Lentils, Legumes and Beans

I have already given the recipe for Sambar Masala Powder in an earlier post. Now it’s time to prepare the sambar.

South Indians need sambar as an accompaniment with a wide variety of dishes. Most are breakfast dishes like Idli, Dosa, Medu Wadai etc. It is also an important part of a meal. The taste of hot steaming rice with the fragrant sambar poured on top is an experience that cannot be put into words.

For some reason Sambar like Ma Ki Dal tastes better when a day old.

Ingredients :

Red Gram Dal (Tur Dal) : 1 cup

Fresh Green Chillies (slit) : 2 nos.

Tamarind : 1 Tbsp.

Turmeric Powder (Haldi) : 1/2 Tsp.

Red Chilli Powder : 2 Tsp.

Sambar Masala Powder : 2 Tbsp.

Vegetables :

Potatoes : 2 medium sized

Onions : 4 small, peeled and kept whole

Brinjals : 2 medium sized

Drumsticks : 2 nos. cut into 2″ pieces

Red or White Pumpkin : 150 gms.

Cauliflower : 100 gms.

Fresh Coriander : 2 Tbsp.

For Tadka :

Oil : As Required

Mustard Seeds : 2 tsp.

Asafoetida (Hing) : a pinch

Curry Leaves : 8 – 10 nos.

Method :

Wash the dal and then add the slit green chillies to it and cook till done.

Cut the brinjals, potatoes, cauliflower and pumpkin into 1″ pieces. Then parboil the vegetables and drumsticks in salted water. Take care, so the vegetables are not completely cooked as we have to simmer them in the sambar.

Soak the tamarind in warm water for 15 minutes and then strain it to remove any fibers and pits.

Now in a pot, take the dal and add the tamarind pulp to it. Make a paste of the turmeric, red chilli and sambar powders and add to the dal. Keep the pot on simmer and add the vegetables. Now simmer the mixture for about 10 minutes. Adjust the seasoning.

Tadka : In a tadka pan, add oil and heat it. When the oil is hot, add the asafoetida and mustart seeds and let them crackle. Then add the curry leaves and pour this tadka over the dal. Mix well and remove from heat.

P.S. : Adding a few drops of oil to the dal helps to cook it quickly.


I saw this recipe on a TV show and loved it. So I made a few changes to the recipe according to my taste and here is the “improved” version.

Ingredients :

Oil : 4 Tbsp.

Gram Flour (बेसन) : 1/2 cup

Fenugreek Seeds : 1/2 tsp.

Mustard Seeds : 1 tsp.

Cumin Seeds : 1 tsp.

White Gourd (लौकी) : 250 gms.

Cauliflower Florettes : 250 gms.

Carrots : 200 gms.

Cluster (गवार) Beans : 150 gms.

Drumsticks : 8 nos.

Potatoes : 3 small

Brinjals : 200 gms.

Okra ( Ladies Fingers) : 200 gms.

Turmeric Powder : 1/2 tsp.

Red Chilli Powder : 2 Tbsp.

Tomato Puree : 3 Tbsp.

Tamarind Pulp : 1 Tbsp.

Jaggery : 1 Tbsp.

Curry Leaves : 8 nos.

Chopped Coriander Leaves : 2 Tbsp.

Method :

Cut the gourd, carrots, potatoes, brinjals into cubes. The cubes should be of the same size( 1 1/2″ pieces). Snip off the ends of beans and cut into 2″ pieces. Cut off the ends of the okra and give it a lengthwise slit. Then fry the okra till brown. Cut drumsticks into 2″ pieces.
In a pot, heat 3 tbsp. of oil and add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds and saute till the mustard seeds crackle. Then add the gram flour and saute till it is nicely browned. Then add about 3 cups of water and let it come to a boil. Now add the gourd cubes, florettes, carrot cubes, beans, drumsticks and potato cubes. Add salt to taste and cover and cook till almost done( about 75%).
Now add the brinjals and cover and cook again for 5 minutes.
Now add the fried okra, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, tomato puree, tamarind pulp, jaggery and curry leaves . Add salt to taste and let this cook for a few minutes. garnish with chopped coriander.
Serve with white rice or a bread of your choice.

I learnt this dish while working as a trainee for a five star hotel in Mumbai. Till then the only time I had eaten this dish was in my college. Our batch had to prepare food for the rest of the college, including the teachers, three times a week. So , even though we prepared this dish under our trainer’s guidance, it still had that taste that dishes have, when prepared by inexperienced chefs. So when I first tasted the same dish in the hotel, I was blown away. It is such a simple dish, yet it has such a multitude of tastes. The tanginess of the tomatoes, the spice of the chillies, the aroma of the garam masalas and the rich, creamy taste of the butter and cream. Add to that the slight bitter taste of the Kasuri Methi and you have the most perfect dish ever. No wonder even the most ferocious looking Punjabi goes soft in the knees, when one mentions “Maa Ki Dal”. This is my version of the dish, as I have seen it prepared. Enjoy!


Whole Black Gram : 1 Cup; Chana Dal (Bengal Gram) : 1/4 Cup;

Red Kidney Beans (Rajma) : 1/4 Cup; Ginger Garlic Paste : 3 Tb;

Chopped Green Chillies : 3 no; Chopped Garlic : 1 1/2 Tb;

Chopped Onions : 2 large; Chopped Tomatoes : 300 Gms;

Toamato Puree : 3 Tb; Red Chilli Powder : 1 Tb;

Garam Masala Powder : 2 tsp; Kasuri Methi Powder : 1 tsp;

White Butter : 150 Gms; Fresh Cream : 100 ml;

Salt and Sugar: to taste; Chopped Coriander : 1 Tb.

Ghee : 1Tb; Oil : 2 Tb.

Method :

Wash, rinse and soak the black gram, kidney beans and the bengal gram overnight or for 7-8 hours. Then add 1 Tb. of ginger garlic paste and 1 Tb. ghee to this mix and pressure cook till they are overcooked. Then using the back of a wooden spoon, mash the lentils beyond all recognition.
In a frypan, add oil and fry the chopped onions, garlic and green chillies till they are translucent. Now add the remaining ginger garlic paste(2Tb.) and saute. Then add the tomatoes anda pinch of salt and fry till the tomatoes are completely cooked and you get a saucelike consistency. Add the red chilli and garam masala powders and saute for 30 seconds.Now add the tomato puree and the mashed lentils and bring to boil. Then add the sugar and salt to taste and simmer for about 30 minutes. Don’t forget to stir the dal inbetween as it tends to stick to the bottom of the pan. Now add the kasuri methi powder and finish off with butter and cream. Simmer for a further 2 minutes and remove. Garnish with chopped coriander.
Serve hot with tandoori roti or white rice.

P.S. : For some inexplicable reason, this dal tastes a lot better after a day or so in the refrigerator.

Ingredients :

Chick Peas : 1/2 Cup; onions : 1 Large;

Tomato : 1 Large; Capsicum : 1 Large;

Chopped coriander or Parsley : 2 Tb;

Chopped green Chilli (Jalapeño or any spicy, fresh chilli) : 1-2 no;

For Vinaigrette :

Extra Virgin Olive Oil : 6 Tb; Dijon or Wholegrain Mustard : 1 Tb;

Lemon Juice or White Wine Vinegar : 2 Tb; Salt and Pepper : to tastechick_peas.jpg

Method :

Soak the chick peas and then cook, with salt to taste, till done. Let them cool. Cut the onion, tomato and capsicum into dices of roughly the same size as the cooked chick peas. To the chick peas, add the diced vegetables, and chopped herbs. Mix all the ingredients of the vinaigrette and whisk well or you can put them in a glass bottle with a tight lid, close the lid and shake well. Add the vinaigrette to the salad and mix well. Serve at room temperature.

I have always considered breakfast as the most important part of my morning ritual. That, along with a steaming cup of filter coffee and a crisp newspaper, really kick starts my day. So I take my breakfast very seriously. I have always marveled at people who eat the same breakfast, day in and day out, all their life. I can’t even begin to imagine what that would be like. So one day I was at my friends house and his mom put a green dosa in front of me. I am always game for a new taste and tried it, and to my surprise liked it. The one she made was with garlic and fenugreek leaves. I am more partial to coriander (cilantro) so made a few changes and now you have the Mung Dal Chilla Amol-style.

Ingredients :

Whole Mung Beans ( Green Gram) : 1 cup;Whole Mung

Fresh Green Chillies : 4-6 no; Fresh Ginger : 1″ inch;

Chopped Coriander Leaves : 1 Tb; Asafoetida : a pinch;

Chopped Onion : 1 no; Turmeric Powder : 1/2 tsp;

Salt to taste; Sugar : a pinch; Oil as required


Wash and soak the mung beans for 4-6 hours. Then add chopped chillies and ginger to it and make a paste in the blender. Add salt, sugar, asafoetida, turmeric powder. Add the chopped onion and chopped coriander to the paste. Add water to get the required consistency.
Pour a large spoonful of batter on a heated, lightly greased nonstick pan or iron griddle. Spread it with the back of a spoon to get a thin pancake. Cook on both sides till lightly brown. Serve hot with coconut chutney.
Serves : 4

Variations :

Dhokla : Add 2 tsp gram flour, 1/2 tsp of fruit salt eg.eno, 1 tsp oil and pour the batter in a greased cake pan and steam for 5 minutes.

P.S. You can also use mung dal ( split green gram ) with skin instead of the whole mung.

Pic courtsey Bryan Scott


Red Kidney Beans (rajma) : 200 gms; Bay Leaf : 1 no;

Black Cardamom ( badi ilaichi ) : 1 no; Onions ( large ) : 2 no;

Tomatoes ( large ) : 3 no; Ginger Garlic Paste : 2 tsp;

Red Chilli Powder : 1-2 tsp; Garam Masala Powder : 1/2 tsp;

Curd : 1 Tb; Salt to taste; Oil : 2 Tb.


Boil rajma with cardamom and bay leaf and salt till completely cooked. In oil, saute onions till translucent. Then add the ginger garlic paste and saute till brown. Now add the tomatoes and saute till soft. Then add the masala powders and curd and saute till oil leaves the sides. Now add the boiled rajma and water and simmer till you get required consistancy.


Tur Dal(Yellow Lentils) 150 gm, Onion 1 large ,

Tomato 2, Green Capsicum 1, Green Chili 2,

Ginger Garlic Paste 1 Tb, Cumin Seeds 1 tsp,

Turmeric Powder 1/2 tsp, Red Chilli Powder 1 tsp,

Cumin Coriander Powder 1 tsp, Garam Masala Powder 1/4 tsp,

Oil or Ghee 1 Tb, Chopped Coriander Leaves 1 Tb


Wash and drain dal, add the green chilli and turmeric and cook till done. Remove dal and mash it well. Chop the onion, capsicum and tomato.
In a pan, heat oil and add cumin seeds. When the seeds crackle, add the chopped onion and saute till translucent. Now add chopped capsicum and saute, then add ginger garlic paste and fry till brown. Now add the tomatoes and cook till tomatoes are soft. Now add the mashed dal along with the remaining powdered masalas ans cook for 5 minutes. Now remove from heat and garnish with chopped coriander.

P.S. Adding 1/2 a tsp of lime juice gives the dal an extra zing.

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