Sunday, October 27, 2013

Nuchinunde with hasi majjige huli (steamed lentil balls with yogurt dip) - a Mysore special

2 weekends of training with a full work week sandwiched in between, I feel like a zombie. Brain is woozy and information seems to be floating all around. I feel the need for some quite time and then I will be ready to be up and run with another week. Yep that is the impact of professional development training on me :-). So, as you noticed, I went light on my blog posts, cooked a little less than usual, spent a lot less time with family than usual and missed talking to you all. I am done with training (not with studying though) today, caught up on some late afternoon blissful sleep while BH & DD very sweetly did their own thing and let me snooze, I am up and fresh and can't resist the urge to chat with all of you again, blogging is addictive -{sigh}-.

Sometimes I wonder why I started or am writing this blog, I like cooking, I like feeding people, I also like to talk and I like to write - all good reasons but is it worth the time I spend on it? After 200+ posts and 120+ likes, I am totally convinced that it is worth the time, hope you feel the same way my dear friends who drop in and make me feel special. It feels good when people visit and leave genuine comments or feedback, I also get flustered when I see the obviously spamming messages but have learnt to put them where they belong (right in to the trash can) and move on. I have made some friends who inquire after me offline and that I think is the highlight of this journey.
When I started writing, the only 'not-so-encouraging' thing BH said was that I should make sure I had enough recipes to post so I don't suddenly come to a screeching halt, ever the wise man. I finished my 200th blog post recently and don't feel like I have even scratched the bottom of the barrel with the recipe repertoire I have, and I am learning so many new dishes as part of my 'blog visits' with like minded bloggers here. But then, just sharing recipes was never the the focus of my blog, I wanted to capture what went on in familiar kitchens when those dishes were cooked, reaction of people to certain dishes, stories behind the traditional recipes, experiments and heart aches while learning new recipes and all so often about my thoughts, events in my life, something that just made me stop in my tracks and slow down a tiny bit. Most times, writing a blog post is free flowing especially when I hold a recipe close to my heart but there are times when I have had to struggle to personalize a really yummy dish and present it to you all.
I had this dish marked down for my 200th post as I wanted it to be something special, then Navaratri came, the quick made Rasmalai became a hit and I thought why not do the 200th with a sweet treat. Things change, that is why you make so many baselines (I couldn't resist that one, I had to share something from my training of the last 2 weekends with you guys :-)) and Rasmalai it was last week as we celebrated Navaratri. So my very humble and healthy Nuchinunde kind of stayed back in the draft mode.
Nuchinunde gyan - in Kannada (nuchu~broken tidbits, unde~balls), it means balls made of broken tidbits of dal. When almost everybody was a farmer and grew their own rice and lentils, as the lentils were harvested, cleaned, there always used to be some collateral broken lentils as a result of all the processing. Somebody smart found a great use to convert this 'not wholesome looking' dal into a delicious dish. But since it tastes so great, we now bring perfectly 'wholesome looking' dal from the store, break it into pieces and make the nuchinunde :-). Nammamma always made this with toor dal, I have tasted versions with a combination of toor and chana dal or only chana dal too. They all taste great and it is a matter of preference. It is a ground coarse paste of dal, mixed with herbs, onions and coconut, made into balls (or ovals as nammamma did and I make), steam cooked. Have it with a smear of ghee on top and a majjige huli, you will be cleaning that plate in a jiffy and asking for more.

This is not a dish you will find in restaurants and its appearance at home cooked meals is also becoming few and far. For me, it is one of those dishes that brings back memories of that childhood kitchen, where we would all be salivating as nammamma soaked the dal early in the morning, the quantity would be huge to serve the family and drop in visitors and it would very soon start sounding and smelling like a festival was in the air. As soon as they were cooked, amma would put a few in a plate, dab a smear of home made ghee on top of each, pour some deliciously spicy sour majjige huli on the side and set it infront of us. Dip the hot, steam effusing nuchinunde into the majjige huli and take a bite, you will not ever stop at one bite. A perfect balance of spices, deliciousness of onions and coconut - this is a very simple dish that gives you that protein boost with every small morsel.
Nammamma also served this with a Hasi majjige huli (no cooking needed) without vegetables as a dipping sauce, see below for recipe. You can also serve it with the ginger tambuli, or other yogurt based dips or chutneys.

What do you need to make nuchinunde? 
Makes about 15 undes
1 cup Toor dal
4-5 green chilies (adjust to taste)
1 inch piece of fresh ginger
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
3/4 cup chopped onions
1/2 cup grated coconut (fresh or frozen)
1 Tblsp finely chopped coconut pieces (optional, gives a nice bite)
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
pinch of baking soda (less than 1/8 Tsp)
How do you make nuchinunde? 
  • Wash, pick toor dal and soak it in water for 2-3 hours until it softens. 
  • Rinse and drain the water from the dal. 
  • Grind the soaked dal with green chilies and ginger into a coarse paste without using water. Tip: use the blender in pulse mode, make a paste of ginger and green chilies first and then add the dal. Moisture from the soaked dal helps in grinding. 
  • Take the ground paste into a bowl, add all the remaining ingredients and mix it well. The consistency should be such that you can press a fistful of mixture in the palm and it holds shape. 
  • You can make real round balls to stay true to the name or make longish ovals like I do, aesthetics here is a matter of personal choice. 
  • Arrange the balls in a lightly greased (1-2 drops of oil) vessel in a single layer, steam it for 20 minutes on medium heat or until the nuchinunde gets a nice shiny coat on top. 
  • I use my pressure cooker and steam them like idli (without the weight). 
  • Let the steam subside, take out the nuchinunde, serve them hot with a dab of ghee and the majjige huli. 
How to make Hasi majjige huli? 
  • Take 2 Tblsp kadle (roasted gram dal), 1/2 cup grated coconut, 1 Tsp cumin seeds, 2-3 green chilies, 1/2 Tsp salt to the blender and grind them to a smooth paste with 1 cup of sour yogurt. 
  • Adjust the consistency with more yogurt if you like.
  • Heat a Tsp of oil, add 1 Tsp mustard, 1/2 Tsp cumin, a few curry leaves, 1-2 pieces of dry red chilies and 1/8 Tsp asafoetida. Once the mustard pops, switch off and pour the seasoning over the ground paste. 
  • Baking soda helps make the nuchinunde lighter, coconut serves the same purpose also in addition to adding to the taste. If you do not feel like using the baking soda, skip it and increase the grated coconut by a Tblsp or so. 
  • Do a taste test before you steam them and make sure the spices are right for your taste, note that the undes will mellow down once steamed so you want to make them a little spicier on the tongue.
  • I add finely chopped dill leaves (sabsige soppu) or fresh fenugreek leaves (methi) to the paste along with onions and coconut for flavor sometimes. 
  • If your blender is not cooperating without addition of water, go ahead and add a few spoons of water and then add a Tblsp or so of besan/chick pea flour to get the right consistency to make the balls.
  • I like to break a day old nuchinunde and mix it with hot rice and a little bit of oil and relish it. It tastes really yummy. 
I am a self declared lentil lover and what better way to show it than entering this protein rich dish into one of the longest running events in the blogospehere? I am sending this to I am sending this off to My Legume Love Affair 64 hosted by Princy of Spicy Food. The event originally started by Susan, The Well Seasoned cook is now maintained at Lisa's Vegetarian kitchen


Kaveri Venkatesh said...

A lovely post as usual..I love reading your post and always keep your post to the last, to read through all the lines. I also love all your traditional Karnataka recipes...this is rather new to me...sounds and looks delicious

LG said...

Oh yummy! Thanks Nagashree for posting this. I am drooling now :D

NamsVeni Pothas said...

Nuchinunde very tasty and healthy recipe . majjigehuli is the best combination. really it is tempting me .

Nagashree said...

Thanks all.
Lakshmi - nammanege bandre khandita maadkodteeni :-)

Kaveri - that is such a sweet thing to say. You can teach me authentic Palakkad recipes and I will share my Kannadiga recipes with you, deal :-)

Priya Suresh said...

Am bookmarking this dish, wat a nutritious steamed balls, i can have them simply anytime with some spicy chutney..