For diets that do not include a lot of meat, pulses are essential source of protein and there are as many tasty recipes to incorporate pulses into the regular diet. Kongus are comprised of Vegetarians and Non Vegetarians, like my mom's side who are pure Vegetarian and do not eat even eggs and my father's side who are all Non Vegetarians. Vegetarianism in Kongu Nadu became common about 500 years ago when Jainism was spreading in Tamilnadu. Even among Non Vegetarians eating animal protein is not a every day affair rather a weekend or special occasion preparation so adding pulses into everyday foods becomes a required necessity.
Pulses are used either whole or split. The most common varieties used are
1. Pigeon Peas (Toor Dal)
2. Green Gram (Moong Dal)
3. Horse Gram (Kollu)
4. Lima Bean (Mochai parappu, Val Dal)
5. Black Gram (Urad dal)
6. Cow Peas (Thatta payar)
A preparation of dal with a spicy tangy Puli Kuzhambu (Spicy Tamarind Curry), rasam made with the water saved from cooking the dal, vegetable poriyal and curd makes a complete meal in any Kongu home.
There are several different ways that dals are cooked but the most common being Uppu Paruppu (salted dal) seasoned with some onions, green chilies, garlic, mustard seeds and curry leaves in a bit of ghee and usually eaten with rice and a dash of ghee
Cow Peas, Lima Beans are cooked commonly like this recipe, with the addition of a vegetable like brinjal or bottle gourd with a bit of tamarind. When split they make a tasty addition to arisim paruppu saatham.
Mochai Paruppu is eaten fresh shelled from the pods and made into a delicious stir fry with coconut and onions or cooked into a spicy curry like the recipe in the previous link.
In all this talk of cooking dals the ubiquitous sambhar cannot be forgotten, it makes its appearance at least once every, to be eaten with idli, dosai or rice.
Kootu is another tasty preparation that is made not quiet as often as sambhar or uppu paruppu. A vegetable seasoned with a blend of coconut, green chilies and cumin seeds is cooked with the dal.
Mochai Paruppu, Paasi Paruppu Kootu
1. 1 Cup of Split Mochai Paruppu and Paasi Paruppu (Val Dal, Moong Dal) cooked with a pinch of turmeric and few drops of oil
2. 1/4 onion chopped
3. 10-15 green beans (any vegetable should work) chopped fine
4. seasonings, mustard, cumin and curry leaves
5. 1 tsp ghee
1. 1 tbsp grated coconut
2. 3 Green Chilies
3. 1 tsp cumin seeds
Lightly toast and make to a paste
1. In a pan heat a bit of ghee, add cumin and mustard seeds
2. Add the onions and fry till translucent
3. Add the green beans and salt and cook till the beans are tender
4. Add the coconut paste and let it cook for a 2-3 minutes
5. Add the mashed dal with a 1/2 cup of water and let it simmer for a 5-6 minutes (the amount of water added depends on the consistency that is required)
Serve with rice or Chapati with a dash of ghee.