Monday, July 20, 2015

sookhi urad ki daal | skinned black lentil stew with chilli garlic

Sookhi urad ki daal is not the everyday daal in UP homes. The ubiquitous everyday daal in most UP homes is peeli daal or arhar ki daal or even a mix of masoor, mung and arhar daals (skinned mung beans, red lentils and pigeon peas) to make a yellow daal. Now even this yellow daal would be very different in each home with a favourite tadka, the consistency being thick or thin the way a particular family likes it. Urad daal (skinned black lentils) is not something people like eating everyday.

But then there are days when they want a break with peeli daal and some special daal will be made, not necessarily an elaborate recipe or a rich preparation, but a change in the routine is seen as special. This sookhi urad ki daal is one of those daals and often finds a place on party menus too. I am talking about the days when 'daal makhni' was not the only popular daal preparation for vegetarian menus.

This sooki urad ki daal also has various versions and home cooks keep innovating the tadka or the garnish but the cooking procedure of sookhi urad ki daal is considered a skill to be proud of. You might find people who criticize a sookhi daal in the way it looks. Whether each grain of the daal is clean or has got mushy or whether it is properly coated with ghee or not. Some people like each grain of daal coated with a red chilly infused ghee and some like loads of crisp fried garlic flakes interspersed with the daal.

In older days it was rare to use tomatoes in this daal but now some people add fresh tomato paste to the daal, I find tomatoes spoiling the real fun of this daal. It is best cooked with minimal additives but the tadka could be as loaded as you like. Here is my simpler recipe that can be a base to start adding your kind of flavours to it if you wish. Or just enjoy the way I like it.

This is the version I like with green chilies of the mild variety. You can use some hot green chillies and a little finely chopped green capsicum to get that effect if you wish.

(2-3 servings, this daal is normally served in small portions as a side dish)

for pressure cooking
skinned black lentils (urad daal dhuli) 1/3 cup
water 1 cup
chopped green chillies of the mild variety as much as you like, I used 3 large ones
salt to taste

for tadka
ghee 2 tsp or as much as you can handle
one whole dry red chilly
chopped or sliced garlic as much as you like
hing (asafoetida) a pinch


Purists would slow cook the daal in a pan over gas flame and would strain all the cooking liquid as soon as the daal is soft but not mushy. Use more water if doing so. I just add everything in a pressure cooker and cook for 10 minutes after the first whistle. I like to retain whatever little cooking liquid remains in the daal.

To prepare the tadka heat the ghee in a shallow pan and tip in the hing and then the broken red chilly. Let the red chilly get almost burnt when you add the chopped garlic. Now let the garlic alos browned well and then add this chilly garlic infused and almost smoked tadka to the cooked daal. Cover for 5 minutes to let the flavours infuse.

Serve hot as a side dish. I like this daal even at room temperature and it often becomes the daal for lunch box for the husband.

This daal behaves very well with dhungar or smoking with the help of a piece of charcoal. If you want that kind of smoky flavour just place the charcoal over gas flame till it gets red, place a steel bowl inside the daal pot with little ghee and a red chilly in it. Place the red hot charcoal into this bowl and cover the lid, let the red chilly burn and the smoke infuse into the daal.

In my recipe I just let the red chilly get charred into the tadka and get the desired effect. The burn red chilly is removed after it does it's work.

The daal looks plain and white but packs a punch. Slightly hot with chillies but more flavours of the green chilly and garlic that makes this daal quite potent. You just cannot eat too much of this. Best enjoyed with ghee soaked rotis made of whole grain. I like this daal with jowar rotis the most, with some baingan bharta for company.

Do not add any dhaniya patta for garnish. Never.

Friday, July 17, 2015

karonde ki subzi (achari) | a pickled condiment

karonde ki subzi

Karoda is a very tart berry (Carissa caradas) that appears in the Indian markets in the last leg of summer and continues till late August. We had a huge bush of this berry back home and our dog use to chase the birds that used to nest in that bush. A lot of pickles, chutneys and jams used to be made using karonda in those days.

We have used these berries to practice targets and it's fruiting branches to decorate flower vases. Karonde ka murabba is a popular condiment in some homes and is used as substitute for tinned cherries to make cakes etc. I think you can still find karonde ka murabba in the markets of Banaras. We never cared for keronde ka murabba though.


This subzi is nothing but a simplified pickle which is cooked quickly and is refrigerated for a week, to be served with almost all the meals during that time. Back home there were several of such achari recipes that my dadi (grandmother) used to make. She loved such hot and sour condiments herself and used to love serving 3-4 such condiments with each meal.

In modern times such condiments are more convenient as we sometimes resort to simpler one pot meals and any such pickle in the fridge can jazz up any simple meal for sure. I am reminded of and have been craving for my dadi's stuffed green chillies that was always there in the fridge whenever she stayed with us.

I must add that I remember my dadi for so much more than just the food, but I would agree food was a very tangible connect that established so effortlessly and we tend to bring that back whenever we can. My grandmother shaped my life by default and she continues to do so even though it has been 16 years she is no more.

Whenever I cook or write about such recipes I do remember her earnestly.

Coming back to karonde ki subzi, I know it is a pain to chop such tiny berries. But once you get to chopping the beauties they don't disappoint. You could sit with them to watch TV if possible. This activity used to be a meditative exercise in older days as I understand. Women used to chit chat while chopping vegetables often and that must have been great stress buster and bonding activity.

karonde ki subzi

For this kaprinde ki subzi you have to peel some garlic and chop them too. Thankfully I have a maid who helps and I just cooked this subzi in about 5 minutes. Total time that karonde ki subzi needs after chopping them is just 10 minutes, so try and get it done if you are drooling at this subzi.

This subzi is called acahri for obvious reasons. It tastes like achar but doesn't keep well like 'achar'. Another quick karonde ka achar is made in season too that lasts a bit longer but if the pickle needs to be preserved for a year it needs some preservation either with vinegar or more mustard oil and salt.

karonde ki subzi recipe

So you see you just have to flash fry the karonda, garlic and chillies along with a tadka of hing, kalonji (Nigella seeds) and turmeric chilly powder mix, and the subzi is ready.


quartered karonda 1 cup
quartered garlic cloves 1/2 cup
chopped green chillies 1/2 cup
mustard oil 2 tbsp
hing 1 pinch
kalonji (Nigella seeds) 2 tsp
turmeric powder 2 tsp
red chilly powder 1/2 tsp
salt to taste


Heat the mustard oil and tip in the hing and nigella seeds. Now make a paste of turmeric and chilly powder with 2 tbsp water and pour it in the hot oil. Let this mixture sizzle for a while till the oil separates or the mixture gets shiny. Add salt to taste.

Now tip in the chopped vegetables, toss and cook on high heat for 5 minutes. Cool and transfer to a glass jar or container. Serve as required.

Do let me know when you try this karonde ki subzi. You can make similar subzi with chopped raw mangoes which was called as aam ka kuchla back home. Some people would call this karonde ki subzi too as karonde ka kuchla.