Thursday, November 29, 2012

Osaman: Gujrati Moong Dal Rasam

When in doubt, grab moong daal is my cooking motto. You can always dress up its simplicity by any add-ons you can think of. I add vegetables to it, change my tempering, play with the seasoning. And every little tweak adds a new dimension to this otherwise kind-of-bland lentil. Moong daal in my family was what Arhar daal (pigeon peas) is in my in-laws' home - a no-fail, anytime dish. 

This recipe for a moong dal preperation called Osaman showed up radomly one day on my reading list. As I read through, I was reminded of a dinner at a Gujrati friends' some time ago. As always, not only did my kids get hungry again barely 10min after we'd cleared the table, but baby P rather ungraciously declared that she didn't like the dinner we had earlier and wanted something else.  In true spirit of Indian hospitality, ignoring my embarrassed attempts at cover up, the lady of the house opened up her fridge and kitchen for baby P to pick her dinner from.  The saving grace (sort of)... after she polished off her plate of rice with what seemed to me a soupy daal; baby P walked up to our hostess and declared "Now my tummy is full- that was a good dinner"....This is where I first heard the word Osaman; and that the in the Western state of Gujrat, where food is meant to confirm to the 5 senses of taste- sweet, sour, salty, spicy and tangy, Osaman is usually an integral beginning of any family meal, especially if older family members live with the family.  My incentive for trying it out was 2-fold; (1) Baby P had liked it, and I could hope for a similar "tummy is full" satisfaction if I pulled it off..... and (2) I'd only add to my small repertoire of moong daal recipes. It was a totally win-win situation.  

As always, I didn't follow the recipe as it was, rather made up my own as I went along. So here is my version of Moong daal Osaman...

Sweet and Tangy lentil Soup
For the soup:
Yellow moong daal (Split yellow lentils)  1 measure
Water 2 and 1/2 to 3 measures
Green chillies 2 chopped fine
Ginger about a 1/2 inch piece
Salt  to taste
Turmeric 1/2 tsp
Garam masala 1tsp

Oil 1Tbsp
Jeera/ cumin seeds 1/2tsp
Rai/ small mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Saunf/ fennel seeds 1/2 tsp

To finish:
Tamarind paste 1/2tsp
Sugar 1/2 tsp (adjust to taste)
A dash of lemon juice.

  1. Pick and wash the lentils a couple of times, and put them in a big enough stockpot with water, salt and turmeric. I also add coarsely chopped green chillies and ginger to this mix. Bring to a boil, the lower the heat and simmer for about 30-35 min. till the lentils are done to a soft and mushy.  Add more water if needed.
  2. Prepare the tempering- heat oil in a kadai, splutter the seeds in it.  When the cumin seeds turn color, add the Garam masala to it, followed by the daal.  Bring to a boil again.
  3. Add the sugar and tamarind paste to a Tbsp of water and mix. Stir it in the Osaman.
  4. Take off fire, stir in the lemon juice, adjust the seasoning and serve immediately. 

My two cents: The recipe on my Google reader uses the whole green moong daal and then strains off the stock to make Osaman.  At our friends' the soup that baby P had liked was the yellow moong daal. So here, I went with the yellow one, for the simple reason that it cooks faster than the green whole beans. I also didn't strain off the grains, going instead with a thicker stew-like preparation. Don't think any one in the family even noticed :-)) Since that first time that this picture was taken, I've taken to adding finely cut up apricots and/or prunes to the soup. Not only does it add a little visual texture to the whole dish, but it's also good for little sensitive tummies in my home.  Add a little white boiled rice to the bowl, and you have a one-dish meal on hand.  Totally passes the mommy test - makes quick, and  is kid-friendly!