut or an elaborately prepared gravy in the form of this lip smacking traditional South Indian dish. This was the recipe I wanted to learn to make first, whenever I would start cooking on my own.
- 1 medium carrot, washed, peeled and small diced
- a big handful of beans, washed, strings removed and fine chopped
- ½ cup fresh green chana or green chickpeas
- ¼ cup toor dal/pigeon peas
- ¼ tsp turmeric
- half a small lime sized tamarind (seeds removed)
- 2 tbsp coriander seeds / dhania
- 2 tbsp split bengal gram chana dal
- 2 tbsp split black gram / urad dal
- 8 whole dried red chillies (byadagi chillies)
- 1 tsp black peppercorns
- 5-6 curry leaves, washed and towel dried
- ½? piece of cinnamon bark / chakke
- a big pinch of hing/asafoetida
- ½ cup freshly grated coconut
- a few drops of ghee for roasting pepper
- ¼ tsp oil for roasting
- water for grinding
- 2-3 tsp peanut oil
- 2 tbsp peanuts
- 1 tsp bengal gram / urad dal
- Wash Toor dal well until water runs clear. Wash and soak tamarind in warm water for 10-15 mins.
- Pressure cook toor dal with turmeric for 3-4 whistles or until well cooked. Meanwhile, in a medium-sized heavy bottomed pot, cook covered chopped beans, diced carrots and green chana in just enough water, until soft but not mushy. Season with salt and keep aside. When the cooker has cooled, whisk turmeric into the cooked dal, stir to mash well and pour into the pot with cooked veggies.
- Alternatively, to cook lentils in open pot method, bring water to a boil in a medium-sized pot over high heat. Reduce heat to medium, add the washed toor dal or pigeon peas and cook semi covered, and simmer until lentils are soft, about 30 minutes. Add more warm water if needed to keep them from drying out.
- While the veggies and dal cook, place a kadai or medium skillet over medium heat for dry roasting the spices. When the skillet is hot enough, drip few drops of ghee, pop in the black pepper and roast until they just begin to splutter. Remove onto a plate. Add bengal gram, red chillies, curry leaves, cinnamon bark, coriander seeds and lastly black gram and roast on low to medium heat until bengal gram and black gram turn golden brown and curry leaves are crisp. Switch off, add hing and grated coconut and sauté until coconut smells toasty or hissing sound subsides.
- Squish soaked tamarind to pulp. In a blender, grind the dry roasted ingredients along with tamarind pulp and some water to a smooth paste.
- Pour this paste into the pot with cooked veggies and dal. Adjust the salt, add more water to fix the consistency if required (it will be relatively thick, like that of Dosa batter) and bring to a gentle boil over low-medium heat, stirring intermittently (to avoid sticking burning at the bottom), about 15 mins. Simmer for 5-10 mins before switching off.
- Heat oil in a small kadai or saucepan over high heat. When the oil is hot enough or shimmering, add peanuts and reduce heat to medium. When they begin to splutter, toss in bengal gram and sauté until bengal grams turn golden brown. Tip the tempering on the simmering Kootu, cover immediately and keep aside.
- Serve hot with a spoon of ghee drizzled over hot rice or grain of your choice and a side of papad.
Radhika Penagonda is a vegetarian food blogger, ardent photographer and enthusiastic cook who loves to explore new ingredients and believes strongly in eating with our eyes first. Passionate about home-made food prepared from natural ingredients, minimally processed and close to nature, she shares through her blog how home style or not 100% vegetarian food can be lip smacking tasty and simply delicious.