In the western world, Indian cuisine is mostly equated with rich, spicy gravies – kofta curry and chhole bhature and shahi paneer and their ilk. In reality, Indian cuisine is far broader than that. Indian food can be simple and minimalistic, as this dish I’m going to write about today – roasted moong dal with a green vegetable combination. A recipe I picked up from a friend from Andhra, it’s been a regular in my kitchen since.
Ridge gourd and moong dal are both very gentle on the stomach, as are asafoetida (hing in Hindi) and lemon, the prime flavourings in this dish. Hing is a strong spice and, I suspect, an acquired taste. If this is the first time you’re cooking with hing, I’d suggest using very little of it. If you like it, use more another time. I do recommend it warmly, especially for its wide array of health benefits.
The best part – this dish can be readied in no time at all. Moong dal cooks quickly even without soaking, ridge gourd takes hardly any time either.
- Roasted moong dal – 1 cup
- Ridge gourd – 1, large
- Green chili – 2
- Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
- Asafoetida powder – 1/2 teaspoon
- Turmeric powder – 1/2 teaspoon
- Salt – to taste
- Lemon juice – 1 tablespoon
- Curry leaves – 4-5
- Oil – 1 teaspoon (for the ridgegourd) + 1 teaspoon (for the tadka)
Pressure cook the roasted moong dal with two cups of water. Cook till two whistles and let the pressure release naturally.
Peel a ridge gourd and cut it into bite size pieces. Slit the green chilies vertically and deseed.
Heat one teaspoon of oil in a pan. Add the ridge gourd and green chilies, let them cook on medium flame covered for a couple of minutes. The ridge gourd will release water and become soft. At this stage, add the moong dal, turmeric powder and salt. Mix well and cook another 2-3 minutes. Switch off the heat, mix lemon juice and do the tadka.
For the tadka: Heat a teaspoon of oil in a tadka ladle. When smoking hot, add the mustard seeds. They will crackle in an instant. Switch off the heat, drop in the hing powder and curry leaves. Give the ladle a swirl so that the curry leaves release their flavour evenly.
When the crackling subsides (in 15 seconds or so), turn the contents of the ladle gently in to the hot ridgegourd-dal. [Doesn't the tadka make a lovely sound on contact? :)]
Mix well and serve the hot ridgegourd-moong dal with chapatis.
If you are using asafoetida granules instead of powder, add it before the mustard seeds into the tadka.