I guess it is my Southern Indian background which makes me reach out to the traditional tastes and flavors that I remember from my childhood, again and again...especially on the days that I am more harried and stressed than usual, I always find myself making these familiar comfort foods...and most of the time(if not always) they include some combination of lentils and veggies.
The sights and sounds of our old family home in Kerala(India) come back to me every time I make these comforting dishes and though I dont get to go back there very often... I still find myself mentally transported there, to the land of everlasting lush greenery, coconut palms and mango trees...which are never far away from my mind.
Molaguttal is one such traditional Tamilian/Keralite dish(made mostly by Tamilians settled in Kerala for many years). It is a great curry that can accompany rice or chappathis/phulkas or even, parathas. Traditionally, it is made with veggies like white pumpkin, cabbage or spinach either by themselves or in some combination but I have also successfully used veggies like cauliflower, green peas, carrots, chayote(aka chow-chow or bangalore kathirikkai) and even, broccoli.
I find myself making this dish more often nowadays, because the kids seem to love this dish and eat more of it compared to a lot of other dishes...maybe it is the simplicity of its taste that makes it appealing to them. I dont question it at all, I just tend to make it almost every week and find it disappearing before I know it...which is a definite vote of confidence for me!!!
Here is the recipe:
Molaguttal ( Southern Indian Curry with lentils and veggies) -
Prep/cook time: 20 to 25 mins.
1/2 to 3/4 cup of toovar dal(split yellow lentils/red gram)- pressure cooked for 3 whistles and kept aside
1/2 cup shredded cabbage1/2 cup chopped methi(fenugreek) leaves
1/4 cup diced carrot
For grinding into fine paste:-
1/4 to 1/2 cup of grated coconut(fresh or desiccated)
1/4 cup cummin seeds(jeera)
3 or 4 red chillies (Asian/Indian variety long, thin dried chillies)
1 tsp urud dal(split black gram dal)
1tsp Black mustard seeds(rai)
1tsp cummin seeds(jeera)
1tsp urud dal(split black gram dal)
Few curry leaves
2 dry red chillies( 1 chilli if you would like it to be less spicy or just omit this item totally)
Oil - 1 to 2 tsp
Turmeric powder - a pinch
In a pressure cooker, add the vegetables and turmeric and enough water to cover up all the veggies and pressure cook for 3 whistles(till veggies are almost cooked).
Alternately, you could cook all the veggies and turmeric with water in a pan till they are almost fully cooked(takes about 7 to 8 mins on medium - high heat)
Take the ground fine paste of cummin seeds, urud dal, red chillies and coconut and add it to the veggies alongwith salt and let come to a boil(takes about 4 to 5 mins on medium high heat).
Then add the cooked lentils(dal) to the mixture. Let it cook till everything comes to a light bubbly consistency.
In a separate pan, add all the seasoning ingredients with oil and let it fry till mustard seeds start crackling.
Add these seasonings to the molaguttal curry.
Serve hot or at room temperature with brown/white rice, rotis, parathas and so on. You could also store this for upto a week in the refrigerator.
Note: all ethnic ingredients available at Asian/Indian grocery stores.