Food, Recipes…..garnished with memories

Usali- Spicy Whole Moth Beans

Last week when I decided to share some of my grandmother’s recipes with you, I have been transported back to my grandmother’s place by the memories. Feels like I am on a time machine! Most of my fondest memories from childhood are related to food. I used to accompany my grandfather to buy the weekly dose of vegetables, and while he would be busy in the higgle-haggle, I would be busy imagining what my grandmother would be cooking for lunch! My childhood was spiced with kulfi, ice-golas (or chuskis as we called it), and ambrosial sugar cane juice. Each outing or a visit to a market was strategically dotted with one or the other of these inducements.

While growing up eating out meant just one thing- Indulging in street food. The  idea of going to the restaurants was reserved only for some special occasions. The importance of occasion preceded over the food in this case. The pressure of using forks and spoons made eating an exercise in mechanical dexterity rather than the epicurean enjoyment. And the meals were never complete without someone commenting as to how home cooked food was so much better in any case!

The street food was somewhere in between the comfortable order of home and the pretense of restaurants. The person who prepared these delicious treats on the streets was no less than a magician, who did some abra-ka-dabra with the ingredients and put them together in a completely new way.

Having spent most of my summers in a small town (which has now become a city) in North Karnataka, the kind of street food that I was exposed to other than the normal chats etc, were usal pav and poha. I have always believed that one cannot replicate the street food at home. Whenever I used to have a craving for something, I used to tell my grandmother (with the hope that we could go out and eat), but in next few hours, my demand would be taken care of. How? By cooking the desired food at home! Sigh! 😀 When I told my grandmother about sharing some of her recipes on my blog, she gave me a lot of recipes and I have decided that I will share all of them, sooner or later.

Usali is a very commonly prepared in every household in North Karnataka. It’s spicy, nutritious and gives a push to your creativity. I’ll explain how. You can team Usali with chapati, use it as a sauce for bhel puri, have it with poha (avalakki or beaten rice)/warm toasted bread or just with some finely chopped up tomatoes, onions and green chilies. If you want to explore the whacky side of yours-try using usali as a topping for your nachos or chips.

I have used only whole moth beans (madike kaalu). You can use mixed beans (green gram, black chickpeas and green peas) if you wish to. Soak the beans in water over night, drain the water next day and cover the beans with muslin cloth and keep it in warm place. Basically the beans need to sprout. Once they start to sprout you can refrigerate them, and use  whenever you want.

If you ask any body from North Karnataka/Maharashtra for the recipe of Usali, you will find more than ten versions of it. Its just playing with different spices and flavors.



For the paste

1 star anise

3 tsp cumin seeds

3 tsp coriander seeds

1-2 red chilies

2 sticks of cinnamon

1 large (2 medium) tomatoes-finely chopped

1 small onion- finely chopped

1 tsp oil

For the Usali

2 cups whole moth bean- sprouted and pressure cooked for about 10 minutes

1 large onion-finely chopped

4-5 Green chilies

1/2 cup peanuts- soaked and boiled.

2-3 tsp fresh green coriander-finely chopped

1 tsp oil

1/2 cup water

salt-as per taste

In a pan heat some oil and roast the onions till they are golden brown. Roast the tomatoes as well.  Dry roast all the spices and blend them along with the onions and tomatoes into a fine paste.

Heat some oil in a pan, add the chopped onions and stir till they turn translucent. Add the spice-onion-tomato paste and cook for about 5 minutes.

Add the sprouts, with about half a cup of water and cook for another 10 minutes on a low flame. Add salt and finally, chopped coriander.

Serve hot.

More to come… 🙂


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