Missal Pao evenings at home were legendary. Loads of friends and family were invited over for this classic Maharashtrian street food snack. Tables were set up in the garden behind which mom and Dadi struggled to keep up with hungry fans. Each plateful was greedily devoured and we shamelessly kept going back for more.
First the hot, spicy Ussal was ladled into the bowl, this was topped with a good helping of a steaming dry potato-onion curry or sabzi. Then, cold, whipped yoghurt was dolloped followed by a generous sprinkling of assorted spicy fried Indian snacks like chivda and sev. Finally, chopped onions, fresh coriander and a twist of lime were added with a flourish and served with warm local pao (bread bun). But the secret in this recipe lay in the Ussal. It had to be made just right for it to sing on your tongue. Spicy, coconutty, loaded with plump mixed sprouts and the unmistakable aroma of the goda masala, Usaal pao, just on its own makes a wonderful meal.
Ussal and missal both have their origins in Maharashtra and their recipes vary from region to region and home to home as well. Missal pao is ussal without all the potato, yoghurt and fried snack toppings so I don’t make the elaborate missal pao very often but I do love my sprouts as I do my coconut so the mixed sprouts ussal is one of my favourites as a quick curry option. Team that with fresh hot pao from Philu’s bakery across the road…
Sprouted Legumes in a Spicy Coconut Curry
3 cups mixed sprouted legumes (eg: Mung beans, Moth beans, dried green peas, dried white peas, chick peas etc)
1 cup Onion, finely chopped
1 tbsp Garlic paste
3-4 dry red button chillies
10-12 curry leaves
½ cup Dessicated coconut
½ tsp Turmeric powder
1 ½ tbsp Goda masala
1tsp or more Red chilli powder
4-6 kokum halves or 2 tsp tamarind paste/ lemon juice
2 tbsp Fresh coriander
Salt to taste
- Parboil the mixed sprouts and keep aside. Reserve the liquid.
- In a pan, heat oil and add the onions. When the onions start to sweat, add the garlic, red button chillies and curry leaves. Cover and cook for 2-3 mins.
- Add the coconut and mix well. Cook on low heat for 4-5 mins and then gradually turn up the heat to gently start browning the mixture.
- When the mixture is golden brown and dry, add the turmeric and goda masala. Turn the heat back to low.
- Mix well and let the masala fry for a few mins. Add ½ cup of water to rehydrate the coconut.
- When it dries up, add the sprouts and reserved liquid. Mix well and add the red chilli powder and salt.
- Add the kokum or other souring agent and let it simmer for 10 mins. Stir in the fresh coriander leaves. The curry shouldn’t be too thick and should have sufficient liquid to dip bread in.
- If you are eating this curry with rice, don’t make it too thin and add ½ cup of thick coconut milk to give it body and make it creamy.
- Green Pea and Coconut Curry (thebarefootbistro.wordpress.com)