Archive for October 10, 2006

Spicy Horse Gram (Ulavalu, Kulit, Kuthlee, Kollu, Muthira) Rice

horse gram dry and soaked
tiny, tasty horse gram — dry and soaked

I have always loved to try new foods. My odyssey into Indian cooking has been a whirlwind of new tastes and ingredients, and I know I have only scratched the surface. Dal is still my favorite — to cook, to eat, and to gaze at in the store. I could spend hours (and I have!) browsing and comparing and dreaming up reasons to buy “just a little” of each different type I encounter.

To that end, I had been eyeing horse gram for months; but for some reason never bought any. I had lots of excuses. I hadn’t seen too many recipes for it, and what little I had seen seemed to be for soup. I had plenty of variety at home. It was shelved way off by itself in my favorite shop — near the Chinese food freezer. Maybe it wasn’t *really* dal…

Perhaps my hesitation stemmed from the name — “Horse Gram”.

I should know better than to judge a book by its cover.

A few weeks ago I saw Indosungod’s Horse Gram and Snake Gourd. That dish looked so tempting, I had no more excuse. Off I trotted to the international market, and soon had in hand my very own bag of this tiny, tasty dal. I was ready to experiment.

This recipe is something of an amalgamation of several recipes I have read.
Main sources whom I thank for inspiration are:

Sailu (Ulava Chaaru)
Anu (Ulavalu Chaaru)
and of course
Indosungod (Horse Gram and Snake Gourd and Kollu Chutney and Rasam)

Spicy Horse Gram Rice

For the dal:

1/2 c horse gram, soaked overnight and cooked till soft in 6 cups water
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp asafoetida
1 green chili, slit

Remove 1/4 cup cooked gram and mash lightly with fork. Reserve this, and also hold aside the rest of the gram in its cooking liquid.

For the rice:

1/3 c sona masuri rice, rinsed

2 tsp oil or ghee
1 tsp mustard seeds
6-8 curry leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
2-3 red chilies, seeded and broken up
2 green chilies, slit
1 big clove garlic, crushed
1/2 c peeled baby onions or chopped onion

1/2 tsp turmeric
1/2 tsp kashmiri chili powder
1-2 tsp cumin-coriander powder
1 medium tomato, chopped

1/2 c strong tamarind water (from about 1/4 c pulp in 1 c water)
3/4 c reserved gram cooking liquid
1/4 – 1/2 c reserved whole gram
1-2 lumps jaggery
1/4 tsp methi powder
salt to taste

optional: 1 c plain dry-fried eggplant cubes


1. Heat the oil/ghee. Splutter mustard seeds, add curry leaves, cumin seeds, and red chilies; stir for a minute.

2. Add slit green chiles, garlic, and onions; saute a few minutes more.

3. Add turmeric, red chili powder, and cumin-coriander powder.
Mixture will be somewhat dry so watch that it doesn’t burn — add a tsp or two of gram liquid if needed to prevent sticking. Cook minute or two.

4. Add chopped tomatoes. Cook over medium heat till moisture has evaporated.

5. Add tamarind water, mashed and whole horse gram, cooking liquid, and jaggery. Allow to boil for a couple of minutes.

6. Add rice, methi powder, eggplant if using, and salt to taste. Stir well, cover and reduce heat to medium low.
Cook twenty minutes, or until rice is tender.

Serve hot (literally and figuratively!) rice with yogurt and a plain browned vegetable. Mellow eggplant was a nice side for this.


I was so excited and happy with the result. The dark, earthy bite of the horse gram and mellow undertone of its cooking liquid, tangy tamarind, sweet jaggery, and plenty of heat from the red and green chiles made this dish an explosion of taste. I will definitely be looking for more ways to enjoy this new addition to the pantry.

Incidentally, I’m also learning alot of new words. Each of the Indian names I came across sounds prettier to me than “horse gram”.

horse gram rice and yogurt
spicy horse gram rice with yogurt and dry-fried eggplant


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