My mother had always been very fond of cooking. My father on the other hand loved to eat good food and was a voracious eater. (Very early in life I learnt that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach.) As for me, I intensely disliked food and the dining table was a war zone where my parents and I fought in vain over how much I should eat. Tears and furious words punctuated every meal. No matter how delectable the dish, I could not be lured to consume it. I was taken to a doctor who told my mother that as long as I was an active child I should be allowed to eat whatever I wished, whenever I did. Then on, left to my own choices, I found myself increasingly drawn towards good food.
Chilies, however have always been my Achilles Heel. I find food tastes better loaded with the hot stuff. However, I am aware that not many people share my propensity for this spicy little vegetable, so I consciously desist from using too many chilies in my cooking. My flirtation with chilies began when I was around ten years old. My father had a peculiar predilection for whole lentils ( whole moong dal to be specific). On the other hand I disliked that thick concoction immensely. ( needless to say I love it now )
Whenever this curry was made I would refuse to eat my lunch. My mother would then lovingly squeeze together tamarind, green chilies, salt and sugar to make a thick chutney. She would then feed me the moong dal and rice with this Hot and Sweet tamarind chutney. I always ate double the usual quantity on those days. Given below are the recipes for both whole moong dal curry and tamarind chutney.
Whole Moong Dal Curry
- One cup Moong dal whole (unhusked and unbroken)
- Two handfuls of grated coconut
- One teaspoonful of cumminseeds
- Half a teaspoon of turmeric
- Salt to taste
- Half an onion sliced fine
- One green chili
- Two teaspoons of pure home made ghee (clarified butter)
Boil the dal in a pressure cooker for fifteen minutes after the whistle or till the dal is done. The dal should not appear separate from the water in it. Grind together to a fine paste the grated coconut with the cumminseeds and the turmeric. Add this paste to the boiled dal and boil once again until the dal and the paste are well blended. Take the dal off the fire. Heat the ghee in a frying pan and add the onions. Fry onions till they are brown, add the green chili. Pour over the cooked dal immediately. Serve hot with boiled rice and Tamarind chutney.
- One lime sized ball of Tamarind
- Two green chilies chopped(more if you so desire)
- Half a teaspoon of salt
- Two teaspoons of sugar
- Half a cup of hot water
Mix all the ingredients together in a bowl and gently squeeze the tamarind, chilies, salt, sugar and hot water together with your fingers until the mixture attains a thick jam like consistency. Serve with the Moong Dal Curry and Rice. A small plate of cucumber salad and a glass of freshly squeezed lemonade would raise this simple meal to a gourmand’s delight.