Totally in love with this lip smacking popular street food of Mumbai and also a traditional Maharashtrian breakfast food. Misal is a spicy curry with mixed sprouts or moth/ matki beans, chopped onions, tomatoes,tamarind and spices, served with a local bread called Pav. What makes this spicy curry apart from other curries with sprouts is the misal masala/ goda masala, a traditional Maharshtrian masala used for usal.
Everyday without fail Sudha used to come to Raheja Vihar with her cart of fresh vegetables of the day by 5pm. A lady in her late 50’s ,who looked older than her age, but her spirits is worth mentioning. Most of time accompanied by her grand daughter. People say it right the spirits of any Mumbaikar is always high. She would keep humming some marathi songs throughout the time. Extremely friendly with all her regular customers and everyone liked her for this friendly and helping nature. Despite of her age and almost continuous standing for 3 hrs or more more some days, she would many a times i have seen, happily carrying the bag of vegetables to respective apartments of her customers if happened to be old or pregnant.
Often she used to tell me, which vegetable goes well with what to make a that particular curry. There i first heard about Misal Pav, which she used to have quite often, perhaps. But I never bothered to ask her what was it. Moreover, her mixed up lingo of hindi and marathi often went off my head and i simply used to nod my head. For 9 months almost regularly i talked to her and listened to her and her so often misal pav tales. Later when i got introduced to this particular dish, i realized what a power packed and wholesome dish is this Misal Pav. Not doubt Sudha at her late 50’s was so energetic and vibrant, i assume that was the Misal pav magic mixed with the high spirits of Mumbai people.
To get the taste closest to the authentic Usal- misal one can use garam masala if misal masala is not available, but here in my recipe i mixed a Kolhapuri spicy masala given by one of my friend with garam masala which tasted awesome. I love spicy food, but unfortunately my kids cannot tolerate too much of spices and I end up adding minimum spices in my curries, therefore adding extra spices of any form in my portion.
INGREDIENTS for Usal curry
- 2 cups mixed sprouts( i have used chana or chick peas, moth beans, dry green peas, rajma or kidney beans, black eye beans, whole green moong dal or whole green moong lentil)
- 1 potato cut into small cubes
- 1 large onion chopped
- 1 tomato chopped
- 1-2 tbsp chopped ginger and garlic or 1 tbsp ginger-garlic paste
- few curry leaves
- 1 tbsp tamarind paste
- 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
- 1 -1/2 tsp garam masala mixed with Kolhapuri masala (since goda or kala masala is not available here I used this. You can use goda masala if available or simply garam masala)
- 1/2 tsp red chili powder or can use Kashmiri red chili powder
- Pinch of asafetida
- 1/2 tsp sugar or jaggery
- salt as per taste
- 1 tsp coriander powder/dhania powder
- 1 tsp cumin powder/jeera powder
- 1/2 tsp mustard seeds,
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 1/2 cup water or as as per requirement
- 2 tbsp oil
- 1 finely chopped tomato
- 1 large finely chopped onion
- 2 finely chopped green chilies
- 1 bunch of chopped coriander
- 3-4 lime wedges
- 1 cup of farsan or fried savory snack mix
- 1/2 cup creamy beaten yogurt(optional)
- Pressure cook the sprouts and potato cubes with required amount of 3-3 1/2 cups of water( the water level ideally has to be an inch above the mixed sprouts in the cooker ) and salt. Allow 2-3 whistles then turn off the heat.
- Heat oil in a large pan or kadai, add mustard seeds, cumin seeds and asafetida
- Now add the onions and saute until translucent, then add the green chilies, curry leaves, ginger garlic paste and saute for a couple of minutes.
- Add the chopped tomatoes, sugar and saute until its cooked, then add the tamarind paste,all the masalas or spices powder except for the garam masala. Saute for a 2-3 minutes till all combined and cooked well by adding slight water to avoid the masala burn.
- Now add the cooked sprouts, mix well and let it simmer for a few minutes. Add in the garam masala at this point and further let it simmer for a couple of minutes until the gravy thickens.
- Finally add in some fresh chopped coriander leaves. Your spicy usal is ready to serve.
Hey! but you are not suppose to eat right from the pan, lets have it in a typically Maharashtrian style.
FOR AUTHENTIC PLATING STYLE
- Apply butter to both sides of the pav or bun and gently toast it in a pan.
- Garnish the usal gravy in a sectioned plate or a bowl with some chopped tomatoes, onions, green chilies, squeeze of lime, chopped coriander leaves, mix farsan and a dash of yogurt or even chutney.
- Serve them hot with the buttered pavs or buns.