I am no Maharashtrian, and have never lived in the state. But having a lot of friends from the region, has made me developed this taste for Marathi Cuisine with time. Back in 90’s, I never thought it could be anything apart from Pav bhaji and Vada Paav. Since that’s what Bollywood movies taught us really. Now that I know it’s not the case, I have become more and more of a fan of this versatile yet simple Cuisine. One thing I like about Maharashtrian food is the fact that it’s based on some of the basic food eating principals which are very beneficial for our body and mind.
Take the example of Sprouting. Maharashtrian cuisine has a whole array of dishes prepared using Sprouts. If you are not aware of the magical properties of Sprouts, I have listed down some of the benefits of including Sprouts in your diet below. You must have a read to understand how to get the most out of your everyday meals; Before that lets understand what are Sprouts?
What are Sprouts?
Basically, Sprouts are germinated seeds of legumes or grains. You can use any legume to get it sprouted and enhance its nutritional value.
Sprouts ensure blood purification and strengthen the immune system to protect against several diseases. In Naturopathy, sprouts are referred to as a medicine Let’s look at the benefits of including sprouts in our daily diet:
- Experts estimate that there can be up to 100 times more enzymes in sprouts than uncooked fruits and vegetables. Enzymes are special types of proteins that act as catalysts for all your body’s functions. Extracting more vitamins, minerals, amino acids, and essential fatty acids from the foods you eat ensures that your body has the nutritional building blocks of life to ensure every process works more effectively.
- The quality of the protein in the beans, nuts, seeds, or grains improves when it is sprouted. Proteins change during the soaking and sprouting process, improving its nutritional value.
- The fiber content of the beans, nuts, seeds, or grains increases substantially. Fiber is critical to weight loss. It not only binds to fats and toxins in our body to escort them out, it ensures that any fat our body breaks down is moved quickly out of the body before it can resorb through the walls of the intestines (which is the main place for nutrient absorption into the blood).
- Vitamin content increases dramatically. This is especially true of vitamins A, B-complex, C, and E. The vitamin content of some seeds, grains, beans, or nuts increases by up to 20 times the original value within only a few days of sprouting.
- Essential fatty acid content increases during the sprouting process. Most of us are deficient in these fat-burning essential fats because they are not common in our diet. Eating more sprouts is an excellent way to get more of these important nutrients.
- During sprouting, minerals bind to protein in the seed, grain, nut, or bean, making them more useable in the body. This is true of alkaline minerals like calcium, magnesium, and others than help us to balance our body chemistry for weight loss and better health.
- Sprouts are alkalizing to your body. Did you know that many illnesses including cancer have been linked to excess acidity in the body.
- Sprouts are inexpensive. People frequently use the cost of healthy foods as an excuse for not eating healthy. But, with sprouts being so cheap, there really is no excuse for not eating healthier
OK, now that we are wiser than before, knowing so much about Sprouts, lets move towards the recipe for today. Maharashtrian Usal, as it is called is a very popular curry made of Moth bean Sprouts, known as Matki. If you don’t get Matki in your area, you may simply use green Moong beans for this recipe. It will give similar results. I have made it using both of these sprouts in equal quantity, which deviates it a bit from the original dish but I loved it that way. Since I am more familer with the taste of green Moong, it makes me develop a liking towards the dish very quickly.
How do you sprout the Moth beans?
In order to sprout the matki, first it has to be sorted to remove stones, washed, and then soaked in water for 6-8 hours. Wash the matki again and drain the Water. Subsequently, hang the soaked matki in a moist cloth for 10-12 hours (depending on the climate) or till you see the sprouts coming out of the muslin cloth. You may sprinkle water frequently if the cloth becomes dry. When the bean sprouts have developed short shoots, they are ready to eat.
In Maharashtra, Usal is eaten with Pav (bread/bun/roll), chapathi or Rice. I had it with Sweet Potato Thepla, the recipe of which will follow shortly. That made a very well balanced meal, full of Protein, Fibre and Vitamins for us. S loves it with plain white bread, which is how he has had it during his college days. Usal, when served with bread or paav, along with a lot of Namkeen, Farsaan, Mixture etc. is termed as Misal Paav and is Maharashtra’s favourite fats food. My friend Preeti has some great Maharashtrian recipes on her blog, do hop on to learn something new.
- Prep Time: 15-18 minutes
- Cooking Time: 40-50 minutes
- Serves: 3-4 people
- Cuisine:- Maharashtrian
- Spice Level: Mildly hot
- Recipe Level: Moderate
- Shelf Life: Up to 12-15 hours at room temperature, up to 3-4 days in the Fridge
- Serving Suggestion: With Rice, Bread, Paav, Buns, Chapathi etc.
- Nutritional Facts:- Rich in Proteins, Fiber, have digestive properties, very filling.
- Recipe Source:- My SIL’s recipe.
What you need?
- 1.5 cups mixed legumes sprouts
- 1 medium sized onion, chopped small
- 2 medium tomatoes, chopped small
- salt as required
- 1 tsp red chili powder
- ½ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ tsp garam masala powder or Maharashtrian Goda masala (optional)
- Coriander leaves for garnishing
- 2 tbsp oil
- 2-3 cups of broth/stock got from boiling the sprouts
- Juice of a lemon
For the masala curry paste:
- 2 medium sized onions, sliced
- 4-5 cloves garlic, minced
- 1 inch ginger, chopped
- 1 cup dessicated coconut or ¾ cup fresh coconut + 2 tbsp dessicated coconut
- 1 tbsp fennel seeds
- 1 tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tbsp Groundnut oil (or any other cooking oil)
How to make?
- Sprout the legumes beforehand to make the Usal. Read notes on how to sprout the Beans
- Pressure cook or steam the sprouted beans till they are cooked. Strain and retain the broth/stock to keep aside.
- In a wide pan, heat the oil. Throw in sliced onions and fry till they become translucent.
- Add the fennel and coriander seeds to the onions and fry till their aroma start to spread in your kitchen.
- Add the ginger garlic and fry these too for 1-2 minutes. Then add in coconut, and mix well with the rest of the stuff.
- Roast the coconut with Masala paste till it turns light brown on low flame, else it may get burnt. Turn off when it’s all cooked properly. Keep aside to let it cool off.
- Once it has come at room temperature, grind it to a paste using 1-2 tbsp of water.
- Meanwhile, in another pan, heat the 2 tbsp oil and add the chopped onion.
- Once the onion becomes transparent add the masala paste, fry it for 2-3 minutes on a low flame.
- Add the salt, turmeric and red chili powder and mix everything well
- Now, add the boiled sprouts along with the broth/stock to the paste along with tomatoes to the consistency desired by you. Let it simmer for next 15-17 minutes stirring in between
- Turn off and add chopped coriander leaves to garnish. Enjoy this Usal hot and fresh with pav, chapati, poori or rice.
Notes and Tips:
- I used a mix of Moth beans and Green Moong Beans to make this curry, You may use either one or a mix to create your recipe.
- Adding freshly grated coconut brings out the best of taste, but even the frozen variety works ok. However, using desiccated coconut is a bit of disappointment, but if you dont have any other option, try with that first to get a taste of this curry.
- I have added a tsp of extra Tadka of Ghee and red chili powder on top. Usually this curry is kept a bit towards the hotter side, adjust the spices as per your taste though.
How to store Sprouts?
- If you are purchasing loose sprouts, then examine the sprouts properly and discard the sprouts that are in a bad condition. Do not wash or trim sprouts before storing, but you can remove yellow or wilted outer leaves. Place loose sprouts in a perforated plastic bag and refrigerate. Fresh sprouts last for 15 days in refrigerator.
- Sprouts are a common source of bacterial contamination, so get into the habit of rinsing any type of sprouts before eating them.
How else can you use Sprouts?
- You can buy packaged sprout grains, which can be enjoyed in risotto, pudding, stir-fries, sandwiches and alone.
- I have heard that baking is very easy with sprout flour. It creates a really nice texture and has a sweet and less harsh taste as compared to regular whole wheat flour. You can combine millet with sprouts flour to make breads.
- Sprouts can be used along tomatoes broccoli, onion, radish and cucumber to enhance the taste as well as nutritional value of the resulting Salad.
- Sprouts can be steamed quickly in a small amount of water. This will minimize the nutrient loss but will also aid digestion.
- A batter of sprouted matki along with minimal spices can be mixed with Instant Dosa batter to make dosa or Uttapam.
- Uncooked Moth sprouts are used as a filling for Vietnamese spring rolls, as well as a garnish.
Disclaimer:- Some information taken from random Google search and some from this site.