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Sunday, January 18, 2009

Potlakaya Pappu / Snake gourd Dal

In India, beans are a great source of protein irrespective of one's dietary habits. What variety of beans (dal) are used or how they are cooked at home, depends upon where you are from. They are used both in savoury and sweet dishes.
Coming to South, lentils (toordal/kandipappu) are extensively used on a daily basis. Again each state have unique dal preparations which are special and delicious in their own way. From the state of Andhra, one can find such a distinctive dal preparation called pappu. Though it can be prepared with most of the vegetables, mamidikaya pappu (mango dal), gongura pappu, dosakaya pappu (cucumber dal) stand out.
Though I like all my pappus, I am partial towards those with Indian gourds like snake, bottle or ridge gourds. They are quick and simple. Tamarind - chili powder mantra very common to dal preparations, is a big NO here. It is cooked in such a way that the unique flavor and the mild sweet taste of the gourd stand out instead of the other ingredients added.
Snake gourds are long gourds (and probably why the name) with a beautiful green shade covered with white stripes. They are mildly sweet to taste after cooking. When using the fresh gourd, trim off the edges and slice crosswise into thin circles. If using frozen ones, wash the sliced gourds and use. I have no qualms in using frozen vegetables when fresh ones are not available or when we need to drive 40 miles around or when I need to pay more. Especially the snake gourds where I have to shell out around $8 per pound while I can get the same quantity of frozen variety at less than quarter the price.

Ingredients required:Toordal - 3/4 cup
Potlakaya / snake gourd, chopped into slices - 1 cup
Water - 1 & 1/2 cups
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
4 Serrano peppers, slit lengthwise (or use any other variety green chillies. Quantity can be increased or decreased)
Salt - 1 tsp
For tadka: 1 tsp oil, 1/2 tsp each of mustard & cumin seeds, curry leaves, a pinch of asafoetida

The cooking part:Put all the ingredients except salt in a pressure cooker and cook. When the valve pressure is gone remove the lid. Add salt and mix well with a ladle. Mash the dal a little bit, if needed.
Alternatively, add all these ingredients to a sturdy pot and cook on low flame with constant stirring. Water quantity should be increased accordingly. When cooked the dal must reach fall apart stage and need to be mushy and not watery.

Heat a tsp of oil in a small pan. Add 1/2 tsp each of mustard seeds and cumin seeds, a pinch of asafoetida and few curry leaves to the hot oil. When mustard seeds start to splutter, turn off the stove and add these ingredients to the cooked pappu (dal) and stir once more.

Potlakaya pappu served with steamed rice, a tsp of ghee & sundried, salted chilies


Happy cook said...

This wasw one of my favourite dish when i was at home.
I always loved it when my mom made this dal with this veg.
Looks beautiful and delicious.

deepika said...

How about chopped onion

deepika said...

How about adding chopped onion?