Karamani Usili features quite often in our office canteen menu and I quite like Usili with rice and Rasam or rice and ground coconut Kuzhambu. Usili is a light, charming stir-fry that is usually made with green beans or yard long beans. You can make Usili with even cabbage or Fenugreek leaves (Methi). In making Usili, soaked dal (red gram) and whole dry red chillies are ground and then fried to a crisp crumbly golden mixture. This mixture is then combined with cooked beans to make the Usili. This Karamani Usili is pleasantly fresh and tasty – the tender crunchy beans pair beautifully well with the crumbly fried dal which adds lovely texture and flavour to the stir fry.
Usili is not part of our usual menu at home, this was a first. I made this for lunch today. My joint family doesn’t take kindly to changes and experimentation. My kids don’t take to vegetables at all. I braved all this for the Usili and I hope the Usili manages to win their hearts. Else I’ll have to eat Usili for dinner, lunch and again dinner to finish it up.
Prep time: 15 mins
Cooking time: 15 mins
Yard Long Beans – ½ kilo chopped fine
Toor dal/Red gram – ½ cup soaked for 2 hours or overnight
Whole dry Red chillies – 4 soaked along with the dal
Salt to taste
Oil – 3 tbsp + 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Asafoetida – a pinch
1. Rinse Toor dal well in 2-3 changes of water till the water runs clear. Then soak the dal and whole dry red chillies together for 2 hours or overnight if you can’t afford 2 hours soaking time during busy mornings.
2. Drain the water, and grind together the dal, chillies and a little salt adding very little water to a thick paste.
3. In a kadai/skillet, add 2 tablespoons of oil and when hot add the ground dal paste and fry. Keep stirring and scraping as the dal tends to stick to the bottom. Add one more tablespoon of oil and continue frying till the paste turns crumbly and is quite dry (like bread crumbs) but not hard – about 7-8 minutes. Remove on to a plate.
4. In the same skillet, add 1 tablespoon oil and when hot add mustard seeds and let splutter. Then throw in the curry leaves and asafoetida and sauté for about half a minute. Then add the chopped yard long beans (karamani) and mix well. Add very little water 2-3 tablespoons, of water, some salt and cook covered on low till the beans are cooked through – about 7-10 minutes. Open and cook on high so that the water evaporates.
5. When the beans is quite dry, add the fried dal mixture and mix well. Simmer on low for 2-3 minutes for the flavours to blend. Switch off. Serve hot with rice.