If you're Tamil or if you have read this blog for any length of time, you know all about Paruppu Usili, the side dish that makes healthy eating both decadent and delicious.
But if this is the first time you've heard about it, trust me, you're in for a treat.
There's really no way you can go wrong with this really simple, very traditional dish that rolls in the wonderfulness of veggies -- all kinds of them-- with the rich, nutty flavor of tiny lentil dumplings. I may have said this before on Holy Cow! but I'll say it again-- paruppu usili is perhaps my most favorite of all the amazing South Indian comfort foods I've learned from being married to a Tamil guy.
The basic paruppu usili paste for the dumplings (or rather crumbles) is a very simple one, and I often tweak it slightly to add more flavor to the vegetable I am using. For instance, I add a smidgen-- or more-- of garlic to my Broccoli Paruppu Usili, or sometimes I just go plain as with my Green Beans Paruppu Usili. In today's Cabbage Paruppu Usili, I added a teaspoon or so of sambar powder which took no effort but produced an amazing flavor.
Cabbage Paruppu Usili
- ½ head cabbage , finely shredded
- 1 tbsp vegetable oil
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp udad dal (black gram dal)
- Soak together for an hour: ¼ cup chana dal (bengal gram dal) and ¼ cup tuvar dal
- Place the dals in a blender , add enough water to keep the blades moving, and grind to a fine paste along with:
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- A generous pinch of asafetida (hing)
- 2 dry red chillies
- 1 tsp sambar powder
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- Remove the dal paste to a microwave-safe bowl. Microwave for 2 minutes. The paste would be cooked on top. Turn over with a spoon so the uncooked paste on the bottom is now on the top and microwave 2 more minutes.Set aside.
- In a cast-iron or non-stick skillet, heat the oil.
- Add the mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When they sputter, add udad dal and stir, allowing the dal to brown lightly, about 30 seconds to a minute.
- Add the cabbage and some salt. Stir-fry the cabbage on medium heat until it is beginning to get tender, about 5 minutes.
- Now, with your fingers, crumble the dal paste into the skillet over the cabbage.
- Continue to stir-fry the cabbage until it is quite tender but has a slight bite, and the dal dumplings are a couple of shades darker.
- Check salt and turn off heat.