Pulse fiction: How I fell in love with my legumes all over again

It is that time of the year when dried pulses are making a comeback. Among other things, vegetables have become so dear that it is currently inducing the fiscally wise (yours truly included) to adopt hi-protein legume diets, Atkins or no Atkins (the last I checked, it appeared that it was cheaper to be a fruitarian) Suddenly, the husband’s cold-cuts were paling in cost compared to my tomatoes and cauliflower.

Since it breaks my heart to buy veggies by the quarter of a kilo and since potatoes and onions don’t exactly a wholesome meal make, I began to explore legumes, a produce hitherto neglected by me-with-a-fetish-for-everything-fresh.

For one week, I am going the pulse route, I decided. A world of low fat, high fibre, no cholesterol, low glycemic index, high protein, high nutrients option at a remarkably low cost.

Until recently, my pulse odyssey was limited to rajma and chholey, apart from that great south Indian contribution, adai (but more about that in another article). It took me a while and a lot of minimization to perfect the recipes for the former two, but I finally culled out a simple, but great one for rajma from CY Gopinath’s blog (courtesy Guru da Dhaba in Lokhandwala) and the one for chholey which does not involve a million masalas from my Futura cookbook, an acquisition with my Futura cooker, one of my prized possessions, which hopefully, Re will inherit.

In my week of living with the beans, I also tried a moong kadhi, an olan, hummus, a chickpea and aubergine stew, a rajma salad and various adai mixes.

Of course childhood memories of the mother doling out a regular dose of a chowli-yam-raw banana-eggplant-concoction in tamarind gravy (puli-kutthi-kuttu, she called it) come flashing back. I never really acquired a taste for it, but it was an existential yet wholesome meal, to say the least. I could never tell if it was a main course or an accompaniment—so overwhelming was the veggie to gravy ratio.

My favourite pulse starrer is still the olan (the one with white pumpkin and red beans). It is subtly flavoured, yet satiating, and easy on the palate. I can eat it by itself, although rasam rice goes every well with it.

Hummus (something that Re takes in his tiffin, and people think I’m showing off)

Chickpeas: 200 gms

Juice of two lemons

Olive oil – one tablespoon

Garlic – 6-7 cloves

Tahini paste (optional, and over-rated) one tbsp

Salt to taste

How to make it:

Soak chickpeas overnight, and remove loose skins if any. Pressure cook till soft. Cool. Drain cooking liquid and set aside.

Grind the chickpeas and the chopped garlic to the right level of coarseness, adding the cooking liquid for consistency.

Now, squeeze the juice of the lemons into the ground chickpeas and mix well. Add a dollop of tahini paste (available at gourmet food shops or supermarkets) and mix well, adding salt to taste. Add the olive oil and mix well.

Garnish with chilli flakes or chopped parsley and serve chilled. Can be stored for a week.

(Works well as a dip or a sandwich spread, with lavash, pita bread or even crackers for a quick hunger fix. )

Tip: If you want to make your hummus more exciting, try adding a few pickled jalapenos to the chickpeas while serving.

Moong kadhi

Whole moong: 1 small cup, soaked


Turmeric powder

Chilli powder




For the tempering

3-4 cloves of crushed garlic


Soak the whole moong for half and hour and pressure cook well with a pinch of salt.

In a pan, whisk 250 gm of curd, two teaspoons of besan, a pinch of turmeric, a pinch of chilli powder, salt to taste and a pinch of sugar. Mix well, breaking lumps formed, if any.

Now add the boiled moong to it, and enough water to have a kadhi like consistency and bring to a boil. Switch off gas.

For the tempering: Heat one teaspoon oil and fry the crushed garlic till light brown and pour over the kadhi

Serve hot with rice and papad.


White pumpkin ¼ kg

Red chowli 100gms

Green chillies – 2

Salt to taste

Coconut oil for garnish


Skin the white pumpkin and cut into 2’ x 2’’ slices of 1 cm thickness. Wash well.

Now soak the red chowli for half an hour and pressure cook it with a pinch of salt till well done, but still whole and not mashed

In a kadhai, transfer the white pumpkin add some water, salt to taste and cook on a slow flame.

Crush two green chillies and add them to the pumpkin, mixing well.

When the pumpkin is nearly cooked, add the cooked chowli into it, stirring well.

Drizzle some fresh coconut oil over the olan for the authentic south Indian touch(optional)