Tag Archives: toor dal

Another skin you can use

Here’s another fun vegetable that you can make multiple things with. Growing up it was not a favorite with me. The vegetable I am talking about is Luffa or Chinese Okra. I never liked the spicy curry that my mother loved to cook. But totally loved what she did with the skin. While my whole family enjoyed the curry I relished the skin cooked with lentils. The skin can also be made into chutney (see Don’t throw that skin away).

But what to do with the vegetable itself?

One fine day I struck on this alternative and now enjoy both the vegetable and the skin. I peel the skin and cook with yellow gram (toor dal). I fry the vegetable in a little oil and make into a chutney similar to the way I make it with the skin.

skin of one large Chinese okra
1 tbsp olive oil
1/2 garlic peeled and cloves sliced
1 tsp split chickpea or chana dal
1 tsp black gram or urad dal
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1-2 jalapeno sliced
2-3 dry red chili
pinch of turmeric
salt to taste
some curry leaves
1/2 cup toor dal

Rinse and cook toor dal in 1 cup of water adding more if necessary or can cook in a pressure cooker. Set aside.

Use a food processor or chopper to grind the skin of the Chinese okra and set aside.

Heat oil in a pan. Add turmeric, garlic, chana dal, urad dal, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, red chili and fry till lightly brown. Add curry leaves and jalapeno and fry for 1 minute. Add the processed chinese okra skin and continue frying for 5-10 minutes on medium low flame.

Add the cooked toor dal and mix well. Add salt to taste.

Serve hot with roti or warm rice.


It’s always a pleasure to step out into my garden and pick my greens fresh from the plant. Last time I was in Chicago, in addition to the Cabbage Uttapam recipe, I came away with saplings for Gongura or Red Sorrel Leaves. One of my favorite green leafy vegetables that is scarce to find here. My friend Anu had sowed the seeds in two raised beds. All had sprouted and looked fresh and healthy. She was gracious enough to share a few saplings of amaranth and red sorrel leaves. I am equally amazed that they survived my 4-week absence!

Stepping outdoors I saw these fresh greens and my mind was on Gongura Pappu or Red Sorrel Leaves Dal. My mother always made it with a lot of garlic and it was always tasty and  refreshing! Dal in South India is always made with Toor Dal and tamarind. If the vegetable is tart, there is no need to add tamarind such as with mango and sorrel leaves. Also sometimes adding tomato will suffice such as with spinach and methi.

Here’s how I make mine…

1 cup  Toor dal
1/2 bunch red sorrel leaves or as needed/available
1 whole garlic peeled and sliced (if cloves are big or use whole)
2-3 dry red chilli leaves
1 green jalapeno
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp red chilli powder
touch of turmeric
touch of asafoetida
curry leaves
ginger (chopped)
salt to taste

I always pre-cook my dal in a pressure cooker with 2 cups water.

In a large bowl, heat 1 tbsp olive oil, add turmeric, asafoetida, cumin and mustard seeds and peeled garlic cloves. Once the garlic is lightly brown, add curry leaf, chopped ginger, sliced jalapeno and chopped sorrel leaves and fry for 5 minutes. Add the cooked dal and cook on low flame adding water as necessary for 10-15 minutes. Add salt and red chilli powder and mix well.

Top with chopped cilantro and serve hot with sona masuri rice and ghee!


Sambhar is a staple dish in South India. It is eaten with rice, is a key side dish with idli, dosa, and vada. As with any dish, there are innumerable variations to the same dish. Over the years, I have evolved my sambhar recipe as well and this is how I make it.

1/2 cup toor dal (yellow split lentils)
1 onion (cut into large pieces) or peeled pearl onions
1-2 carrots (cut into 1 in strips)
1/4 bottle gourd (cut into 1 inch pieces)
1 tomato (cut into pieces)
1-2 drumsticks (optional)
A little white radish (cut into pieces or rings)
some green beans (8-10) cut into 1 in pieces
2-3 stalks of chopped cilantro
A few curry leaves
1-2 dry red chillies
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
A little tamarind (fresh de-seeded or paste)
Touch of asafoetida
Touch of turmeric powder
1-2 tsp oil (vegetable or peanut oil)
1-2 tsp MTR sambhar powder
1 tsp salt

Boil all the vegetables until cooked in a dish with some water or in a pressure cooker. Add one cup water and cook the dal until cooked. In a large pan, add some oil and fry the seasoning – cumin seeds, mustard seeds, red chillies with some asafoetida and turmeric powder. When the mustard seeds start crackling add the curry leaves and mix. Add the boiled vegetables with any remaining water. Mash the cooked dal into almost a paste and add to the mix. Soak some fresh tamarind (a small handful)  in water and squeeze the juice out and add to the mix. Add some fresh (or dry) grated coconut, salt to taste and sambhar powder. Continue boiling for 15-20 minutes until all the ingredients mix well and the aromas penetrate. Garnish with some fresh cilantro.

Best when eaten hot with some rice or with idli, dosa or vada.