Beans Usili (Stir Fried French Beans And Lentils)

Usili basically refers to a method of preparing vegetables. It’s Bengal gram and pigeon peas crumbled into a vegetable of choice. I have previously posted cabbage usili in this blog. The usili recipes are from the South Indian state of Thamizhnadu. These dishes are mildly spiced and pair well with steamed rice and a wet curry mixed into the rice. These dishes are very popular and I cannot imagine a week passing by without an usili being prepared in Thamizh households. This fact should be the proof of how tasty this dish is, if proof was indeed needed. I do not make usili that often, but I do at least once a month. That’s because I like to experiment with foods from all over the country and indeed the world. So, the opportunity to make an usili comes about only oncce in a while. But there is always great satisfaction whenever usili is prepared.
Don’t miss out on this wonderful dish – do prepare it sooner than later, Use French beans, cabbage, ivy gourd, bitter melon, yard long beans, broad beans – anything that takes your fancy.

Beans Usili

For The Beans
250 gms French beans, chopped fine
1/4 tsp turmeric powder (haldi, manjal podi)
Unrefined salt to taste
For The Usili
1/4 cup split Bengal gram (chana dal, kadalai parupu)
1/4 cup pigeon peas (tur dal, thuvaram parupu)
3-4 dried red chilis
A pinch of asafoetida (hing, perunkayam)
1 sprig curry leaves
Unrefined salt to taste
To Temper
1 tsp mustard seeds (sarson, kadugu)
1 tsp split black lentil (urad dal, ulutham parupu)
Wash the Bengal gram and pigeon peas
Soak for 30 minutes, adding the red chillies
Drain the water completely
Transfer to a blender and add asafoetida, curry leaves and salt
Grind to a coarse paste (no need to add water)
Make lemon sized balls of the ground mixture
Steam for about 10 minutes
Let it cool and pulse in a blender to get a fine powder
Set aside
Steam the beans for about 10 minutes
Set aside
Heat a medium sized wok
Add mustard seeds
When they begin to splutter, add the split black gram
Once the black gram becomes golden brown, add the steamed beans, turmeric powder and salt
Mix well
Cover and cook for about 3 minutes or till spices are well blended into the beans (do not add water)
Stir occasionally
Now add the ground powder and cook on low flame for 6-7 minutes
Remove from flame and serve hot with brown/red rice

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