Lentils and vegetables make up for a large portion of nutrition, especially for vegetarians. There are proteins in Lentils and vegetables contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, essential for a healthy body.
Andhra food is a blend of South Indian, Mughlai/Muslim, and Deccan. In coastal Andhra rice, fish and sesame are staple ingredients, where as in central or Deccan cuisine rice and millets are accompanied with meat, eggs, chicken and pulses or lentils. Andhra Pradesh and Telengana are leaders in producing rice, red chilli, millets and other spices. They are used liberally in its cuisine – making Andhra cuisine best known for its tangy, spicy and hot pickles, curries and koora or vegetable preparations with handful of lentils.
Have you ever enjoyed an Andhra Thali meal? Be ready to get mounds of rice with extra generous helpings accompanied with at least 6-8 side dishes served in katori and generous ladle full of tangy, lentil based liquid curries like pulusu, sambhar and charu /rasam. For the faint hearted- down this with plenty of curd/yoghurt or buttermilk.
As a vegetarian, lentils are a staple diet everyday. There are many ways to enjoy them, by adding them into salads and curries, leftovers find way into Roti or cutlets. Here is a simple, tasty, typical Andhra lentil curry called Dosakaya Pappu, or cucumber with lentil. To experiment, you may wish to add tomato, snake gourd /bottle gourd or any other to the basic lentil.
1 cup Tuvar dal /Arhar dal
I medium size Dosakaya or yellow cucumber
For Tempering /Tadka:
2 tablespoons cooking oil
1 tablespoon mustard seeds
pinch of Asaefotida or hing (optional)
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
few curry leaves
1-4 red chillies as desired
salt to taste
Wash and soak the lentil in 1-2 cups water for 10 minutes. Till then prepare the vegetable for adding. Peel the skin and chop into medium pieces. Check! if the cucumber or seeds are bitter..if, they are you have to discard it!
Now in a pressure pan ( I prefer cooking lentils easily this way), add the soaked lentils and chopped Dosakaya. Add another one cup water. Close lid and cook for one whistle. Do not over cook, it will make the Dosakaya mushy.
Once cooked, set aside.
Prepare the tadka. by heating a pan. Add oil, when warm, carefully add mustard seeds to splutter. Add turmeric, curry leaves, hing, red chillies. Add the lentil mix to this. Add salt as desired for taste. Mix gently.
Boil the mixture lightly, for further 2- 3 minutes, taking care not to overcook the Dosakaya.
For a traditional or rustic serving: Serve heaped ladles on top of steaming hot rice. Garnish with extra chillies and add a dollop of fresh butter or ghee. Carbohydrates, protein, fat and minerals from curry leaves and Dosakaya all complete in this meal. Serve some tangy mango or lime pickle and papads as accompaniment.
Food is truly spiritual. It brings communities and friends together. Now sit down with your friends and family after serving this healthy meal and be blessed with the bonding experience!
‘Anna he poorna Brahman’
Don’t forget to share your thoughts (or recipe variations). Together we learn, in this big world.
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