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Tomatillo Garlic Rasam and Beans Usili

January 20, 2008


This is a quick weeknight meal- takes less than an hour to make start to finish. Again, hail microwave! That has to be the greatest discovery in the 20th century (or is the internet the greatest discovery….I guess the jury’s still out on this one!). Anyway, getting back to my south indian meal. The recipe for Beans Usili is from my mother in law. G loves usili and the first time I made usili was in 2004, after observing G’s mom make it. Now, usili has to be part of a meal with rice and a gravy dish to be enjoyed (although, it tastes really yummy with a cup of curds(yogurt) as well) and I usually make it with rasam (or vethakozhambu- something tangy to complement it). The idea of tomatillo rasam was inspired by my mom. She uses tomatillo as a substitute for tamarind ( tomatillos are tangy and sour and are usually used to make salsa verde; you can read more about it here), and makes sambar, pulinkarry etc. The Tomatillo rasam is also a comforting soup on a cold, winter day!!

What You Need
For the Usili
  1. 1 16 Oz pkt of frozen french cut beans (frozen regular cut beans will also work well)
  2. 1/2 cup of tuvar dal (Yellow Lentils)
  3. 2 dried red chillies
  4. 1/2 tsp of asafoetida powder or a 1 mm piece (if using the block kind)
  5. Salt to taste
  6. 1 tsp oil for tempering
  7. 1 tsp mustard seeds
  8. a few curry leaves
( Tip: If you want, make extra usili mix and freeze it. You can also make usili with cabbage, kottavarangai (or guar), or long beans).
For the Rasam
  • 6 tomatillos
  • 1 1/2 tsp of Rasam Powder
  • 1/2 tsp of asafoetida powder of a 1 mm piece (if using the block kind)
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro (coriander leaves), finely chopped
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 cups of water
  • 1 tsp of canola oil
  • 1/2 tsp of mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp of cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp of methi seeds
  • 1 dried red chilli
For the Rice
  • 1 cup of rice
  • Microwave rice cooker
  • 1 3/4 cups of water
How its done
  1. First, take the tuvar dal, add enough water to barely cover the dal and nuke it in the microwave for two minutes (you can also just soak it with the red chillies for about 15 minutes but since I’m in a hurry, and its cold here in the US, I prefer to microwave). Add the red chillies and asafoetida and let soak for 5-10 minutes.
  2. Lets get started on the rasam. Cut the tomatillos into quarters, add to a microwave safe bowl with some salt and water. Cover and microwave for 2 minutes. In the meanwhile, heat a tsp of oil in a saucepan and add the mustard seeds. Once the mustard seeds splutter, add the cumin seeds, methi seeds and red chilli and roast for a minute. Now add the microwaved tomatillos, the water, rasam powder, salt and let simmer till it comes to a boil.
  3. While the rasam is simmering, microwave the frozen beans to thaw and cook for about 3-4 minutes. Then grind the soaked dal with chillies, asafoetida and salt to taste with very little water. Transfer to an oiled microwave safe flat container and microwave for 3 minutes. Let cool for a minute. While that is cooking in the microwave, heat a frying pan, and heat the oil, add the mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add the beans and salt and saute for a few minutes. Crumble the cooked tuvar dal mix and add to the beans. Mix well and let cook for a few more minutes, till the flavors are all combined. The rasam should be boiling by now. Add the minced garlic and let simmer for a minute. Then turn off heat. Add the chopped cilantro (coriander leaves) to the rasam.
  4. Now, you can turn your attention to making the rice. Rinse the rice, add enough water (a little less than double) and follow your microwave rice cooker’s instructions for the perfect, fluffy rice.
While the rice is cooking, the flavors in the rasam and the beans will become more concentrated……..A perfect dinner on a winter night- steaming rice, with tangy rasam and spicy beans. The garlic flavors in the rasam complement the simple flavors of the beans usili…I had three helpings of this today!
One Comment
  1. Rekha Narayan permalink

    Looks good, I will try this recipe soon. I usually make a variation of the usili by using spicy paruppu podi (lentils fried with chillies and curry leaves).

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