Garela Pulusu ~ Moong Dal Vada in Tamarind Based Gravy

Garelu are donut shaped lentil fritters. Popular name for garelu is vada / vadai. In Telangana pesarapappu ~ moong dal garelu are a common preparation followed by bobbarla garelu than the minapappu garelu/vada. Garelu are prepared for breakfast, tea time snack and for special occasions. Since these are so popular and liked by many, these are usually made in excess, resulting in leftovers. Garelu do not have a shelf life and that is when pulusu comes to rescue.

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Pulusu is a tamarind gravy curry usually prepared with vegetables. Bendakaya (okra), sorakaya (bottle gourd), chikkudukaya (borad beans), pullaganda (suran ~ yam), chamagadda (taro ~ arbi ~ colocasia), kakarakaya (bitter gourd), ulligadda (onion) are common vegetables used to prepare pulusu and mixed vegetables are usually not used. Pulsus is usually paired with plain pappu and in some households, pappu is a must preparation whenever pulusu is made. Garela pulusu is prepared just like any pulusu but without vegetables. Garelu are added after the pulusu is simmered and 5 minutes before turning off the flame. This pulusu is a great way to use up leftover pesara garelu and since garelu are lentil based, it does not require pappu accompaniment. Last time I was in India, amma made garelu pulusu with leftover bobbarla garelu and even that tasted equally good.

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Before getting into today’s recipe in this Journey Through the Telangana Cuisine, let me mentioned the other variety of garelu that are equally popular in the region. Unlike the lentil garelu, this variety has a shelf life of at least 2 – 3 weeks. These garelu are made with rice flour, shaped into flat discs and deep fried. Garelu are named after the additional ingredients that go into it. The most commonly used ingredient is palli ~ peanut and these are called palli garelu. Bobbarlu ~ black eyed peas are also used and these are bobbarla garelu. I shall share bobbarla garelu recipe very soon. These are also known as appalu, billalu and chekkalu. Last year when I attended bloggers meet in Chennai, I took some palli garelu and everyone loved it.

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Here is a list of few vegetables, grains and dishes.
Goru Chikkudukaya – Gowar (Hindi) ~ Cluster Beans
Gummadikaya – pumpkin
Gobi puvvu – cauliflower
Gangavalli kura – Purslane
Godumalu – Wheat
Other Ingredients:
Gasaalu – Poppy Seeds
Guddlu – Eggs
Golichina annam (fried rice), goru chikkudukaya koora, gummadikaya koora, gummadikaya pulusu, gangavalli kura pappu, gavvalu, gudaalu, garelu with makkalu and pesarlu,goduma upma
Gavvalu are sweet shell shaped deep fried traditional snack.
Gudaalu are prepared with fresh legumes, dry beans or grains. This is a distant cousin of sundal without grated coconut. Anapakaya / avarekalu is one of the most liked fresh legume for gudaalu and preparation is similar to Indian beans or chikkudu gudaalu. Dry black eyed peas, cow peas, sorghum + black chana, dry corn are a few legumes and grains used to prepare gudaalu. These are a very common and most loved snack in Karimnagar district of Telangana. In the below collage, from top left to right is dried corn + black eyed peas gudaalu and anapakaya / avarekalu gudaalu prepared as an evening snack at my nieces post marriage ceremony this past December. Bottom left is anapa gudaalu prepared by mother this past December and bottom right is kandi ginjalu / frozen pigeon peas gudaalu I made couple of days ago for dinner.

Collage of gudalu

Total Time: 5 – 10 minutes
Preparation: 25 minutes
Cooking Time: 30 – 40 minutes
Serves: 2 – 3

Onion Paste

  • 2 tsp. Oil
  • 1 small Onion, chopped or ½ cup chopped Onions
  • ½ – ¾ tsp. Cumin Seeds
  • ⅓ – ½ tsp. Fenugreek Seeds


  • 4 tsp. Oil
  • 4-6 Curry Leaves
  • 1 – 2 tbsp. Fenugreek Leaves (opt)
  • ½ small Onion chopped
  • 2 tsp. Ginger Garlic Paste
  • 1 ½ – 2 tsp. Coriander Powder
  • 1 ¼ – 1 ½ tsp. Chili Powder (adjust to taste)
  • 1 – 1 ¼ tsp. Salt (adjust to taste)
  • ¼ tsp. Turmeric Powder
  • 2 tbsp. Yogurt
  • 2 ½ cups Water
  • 2 ½ – 3 tbsp Tamarind Paste (I used 3 tbsp. homemade tamarind paste. Adjust tamarind paste to taste. Degree of sourness / tang depends on the tamarind. )
  • ¼ tsp. Fenugreek Powder
  • 4 – 6 Garelu, broken into 3 pieces
  • Cilantro to garnish


  • Onion Paste – Heat oil in a pan. Add cumin, fenugreek seeds and when seeds change color, add onions. Saute until onions are light brown. Remove from the pan and let cool. Grind to fine paste and keep aside. This should yield 2 – 2 ½ tbsp of paste.
  • Pulusu – In the same pan or in a separate saucepan, heat oil listed under pulusu.
  • Add curry leaves, methi leaves and let the leaves change color.
  • Add onions and saute until translucent.
  • Add ginger garlic paste and saute until the paste is roasted.
  • Add ½ the onion paste and saute until paste is roasted.
  • Add coriander powder, chili powder, salt, turmeric and mix well.
  • Reduce the flame, add yogurt and stir immediately. Gradually increase the flame, continuing stirring until oil begins to separate.
  • Mix tamarind paste with water and add this to the saucepan.
  • Bring the the gravy to a boil and continue boiling.
  • Once the gravy begins to boil, add remaining onion paste, fenugreek powder, mix and continue boiling for 5 – 10 minutes, until desired consistency is reached. Mind you pulusu will thicken as it cools.
  • Add broken garelu and continue boiling for another 2 – 5 minutes.
  • Turn off the heat, garnish with cilantro and serve with steaming rice.


  • Garelu – I cut each gare into 3 pieces. My garelu were small and wish I had cut them into two.
  • Tamarind – If using tamarind, use small lemon sized ball of tamarind. Wash and soak tamarind in water for 15 minutes or microwave for 1 – 2minutes. Let it cool and extract the juice. Tanginess of tamarind varies from one tree to the other. Adjust tamarind depending on how sour it is.

This day in 2011 – Bok Choy & Mushroom Soup and Tandoori Tofu Pizza
This day in 2014: Khaman Dhokla from Gujarat
This day in 2015: Iyengar Bakery Shortbread Cookies
Events: This post also goes to A-Z Challenge for day 7, letter ‘G’.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 63

So far in this A-Z Journey Through Telangana Cuisine,
A for Attu Tunukala Koora
B for Biyyapattlu
C for Chegodi
D for Dondakaya Barada
E for Ellipaya Karam
F for Fenugreek (Menthi) Aaku Pesaru Pappu Koora

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22 thoughts on “Garela Pulusu ~ Moong Dal Vada in Tamarind Based Gravy

    1. Srividhya, I got these from Hyderabad. You should get them everywhere as I see them a lot in Indian blogs. You need to know where to look for. I was meaning to get these for sometime and this past trip I made it a point to go the arts and crafts village specifically to pick these and it over 1 hour drive each way from my house. 🙂

  1. Very interesting dish with vadas Usha. Totally new to me. It looks very delicious.
    Both of us ended up using similar looking props for the letter G today 🙂

  2. Love the rustic setting with those ceramic pickle pots in the background and absolutely love your garela pulusu. I have heard about this dunking vadas in gravies from my MIL but somehow I had always thought the idea belonged to the neighboring states. 😀 Now I know better.

    I had no idea about the name you used for purslane since we call it differently.
    And because of the regional differences I am not sure whether you call chekkalu, appalu but they are two different dishes in Andhra.

  3. yes, I have a similar set of props from Shilparamam too 😀

    so many many varieties of Andhra cooking.. betn urs and Suma’s blogs this BM, I have 50 oddTelugu cuisine bookmarks to try from !!

  4. What a flavorful and delicious dish! Love the props Usha. I too desperately need those serve wares and like you said, I need to know where to look for these…

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