Osaman is Gujarat’s answer to rasam: a light broth with ‘dal water’ as base. It gets its kick from the high-power tempering – salt, sweet, sour and hot all at once.
I first heard of osaman on the TV show Khana Khazana. I’ve come across many variations of this recipe since then, using different dals (yellow moong/masoor) and spices. I still love the original version’s use of whole moong dal stock.
This osaman recipe follows Sanjeev Kapoor’s as I recall it from memory.
- Green moong beans – 1 cup
- Water – 4 cups
- Jaggery – 1 teaspoon
- Salt – 1/2 teaspoon
- Lemon juice – 1 tablespoon
- Ginger – 1/2 inch piece
- Green chillies – 2 (adjust to taste)
- Curry leaves – 12
- Cloves – 2
- Cinnamon stick – 1 small
- Whole black peppercorns – 5
- Turmeric powder – a small pinch
- Asafoetida – a small pinch
- Mustard seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
- Cumin seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
- Oil – 1 teaspoon
Prepare the "raw materials":
Wash and soak dal in two cups of water for an hour.
Keep these ingredients for tempering together – cumin seeds, mustard seeds, pepper corns, cloves, cinammon stick, curry leaves.
Slit and deseed green chillies. Peel and chop ginger.
Crush ginger and green chillies together. Dilute them in a tablespoon of water.
Boil the dal:
Drain dal, wash again. Cook the dal till soft. If using a pressure cooker, add four cups of water to one cup of moong beans and cook up to three whistles (high flame till first whistle, then low). Allow to cool and release pressure naturally.
When the lid of the pressure cooker comes off naturally, separate the water from the boiled mung beans for use in osaman. Don’t throw the mung beans away – you can use them in other dishes (ideas towards the end of this post).
[If not using a pressure cooker, you'll need to increase the quantity of water and the cooking time. I haven't tried this, you'll have to figure this out. Keep checking while the dal is simmering - cook till the moong beans are soft and become mushy when pressed.]
Do the tadka:
Heat a teaspoon of oil in a kadhai. Add all the dry tempering ingredients. Be careful, cloves tend to pop. When the cumin seeds turn dark brown, add a pinch of asafoetida and within a few seconds add the diluted green chilly-ginger paste.
Let the paste cook for 2 minutes till the rawness of ginger goes away. Add a pinch of turmeric powder and let the masala cook, stirring regularly When the masala starts to bubble thickly, it is done and ready to be mixed with the dal.
Put it all together:
Pour the boiled mung bean stock into the tadka, and add salt and jaggery . Bring to a boil. Let the osaman simmer for two minutes.
Take it off the fire and stir in lime juice. Serve immediately.
With chapatis/rice and a dry vegetable sauté/fry. Also tastes great as a standalone soup.
I like osaman best when it uses whole green moong beans but you could substitute it with yellow moong or red lentils. You wouldn’t need to separate the dal pieces and broth with those dals, simply mash the cooked dal and dilute with water.
Some FAQs about this recipe:
Q1. What to do with the remaining boiled moong beans?
A1: Your options are many. This is what I mostly do:
1. Grind and use them in the dough for parathas.
2. Make a salad out of them with finely chopped onions, tomatoes, green chillies, salt and lime juice. [Boiled moong salad]
Q2. What to do when whole garam masala pieces that go into osaman come into the mouth? Am I expected to eat them up?
A2: You don’t have to force yourself to. Scoop the whole garam masala pieces out with a spoon and place them aside before you begin on the osaman.
I do this with cinnamon and cloves. Everything else, I eat. Curry leaves taste nice to me, so do fried whole peppercorns. Besides, curry leaves are great for healthy skin and hair – motivation enough to eat them.
Or you could powder all the dry tadka ingredients together before adding them to the oil. In this case, you will then need to cook them only for a few seconds before adding the ginger-green chilly paste.