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As I mentioned in my last post, on meatless Wednesday’s I try to cook a veggie side dish that is protein rich. In India, lentils or dals are the main source of protein for many non meat eaters. Today I have a green beans side dish prepared with lentils called paruppu usili.
Paruppu usili is a common side dish in Tamil Brahmin households. A combination of lentils or dals are soaked, ground to paste, steamed and then crumbled. In Tamil, dal is paruppu and in Malayalam it is parippu (someone correct me if I am wrong). Usili is cooked with a vegetable and commonly used vegetables are green beans and cluster beans.
When Rajani posted the recipe last Fall, I made it right away and made it a few times ever since. I once tried a usili recipe from a cookbook. It was very tedious and the outcome was a disaster. But Rajani’s recipe is easy and tasted good as well.
There are three steps in beans usili preparation; prepare paruppu usili (steamed lentils crumble), cook beans and complete the dish by sauteing beans and dal crumble. I followed Rajani’s recipe with minor changes. I reduce the quantity of dal, added a bit of chili powder and used more oil than the recipe called for. From my online search, I gathered that chili powder is not used in usili but I add some to suit my taste.
I liked this recipe a lot and asked my mom to make it when I was in India. We usually add onions and garlic in almost all of the curries we cook and my mom’s first question was can we add some onions and garlic? I said why not, but we may have to rename the dish.. 🙂 Though I made this few times, I stuck to the recipe. I was always tempted to add onion and garlic, and perhaps next time!!
Total Time: 30 minutes (excludes soaking time of dals)
Preparation: 10 minutes
Cooking Time: 20 minutes
- 2 ½ – 3 tbsp. Toor Dal, approximately ⅙ cup
- 2 ½ – 3 tbsp. Chana Dal, approximately ⅙ cup
- 3 Dry Red Chilies (adjust to taste)
- ½ tsp Salt ( adjust to taste)
- ⅛ tsp. Hing ~ Asafetida
- 240 – 280 grams or 8 – 10 oz Green Beans, chopped (approximately 2 cups when chopped)
- ½ tsp. Salt (adjust to taste)
- Pinch of Turmeric
Beans Paruppu Usili
- 1 ½ – 2 tbsp. Oil
- ½ tsp. Mustard Seeds
- Paruppu Usili
- Green Beans or Cluster Beans
- ¾ tsp. Chili Powder (adjust to taste and this is my addition)
- Paruppu Usili (steamed dal crumble) – Wash and soak chana dal & toor dal for about 3 hours.
- Bring about 1 cup of water to a boil in a saucepan to steam the ground lentils paste.
- Grind the dal with red chilies, salt and hing. I used very little water but it can be ground even without water. If one wishes, they can add few curry leaves as well.
- Transfer ground dal to a steamer and steam for 10 minutes or until the paste forms a thick lump/cake and the dal is cooked. Turn of the heat and let cool. I kept the steamer covered for 5 minutes after turing off the flame, before uncovering and letting the steamed lentil cake cool. Keeping it covered for 5 minutes can be skipped if pressed for time, as long as the dal doesn’t taste raw.
- Once the steamed lentil/dal cake is cool, crumble it using clean hand or pulse it in a food processor. I used my hands and I think I crumbled it a bit too much. Crumble should be thicker than what is seen in the photos. If using a food processor or a mixie, do not over process or grind the dal. It could become a paste, which we do not want.
- Cooking Beans – Take chopped beans, salt and turmeric in a pot with about ½ cup of water, cook until beans is tender and most of the water evaporates. It took about 10 minutes on my stove. Beans can also be steamed in a steamer.
- Beans Paruppu Usili – Take oil in a pan, when hot, add mustard seeds and let crackle.
- Add crumbled dal and saute for few minutes until crumbled dal changes color.
- Add beans and saute for few minutes. Taste and adjust the seasoning. Usili was not spicy enough for my taste and I added about ¾ tsp of chili powder.
- Once the vegetable and dal crumble are mixed and lightly sauteed, turn off the heat. Serve with rice. I paired with some rasam.
- Dals – I used ⅙ cup each of toor and chana dal but can use upto ¼ cup of each dal.
- Steaming – I used a steamer plate but idli steamer also works here. Rajani says we can also pressure cook the ground dal for 3-4 whistles and to crumble the steamed lentil cake, pulse in a food processor.
- Cooking Beans – I cooked beans and dal separately in pot but beans and ground dal can be pressure cooked at once, in two separate cooker containers. I have not followed this method though.
- Instant Usili – I recently say a Facebook post for instant usili preparation. According to that post, dry roast lentils, grind with dry chilies to coarse powder, add little water and salt to the powder, and microwave the mixture for few minutes. Instant usili is ready and this eliminates soaking the dal step. This sounds like a great shortcut but I have not tried it yet.
This day in:
2008 – Roasted Corn Kernels with Garlic Butter and Chocolate Strawberries
2012 – Mango and Corn Salad
2013 – Bell Peppers and Gram Flour Stir Fry
2014 – Spicy Southwestern Chicken Salad with Peanut Butter and Lemon Dressing