Usal is a generic term used to describe a lightly spiced curry made with whole lentils or beans, often sprouted. My mum was always making Usals of various kinds because my father loved them: matki (also known as moth beans) usal, mung, masur or lentil usal and black eyed bean usal. You can also make this with aduki beans or cowpeas.
Serves: 4 Sprouting time: 2-3 days Cooking Time: 30 minutes to 1 hour
You will need:
- 200g beans (Any whole bean that can be sprouted such as whole mung, lentil, moth/matki or black-eyed peas)
- 1 tbsp cooking oil
- 1 tsp black mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 pinch asafoetida
- 1 hot green chilli
- small bunch chopped coriander
- salt to your taste
- 1 tsp Deccan Tiffin Kolhapuri Masala (optional)
- 2 tbsp finely chopped red onion or spring onions
- Juice of 1 small lime
2-3 days before you want to make the usal, soak the beans overnight. Then drain and cover with a cloth. They should start sprouting the next day. Rinse and drain every evening. Cook when sprouts are 1-2 mm long which should be in 2-3 days. Longer is not a problem either, so you can cook them even 4-5 days after soaking.
When you are ready to cooking the beans, heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan that has a lid (I prefer a pressure cooker as its easier to cook beans in one) until it is very hot but not burning. Keeping the heat on high, add the mustard, let it pop, add cumin, let it sizzle and, if using chillies, add now and stir for 30 seconds. Turn the heat right down and add turmeric and asafoetida. Stir once and add the sprouted beans and double the quantity of water, add salt to taste, add half of the chopped coriander, add Deccan Tiffin Kolhapuri masala spice. Cook until beans are tender – the time taken will differ according to the beans used, the type of cooking appliance as well as the pot. Pressure cooking will be the quickest but cooking on a hob in a lidded pan will take at least 30 min for mung beans, whole lentils and whole black eyed beans. Garnish with remaining coriander, chopped onions and serve with a squeeze of lime on a bed of brown rice.