Chana Dal Panki| Gujarati Lentil Pancake In A Banana Leaf

Have you ever tasted a Panki? It is a beautiful, delicate thing, a sort of pancake that is cooked in a banana leaf. Today, I am going to share with you all the recipe for Chana Dal Panki, i.e. Panki made using soaked and ground chana dal.

Chana Dal Panki

What is Panki, actually?

As mentioned earlier, Panki refers to batter cooked in a banana leaf, on a pan.
A heritage recipe from the state of Gujarat, Panki can be prepared using different ingredients – the traditional versions are made using rice flour, lentils and the like, while the more modern ones experiment with things like corn and moong sprouts.

A well-made Panki tastes absolutely lovely, and is a treat to the tastebuds, with the banana leaf imparting its fragrance to the dish. It is a healthy and wholesome dish too – only the banana leaf is greased, there is no oil used in the Panki batter as such. It is, therefore, practically oil-free.

Paan‘ is Gujarati for ‘leaf’, and this dish gets its name from the fact that it is cooked in one. Considering how delicious and wholesome Panki is, I think it completely deserves to have more of the spotlight focused on it. Sadly, it is one of the lesser-known Gujarati delicacies, as opposed to other things like Dhokla, Khaman, Gujarati Dal and the Gujarati Thali.

What goes into Chana Dal Panki?

Chana Dal is soaked, then ground, to make the batter for this Panki. Ginger and green chillies add a lovely flavour to the batter, as do the curd and bit of jaggery that also go in.

This is a no-onion, no-garlic recipe, with no oil being used in the batter. It is vegetarian, but NOT vegan or plant-based because of the use of curd. It is gluten-free as well.

#TavaTales on Foodie Monday Blog Hop

I am sharing this recipe with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop.

The Foodie Monday Blog Hop is a group of passionate food bloggers who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every Monday. The theme this week is #TavaTales, wherein all of us are sharing delectable dishes cooked on a pan.

Kalyani of Sizzling Tastebuds was the one who suggested this week’s theme. Kalyani’s blog is a treasure of traditional South Indian foods, healthy salads and bakes, and several kid-friendly recipes. You guys should check out the enticing Tawa Paneer Tikka she has prepared for the theme – soooo yum!

Chana Dal Panki recipe

Making Chana Dal Panki is not a very difficult task at all. With a little prior preparation and minimal ingredients, it is possible to make this within a matter of minutes.

Here’s how we make Chana Dal Panki at home.

Ingredients (makes 6 pieces):

  1. 1 cup chana dal
  2. 1-1/2 green chillies
  3. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  4. Salt to taste
  5. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  6. 2 tablespoons curd
  7. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander
  8. 1 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste
  9. Oil as needed for greasing the leaves
  10. 2 big banana leaves

Method:

Top left: Soaked and drained chana dal, Top right: Step 2, Centre left and right: Step 3 and 4, Bottom left and right: Steps 5 and 6

1. Wash the chana dal under running water a couple of times. Drain out all the water. Add in just enough fresh water to cover the chana dal and soak, covered, for 4-6 hours or overnight.

2. When the chana dal is done soaking, drain out the water from it. Transfer the soaked dal to a mixer jar. Add in the salt to taste, turmeric powder and jaggery powder.

3. Peel the ginger and chop roughly. Chop the green chillies roughly. Add the chopped ginger and chillies to the mixer jar.

4. Add the curd to the mixer jar.

5. Grind all the ingredients in the mixer jar together, adding a little water. You should get a batter that is runny but not too watery.

6. Mix the chopped coriander into the batter. Keep ready.

Top left and right: Steps 7 and 8, Centre left and right: Step 9, Bottom left and right: Steps 9 and 10

7. Now, fold each banana leaf into two length-wise, along the stem. Using a pair of scissors, cut the folded-up halves into three equal pieces – so, totally, you will have 6 pieces which can be opened up.

8. Grease one of these leaf pieces with a little oil.

9. Get a dosa pan nice and hot, then reduce the flame to medium. Place half of a leaf piece on it, greased side up. Pour about 4 tablespoons of the batter on one side of the leaf. Gently spread it out with a spoon. Close the other half of the leaf over the batter – in such a way that the greased side is touching the batter. Now, gently press down on the top part using a spatula, enabling the batter to spread out between the leaves.

10. Cook on medium flame till the bottom of the leaf starts getting brown. Flip the entire thing over to the other side, using a spatula.

11. Cook on medium flame till the other side starts getting brown too. Transfer to a serving plate. Serve the ready Panki with green coriander chutney.

12. Prepare about 6 Panki in a similar fashion, using up all the leaf pieces and batter. Serve hot.

Tips & Tricks

1. Use fresh banana leaves to cook the Chana Dal Panki. In the absence of these, large almond leaves can be used.

2. Each piece of banana leaf can be re-used 2-3 times to cook the Panki.

3. Do not add too much of water to the batter. Make sure the batter is neither too watery nor too thick.

4. Sour curd makes the Chana Dal Panki taste lovely, in my opinion. Adjust the quantity of curd you use as per personal taste preferences.

5. Use more or less green chillies, depending upon your spice preferences.

6. Make sure you cook the Chana Dal Panki on a medium flame, to ensure even cooking and to prevent the leaves from burning.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Moru Sambar| No-Tamarind Sambar With Yogurt

Moru Sambar is an ancient dish from Tamilnadu, a variation to the regular sambar. Unlike the usual sambar, this one is made without any tamarind – buttermilk is used as the souring agent instead. Toor dal and vegetables go in too, just like in a sambar prepared the regular way. The flavour comes from freshly roasted and ground spices and coconut.

A closer look at the Moru Sambar

‘Moru’ is Tamil for ‘buttermilk’ and, hence, ‘Moru Sambar‘ refers to sambar made using watered-down yogurt. It is a delicious preparation, and makes for a nice change from the usual sambar and rasam varieties. It is different from Morekozhambu and More Kootu, two other heritage Tamilnadu dishes.

Moru Sambar is not a very difficult thing to put together at all. Here, I have shared my family recipe for this dish – it was my grandmother’s specialty, and the recipe below outlines the way she used to make it. Don’t be daunted by the length of the proceedure – I have merely tried to explain everything in detail so that the going is as easy as can be, for you guys.

A-Z Recipe Challenge


I am sharing this recipe for Moru Sambar in association with the A-Z Recipe Challenge.

The A-Z Recipe Challenge is undertaken by a group of passionate food bloggers. Every month, the participants showcase dishes that use ingredients in alphabetical order from A to Z. The letter for this month is Y, and I chose to put up this recipe that uses ‘yogurt’ as the central ingredient.

How to make Moru Sambar

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

To roast and grind:

1. 1/2 teaspoon oil

2. 1-1/2 tablespoon chana dal

3. 1-1/2 tablespoon coriander seeds

4. 4 dry red chillies or as per taste

5. A pinch of fenugreek seeds

6. 1/4 cup fresh coconut

Other ingredients:

1. 1/2 cup toor dal

2. 1 cup thick sour yogurt (curd)

3. 1 teaspoon rice flour

4. 12-15 okra (ladies’ finger)

5. 1/2 tablespoon + 1/2 tablespoon oil

6. Salt to taste

7. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

9. Red chilli powder to taste (optional)

10. 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves

11. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

For the tempering:

1. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

2. 2 pinches of asafoetida

3. 2-3 dry red chillies

4. A pinch of fenugreek seeds

Method:

1. Wash the toor dal thoroughly. Drain out all the water.

2. Pressure cook the washed and drained toor dal with enough water to cover it, for 7-8 whistles on high flame. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. Cut off the tops of the okra. Then, chop them into 1-inch pieces.

4. Next, we will roast the ingredients required to make the spice paste for this dish. Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the chana dal, fenugreek seeds, coriander seeds and dry red chillies. Roast on medium flame till the dal starts browning, taking care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn. Now, keeping the flame at medium, add in the fresh coconut and roast for a minute more. Transfer all the roasted ingredients to a plate and allow them to cool down completely.

5. Take the sour yogurt in a mixing bowl. Add in the rice flour and about 1/2 cup of water. Whisk well together. Keep aside.

6. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, get the cooked toor dal out. The dal should be well cooked and soft, with no hardness to it. Mash the cooked toor dal well. Keep aside.

7. When all the roasted ingredients have completely cooled down, transfer them to a small mixer jar. Grind everything together to a smooth paste, with a little water. Keep aside.

8. Now, we will start preparing the Moru Sambar. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in the same pan we used earlier. Add in the okra pieces and sprinkle a bit of salt over them. Turn the flame down to medium.

9. Cook the okra on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till they are completely cooked. They will shrivel and change colour.

10. Add the cooked toor dal to the pan at this stage, still keeping the flame at medium.

11. Also add in the spice paste we ground earlier. Mix well.

12. Add in the salt to taste and turmeric powder. Add red chilli powder if using.

13. Add in the curry leaves. Also add in about 1 cup of water or as needed.

14. Cook everything together on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the mixture thickens. Now, switch off gas and allow the mixture to cool down a bit – wait for 7-10 minutes.

15. With the flame still off, add the yogurt mixture to the pan. Stir constantly while adding it in.

16. Now, keep the pan on low-medium flame and let it get heated up. Stirring intermittently, wait for the mixture to come to a simmer, 4-5 minutes. Switch off gas after the mixture has simmered for about 2 minutes. The Moru Sambar is almost ready. Mix in the finely chopped coriander.

17. Lastly, we will prepare the tempering. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in a small tempering pan. Add in the mustard and allow it to sputter. Add in the fenugreek seeds, asafoetida and dry red chillies. Let the ingredients stay in the hot oil for a couple of seconds, then pour the tempering onto the prepared Moru Sambar. It is now ready to serve – serve it hot with steamed rice and a poriyal of your choice.

Is this a vegan and gluten-free recipe?


This Moru Sambar is not vegan (plant-based) because of the use of dairy yogurt in it. The yogurt is an important component of the sambar, and cannot be missed. I have not tried making this with non-dairy yogurt, so not sure if that would work.

Because of the use of asafoetida, this is not a gluten-free dish either. Most Indian brands of asafoetida contain wheat flour to a lesser or greater extent and are, hence, best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. To make this dish completely gluten-free, simply skip the asafoetida that is used in the tempering. If you can find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, you could definitely use it.

Tips & Tricks

1. Use yogurt prepared from full-fat milk for best results. Also, it’s best if the yogurt is sour. I have used home-made thick yogurt (aka curd) here.

2. Adjust the quantity of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the Moru Sambar that you require. Ideally, the Moru Sambar should be moderately thick – neither too watery nor too thick.

3. If the yogurt is not sour enough, you may add in a little tamarind paste. However, this is purely optional. If using tamarind paste, add it in along with the cooked toor dal and the spice paste.

4. I have used a mix of the not-so-spicy Bydagi dry red chillies and the hot Salem Gundu dry red chillies in the spice paste. Adjust the number of chillies you use as per personal taste preferences.

5. The red chilli powder is optional. Use it only if you feel the heat from the dry red chillies is not enough.

6. The yogurt, water and rice flour should be whisked well together. Do ensure this.

7. To prevent the yogurt mixture from splitting, please follow the steps exactly as stated above. Allow the mixture to cool down a little before adding the yogurt mixture to it with the gas switched off, stirring constantly. Then, heat it all up gently on a low flame.

8. I have used okra aka ladies’ finger here, to make the Moru Sambar. You may use other vegetables too – drumsticks and brinjals work really well.

9. Ghee can be used in the tempering, instead of the oil I have used here. However, stick to oil and don’t use ghee if you want the Moru Sambar to be vegan (plant-based).

10. Wheat flour can be used in the buttermilk, instead of the rice flour used in the above recipe. However, avoid using wheat flour – stick to rice flour – in case you want to keep the dish gluten-free.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

One-Pot Kala Chana Masala| Black Chickpea Pressure Cooker Curry

Kala Chana Masala is a beauty of a dish made using black chickpeas, a flavourful gravy that is a family favorite. With pooris, naan, rotis or parathas – just about any kind of flatbread – it makes for a wonderful accompaniment. We love slurping this up with some hot steamed rice too. Today, I am going to share with you all the recipe for this dish, the way I make it.

All of us at home are big fans of the rustic, earthy texture of black chickpeas aka kala chana. We love the way they lend themselves beautifully to a variety dishes. I have already shared the Pani Poori recipe and Kala Chana Nu Rasavalu Shaak in which we often use these chickpeas, and now there’s this one.

One-Pot Kala Chana Masala

What goes into Kala Chana Masala?

Black chickpeas are the main ingredient, of course, cooked in a tomato and onion gravy. The home-made Punjabi chana masala powder that goes into it elevates the flavour quotient by several notches. It is finished with a touch of kasoori methi i.e. dried fenugreek leaves and some fresh coriander.

There are no fancy ingredients in this curry, no thickening agent, no artificial additives – only honest to God ingredients. Yet, this Kala Chana Masala gravy turns out delightfully thick and very, very delicious.

It is not a very difficult dish to prepare. You do need some prior preparation, in terms of soaking the black chickpeas overnight. Once that is done, though, it is a simple thing to put together. What I have shared here is a one-pot recipe, which can be easily made in a pressure cooker.

#FamilyFavorite at Foodie Monday Blog Hop

I am sharing this recipe in association with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop.

The Foodie Monday Blog Hop is a group of passionate food bloggers who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every Monday. The theme this Monday is #FamilyFavorite, wherein all of us are showcasing recipes that are hits in our respective families.

Aruna, a very talented cook and the author of Vasu’s Veg Kitchen, was the one who suggested the theme this week. Check out the lovely home-made chocolates that Aruna has prepared for the theme – I’m soooo tempted to give them a go myself!


How to make One-Pot Kala Chana Masala

Here is how I make it.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 1 cup black chickpeas
  2. 4 medium-sized tomatoes
  3. 1 small onion
  4. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  5. 5-6 garlic cloves
  6. 1/2 tablespoon oil
  7. 3/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  8. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  9. Salt to taste
  10. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  11. Red chilli powder to taste
  12. 2-3 teaspoons chana masala or to taste
  13. 3/4 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste
  14. 1/2 tablespoon kasoori methi
  15. 1 tablespoon finely chopped coriander

Method:

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Below top right: Step 3, Bottom left and right: Step 4

1. Soak the black chickpeas in enough water to cover them fully, for 8-10 hours or overnight.


2. When the chickpeas are done soaking, drain out all the water from them. Transfer them to a wide vessel. Add in fresh water, about an inch above the chickpeas. Place the vessel in the pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for 5 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.


3. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, get the cooked chickpeas out. You know that they are done when you are able to crush them entirely between two fingers – there should be no hardness. Retain the water in which the chickpeas were cooked, too.


4. Now, chop the tomatoes finely. Peel the onion, ginger and garlic and chop roughly. Grind the tomatoes, ginger, onion and garlic together to a smooth puree. Keep aside. 

Top left and right: Steps 5 and 6, Below top right: Step 7, Bottom left and right: Steps 8 and 9

5. Now we will start preparing the One-Pot Kala Chana Masala. Heat the oil in a pressure cooker bottom and add in the cumin. Allow it to sputter. Add in the asafoetida and let it stay in for a couple of seconds.

6. Add the tomato puree to the cooker. Turn the flame down to medium. Cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the raw smell of the paste is completely gone. Stir intermittently.

7. Add salt to taste and the turmeric powder.

8. Add in the red chilli powder.

9. Also add in the cooked black chickpeas, along with the water they were cooked in. Add in 1/2 cup of water or as needed. Mix well.

Top left and right: Step 10, Below top right: Step 11, Bottom left: The gravy, after pressure cooking, Bottom right: Step 12

10. Add in the chana masala and jaggery powder. Mix well. Taste and adjust salt and spices.

11. Close the pressure cooker. Allow 2 whistles on high flame. Let the pressure release naturally.

12. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, mix in the finely chopped coriander. Crush the kasoori methi roughly between the palms of your hands and mix it in too. Your One-Pot Kala Chana Masala is ready – serve it with hot with flatbread of your choice or steamed rice.

Is this a vegan and gluten-free recipe?

This is a completely vegetarian recipe, one that is vegan as well. It is suitable for those following a plant-based diet.

To make this gluten-free, simply skip the asafoetida used in the recipe. Most Indian brands of asafoetida do contain wheat flour to a lesser or greater extent and are, therefore, best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet.

The home-made chana masala I have used here is vegan and gluten-free as well. However, if you are using a store-bought spice blend, do ensure that the ingredients used therein suit your dietary requirements.

Tips & Tricks

1. You may skip adding the jaggery, though I would personally recommend it. The little amount of jaggery used does not make the Kala Chana Masala sweet, but rounds off the other flavours beautifully.

2. I have used home-made Punjabi chana masala powder here. You may use a store-bought version instead, too.

3. Adjust the amount of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the Kala Chana Masala you require.

4. The chana masala I have used here has some amount of tanginess to it. I have also used the tart ‘Nati‘ (country) tomatoes here as opposed to the ‘farmed’ ones. Hence, I did not need to use lemon juice or any other souring agent. However, if you need to, you may add in some amchoor powder or lemon juice to taste.

5. I have used a large 7.5-litre pressure cooker here.

6. After the cooked chickpeas are added in, you may do away with the pressure cooking. In that case, simply cook uncovered on medium flame for about 5 minutes or till the gravy thickens. I prefer the pressure cooker method, though.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me in your comments!

Malai Kulfi| Creamy Kulfi Without Cornflour

Malai Kulfi is an evergreen classic in the world of frozen delicacies. I’m sure the simple dessert has many fans – I’m definitely one of them!

Today, let me share with you all how to make absolutely divine, creamy and delectable Malai Kulfi at home from scratch. The best part – it is made using natural ingredients, with no cornflour, store-bought cream, condensed milk or other processed ingredients. This is how my mom used to make it back when I was a school-going kid, and things like cornflour and condensed milk weren’t big. It’s such a simple thing to make, to be honest, with just the bare minimum of ingredients.

Delectable Malai Kulfi

It’s raining frozen delights at the Shhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge

I am sharing this recipe in association with the Shhhh Cooking Challenge.

The Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge is a group of food bloggers who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every month. The theme for this month, suggested by Pavani of Pavani’s Kitchen, is ‘Frozen Delights’. I’m drooling, looking at the gorgeous Easy Oreo Ice Cream that Pavani has created for the theme. I’m soooo trying it out!

For those of you who are interested, I’ll tell you about how the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge works. Every month, the group members are divided into pairs. Each pair then goes on to exchange two ingredients, unknown to the rest of the group. The pair has to use these ‘secret’ ingredients in creating a recipe that fits the theme of the month. Isn’t that super interesting?

I was paired with Narmadha, the warm and bubbly author of Nams Corner, for the month. She suggested I make a frozen food using ‘cardamom’ and ‘rose essence,’ and here I am with this Malai Kulfi recipe! I gave Narmadha ‘sugar’ and ‘raw mango’ as her secret ingredients, and she made these absolutely brilliant Raw Mango Popsicles using them.

How to make Malai Kulfi

Here is how I make it.
Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. 1 litre full-fat milk
  2. 1/3 cup sugar or to taste
  3. 20 cashewnuts
  4. 3/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
  5. 4-5 drops of rose essence (optional)
  6. 5-6 almonds for garnishing (optional)
  7. A generous pinch of saffron threads for garnishing (optional)

Method:

1. Take the milk in a heavy-bottomed pan. Place on high flame. Allow the milk to come to a boil, which should take about 5-6 minutes.

2. Add the sugar to the pan. Mix well. Reduce flame to low-medium. Allow the sugar to get completely dissolved in the milk. Taste and adjust sugar if needed.

3. Take the cashewnuts in a small mixer jar. Powder them coarsely.

4. Keeping the flame at low-medium, add the coarsely powdered cashewnuts to the milk, stirring constantly.

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Bottom left and right: Steps 3 and 4

5. Continue to cook the milk at low-medium flame for a good 15-20 minutes or till it is well reduced and thick. Stir intermittently. Cream will form on the sides of the pan – scrape it back into the pan with a spatula. When the milk has reduced more than half of its original volume, switch off the gas.

6. Mix in the cardamom powder.

7. Mix in the rose essence, if using.

8. Allow the milk mixture to cool down completely. Now, transfer to a clean, dry, air-tight freezer box. Place in the freezer. Freeze for at least 4-6 hours, after which the Malai Kulfi will be ready. Cut into slices using a knife and serve immediately, garnished with saffron threads and chopped almonds (if using).

Top left and right: Steps 5 and 6, Bottom right and left: Steps 7 and 8

Tips & Tricks

1. Use full-fat milk for best results. I have used Nandini full-cream milk here.

2. The rose essence is optional, but I would highly recommend using it. I think it elevates the appeal of the Malai Kulfi quite a bit. If you are sceptical about using essence, use a 100% natural brand that does not contain any chemicals.

3. I have used cashewnut powder here to thicken the milk. You may use almond powder or cornflour instead.

4. Adjust the quantity of sugar you use as per personal taste preferences.

5. Make sure you use a heavy-bottomed pan to cook the milk.

6. I have used home-made cardamom powder here. I grind a good handful of cardamom to a fine powder, along with the skins, and store it in an air-tight bottle. I use it as required. You may use store-bought cardamom powder instead, too.

7. You may add some finely chopped almonds to the milk, while it is reducing. I have not done so.

8. Make sure the milk mixture has thickened well and it has reduced more than half of its original volume. Only then will the Malai Kulfi be creamy and delicious and set beautifully.

9. Make sure the milk mixture has completely cooled down before you go about freezing it.

10. I have used a simple, air-tight stainless steel box to freeze the Malai Kulfi. You may use a plastic or Tupperware freezer box instead, or use kulfi moulds.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Parangikkai Rasavangi| Pumpkin Rasavangi

Rasavangi‘ is a heritage dish from the state of Tamilnadu, a flavourful gravy that is usually consumed with rice. Today, I’m sharing with you all our family recipe for Parangikkai Rasavangi, or Rasavangi made using red pumpkin.

Parangikkai Rasavangi – a treat to the tastebuds!

History of the Rasavangi

The Rasavangi is believed to have originated in Tanjore, Tamilnadu. The Marathas, who ruled the town of Tanjore for some time, were known for experimenting with locally available ingredients and coming up with several unique dishes of their own. It is said that the Rasavangi is one such dish invented by the Tanjore Marathas. Today, this is quite a common preparation in several Tamil Brahmin homes.

Rasa‘ is Marathi for ‘gravy’ and ‘vangi‘ is ‘brinjal’. Hence, the Rasavangi is a gravy that was traditionally made using brinjals or eggplants (‘kathrikkai‘ in Tamil). However, Rasavangi made using ashgourd or white pumpkin (‘poosanikkai‘ in Tamil) is also quite popular. My grandmother would prepare beautiful Rasavangi using red pumpkin (‘parangikkai‘ in Tamil), and two generations down the line, we continue to do so. The recipe I am sharing today for Parangikkai Rasavangi is my grandmother’s, the way we have learnt it from her.


A closer look at the Parangikkai Rasavangi

Rasavangi is made with a fragrant, freshly ground spice mix – lentils, dry red chillies and coriander seeds roasted till fragrant and then ground with coconut. Along with whatever vegetable you choose to use, there’s toor dal that goes into it, providing body to the gravy. There’s a hint of sweetness from jaggery, tamarind extract souring it. Can you imagine the rich flavours this gravy holds? It’s definitely a treat to the tastebuds, and not very difficult to put together too.

The light sweetness of the red pumpkin is a perfect complement to the coconut, jaggery and tamarind that goes into the gravy, making it a wonderful candidate for Rasavangi. Sometimes, whenever I have been able to get my hands on it, I have used butternut squash in Rasavangi instead of the regular Indian red pumpkin, and it has been a brilliant substitute. Here, though, I have used baby pumpkins that I picked up at Namdhari’s.

Rasavangi turns out so flavourful that is much loved even by people who aren’t fans of eggplant or pumpkin. It’s just a great foil to disguise these veggies, I say! It is a close cousin of the Arachuvitta Sambar, Pavakkai Pitlai and Kootu that are a few other oft-prepared things in Tamilian households. It usually has a thick consistency, thicker than sambar, and is a lovely companion to steamed rice. I know many who love eating Rasavangi with dosa, adai and rotis too.

How to make Parangikkai Rasavangi


Here’s how we make it.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 2 baby red pumpkins, 3 cups when peeled, cleaned and chopped
  2. 1/2 teaspoon + 1/2 tablespoon oil
  3. A small lemon-sized ball of tamarind
  4. 1-1/2 tablespoons chana dal
  5. 2 tablespoons coriander seeds
  6. 4-5 dry red chillies
  7. 1/2 cup fresh coconut
  8. 1/2 cup toor dal
  9. Salt to taste
  10. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  11. 3/4 to 1 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste
  12. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  13. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  14. 2 sprigs of curry leaves

Method:

1. Soak the tamarind in boiling water for at least 15 minutes, for it to soften. Let it get cool enough to handle.

2. Peel the pumpkin and remove the seeds and strings. Chop into large cubes.

3. Wash the toor dal well under running water. Drain out all the water. Take the washed and drained toor dal in a wide vessel and add in enough fresh water to cover it fully. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Cook on high flame for 7-8 whistles or till the toor dal is completely cooked, soft and mushy. Let the pressure release naturally.

4. Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the chana dal, dry red chillies and coriander seeds. Turn the flame down to medium. Roast the ingredients till the lentils turn brown and start emitting a lovely aroma. Take care to ensure that the ingredients do not burn. Transfer the roasted ingredients to a plate and allow them to cool down completely.

Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Below top right: Step 3, Bottom left and right: Step 4

5. When the tamarind has completely cooled down, extract all the juice out of it. Use fresh water as needed to help with the process of extraction. I had about 3/4 cup of tamarind extract.

6. When the roasted ingredients have fully cooled down, transfer them to a small mixer jar. Add in the coconut. Grind everything together to a paste, along with about 1/4 cup water.

7. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, get the cooked toor dal out. Mash the toor dal thoroughly, with a masher.

Top left: Step 5, Top right and below: Step 6, Bottom left and right: Step 7

8. Heat 1/2 tablespoon oil in the same pan we used earlier for roasting. Add in the mustard seeds and allow them to sputter. Add in the asafoetida and curry leaves. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

9. Add the pumpkin cubes to the pan, along with a little salt and the turmeric powder. Mix well and reduce flame to medium.

10. Add in about 1/2 cup of water. Close the pan with a lid.

11. Cook covered on medium flame for about 4 minutes or till the pumpkin is cooked through. Do not make it overly mushy. Open the lid intermittently to check on the pumpkin, and add in more water if needed.

12. At this stage, add in the tamarind extract. Continue to cook, uncovered, on medium flame for 2 more minutes or till the raw smell of the tamarind goes away.

Top right and left: Steps 8 and 9, Bottom left and right: Steps 11 and 12

13. Add in the jaggery, cooked toor dal and the ground coconut paste. Mix well. Taste and adjust salt.

14. Cook uncovered on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the mixture starts thickening. Add in some water if the mixture gets too thick. Switch off gas when the mixture is still a bit runny, as it thickens upon cooling. Your Parangikkai Rasavangi is ready. Serve with steamed rice.

Top left and right, below top right: Step 13, Bottom left: Step 14

Tips & Tricks

  1. I have used baby red pumpkins here, which I picked up from Namdhari’s. Butternut squash goes beautifully in this dish too. You may use the regular, commonly available Indian red pumpkin instead, too.
  2. In case you are using butternut squash, refer to this post to understand how to peel, clean and chop it.
  3. Adjust the amount of jaggery you use as per personal taste preferences. If the pumpkin is very sweet, you may skip adding the jaggery or use very little.
  4. Adjust the quantity of tamarind, dry red chillies and salt as per personal taste preferences.
  5. Adjust the amount of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the Rasavangi you require.
  6. Brinjal (eggplant, ‘kathrikkai‘ in Tamil) or white pumpkin (ash gourd, ‘poosanikkai‘ in Tamil) can be used in place of red pumpkin used in this recipe.
  7. You may pressure cook the pumpkin for one whistle instead of cooking them in a pan like I have done here. Make sure they don’t turn overly mushy.
  8. Some families add black peppercorns and fenugreek seeds to the spices that are roasted and ground. We don’t.
  9. I have used a mix of the very spicy Salem Gundu and the less hot Bydagi dry red chillies here. You may use any variety you prefer.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!