Masala Sundal

Day 2 of school today. I drop them and come home. I feel an amazing sense of calm, at once peaceful and serene.  I do some wall push-ups, a couple of surya namaskars and sit down to sip my lemon and honey while reading the days paper. I remember an instance when I mentioned to a fellow mom (a house-wife) that it’s good that children will be away at school and she quickly retorted “For you maybe. You will anyway be away at office.” I didn’t understand then. And I don’t understand now. ‘Kids going to school’ is the best alternative for any mom, whether stay at home or office going, wouldn’t you think? It seems logical. Why would you prefer to watch Hattori, referee their fights and remind them for the 48th time to finish what’s on the plate? Over reading a book, or just being? It beats me. Did you wonder about the wall push ups? I am going to tell you anyways. I can’t explain  but I find doing push-ups one of the coolest things ever. I have never managed to myself. That scene in Irudhi suttru where Madhi does her one-handed push ups is one of my most favourite scenes. So my latest goal is to do push-ups, proper boxer kind of push ups, on the floor. I have given myself 30 days to do that. I am starting with wall push ups. I will then move on to inclined push ups and finally to real push ups. I read something in a book recently, something simple and inherently logical that suddenly made tremendous sense to me. If you were to pick something you want to learn, anything at all and if you do it every day for 30 days, at the end of that period, you would have mastered it. Don’t pick Bharatanatyam (this is no Shankar movie) or Karate. Pick something small, something specific. It could be making perfectly cooked rice (my Maamiyaar still doesn’t think I make it right), it could be waking up early, it could be reading 100 pages each day, it could be learning to whistle, it could be anything. I will let you know how it goes with the push ups.  In the meantime, here is a recipe to the much loved Masala sundal sold at roadside kadais and at the beach. It is so simple to make in a pressure...

Paruppu Kadayal / Dal Tadka / Lentil Stew

This Paruppu kadayal is comfort food as I’ve always known it. This Dal/Paruppu goes beautifully with rice and is perfect for toddlers, kids and all ages. Packed with nutrition, simple and quick to make, it is my number one choice (over Sambar anyday) when I am preparing a vegetarian meal. By the way I am terribly bored with Sambar these days and I would do anything to get out of eating it. What with all these festivals, Sambar is the default and it is taking its toll. Kanne Kattudhu! I grew up with Paruppu Rasam saadam where the Paruppu is even more basic. It is just cooked with turmeric and salt until soft and then mashed and tempered. This is served with rice and a hot milagu (pepper) rasam. However this paruppu kadayal/lentil stew doesn’t need a rasam. You can serve this with rice and a generous helping of melted ghee along with appalam (or vathal/vatral) and vegetables. Simple, hearty and tasty home-food at its best. Prep time: 10 minsCooking time: 20 minsServes: 4 Ingredients Toor Dal/Tuvaram paruppu/Red gram – 1 cup rinsed in 2-3 changes of waterShallots/Sambar onions – 10-12 peeled and chopped or 1 Large onion choppedGreen chillies – 3-4 slit lengthwiseGarlic – 7 cloves peeled Tomato – 1 large choppedTurmeric powder – ½ tspAsafoetida – a pinchSalt to tasteWater – 1-3/4 cupsCoriander leaves – a handful chopped Tempering Oil – 2 tbspMustard seeds – 1 tspGarlic – 7 cloves peeled and sliced lengthwise Cumin – ½ tsp Method 1.      Rinse the dal/lentils in 2-3 changes of water till the water runs clear. Transfer the lentils to a pressure cooker. Add chopped shallots, tomatoes and whole garlic cloves to the lentils. Add about 1-3/4 cups water. Season with turmeric powder, salt and Asafoetida. Add the slit green chillies. Close and pressure cook up to 2 whistles or 15 minutes. 2.      When the pressure subsides, open and mash the dal. Set aside. 3.      In a kadai or small tempering pan, add oil and when hot, add the mustard seeds. When they have spluttered, add the cumin and sliced garlic. Fry on low heat till the garlic is golden. Dump the tempering mixture over the dal and mix well. Stir in the coriander leaves and serve hot with rice and ghee.
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