Usili is this amazing thing I discovered in that ‘Samyal’ book. It can be used with any greenish vegetable , is utterly simple to make and tastes exquisite. It is basically a kind of steamed and crumbled lentil-thing fried in which veg as n extra colour and crunch and taste.
1 cup tuvar (or toor) dal (called kandi pappu in Telugu) or half of this and half of chana dal
4 dried red chillies
½ tsp salt
¾ tsp asafoetida
3 to 4 tbsps oil (sunflower oil)
1 heaped tsp mustard seeds
Small handful karyapak (curry leaves)
Two medium courgettes diced/ or 1 broccoli head in florets or other green veg
Ginger garlic paste
2 fresh green chillies
For the usili: Soak the dal (or mixed dals) for half an hour in hot water (enough to cover it). Put the soaked dal(s) in a mixer with the dried red chillies, salt and asafetida on a dry setting. Whizz it into a dry crumbly mix. Then steam it - pat it into a bowl and put the bowl inside a microwave cooker with water underneath (for 5 minutes) or a saucepan with water on the hob (covered) for 10 minutes. Let it cool.
For the tempering: In a large pan, start the talimpu - put some oil, and when hot, some mustard seeds and then curry leaves. Then crumble in the cooled steamed dal into small rough pieces (about the size of peas or medium pebbles). Fry this around for a bit. Then remove and put aside.
The veg: In the same pan, put in more oil, some cumin and mustard seeds, curry leaves, green chillies, ginger garlic, then diced courgettes. Turn around on a high flame until browned and cooked but not overcooked. Add the usili in and stir around some more. Then bingo! It’s wonderful!
the usili on its own