Lentils and vegetables make a large portion of a daily nutritious meal for vegetarians. Lentils contain protein and vegetables contain a variety of vitamins and minerals, essential for a healthy body.
Telengana and Andhra food is a blend of South Indian, Mughlai/Muslim, and Deccan cuisines. In coastal Andhra rice and fish are staple ingredients, food is laced with plenty of sesame and coconut and chillies. In central or Deccan cuisine rice and millets are accompanied with meat, eggs, chicken and lentils. Locally grown vegetables like gourds, cucumbers and green leafy amaranth are popular. Liberal use of red chillies, garlic and podi’s or assorted masala powders and tangy tamarind make way into chutneys and spiced lentils or dals.
Have you ever enjoyed an Andhra Thali meal? Be ready to fill up the plate with mounds of rice accompanied with at least 6-8 side dishes served in katori/cups and generous ladles full of tangy, lentil based curries- pulusu, sambhar and charu /rasam to go with the rice. For the faint hearted- please down this with plenty of yoghurt or buttermilk.
Our kitchen garden is blooming once again with the Cucurbitacae /Dosakaya or yellow cucumber creeper. Small yellow flowers brighten up the coarse green leaves and tendrils searching for support. We now have 4-5 round raw green dosakaya hanging down the creeper. They will mature into yellowish gold. The skin is thin and inedible. Small, numerous seeds ( at times bitter!) fill the centre. Dosakaya being extremely versatile to cook and have a mild taste makes them popular and easy to cook.
Today I share with you a simple, Andhra lentil curry..or Dosakaya Pappu. You can replace Dosakaya with either tomatoes or squash to make another lentil curry.
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
a pinch of tamarind (optional /adds a tangy flavour)
2-3 pods of peeled garlic (optional)
Wash and soak the lentil in 1-2 cups water for 10 minutes. Till then prepare the Dosakaya. Peel the skin, de seed 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 tempering or tadka by heating a pan. This is an essential and aromatic part of Indian cooking. So enjoy it!
Add oil, when warm, carefully add mustard seeds to splutter. Add turmeric, curry leaves, hing, red chillies, garlic cloves. Add the lentil mixture to this carefully, as it will bubble while hot. Add salt and juice of little tamarind as desired. Mix gently.
For a traditional serving:
Serve heaped ladles of this pappu or lentil on top of steaming hot mound of rice. Garnish with extra chillies and add a dollop of fresh butter or ghee. Mix and slurp away:). Top it up with some fried papads or stuffed dry chillies.
Blessed to eat fresh vegetables grown with much care and love. Ain’t it a spiritual food journey -from the garden to the kitchen…then to the table?
What’s growing in your garden? Or do you have pots on your balcony? Will you try this recipe ?
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