A bowl of pappu/dal, no matter how plainly made, is always enticing to the taste buds. It either has to do with the way our mind perceives this simple food, or the earthy flavor of cooked lentils or its both of them together, resonating comfort. I guess its also one of the first few solid foods that we get fed as child and right there it gets into the comfort food category. After a long trip away from home, or long day outside, a busy week or anything else that troubles us or disrupts are routine, gets us craving for some simple dal/pappu and rice. It can be creamy & luscious on its own with just a pinch of salt, some warm rice topped with ghee and a pickle or stir fry on the side. Or it could be partnered with different veggies like tomatoes, spinach, gongura (sorrel leaves), mango, dosakaya and many more variations that are just as good. Pappu is also a fail-safe dish in my opinion, any unfamiliar veggie gets tossed into a dal for starters, because you know nothing can taste bad with dal, right ?
A few weekends back when I had friends visiting we drove to the Pittsburgh temple, feasted on some yummy prasadham and stopped by an Indian store close by. I bought a bag of fresh peanuts in the pod to boil and snack on that evening and 3 plump budamakaya's (dosakaya/lemon cucumber). I made this pappu with one, that week, and again last night. While chopping it up y'day, I almost contemplated turning it into my fav budamakaya avakaya but the the idea of settling down to another delicious meal of pappu in the near future far outweighed the pickle plan. And the fact that I have a huge pack of fresh andhra avakaya (mango pickle), made with this season's mangoes, by my aunt did not have any influence, promise. :)
Simmering the dal on low heat makes it utlra creamy and rich. I could just have bowlfuls of this without any other accompaniments...but well, hey, I couldn't possibly say no to rice and avakaya though :) Ginger is a main flavoring in this pappu and it pairs deliciously with budamakaya. Its usually not used much in other dals that I make, but with the mild cucumber for company it does wonders to the dal. The lemon cucumber, as the name suggests has a lemony, tart flavor but is still mild. The combination of lemon-ginger-chillies in this pappu is similar to my most favorite allam-nimmapandu chaaru and so this pappu is in the fav list too. The different spicy tones from the ginger & chillies and the refreshing lemony edge is addictive. The hot ghee in the tadka adds to the creamy richness of the dal and elevates it to a whole new level, a must have. And the pappu gets better as it rests for a few hours as the flavors meld into each other with time.Budamakaya/Dosakaya Pappu - Lemon Cucumber DalIngredients:
- 1 nos - Lemon cucumber (dosakaya/budamakaya)
- 1 1/2 cups - cooked Toor dal (along with a pinch of turmeric)-- I usually have some cooked dal in the freezer
- 3 nos - Green chillies, slit lengthwise (adjust to taste)
- 1/4 cup - quartered & sliced Onions (I'm still in the vidalia onion craze)
- 1/2 tsp - Mustard seeds
- 1/2 tsp - Cumin seeds
- 1 tsp - Channa dal
- *1/4 tsp - Methi powder
- 1/4 tsp - Turmeric
- 1 tsp - finely minced fresh Ginger
- 6-8 - Curry leaves
- 2 tsp - Oil
- Salt to taste
- poppu/tadka - 1 tsp ghee, a pinch of mustard & cumin seeds, minced ginger, 1/2 slit green chilli & 2 roughly chopped curry leaves.
Alternate method: If you don't have pre-cooked toor dal, you can cook all the ingredients together. Combine 3/4 cup toor dal, cubed cucumber, onions, salt, green chillies and ginger in a pressure cooker and cook till done. When the pressure is released, add the tadka and simmer for a while before serving.
- Peel the outer thick skin of the cucumber, halve it and scoop out all the seeds. Make slices lengthwise and proceed to cube them. I got approximately a cup and a half of cubed cucumber from one whole.
- In a microwave safe bowl, toss the cuke, a pinch of turmeric, one minced green chilli, salt and water enough to cover the pieces and cook for 6mins.
- In the meantime, heat oil in a deep pan on medium heat. Add the mustard seeds, cumin and chana dal. Once they start to pop and the dal changes to a deep orange add roughly chopped curry leaves and a slit green chilli.
- As the curry leaves start to curl up, add the minced ginger. Saute for a few seconds and add the sliced onions. Sprinkle some salt on the onions to help soften them sooner. Cook for a 2-3 mins.
- Add the cooked cucumber along with the water and simmer together for a 3-4mins. Mash the dal well and add it to the rest of the ingredients. Check for salt and add some more water if the consistency is too thick. Cover and simmer on very low heat for 8-10mins till all the flavors combine.
- For the poppu/tadka: heat ghee, splutter a pinch of mustard and cumin seeds, add the chillies, ginger and curry leaves. Take off the heat when the leaves start to curl up and crispen. Pour it over the hot dal and serve immediately with hot rice, a
dollopsmidgen of ghee and fresh andhra avakaya.
I personally prefer cooking them separate though, which is what I did this time. The flavors seem to be better and I can also cook extra dal to reserve for later use. *You can also use beerakaya/ridgegourd instead of dosakaya.
I found these weird twirls of green sitting in a basket atop all the other greens and herbs at the store last weekend. They looked funny and when I looked at the label, it said garlic scapes. The curious me, immediately grabbed a handful and headed to the check out counter. The guy manning the station looked at the curly stuff and then gave me a look that had 'weird' written all over it :)) Garlic scapes, are the tender stalks of the garlic plant and hold a mild flavor of garlic in them, not as pungent as the garlic pods, but surely with a distinct garlicky bite in them. Sort of like the texture of asparagus but with garlic flavor perhaps ? You can use them raw in salads, or add them to stir frys, dals, curry's or any other place you would like a mild garlic flavor. Now why am I telling you all this, you ask. Because when I made the pappu last night, I added some chopped garlic scapes along with the onions ... and it was fabulous. You could easily substitute it with sliced garlic though. Even I won't find them in the couple of weeks cos they are a spring time delicacy, and a slightly expensive one at that.