Friday, October 25, 2013

Paruppu Thogayal (Lentil Chutney)

I loved having my paternal grandmother visit us.  She would tell us all these great stories from Indian mythology and from her childhood.  The time to catch her would be when she settles down for her afternoon nap, after lunch.

She would wear only 9-yard sarees that she would wash herself.  There was a well in my house.  She would draw water from the well and wash the saree and hang it to dry on the clothesline.  It would stay there till the next morning for her to wear after her bath.  She continued this routine well into her nineties, when she could no longer lift the heavy wet sarees.  She also had great memory and would remember details about not only her grand kids but also her great grand kids.

She was also a very orthodox woman.  She was very particular about “madi” and “acharam” – meaning the person who was cooking, needed to have a shower, wear clothes that they had washed the previous night, and prepare the food without touching any one else.

Paruppu Thogayal

My mom, a working woman, could not consistently keep up with this because she had kids to get ready for school and when I was younger, had to braid my hair, cook the food for our breakfast, and lunch, pack it all up, as well as make food for my grandmother, before she left for work.  So my grandmother did not spend as much time with our family as she did with my father’s older brother.

When she did spend time with us, I remember that she would eat only one full meal a day – around 1:00 in the afternoon, after all her daily ablutions and pooja were done.  She would have "palakaram" in the evening – something like idli, dosa, adai, upma, or rotis. She would not eat onions or garlic.

Everyday, with her lunch, she had some kind of thogayal.  Thogayal is chutney that is thicker than the chutney you make for idli/dosa.  It is something that you can mix with rice and eat, and typically has some dal in it.  Of all the thogayals my mom made, paruppu thogayal was my favorite.  It is so simple to make and tastes so good.

Here is what you need:

  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 cup toor dal
  • 6 red chilies
  • ¼ tsp. hing (asafetida)
  • salt to taste

You can add few cloves of garlic or some coconut to this too.  I did not

Here is how I made it:

  1. Heat oil in a saucepan.  When the oil is hot, add the hing, dal, and red chilies.
  2. Fry till the dal turns a beautiful, golden brown. Turn off the heat and let it cool.
  3. Grind in a blender to a coarse paste with salt.

Serve with rice, milagu kuzhambu, milagu-jeera rasam, and potato curry.  My favorite way to eat this - add thogayal and a little bit of sesame oil to steaming hot rice and mix well.  Have with potato curry and papads.

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