Archive | January 7, 2015

Beans Usili

Family’s favorite and I make it at least once in two weeks for lunch. Its one of the dish close to my heart and you will know the reason when you are done reading this post!

Disclaimer: I am not sure if this is authentic way to make usili but this is my tried and tested version. Adi loves to take it to school for lunch. For her, I wrap it as chapathi roll.


1. beans – finely chopped
2. onion – 1 medium size (optional)
3. toor dal – 1 cup
4. red chillies – 5 to 6 numbers
6. jira – handful

mustard, split urad dal, jira, curry leaves

1. Soak toor dal and red chillies for 4-6 hours.
2. Grind it into a coarse paste with jira and salt.
3. There are different ways to cook the dal paste. Traditionally way is to pressure cook the paste in idli plates and then crumble it into small pieces once it cools off. But the lazy me cooks it in microwave.
4. Grease oil on a microwaveable bowl. Pour the ground mixture. Add some oil on top, mix well and cook it for 3 to 5 minutes. It will turn into big chunks. Easiest way to crumble it into tiny pieces is to run it in dry mixer for few seconds.
5. Heat oil in a large skillet, add all tadka/thalippu items.
6. Once they splutter, add onion, salt, turmeric powder. Onion is optional.
7. Once onion is translucent, add beans and allow it cook for few minutes.
8. When beans are half cooked add dal crumbles, mix well and let it cook for few more minutes.

P.S: This crumbling in dry mixer idea was born the day parents landed in US of A in summer 2012. I was preparing lunch for them and wanted to present/showcase all my special dishes to Amma as that was our first meet after long time. I didn’t have the heart to serve them usili with big chunks of dal and further squeezing of my little brain viola the idea was born. M, the poor man who ate those big chunks of dal for many many months was shell shocked to see those nicely ground dal well mixed with beans. He later said “Necessity is the mother of invention”. After all, that was my second time preparing lunch for my parents and won’t I expect it to be perfect? But, he questioned “how come the idea never came to my mind all these months?” I walked away with a smile on my face 🙂

P.P.S: I store chopped beans and crumbled dal mix in refrigerator ahead of days (mostly weekend) and then make the dish on weekday in jiffy.

P.P.P.S: This is my second post for today. I will try to make up for the first few missed days by publishing 2 posts on some days and will try to keep the second one as a food post.



When Vs If

It is mind blowing to see how a conversation takes twist and turns. Adi and I started our conversation with Vasco da Gama and ended with having a baby. Weird right?

A slice of our conversation from last night:

Scene: Bedtime and momma’s lame attempt to make the kiddo read non-fiction and biography books. We were reading a book about Vasco da Gama sitting side by side on the bed, wrapped in two blankets.

Context from the book: Vasco Da Gama gets pension from the government when he settles in his home country after discovering the sea route between Western Europe and India.

Adi: What is pension amma?
Self: Its money that the government pay you when you retire from the service to take care of your needs for rest of the life.
Adi: What is retirement?
Self: There is a specific age until when you can work in government offices. Its usually 58 or 60. After that based on some criteria and your service years your pension amount will be calculated.
Adi: Can we retire earlier too?
Self: Yes, that is called voluntary retirement services.
Adi: Will you get pension when you are 60?
Self: May be, may be not. I have to check if my employer has pension scheme and also I should continue to work for them.
Adi: Oh okay!!
Self: How old will you be when I am 60? Just subtract 25 from my age.
Adi: Hmmm 35.
Self: Oh almost the same age as me now. So, probably you will be reading to your kid like what I am doing now.
Adi: Silent
Self: (as always yours truly gets carried away and takes the convo to next level) And I will be visiting to help you when you have your child.
Adi: You mean “IF I have a child”

Lesson learnt: She is very clear on what she wants. Only that I should not confuse her with all my presumptions and confused beliefs. What if she doesn’t want a child? I know its way too early and her decisions now are subjected to change a million more times before the time comes. But still, the mother in me wants her to feel the joy and pain of motherhood.