- Greens - 1-2 bunches (depending on the size), finely chopped
- Toor dal - 2 cups
- Tamarind - 1 lemon-size ball
- Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
- Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
- Asoefetedia - a pinch
- Urad dal - 1/2 tsp
- Fenugreek seeds - 1/2 tsp
- Dried red chillis - 2-4
- Green chillis - 2-4
- Curry leaves - 10
Healthy food. Tasty food. Comfort food. This is what we want on a daily basis. And as much as we like our pasta, cakes, etc, there is nothing that spells “comfort food” as the food we grew up eating.
I hail from a community known as those who speak “Tanjore Marathi”. No, I am not from Maharashtra. Yes, we do speak Marathi but a very different dialect from that spoken in Maharashtra. However, this post is not to discuss the community history. For that, you can click here. This post is to kick off a new series of recipes that we have grown up with. Very healthy, very light, full of steamed and roasted vegetables, lentils and mild spices.’
The first recipe I’m going to post is Ambat Bhaaji, which literally means “sour vegetables”. Ambat bhaaji typically consists of any leafy vegetable (greens or cabbage) in a tamarind-lentil gravy. My mom makes it with different varieties of greens such as amaranth (thandu keerai or dantin soppu) or cabbage. It is typically served with hot rice, ghee and fritters like vadams/sandige/fried buttermilk chillis (mor mollaga). The traditional and favourite accompaniment for this dish is a little bowl of “ponni-cha tel” which literally translates to tempering oil or tadka ka tel, which is nothing but a tempering of mustard seeds and urad dal in oil. The reason why this isn’t added to the dish but served separately is that the urad dal remains crunchy and adds a nice texture to the dish (for lack of a better word, it adds some “kadak-mudak”). It makes a wholesome and tasty meal with the greens and protein from dal. It is said to be a favourite dish of Sri Raghavendra Swamy and is therefore often prepared on Thursdays. However, I tend to prepare it on Mondays because I buy my veggies and greens on Sunday so its fresh on Monday. I also find that it goes well with chappatis. Best of all, it’s really simple provided you chop up your greens the previous day (which is also why this is a Monday dish for me).
So without further ado, here’s what you do:
- Soak the tamarind in half a cup of water.
- Pressure cook toor dal and keep aside.
- Wash the greens thoroughly.
- Squeeze the tamarind to extract the juice.
- Prepare tempering (tadka) by spluttering the mustard seeds and then adding other ingredients. Be sure not to burn anything coz it’ll taste bitter and bad!
- Add the chopped and washed greens to the tadka.
- Add the tamarind extract, salt, turmeric powder and allow the greens to cook.
- Once the greens are cooked, add the cooked toor dal and bring to a boil.
Now how easy was that? I hope this inspires you to try something new. Please vary the number of chillies according to your tastes and the spice level of the chillis. Also, you can substitute the red chillies in tadka with a spoon of sambhar powder if you prefer.
Update: On popular suggestion, I made daangar, the perfect accompaniment to ambat bhaaji last night. And here’s the recipe for you to try: Click!