I am thankful for friends and family and Thanksgiving; but I am also thankful it is past me now. I think I overate everything yesterday – not just seconds, but thirds of everything. Yesterday was proof we eat too much when we are happy and with company we enjoy. Fortunately or unfortunately, whatever little we had of leftovers were consumed for lunch. So for dinner I felt like having a light meal. What I was wanted was something healthy and hearty, with no butter or cream or heavy flavors. Usli fit that bill for me today.

Usli is a South Indian word that means ‘scrambled’ daal. There are many variations of usli and this recipe comes from the Southern state of Karnataka. Usli typically uses whole mung beans. Mung beans are a wonderful form of vegetarian protein and very satisfying on the stomach. One cup of mung beans contains approximately 15g of protein, in addition to beneficial folate, magnesium, B vitamins and zinc. For this dish, the mung beans are pressure cooked and lightly seasoned with black mustard seeds, whole cumin seeds, asafetida, turmeric and dry red chillies. Lemon juice, freshly grated coconut, and cilantro are the garnish.

Mung beans are a great candidate for sprouting and this dish can be made with sprouted mung as well. If you are using sprouted mung, skip the part with pressure cooking and proceed with the recipe. The end result will be more of a salad since the seasoning forms the dressing on the sprouted beans. For this dish, there is no need to plan ahead. A good pressure cooker is essential in making this a quick dish.

Note that this dish will thicken as it sits, so if you plan to refrigerate leftovers, add a few tablespoons extra water to thin it out a bit before you reheat the dish.


Cooking time: 30 mins
Serves: 2 

1 cup mung beans, rinsed
2 tsps vegetable or coconut oil
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1/2 tsp whole cumin seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1/4 tsp asafetida
2-4 curry leaves, torn into small pieces
1 dry red chilli, broken into small pieces (use extra red chilli flakes if you like more spice)
salt to taste
1 tbsp lemon or lime juice
a few sprigs cilantro roughly chopped
1 tbsp fresh grated coconut 

Pressure cook the mung daal with 2 cups water, per manufacturers directions. You need a daal that is completely cooked and soft. 

Once the daal is done cooking, in a separate pan, heat 2 tsps vegetable or coconut oil on medium heat. Toss in the black mustard seeds, whole cumin, asafetida, turmeric, curry leaves, broken red chilli (and chilli flakes if using). Stir the mixture to prevent burning. When the mustard seeds have popped, add the cooked daal to the pan. Season with salt. Add extra water if you feel you like the daal thinned out. Once the seasoning is tossed into the daal, take the pan off the heat. Garnish with lemon or lime juice, cilantro and coconut gratings. 

Serve hot with any cooked grain of your choice, with a dollop of coconut oil on top.