Green Gram Beans with Coconut
SERVES 4 – 6
Legumes, known collectively as dhal, are—along with rice—the staff of life in south India, providing protein in a vegetarian diet. This recipe uses mung dhal, which has a distinctively sweet, earthy flavor and, when hulled and split, a golden color. See In the Kerala Kitchen for information on Indian ingredients.
1 cup hulled, split mung dhal (green gram beans)
3⁄4 cup finely grated fresh coconut or finely
shredded dried unsweetened coconut
1 fresh hot green chile (serrano or thai),
stemmed and split lengthwise
1⁄2 tsp. cumin seeds
1⁄4 tsp. turmeric
12 curry leaves
1 tsp. salt
1 tbsp. coconut oil
1⁄2 tsp. brown mustard seeds
1 whole dried hot red chile
1. Put mung dhal in a large skillet, and toast over medium-high heat, stirring constantly, until it turns golden and gives off a toasted aroma, 5–10 minutes. Transfer dhal to a strainer, and wash under cold running water to rinse off any excess dirt or dust, about 1 minute.
2. Put toasted dhal and 2 1⁄2 cups water in a medium saucepan, then bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer until soft and most of the dhal has broken down to a thick, lumpy consistency, 25–35 minutes.
3. Meanwhile, grind coconut, green chiles, cumin seeds, turmeric, 6 of the curry leaves, and just enough water (about 1⁄3 cup) in the jar of an electric blender to make a moist, thick paste. Add coconut mixture and salt to cooked dhal in pan, and mix well, adding a few tbsp. of water if needed, until mixture has the texture of thick split-pea soup. Increase heat to medium, and cook until just heated through, about 3 minutes, then remove from heat.
4. Melt coconut oil in a small skillet over medium-high heat, add mustard seeds, and cook until they begin to pop; then carefully add red chile and remaining 6 curry leaves (the leaves will produce an explosive spatter when they hit the hot oil). After curry leaves sputter for a few seconds, add mixture to dhal, and mix well. Add salt to taste.