Thursday, June 25, 2009

Lemon cucumber dal - Budamakaya pappu

Dear foodies,

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. :)

Budamakaya/Dosakaya Pappu - Lemon Cucumber Dal

Ingredients:
  • 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.
Method:
  1. 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.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.
  5. 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.
  6. 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 dollop smidgen of ghee and fresh andhra avakaya.
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.
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.
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.

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.

23 thoughts:

chakhlere said...

wow!!
This is new dal to me!!
Grt innovation!!

And very beautiful pot. Just loved it!!

Vani said...

I don't think I've seen dosakaya before. Dal is our ultimate comfort food. This looks great, Priya!

Priya said...


chakhlere, you must give it a try then, soon :) I adore that pot too.

Vani, really ? you should look for them at your next trip to the Indian store then :) The store I go to does not stock them regularly. During spring you might also spot it at Farmer's markets. It's good eaten raw too.

Prathibha said...

I love this dal.....this is wat we call Andhra dosakaaya right??

Superchef said...

lemon and cucumber in dal..now thats something i have to try!! :)

Parita said...

Ok now this may sound weird but i havent heard of lemon cucumber before :( Unfortunately we dont get lot of indian veggies here, i guess this is the first thing i'll look out for when i got back to india :) Dal for me too is the ultimate comfort food, simple dal and rice drizzled with ghee is unbeateable combination :) I love your clicks!

lata raja said...

The dhal is simply yummy in that cute pot.We used to get this very same garlic stocks in Malaysia. They sell it by "Spring Garlic"just as spring onions :)

Nags said...

garlic scapes.. garlic greens.. all in the market now no? adding to dal is a great idea though!

Bergamot said...

lemon cucumber, garlic scapes all new to me...but the very names the picture, your recipe make it sound really delicious. must look out for these veggies :-)

Priya said...


Prathibha, hmmm, not 100% sure. I think its called that but I'll ask my mom and get back to you on this :)

Superchef, you must surely find Lemon cucumber at the Farmer's markets in Seattle, if not at the Indian store. The cuke has a very mild lemony flavor. But I'm not sure if regular cucumber and lemon will work though :)

Parita, yup, its such a simple yet absolutely perfect combo right. May be it goes by another name..hmmm. I found it being used in many salad recipes online, showing its not a veggie used exclusively in Indian cuisine.

Lata, Spring garlic is much more descriptive than scapes na...our store here is selling the garlic plant in all its stages taking full advantage of the spring season.

Nags, yes, they seem to be selling all portions of the plant and at all stages. And its not cheap, so they are reaping the benefits when they can by banking on our curiosity :D I used some in cornbread today, yummm :)

Bergamot, please do. I'm sure you will find the cucumber, and the scapes too if there's an enterprising subziwala. The cuke is also used to make pickle, pachadi, chutneys, sambar, salads etc.

Soma said...

You know i had never seen dosakai till i came to USA:-).. one friend from andhra had introduced it to me, but in a spicy chutney. The garlic scapes are everywhere & SO pretty.

We used to live in Pittsburgh for a while & i think the food in the temple is awesome.. but i cannot forget the food in Udipi, the little place near the temple. i have never eaten as wonderful a southindian food & the cook used to be a caribbean guy!
what a cute little handi.

Priya said...


Soma, from the comments it looks like this veggie is more common in Andhra than in the rest of India. I love the pickle made from it too and chutney. And yes the scapes are everywhere!

I wish you still lived in Pittsburgh, come bacckkkkk. I've been to the temple may be 8-10 times already, and have tried to go to the Udipi every single time. Heard a looot about it, but I am so full eating the prasadham at the temple that I never get a chance to go to Udipi after that. may be next time :)

pelicano said...

Sounds like Pittsburgh is the place to dine! Second to your table of course- gorgeous arrangements you did for the photos!

This pappu/dhal looks exactly like what I need today, yesterday, and tomorrow, but I'll have to wait until I see lemon cukes again... :-( I grew some last year, I should've dried a few... but they appear here in the farmers' markets in late summer.

I keep looking in the pics for that pickle you mentioned once or twice :-D It 'scapes me.

Priya said...


Pel, hehehe, yes :D you are welcome anytime, and we cold probably drive to Pitts and finally eat at Udipi. After getting the prasadam to-go, ofcourse. temple + tamarind rice = heaven, you know :-P

and enough of your pickling and drying already. Get your hands on the fresh stuff for this. and if you really do want to dry stuff, make a batch of the famous wadi's and send them over :)

the pickle you say ? its safe from your prying eyes, all for me me meee :D

Kalai said...

Another recipe with this vegetable today... Man, I really have to try it! This looks so simple yet soooooo good. Awesome pics, Priya! :)

Mangala Bhat said...

wow! new dal to me ! thanks for sharing

bindiya said...

Yummy!I am actually drooling here!!

Pavani said...

Pappu is such a comforting food even if it just plain ol' mudda pappu. Loved your dal and the addition of ginger. Have to try this next time. Your little dishes are also very cute.

Anonymous said...

hi priya
prathiba is right.it is andhra dosakaya. u make avakaya too.
a pinch of menthi powder will add to the taste.
colourful photos as usual.

Anita said...

I think I am going to pick up that dosakaya from the Madras Store next time I am at INA!

rekhas kitchen said...

wow Dosakay pappu hummmmm yummmy my alltime favorite, so tempting.

Suganya said...

Oh, how much I love that cute li'l pot.

Nasreen Basu said...

really good piece of information, I had come to know about your site from my friend shubodh, kolkatta,i have read atleast nine posts of yours by now, and let me tell you, your site gives the best and the most interesting information. This is just the kind of information that i had been looking for, i'm already your rss reader now and i would regularly watch out for the new posts, once again hats off to you! Thanks a lot once again, Regards, dosakaya pachadi

Blogging tips