Traditionally, we are rice eaters but Rajesh loves all varieties of bread, it can be the Indian kind like rotis, chapathis, phulkas, parathas, etc and the western ones as well. He says that while he was growing up, he used to love certain combinations of food and one of them was roti with a specific lentil curry that his mother used prepare. I had eaten it a couple of times when we had visited home. He was reminded of this curry when we came across lentils in the store the other day and I decided to make this for him today. This dish is easy to prepare and goes well with white rice too.
Red chilly pwdr - 1 tsp (more or less depending on your taste)
Garam masala pwdr - 1 tsp
Cilantro - for garnish, finely chopped
Wash thoroughly and then soak the daal in 2 cups of water for about 2-3 hours.
Peel and chop potatoes into cubes.
Pressure cook the soaked daal with the water its soaked in, the potato cubes and salt to taste. It varies from one pressure cooker to another to figure out the number of whistles it needs for the daal to be cooked, mine took just one whistle. Set aside. Open the pressure cooker only when the pressure has gone down from the cooker.
Heat oil in a stockpot. Season with cumin seeds. When cumin seeds crackle, add the chopped onions. Fry till light brown.
Add in the chopped tomatoes and fry till pulpy.
Once you see oil oozing from the sides, its time to add in the dry powders.
Add the turmeric powder, red chilly powder and garam masala powder and mix well.
Saute for a couple of minutes.
Pour in the cooked daal with the stock and potatoes to this mixture, mix well and bring it to a boil. You may need to add a little salt at this point. The daal already has salt, so go easy on the salt.
Simmer on medium heat for 8-10 minutes.
Garnish with finely chopped cilantro.
Serve hot with white rice or jeera rice or rotis or any bread of your choice.
If you do not have a pressure cooker, the daal can be cooked in a regular stockpot as well. The daal will have to be soaked for a longer period of time, you will need to add 4-5 cups of water, cover and cook for almost an hour or so. Keep checking and stirring at regular intervals. The daal has to be soft, not mushy.
After the daal is cooked, if you find that you’ve added more water, here is a tip my mom-in-law gave me. Blend 1/2 a tomato and about 3 tablespoons of the cooked daal till smooth and add this to the fried onion, tomato and spice mixture. Add the cooked daal and potato cubes and proceed with the rest of the recipe. (A few sprigs of cilantro can be added as well. I am partial to cilantro, but for those who don’t like the taste of cilantro, this step is optional)
If required, a tablespoon of ginger and garlic paste can be added to this recipe as well. My mom-in-law did not use it but I am sure it will taste very good.
My dad worked for HAL in Bangalore and back in the ’70s, they used to have something called an “A” lunch in the canteen for the officers. For a princely sum of Rs 2.00, they would get chicken curry, bread and dessert. Even to this day, he indicates the size of the chicken leg with his fingers. That seemed like a dream meal to me, though I never got to eat it. I would salivate as my dad described the meal, the chicken being the chief attraction for me. My dad ate it rarely, probably he felt guilty that his family was not enjoying the meal with him. The recipe that I am listing below, is my own creation, not passed on to me and it came about with my experiments with cooking chicken. I had started off craving pepper chicken and with a little dash of this and a dollop of that, the end result was pretty delicious. As I see the picture of the drumsticks, I’m reminded of chicken in that elusive “A” lunch! Incidentally, HAL discontinued the lunch in the early ’80s.
Red chilly pwdr - 1 tbsp (more or less depending on your taste)
Coriander-cumin pwdr - 1 tsp
Garam masala pwdr - 1 tsp
Ginger-garlic paste - 1 tbsp
Lime juice - 1 tbsp
Olive oil - 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Oil - 3 tbsp
Garlic - 8 cloves, minced
Green chillies - 6, finely chopped (more or less depending on your taste)
Curry leaves - 1 sprig, chopped
Cilantro - 1 small bunch, divided, finely chopped
Salt - if required
Mix all the marinade ingredients in a small bowl and set aside.
Remove skin and wash the chicken drumsticks thoroughly. Pat dry with paper towels.
Apply the marinade to the chicken drumsticks and allow to marinate for 4-6 hours or preferably overnight.
Heat oil in a flat pan. Season with minced garlic. Fry till the garlic is light brown and then add the finely chopped green chillies, 3/4 of the chopped cilantro and curry leaves.
Saute till fragrant.
Add in the marinated chicken pieces and mix well. Cook on low heat. If you see it sticking to the bottom of the pan, a tablespoon of water can be added every now and then. You can also add about 1/2 cup of water if you want to have a little gravy. This can then be cooked on medium heat as there's no worry about it sticking to the bottom of the pan.
When done, garnish with the remaining finely chopped cilantro.
Cooking the chicken on medium heat
This can also be cooked with boneless chunks of chicken thighs with the skin removed.
While the dry dish works well as an appetizer, if you would like to eat this with rice, you may want to add extra water, cover the dish and cook it on medium heat so the chicken cooks faster and water is retained as the gravy.
Batat ‘phovu’ (as its said in Konkani) is one of my favorite breakfast dishes. “Batata” is potato and “phovu” or “poha” is beaten or parched rice. This dish is made with potatoes, onions and poha, easy to make and it tastes divine! Eat it as is or serve it with sev or chuda and a piping mug of filter ‘kaapi’ and you are good to go! Though its my favorite dish, I refused to make this for the longest time. The few times I tried making it, the poha turned out to be a soft mushy mess. I thought I was doing something wrong, even though I was following my Mom’s recipe to a “T”. It used to be very frustrating and disappointing. While I was on one my rants about the poha failure, my sister explained to me about the difference in the quality of the poha in the brands that we use.
Poha or beaten rice or parched rice comes in two forms, the thick kind and the thin one. We are using the thick poha for this dish. There are different brands of thick poha available in the market these days and the quality of poha can vary from brand to brand. Poha can be very finicky as well. Some poha requires soaking them for at least 3-5 minutes to get that soft texture whereas others do not require any soaking whatsoever. I am using the non-soaking kind here. The poha that Mom uses needs soaking whereas the ones that we (my sister and I) use, do not need soaking. Of the brands that are available to us here in the US, I use the Lakshmi brand and my sister uses the Swad brand and both are quick cooking pohas.
The recipe that my Mom had given me asked for the poha to be soaked after rinsing, I did just that. My batata poha was a flop. Then she asked me to leave the poha in the colander and just let the water drain away, I did that and my batate poha was still a flop with the poha flakes being clumpy and mushy. After getting the ‘quick rinse and squeeze out water’ tip from my sister, now I can safely say that my batate phovu comes out very soft and the flakes are discrete and not clumped together like before. To cut a long story short, learn your poha first!
Wash, peel and cut the potato into cubes. Boil them in salted water till soft, it should still have a bite to it. Do not overcook the potato cubes. Drain the water and immediately put the potato cubes in cold water as it stops the cooking process. Set aside.
Heat oil in a wok. Season with mustard seeds. When seeds splutter, add the curry leaves and green chillies. Saute for about 30 seconds or so.
Put in the chopped onions and fry till onions are soft.
Put in the turmeric powder and saute for a minute or two.
Add the cooked potato cubes and mix well. Also add salt to taste.
Rinse the thick poha under running water in a sieve. Do not wash it so much that it fragments the flakes. Squeeze out water from the poha and add it to the wok immediately. Be very gentle when handling the poha, the flakes shouldn't break.
Add sugar, then gently stir the poha with the rest of the mixture.
On low flame, cover and cook for about five minutes, stirring the poha every now and then.
Garnish with grated coconut and finely chopped cilantro. Also lime juice can be added at this point if using.
Serve hot with sev or any chuda/chivda/mixture of your choice or you can eat it as is.
I like to pre-boil the potatoes. You can also cook them along with the onions. Add the cubed potatoes after adding the turmeric powder to the onions. Cover and cook till potatoes are soft. Proceed with the rest of the recipe.
Mom adds grated coconut as garnish, could be the Konkani influence, you can skip this if you are not a fan of coconut.
Rajesh’s mom grew up in Bombay and it could be the Bombay influence where she would add lime juice just before serving. You can add lime juice to the whole dish or you can serve wedges of lime/lemon at the table. This step is optional too.
Interestingly, the Portugese word for potato is “Batata” and so is it in Konkani and Marathi. These were the communities that were in direct contact with the Portugese and the potato brought into India by the Portugese. Similarly pineapple is “Ananas” in Portugese (and many other European languages) and “Avnas” in Konkani and “Ananas” in Hindi.
My Mom grew up in Udupi and she learnt to make this dish from one of her neighbors. As French beans is one of my favorite vegetables, I make this dish pretty often. It goes very well with white rice and daal or with rotis too.
Roasted red chillies - 8 (more or less depending on your taste)
Cilantro - 1/4 bunch
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Tamarind paste - 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Urad daal (black gram) - 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Blend grated coconut, roasted red chillies, cilantro, mustard seeds and tamarind paste till smooth. Set this 'masala' aside.
Heat oil in a pan and season with mustard seeds. When mustard seeds splutter, add the urad daal and fry till the daal turns slightly red.
Put in the blended masala and the turmeric powder and saute for about 3-4 mins.
Add the chopped French beans and salt to taste and mix well.
Cover and cook on medium flame till done.
Serve hot with white rice and daal or rotis.
My mom adds a little water when she’s cooking the beans. She rinses the blender with water after adding the masala to the pan and adds the water to the dish. This cooks the beans faster, but I feel that when you add salt while cooking, it does ooze a little water and you can cook the beans in this. This way you don’t need to add any additional water.
This dish can also be prepared with other vegetables such as Ivy Gourd (Tindora), Okra (Bhindi), Chinese potatoes (kooka), Long Beans (Alsande) etc.
This is a popular Konkani dish and is very easy to make and can be prepared quickly. I have already posted a variation of the Sanna Pollo. This is the traditional version which my mother prepares at home. It basically means ‘small dosa’. Its a savory pancake made with coconut, spice, lentils and rice with a couple of finely chopped vegetables added to it. This is liked by everybody in my house. It is normally served as a side dish with white rice and Daalithoi in our house. It can be served as a snack or a starter/appetizer too. It can be made ahead of time and warmed up in the oven just before serving. My grandmom loved eating this with freshly churned butter. Rajesh and our daughter like to eat it with butter too.
Chana daal (Bengal gram/split yellow chickpeas) - 1/2 cup
Grated coconut - 1 cup, packed
Roasted red chillies - 12 (more or less depending on your spice level)
Tamarind paste - 1 tsp
Hing (asafoetida) - a pinch
Water - 1/4 cup
Cabbage - 1 cup, finely chopped
Onion - 1 medium sized, finely chopped
Coconut Oil - 1/4 tsp
Oil (your choice, I used Canola) - as required (for greasing the skillet while cooking the pancakes)
Salt to taste
Wash and soak rice and chana daal in water together for an hour or so.
Finely chop the onions and cabbage and set aside.
In a pan, heat coconut oil and roast the red chillies till fragrant.
Blend the grated coconut, roasted red chillies, tamarind paste and asafoetida to a smooth paste. A little water can be added to help the whole thing to come together. This mixture has to be blended very smoothly.
Drain the water from the soaked daal and rice and add the two to the coconut mixture and pulse a few times. Make sure that the rice and daal remain coarse and grainy.
To this blended mixture, add the chopped onions and cabbage,salt to taste and mix well.
Heat a griddle or a skillet and spray some oil just to grease the pan. Keeping the heat on medium flame, drop a small ladleful of the mixture on the heated griddle. Using the back of a spoon or fork, spread the mixture in circular motions to form a small and thin pancake. Drizzle with oil on all sides or spray oil on and around the pancakes. Depending on the size of your pan, you can make three to four of these pancakes at a time.
Each side may take 2-3 minutes to cook, when the base of the pancake has turned brown, flip it over and cook the other side as well.
Serve hot with butter.
Chopped Cabbage and Onions
Batter/Mixture prior to adding the cabbage and onions
I have used more cabbage than onions, you can use them in equal parts. If you are not a fan of cabbage, you can skip it altogether and make this dish using just onions. I like cabbage and I like the crunchiness it gives to the dish.
I normally use Byadgi chillies for this dish which gives it a rich red color, but I was out of those chillies. I had to use the regular ones, as a result of which the batter/mixture looks a little pale.
The daal and rice have to be ground coarsely. That’s what gives it the crispy texture to the pollo.
Do not add too much water. Add little water at a time so as to help move the blender blade smoothly. This mixture should be of slightly thicker consistency than the dosa batter.
You can also make cabbage vadas with this, provided the mixture is pretty thick and you have blended with very little or no water at all. For vadas, you need a very thick mixture. You need to be able to form balls and drop them in oil and if its too liquidy, it can absorb oil when you deep fry them.
This is our hundredth recipe and we’ve come back a full circle to where it all began! We derive our inspiration from our respective mothers – both phenomenal cooks. My mother’s countless recipes were rarely written down. She could not tell me the exact proportions of a recipe, she just added the ingredients based on experience. She did, however, have a recipe book which contained a few recipes that she had tried and liked but would not prepare very often. These recipes were usually shared by her friends or relatives. These were written down in a diary from 1975, compliments from a family friend, who worked at Roche, the Swiss pharmaceutical company. I was a foodie even then and I would help my mother by writing down recipes and decorating her recipe book with food related pictures. This recipe book is one of my prized possessions now, not just for the recipes it contains, but for the fact that it has recipes hand written by my mother and father. In fact, there are a few recipes that I wrote down for my mother in the late seventies! Thumbing through the recipe book today, I came across a recipe for a fish fry written down by my father (who, besides assisting my mother, is a pretty good cook in his own right). I don’t remember my mother frying fish using this recipe often, she normally stuck to her time-tested recipe for fish fry, which is easier to prepare. I decided to give this recipe a try and the result was indeed delicious.
(You will have masala left over for future use, if you want the exact quantity, use a fourth of the proportions listed below)
Dry Red Chillies - 50 (Byadgi or Kashmiri)
Garlic Cloves - 30
Coriander seeds - 1tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Turmeric - 1tsp
Asafoetida powder (hing) - 1 tsp
Tamarind paste - 1 tbsp (or 1/4 cup vinegar)
Peppercorns - 15
Salt to taste
Oil for frying (I use canola)
Fish - 2 lb (your choice, I've used haddock)
For the batter:
Rice Flour - 1 cup
Semolina (sooji) - 2 tbsp
Clean the fish and cut into steaks or if you are using fillets, cut into finger sized pieces.
Grind all the ingredients for the paste in a blender. If you are in India, you are lucky enough to get the smaller blenders that are capable of grinding smaller quantity of masalas. I used a Vitamix, so I ended up having to add just a little water to get the blades moving.
Apply the masala over the fish and let it marinate, at least for a couple of hours.
Heat the oil.
Mix the rice flour and semolina in a plate and coat the fish with the mixture. Shake the excess flour and semolina mixture off the pieces.
Drop the fish in the hot oil and fry till done.
Serve with rice and dal or a cold beer!
The ground spice paste (masala)
Original Recipe in my Dad’s hand writing
It is hard to grind the ingredients for the paste when using very small quantities. This paste freezes well and can be reused in the future
You can substitute the tamarind paste with vinegar. The latter has the advantage of acting as a preservative.
The original recipe calls for 3 pods of garlic. The pods of garlic that we get here are fairly large, so I ended up using little over one pod, approximately 30 cloves.
Mumbai is well known for its street food. For a city that never sleeps, snacks such as Vada-pav, Bombay sandwich and Pav bhaji are popular pick-me-ups for people on the go. Bhaji is the Marathi word for vegetables and in this case is a mashed up spicy vegetable curry served with pav, the quintessential bread from Mumbai which is more akin to buns. This dish is normally served as a snack or as starters, but because of the potatoes and the amount of butter used in the dish, the bhaji tends to get very heavy. At home, I serve this as the main course, for dinner.
Kashmiri chilly powder - 2 tsp (more or less depending on your taste)
Pav bhaaji masala (any brand, available at most Indian stores) - 2 tsp
Salt to taste
Cilantro - for garnish
Pav or dinner roll or hamburger buns
Butter or any kind of spread
Onions, chopped finely
Cilantro, chopped finely
For the bhaji:
Chop all the vegetables and set aside.
Heat oil/butter. Season with jeera (cumin seeds). When the seeds crackle, put in finely chopped chopped onions and fry till translucent.
Add ginger-garlic paste and saute till fragrant.
Add the chopped tomatoes and fry till pulpy.
Now add the pav bhaji masala and red chilly powder, mix well and fry for a minute or so.
Add all the chopped vegetables. Mix well. Add a glass of water. Cover and cook on medium flame. Keep stirring in between. If you see the vegetables are sticking to the bottom of the pan, half to one more cup of water can be added.
Add salt to taste. Cook till done.
At this point, you can use a potato masher to mash up the vegetables in the curry. I use an immersion blender and pulse the mixture a few times. Mix till well incorporated. Bring the curry to a boil.
Garnish with chopped cilantro and a dollop of butter.
Toasting the buns:
Warm a griddle, apply butter or vegetable spread on both sides of the dinner roll, toast till brown on both sides.
Transfer some bhaji in a serving bowl, top with chopped onions and cilantro. You can also garnish with sev to give it a crunchy taste. Serve with the buns and lemon wedges on the side.
Variation - Serve the bhaji with a dollop of butter and serve the onions and cilantro on the side with the buns and lemon wedges.
Butter is used a lot in this dish. I substituted oil instead of butter, its up to you. I did use a dollop of butter for garnish, just to give it a rich flavor.
Vegetables are normally pre-boiled and then added to the dish. I prefer to cook the vegetables together, I feel it’s tastier as they all get cooked together and the flavors come together.
Artificial food coloring is used to give this dish a bright red color. I use Kashmiri red chilly powder which though mild, gives it a nice color.
I like my pav bhaji to have some texture, that’s the reason I don’t use the masher and mash up everything. The immersion blender lets me control the texture.
This dish is mainly made with potatoes, green peas and bell peppers at the most. I add cauliflower, green beans and carrots as well. I have seen a few recipes online where people have added cubed pumpkins, eggplant and other vegetables as well. The vegetables when mashed come together as one big mass and you cannot make out what is in the curry. That’s the reason, you can add any vegetable I guess.
As the dish starts cooling down, it tends to get drier. Water can be added to achieve the consistency you desire.
The local Indian stores sell bread called “Bombay style Pav” but it is a pale imitation of the original. We use hamburger buns instead.
Avrekaalu or Hyacinth beans is packaged and sold by its Gujarati name of Surti Papdi Lilva in the US and is available in the freezer section of Indian stores. The bean in its pod is called Avrekai and features in several dishes in Karnataka. Growing up in Bangalore, avrekaalu used to be available in abundance during the winter months. I remember my mom making different kinds of curries with these beans. I also remember her making upma using these beans though at that time, I was not very fond of any form of upma. If you’ve never had upma before, the closest description that I can come up with is a spicy porridge that is eaten at breakfast. My mom got this recipe from our landlady who used to send over fresh avrekaalu upma for my mom and sister as they were the only ones who would eat this dish at our house. Contrary to the usual upmas that are made with cream of wheat, this upma is made with cream of rice. Ironically, I started to miss this upma after I left India and I now make this at home.
Green chillies - 6 (more or less depending on your spice level)
Curry leaves - 2 sprigs
Cilantro - 1/2 bunch
Grated coconut - 2 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
water - 2 1/2 cups
In a saucepan, add the avrekaalu, 2 cups of water and salt, bring it to a boil. Cook till done, the beans should be slightly soft, do not overcook the beans though. You can also pressure cook it if you are pressed for time, it gets done quicker.
Finely chop the green chillies, curry leaves and cilantro. You can also use a food processor and mince the three ingredients together.
Heat oil in a large pan. Season with mustard seeds. When the seeds splutter, add the minced green chillies, curry leaves and cilantro mixture. Saute for a minute or so.
Add the rava and fry on medium heat till you can no longer get the raw smell of the rava. This should take anywhere from 6-8 minutes.
Lower the heat and add the cooked avarekaalu with the water (stock) in which it was cooked. Combine well. See to it that no lumps are formed.
Put in the grated coconut, cumin seeds and salt to taste, mix well.
Allow it to cook on low flame till all the liquid is absorbed.
Top the dish off by adding a tablespoon of ghee, this gives the dish very unique taste.
Garnish with finely chopped cilantro.
Avrekaalu Upma with mixture
Normally, I cook the avrekaalu on the stovetop in a saucepan, but this time, I used the pressure cooker (just 2 whistles). The process of cooking the beans got done very quickly.
It is very important to roast the rava (cream of rice), do not skip this step. The upma will not be as aromatic as when you roast the rava. When roasting the rava, keep stirring it as it can change color and get burnt quickly.
You can also keep a cup of boiling water on the side if you think that the water you added when cooking the upma is not enough. If the upma looks dry, add more hot water to it.
Make sure to keep the flame low when adding water to the roasted rava as it can splatter all over. I take it off the burner, combine the mixture well and place it back on the flame. Its no fun having burning hot droplets all over your hands and the cook top.
Do not skip adding cumin seeds, it imparts a nutty flavor which you do not get when you add it to the seasoning.
Adding ghee to the dish after its done is optional. This was my mother-in-law’s tip, she would add a tablespoon of ghee in the end for any kind of upma she made!
Rajesh loves to eat this with mixture (a spicy trail mix) or chevda.
Patrani (leaf) Macchi (fish) is a classic Parsi dish, its name is derived from the manner in which the fish is cooked. It involves steaming or baking fish that has been marinated in a cilantro-mint based chutney and wrapped in banana leaves. Parsis emigrated to India from Persia (800 – 1000 CE) and are descended from the Persian Zoroastrians. They are a small but very influential community and have left their mark on India in several fields. They are now mainly concentrated in Mumbai and that was where I tasted patrani macchi for the first time. On one of my visits to Mumbai, my uncle unexpectedly brought over some fish for dinner from his favorite Parsi restaurant. I was used to eating fish cooked the Mangalorean way – either fried or in a coconut based curry and this was a novelty for me. As I unwrapped the banana leaves, I found a small pomfret cooked delectably in a green marinade. It was delicious! It is a pretty easy dish to prepare and while the recipe I present is probably not the authentic one, it nevertheless is delicious and close to the original. Fresh pomfret is not available here, so I usually use Haddock or Tilapia. Halibut, Cod or any other firm white fleshed fish will also work.
Fish filets: 2 lb, (cut into smaller pieces if you are using a large fish)
Grated coconut: 1/2 cup
Cilantro: 2 cup
Mint leaves: about 20
Garlic: 4 cloves
Ginger: 1/2 inch piece
Green chillies: 6
Lime juice: 1 tbsp
Cumin powder: 1 tsp
Sugar: 1/2 tsp
Salt: to taste
Water: 1/2 cup or less
Oil: 1 tsp
Banana Leaves: cleaned and cut into 6 inch squares
Cooking twine or toothpicks
Blend all the ingredients (with the exception of banana leaves, cooking twine, toothpicks) to a fine paste.
The paste needs to be as smooth and dry as possible but you may need to add some water in order to blend all the ingredients.
Coat the fish filets with the masala paste and let it marinate in the refrigerator for a few hours.
Apply oil to the inside of the banana leaf squares.
Wrap each filet in a leaf square and tie it with twine or use the toothpicks to secure the leaves.
If you are steaming the fish, place it in a steamer and steam for about 15 min.
If you are baking the fish, preheat your oven to 350 F and bake the fish for about 20 minutes.
If you cooking the fish on a pan, heat the pan on medium heat, apply oil to the surface of the pan and place each packet on it. Cover with a lid and cook for about 10 minutes, flipping the fish packet once in between.
Serve hot with rice.
Marinated fish, placed on banana leaf
Wrapped fish placed in a steamer
Cooking over a pan
Considering that the fish is not fried, this is a pretty healthy recipe!
Banana leaves are available in my local Indian store as well as grocery stores. They are available in the frozen section. If you don’t have access to banana leaves, you can use aluminum foil and bake the fish in the oven.
I’ve eaten a variant of this dish at the KSCA club house in Bangalore, I think it was called Portuguese fish.
Whenever Rajesh and I would inform our respective parents that we were planning a trip to India, they would be overjoyed. Both our Moms would start planning our favorite dishes. My mother-in-law would make a list of dishes to make the day we would land there till the night we would leave. Most of them would naturally be Rajesh’s favorites, but there would be a few of her signature dishes which were my favorites and knowing this, she would make them especially for me. Soppina Saaru was one of those signature dishes that Amma would make. Saaru is something like a soup and “soppu” in Kannada refers to any green leafy vegetable. On one of my earlier visits, she had made this dish and I had loved it. This is a very traditional dish served in the state of Karnataka along with Raagi Mudde (finger millet flour balls). Amma is no longer with us, so I have no way to ask her for the origin of this recipe. However, Rajesh says that during one his solo trips home, the lady who would deliver milk to their house brought along some Raagi mudde and soppinu saaru. Rajesh suspects that this is her recipe. I am not sure if this is the actual way the dish is made but this is the recipe that Amma gave me, hence the name Amma’s Soppina Saaru! She would make it with chakothne soppu or chakota soppu, also called mountain spinach (thanks Google!), but she also told me that it can be made with other greens as well.
This recipe is so versatile that you can make this with any green leafy vegetable. It can also be made with a combination of different greens like spinach, dill and methi leaves (fenugreek leaves). For this recipe, I had a cup of drumstick or moringa leaves leftover from a care package sent by our dear friends, the Raos. I made ‘dangars‘ with 1 cup and the rest, I set aside for this daal.
Drumstick or Moringa leaves - 1 cup, washed and chopped
Onion - 1 medium sized, chopped finely
Tomato - 1, chopped finely
Garlic cloves - 2 large, chopped finely
Green chillies - 3 (more or less depending on your taste)
Sambar powder - 2 tsp (more or less depending on your spice level)
Salt to taste
Oil - 1 tblsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Hing - a pinch
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Wash and cook the toor daal in a pressure cooker for atleast 4-5 whistles till the daal is soft and mushy.
In a separate pan, put in the chopped onions, garlic, tomatoes, green chillies and the chopped greens along with 1/2 glass of water. Cook till 3/4 done (about 5 minutes, depending on the greens that you are using). Greens get done quickly, so this shouldn't take a long time.
Add the cooked daal, sambar powder and salt to taste. Mix well. Bring to a boil.
In a small pan, heat oil. When hot, put in mustard seeds. When the seeds splutter, add in the curry leaves and hing powder and take the pan off the heat. Pour this into the daal and greens mixture.