A lot of folks are interested in learning how to cook Indian food, but are intimated by the “exotic” ingredients or the perceived complicated nature of the cuisine. While both are true to a certain extent, I offer two counter-arguments: 1) It isn’t difficult to go a store and buy the required spices, and 2) Not all Indian dishes are super complicated. One such dish is the South Indian daal dish from the state of Andhra known as pappu pulsu.
Pappu pulsu is essentially a yellow lentil broth that is great for a cloudy, cold winter day. Don’t be intimated by the list of ingredients – you can get most of them at Super Store. The total cooking time is around an hour, but that takes into account the cooking time for the lentils. If you pre-cook the lentils, then this dish takes like 5 min. to make.
- 1 tbsp. vegetable oil
- 2 Thai or Indian green chillies (not jalapenos)
- 6-8 garlic whole garlic cloves
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin powder (or seeds)
- 1 tsp fresh ginger paste
- 6-10 dried curry leaves
- 1/4 tsp tamarind concentrate
- 1 cup split toor daal (pigeon peas)
- 3-4 cups water per cup of toor daal
- salt to taste
- Boil the toor daal covered over medium heat for 30-40 min. until lentils are fully cooked. Using a spoon or ladle, mash lentils to a paste.
- Alternatively, soak the toor daal in water the day before or cook in a pressure cooker if you have access to one.
- Heat the tbsp. of vegetable oil over medium heat. Add the green chillies, garlic, mustard seeds, ginger paste, and curry leaves. Fry until mustard seeds pop and/or garlic starts slightly browning.
- Add the toor daal broth to the above. Careful, as mixing hot oil and water is always an interesting endeavour.
- Turn the heat to low. Add 1/4 tsp of tamarind concentrate and the cumin power to the broth. Add salt to taste. Mix well.
- Serve with rice or chapatti (aka roti)
Viola! You have now cooked your first Indian dish.
In addition to being a relatively simple dish to cook, daal is also a great source of protein. A lot of people ask where I get my protein upon hearing that I am a vegetarian. This is it. Another great source of protein for aspiring vegetarians is chickpeas.
So, the next time you are looking for healthy, winter food, try this dish out. You will be surprised at how easy Indian cooking can be.