This is one of those super healthy dishes that still taste fantastic. It is very simple to make the recipe and your body will thank you for the wonderful nutrition.
The base of the curry is earthy mung beans that are complemented beautifully by the herby amaranth leaves. The simple temper adds a touch of mild spice and the flash of ghee pulls this dish together. This is an everyday dish for home, but I like to pepper my elaborate dinners with simple elegant dishes to keep the meal healthy.
This is one of the first cookbooks that I bought about 30 years ago, I was craving good South Indian cuisine when I moved to Philadelphia for my degree. We have cooked through most of the recipes in this cookbook, each one delicious, it helped us remember our lives in India while we assimilated in the US. This cookbook is always the first to come out when we crave this cuisine, and of course, led me to get every other cookbook written by Chandra Padmanabhan.
For more recipes from this cookbook, click here.
1/4 cup green mung beans, whole or split, soaked in 2 cups water overnight
3 cups water
Salt, to taste
2-3 bunches of green amaranth leaves, stemmed and washed thoroughly
For the temper:
3 tablespoons ghee
1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon split black gram dal (urad dal)
1 dried red chilli
A generous pinch of asafoetida
NOTE: you can substitute spinach, or gongura (sorrel), or other greens of your choice to make this dish.
Rinse out the soaked mung beans and boil in the 3 cups of salted water till cooked through and soft, about 20-30 minutes. Cook the lentils down to a consistency you like, runnier if you are enjoying it with rice and a bit thicker for chapattis or bread.
While the mung beans are cooking, blanch the amaranth leaves in 2 cups of salted water till a bright colour, about 2 minutes. Drain and cool in cold water to stop the cooking. You want the leaves to look fresh, if overcooked, they will turn a drab grey. Drain and chop very finely, working the knife through the leaves till they are very fine. The original recipe calls for the leaves to be puréed, but I prefer to chop them for visual effect.
Once the beans are well cooked, add the amaranth leaves in and take off the heat. Mix the chopped leaves in well. Taste and adjust the salt.
Heat the ghee in a small vessel and add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and urad dal. Fry for 1 minute and add the red chillies and asafoetida. Stir once and pour over the curry. Stir in till well incorporated and serve immediately.
If you want to prepare the curry ahead of time, stop at the point after you add the amaranth leaves to the curry. To serve, heat the curry till boiling, add the temper and serve immediately.