Monday, November 2, 2009

Beans paruppu usili - Green beans with lentils

Paruppu usili can be made with green beans, gover beans or banana flower. It is a traditional side dish and tastes wonderful with rice and rasam or mor kozhambu. I love paruppu usili, but do not make it very often as it takes a bit of effort. This time, I served it with mor kozhambu, we all loved it and I felt, it was the best paruppu usili ever.

There are two basic variations in cooking the dal (lentils).
1. Soak, grind and saute
2. Soak grind, steam and saute
Steaming before sauteing makes the usili taste better and consumes less oil (and of course takes longer to prepare)
Green beans - 1 pound cleaned and cut into about 1 inch long pieces
Toor dal - 3/4 cup
Channa dal - 3/4 cup
Toor dal - Channa dal proportion can be varied slightly based on the final texture you would like to achieve. Toor dal makes it softer and channa dal makes it crispier.
Oil - 2 tsp
Asafoetida (hing) - 2 pinches
Curry leaves - 6-8
Red chillies broken into pieces - 4-6 or to taste
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Urad dal - 1 tsp
Ginger paste - 1 tsp

Soak toor dal, channa dal and 3-4 red chillies in water for 2-3 hours (not longer). Grind into a coarse paste. Place dal balls on oiled idly plates and steam for 10 - 15 minutes. Cool, remove from idly plates and break into very small pieces using your fingers. Cook the beans in microwave oven with water sprinkled on, until 3/4 cooked. Heat oil in a pan, add asafoetida and curry leaves and fry until the spluttering stops. Add mustard seeds and when they start crackling, add the remaining red chillies and urad dal. Fry until urad dal turns golden brown. Add ginger paste and fry for about 30 seconds. Now add the steamed dal and cooked beans and mix well. Fry on medium-low heat until dry and desired crispness is reached. This may take about 20 - 30 minutes of patient stirring. Then, enjoy the reward of your patience :)

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