Wednesday, December 5, 2007

JFI December - Tur Dal - Uniquely South Indian

November was my first time participating in food blogging events and I didn’t want to overdo it, rather concentrate on two or three events which would really make me think.

Well, when I looked at Linda’s blog shouting out excitedly that she was hosting Jihva this month and the theme was Tur Dal – there were no second thoughts! I just had to participate in this event…….I love this lentil and in fact it’s been the one constant factor in my cooking and eating, no matter where I have been.

At home, sambar, plain dal with a simple tempering of mustard, Rasam made with tur dal water – all these were staples. When I went down south on holidays as a child, I was amused that we were given a small scoop of dal at the very beginning of the meal – “where is the rest of it?!” I would think, forgetting that the sambar and paruppu usli (steamed ground lentils with beans) to come all had it in varying proportions.

My next door neighbors were Maharashtrians and I used to often eat with their children who were my friends; varan bhath (dal rice) with thoop (ghee) was a given and absolutely comforting.

While in college, I practically lived at my best friend’s house and their Konkani daali thoy is something I make even today. Later when I lived with 3 flat mates, tur dal in all its myriad forms became a staple at our PG digs, easy to make and great to eat. The aspiring model who was a Punjabi made these daals which were so delicious that I used to polish off two bowls even before dinner.

Tur dal/arhar dal/split pigeon peas/tuvaram paruppu, sambar paruppu – this should be made our national dal – like one of those national integration slogans. “Ek Daal hain hum” *snort*

Though I have been waxing poetic on dals, for this event I couldn’t decide what to make, there were so many choices!
Finally (and barely making it to the event) I decided to make traditional podis; paruppu podi and rasam podi – not the usual gravy accompaniments, but something quite uniquely South Indian. We were running out of both and there weren’t any grocery shops in Delhi that I knew of, where I could pick up good quality podi.

Podi means powder, and Paruppu Podi refers to a ready-to-eat powder which is made out of dal and spices; roasted and powdered and then stored for use whenever needed. It is usually eaten with steamed rice and ghee or sesame oil. Probably the first version of convenience food!

Since I was on a roasting roll and since it also had tur dal in it, I also made Rasam powder (see some great recipes for rasam here, here and here) which when made at home tastes very different from the one you get packaged, not to mention that it also has tur dal as a main ingredient.

The roasting is the key to this; I roast each ingredient separately on a low flame, taking care to see that they are taken off the flame as soon as they change colour and give off a nice smell. You can also do this in the oven.

The ingredients for paruppu podi and the proportions vary according to each family/region’s recipe, so this is the one which worked for me after trying out various proportions. Try a few recipes out so that you can decide on which one you like.

I like the coriander and cumin to dominate in my Rasam powder, while in the dal powder the pepper quantity is the only adjustment I made to Mom’s recipe. So, what’s your preference?
Paruppu Podi (Ready-to-eat Dal powder)

Tur dal (split pigeon peas) – 1 cup
Dried red chillies – 4
Black peppercorns – 1 tsp
Garlic – 7-8 flakes
Oil – 1 tsp

1.Heat oil and roast each ingredient separately, till they change colour and are evenly roasted. This takes approximately about 2-3 minutes for each ingredient.
2.Let cool completely and grind to a coarse powder, adding salt to taste at the final round of grinding. Store upto 3 months in a tightly lidded container.
3.We have this with steamed rice, and sesame oil or ghee. Some dal or hot Rasam added to the rice makes it even more delicious.
Paruppu Podi & Rasam Powder
Rasam Powder

Tur dal – 1/3 cup
Dried red chillies – ½ cup
Coriander seeds – 1 cup
Cumin seeds - ¼ cup
Black peppercorn – 1tsp
Fenugreek seeds (methi) – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Washed and dried curry leaves – ¼ cup
Oil – 1tsp
1. Roast all the ingredients separately, till they change colour and are evenly roasted.
2. Cool completely and then grind to a smooth powder. Store in a tightly lidded container.



Your paruppu podi is exactly like how I make ...Nice entry for the event with those powders:))

remya said...

i havent tried making makes this...when i was coming to US..she packed and gave these Podi's...its really tasty...she makes similar to u...

vimmi said...

I have been wanting to try these for a very long time. hey look delicious.

Sandeepa(Bong Mom's CookBook/DesiMomzClub) said...

wow so that powder could be just had with rice ? i have had gun powder, some thing like it ?

sagari said...

nice and very usefull recipes

Miri said...

Remya, Vimmi - it's quite easy....try it sometime and you will wonder why you didn't do this sooner!

Miri said...

Sandeepa - you're right, the dhal powder is ready-to-eat - with rice and bit of til oil or ghee.

There are a lot of varieties of such powders, one with curry leaves is also very good.

Gunpowder or mologai podi is also like that, just that it is eaten with idlis and dosais usually.

Miri said...

Thanks sagari

Srivalli said...

Miri, you have a nice blog here..will be back to browse ...just wanted to know if you are blogging from India. If so, do check and let me know if you will be interested.


Miri said...

Thanks Srivalli, I am blogging from India, will check the link and get back. Thanks for stopping by!

Srivalli said...

Miri...did you have time to check the let me know if you are interested...thanks...