Sorry for the long delay in getting this post out. I wanted to have my blog template set before I could start posting.
The first recipe is going to be ‘Green Beans Usli’. The beans I have used are fresh ones. I got them from my recent visit to Jungle Jims, an International Market. It is a huge store, and will eat away half of your shopping day, but you can be sure to find all that you need. The first dish that popped out of my friends’ mind when he saw the beans was ‘Usli’. Usli I thnk is one of the few dishes part of any cuisine in India. All my friends found the dish familiar the first time I made it. The only difference was the name by which they called it. The recipe might sound too complicated but trust me its very easy and worth the extra effort
- Green Beans
For the Usli:
- 1 cup - Channa dal or Toor dal ( I used equal portions of both)
- 3 or 4 nos - Red Chillis
- 1 sprig - Curry Leaves
- Salt to taste
- Soak the Channa dal/Toor dal along with the red chillies & Curry leaves for about 30-40 mins.
- Wash and de-string the beans if necessary. Chop them into tiny half cm pieces. If using frozen beans, thaw and keep them aside. ( and ofcourse you can skip the cutting part, or the purpose of buying frozen beans is defeated ;-) )
- In a wide pan, heat the oil and add mustard seeds. Once u hear them popping add the cumin seeds and Urad dal.
- Once the dals start to turn red add the beans( Take care not to burn the tadka ). Mix well and cover the pan with a lid and let the beans cook on a low flame till they turn soft. You might not have to add water separately as the beans have enough moisture stored in them, but do check. If you feel they are burning, sprinkle a little water.
- Now grind the soaked Usli ingredients with enough salt and add water to form a coarse paste. Do not add too much water as the next step is to steam cook them.
- You can make idli-like patties of the dal paste and use a idli stand to steam them or you can just layer the paste on a shallow vessel that fits in you cooker. Steam cook for abt 10-15 mins. ( To check if the dal mixture is cooked, dig a knife into it. If it comes clean without any of the grains sticking onto it, the mixture is cooked else steam cook it for some more time )
- Once the steamed dal idlies cool down crumble them. Heat some oil in a pan and add this crumble, saute till all the moisture is lost. This might take 4-5 tablespoons of oil. An alternative method is to use the oven. Take the mixture in a baking dish and cook it in a oven at 300 deg C for about 8-10 mins or till you feel all the moisture has left. This step adds crunch to the Usli.
- By now your beans should be ready, dont forget to check on them at regular intervals. Once the beans are soft add the Usli mixture and mix well. Check to see if there is enough salt.
- Garnish with coriander leaves.
- You can add some baking soda to the green beans while cooking them if you wish the retain the green color.
- Using the oven for removing the moisture from the Usli can avoid the use of oil making the recipe low cal.
- You can increase the Usli ingredient measure and store the Usli in air-tight containers in your freezer. It stay good for a couple of weeks. The mixture can be used with veggies like Cabbage, banana flower, raw banana (boiled & grated)
- This dish is dry and so goes best with liquid-based dishes like Sambar, Tamarind based Pulusu/Kozhambu, Majiga pulusu/Mor Kozhambu.