Beerakaya Pappu: Dakhani daily
The people of Telangana and Andhra are similar and different in many ways. Like the British and Americans, they are two people divided by a common language 🙂
One of the things they both excel at is the amazing array of “pappu” they whip up. Pappu means dal in Telugu. I present a recipe for the “Beerakaya pappu”, ridge-gourd with lentils. It is an absolute massage to the soul. Typically spooned on top of rice, can be had with roti, or if you’re like me, I simply pour it into a bowl and eat it (call it a soup if you are really compelled to call it something).
Here is a OPOS (One Pot One Shot) method I used to make it yesterday (I have added Instant Pot directions alongside as well):
- Half cup finely chopped onions
- One cup coarsely chopped tomatoes
- A few cloves of garlic (no need to chop them)
- One cup of chopped ridge gourd (scrape the outer skin. if you like the rough texture of it, keep it, the skin is perfectly edible and yummy. Slit open the ridge gourd, remove the goop and seeds)
- 1 cup dal (I mixed Toor Dal, Moong Dal and Urad Dal)
- 2-3 green chillies slit length wise (you can vary this based on the type of chilli and based on your spice tolerance)
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 2 tbsp safflower oil or groundnut oil (remember to only use cold pressed oil)
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- Salt to taste
- Slice of lemon, some chopped curry leaves and coriander leaves (cilantro) for garnish
- In a small pressure cooker (you can use the Instant Pot too) pour the oil, when it warms up, add the cumin seeds and the onions and sauté just until the onions turn translucent. (this is because they will cook further with the rest of the ingredients)
- Add the rest of the ingredients (dal, tomato, ridge gourd, salt, turmeric, chillies and garlic)
- Add one cup of water (this may seem on the lower side, but the tomatoes and ridge gourd will let out water while cooking)
- Close the pressure cooker and let it cook for 3 whistles (in the Instant Pot, pressure cook on medium for 6-7 min). Turn it off and let it sit until the pressure fully subsides. This extra soaking in the steam lets the ingredients cook in their own juices.
- Open up, give everything a little bit of a stir, scoop into a bowl, garnish with a slice of lemon and chopped curry leaves and coriander leaves, and serve.
I have been experimenting with various oils of late. If you want a Telangana twist to it, use Safflower Oil (also called Kusuma Noone). For the Andhra tinge, use Groundnut Oil (also called Palli Noone). These oils really bring out the regional flavours.
This dish is as soulful as it is versatile. You can substitute the ridge gourd with any soft squash of your choice (you will need to vary the size of the pieces based on their softness), you can also substitute with any green of your choice. My mom makes a heavenly version of this with spinach. My other favourite version is with Gangavaila koora (purslane leaves) which grows like a weed in Hyderabad.