Moong dal with Turiya / Chinese okra

Turiya/Chinese Okra is rough and ridgy on the outside but inside, it’s all tender and sweet. It’s available throughout the year at my local Indian grocery store and for me a staple purchase just like the potatoes and onions. South Indian kootu, gujarati style subzi and bonda are the standard dishes I make out of Turiya but this week I made Moong dal with turiya. If you are bored of the usual heavy, masala-laden dals and are looking for something simple and fresh, you will really like this dal. It’s simple and flavorful.  Give it a try.

Moong dal with Turiya

Moong dal and Turiya

3/4 cup moong dal
2 medium size turiya/chinese okra
1-2 green chili cut lengh wise
1/2 tea spoon fresh grated ginger
1/2 tea spoon cumins seeds
1/2 tea spoon mustard seeds
1/4 tea spoon red chili powder (optional)
1 tea spoon ghee or butter for vaghar
A pinch of asafoetida/hing powder
1 tea spoon salt

1. Wash and peel the ridges of turiya. Cut turiya into bite size pieces.
2. Wash moong dal, add 3 cups of water and cook it on medium heat until it is soft. Make sure it doesn’t become mushy.
3. In a pan heat butter/ghee. When it’s really hot, add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, hing, green chilies and ginger.
4. Add turiya pieces and stir for a minute.
5. Add about 1/2 cup of water and cover the pan.
6. When turiya is cooked (about 8 minutes), add the cooked moong dal, red chili powder (if using) and salt.
7. Mix well and bring it to boil.
8. Reduce heat and simmer on medium heat for another 3-5 minutes.

Dosa

Plate of Masala Dosa - A classic South Indian fare

Plate of Masala Dosa – A classic South Indian fare

If you come to my home on a weekend, there’s a 50% chance you will be treated to a plate of Masala Dosa. I make enough to last 2 days, usually finishing it off by making onion dosas out of the leftover batter. I grew up eating dosas as an after-school snack. I remember my mother making dosa batter using a huge stone mortar and pestle. That must have been a hard task considering it was a family of 6. Then we got the Sumeet mixie and it soon replaced the manual method.

It is difficult to resist a crispy Dosa. Of the 100 different types of dosas that you can make, masala dosa holds a special appeal for everyone. It’s probably because of the sumptuous accompaniments it comes with; spicy potato curry, coconut chutney and that bowl of tangy sambar making a wholesome, satisfying meal. Having enjoyed great-tasting dosas all my life, it was difficult to replicate the same taste here in california. After experimenting with different varieties of rice and the rice-urad dal ratio, I found a happy note in the following recipe.

1 cup ponni parboiled rice

Half cup ponni raw rice

1/2 cup urad dal

1 tea spoon methi/fenugreek seeds

1 tea spoon chana dal

Wash the dal, rice, and methi together under running water a few times. Soak in 8 cups of water for approx. 8 hours. Grind the grains mixture in a grinder until absolutely smooth. This is best tested by rubbing some batter between your fingers. Empty the batter into a big stock pot, cover it and keep it away for at least 10-12 hours. This step is to ensure proper fermentation of the batter. I keep the pot in the oven and turn the light on irrespective of the weather. After about 12 hours, you will see that the batter has risen by about 2-3 inches from its original level.  At this point, you are ready to make dosas.

To make dosas:

Use a big (10” is OK, 12″ is ideal) griddle/tava. Non-stick is good.

Fill a big ladle with the batter and pour it in the center of a hot tava/griddle and spread it out in a circular fashion until it covers up pretty much all of the griddle. Immediately spread a tea spoon of ghee/melted butter/oil along the edge of the dosa. Keep the tava hot during the entire time. After about 15 seconds, flip the dosa and keep it on the tava/griddle for another 10 seconds or so.

Serve with potato curry, coconut chuntey and optinally, a bowl of onion sambhar.