Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Spicy Lentil Soup (Pappu Chaaru)

Occasionally, we get lunch and dinner invitations which are seldom easy to forget. I mean, its not about the FOOD always! Its about the people, their hospitality, warmth, finally the company which is what matters the most. They'll cook and present the most simple dishes you can find on the face of earth; yet you feel the love all around. This also compels me to think that any simple dish cooked with love is far more tasty than a banquet dished out in a grumpy mood. I recall this amazing lunch we had at one of our office friend's place in India.

My friend makes the most amazing Chekkalu, Pacchadi, Pappu, Poriyal's and Biryani's. She made this simple spicy lentil soup which is popularly known as Pappu Chaaru in Andhra Pradesh state of India and is a quite a staple recipe in many a Andhra homes. A very simple soupy textured broth with a healthy seasoning of garlic and augmented with lot of tangy flavour of Tamarind juice. This broth is neither too thin nor too thick. Some versions of Chaaru are also made with vegetables of choice primarily Okra, Baby Onions, Tomatoes, etc; I prefer this simple plain one for the simplicity. I was in love with the Chaaru flavour and asked her for the recipe. The compliments surely made her day! I have made this countless times and love the taste. Every time I slurp the soup, it reminds me of the wonderful time we had at her place.

Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

Toor Dal (cooked) - 1/2 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Red Chilli powder - 1/2 teaspoon
Tamarind extract broth (concentrated) - 1/3 cup
Jaggery or Sugar - 1 teaspoon

For Seasoning -

Red Chillies (Byadgi) - 2-3
Garlic - 3-4 pods
Mustard seeds - 1/2 teaspoon
Curry leaves - 3-4
Garnish: Chopped Coriander leaves and hot melted Ghee.

Pressure cook Toor Dal and keep aside. In a vessel, cook the boiled Toor Dal with water in 1/2: 4 proportion. Which means, for half cup of cooked Toor Dal, add 4 cups of water. Dilute the Dal entirely in water and bring to boil. Add Turmeric powder and Red Chilli powder. Soak Tamarind pulp in warm water for 10 minutes. Squish it with your hands and add the juice in the cooking broth. Add Jaggery or Sugar now. Give a gentle stir. Adjust salt and water consistency as per choice. The broth will be brown in color now. Bring to boil and simmer on low flame for 10 minutes and turn off the flame.
In a separate pan, heat few spoons of oil/ghee. Add mustard seeds and once they begin to pop, add curry leaves and crushed Garlic. Let the garlic brown and char a little. Pour this piping hot seasoning over the Chaaru. Cover and close with a lid. Garnish with chopped Coriander leaves if desired. Mix while serving and enjoy with hot steam cooked white rice. Top it up with some hot Tuppa or Ghee.

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