Maharashtrian Horse Gram Curry / Kulith Usal

My winter meal of choice is this ‘hulgyachi rassedar usal’ also called ‘kulith usal’ (⁣हुलगे / कुळीथची उसळ)⁣. It is a delicious runny curry of sprouted horse gram, very popular in rural Maharashtra. Horse gram or ‘kulith’ is an excellent source of protein in a vegan diet. ⁣

Horse gram curry (‘usal’) with pearl millet flatbread (‘bhakri’)


It’s a super pulse native to India; easy to cultivate, gives back to the soil by improving its nutrient levels, and restores groundwater. This nutritious legume grows and propagates in arid regions and is a cost-effective food for all age groups. Hence, the Indian farmer’s natural meal of choice. I remember eating a bowlful of plain boiled horse gram before the curry was cooked at home in India. I never understood why this seemingly boring meal was such a regular at home (other than the fact that the pulse was grown on our farm). Only after I left India, did I discover my love for ‘kulith’ when I started missing this curry. Now I treasure my limited stash of this homegrown pulse.⁣

Serve this ‘usal’ with millet flatbread (pearl millet in this case) and you’ll be counting your blessings as you enjoy this minimalist and authentically cooked curry. I certainly do! I am fortunate enough to be able to source it sustainably (though not 100%) and know how to sprout it at home in the UK.⁣

Why should you eat this curry?

“This indigenous pulse that is native to the high Himalayas as well as the coast” — could well be the answer to your weight loss quest.

Rujuta Diwekar (celebrity dietician and nutritionist)

Other than being a rich source of protein, it is also packed with minerals such as calcium, iron and zinc which help keep your skin glowing.

Ayurveda also recommends horse gram for treating jaundice, rheumatism, conjunctivitis, and piles. As it’s full of antioxidants it protects you against kidney stones and gallstones. It helps control malnutrition and combats diabetes and obesity.

There are enough resources available on the Internet to fully understand its health benefits and nutritional profile.

The masala for this curry

The recipe for making the masala for this curry is very simple. Unlike most Maharashtrian curries it doesn’t need goda or kala masala. The beauty of this curry lies in its minimal use of ingredients, a trait we should learn from our ancestors. This is my grandmother’s recipe and she truly believed in keeping it simple, minimalist, and rustic. She’d simply roast whole peanuts with skin on until they turned brown. Then leave them to cool before scrunching by hand to separate the skin. She’d then take the bowl outside the house and shake it, letting the breeze blow the flakey skin away, before hand pounding it in a pestle and mortar. And there, she’d have her stash of ‘shengadanyacha koot’ aka ground roasted peanuts ready to use for her curries.

The essence of this curry lies in its ‘shengadanyacha koot’ – once that’s ready then all you need to do is crush some garlic, mix in some red chilli powder, salt and there your masala is ready for this curry. Then all you need to do is fry this masala with sprouted horse gram and bring it to the boil.

Mahatashtrian horse gram curry

Recipe by RieethaaCourse: MainCuisine: Maharashtrian, IndianDifficulty: Medium
Servings

4

servings
Prep time

36

hours 
Cooking time

15

minutes
Total time

36

hours 

Ingredients

  • 400g horse gram

  • 600ml water

  • 2 tbsp sunflower oil

  • 2 tsp Kashmiri red chilli powder

  • 7-8 cloves of garlic hand pounded to a paste

  • 3 tbsp roasted and ground peanut powder

  • salt to taste

Directions

  • Wash and soak horse gram overnight in lukewarm water. Next day tie it in a tightly wrung damp cotton cloth and keep it aside in a warm-dark spot to sprout for 24 hrs.
  • Pressure cook the sprouted horse gram in saltwater for 2 whistles.
  • Make a masala with the ground roasted peanut powder, chilli powder and garlic paste. Mix them together in a bowl. Add salt if you wish.
  • Over a medium flame take some oil in a deep-bottomed pan. Fry the masala prepared until lightly cooked.
  • Pour the cooked sprouted horse gram into the pan and adjust consistency with leftover boiled water from the pressure cooker. Adjust the seasoning.
  • Bring it to the boil and simmer with a lid on for a couple of minutes. Remove the lid and simmer to a gentle heat for 3-4 minutes and enjoy warm with rice or chapati or bajrichi bhakri in Winter.

Recipe Video

Notes

  • Make sure to have the ground roasted peanut powder ready for this curry. If not, you can make some by roasting whole red peanuts on a tawa. The steps are given in the description above.
  • Don’t let the masala go too brown whilst frying. The purpose of frying the masala is to cook the garlic a little bit.
  • Ideally you should cook this curry with sprouted horse gram to make it easily digestible and to enjoy it at its most nutritious. You can learn all about sprouting the horse gram at home here. If you just want to cook with the un-sprouted horse-gram, you can simply soak it overnight then pressure cook it.

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8 Comments

  1. Hey Rieethaa,
    I simply love this recipe just as I much as I love eating it! But I've tried getting my horse gram to sprout by the usual method – like I'd get moth beans or mung beans to sprout, but to no avail! Where could I be going wrong? I'm based in Pune, India.

    • Lovely to see your comment, Manasi. I am curious to find out about your usual method of sprouting. I have just added a new blog post to explain my sprouting method in detail and some possible reasons for its failure. Are you soaking your horse gram in boiling hot water? Are you allowing the seeds to breathe when they're left to sprout? Let me know. Thank you ever so much for your feedback.

      Rieethaa

  2. Been following you and Aarya on Instagram for two years now – and your recipes and interactions with Aarya have been a delight – especially in the depressing time of COVID. It was something to look forward to, like a ray of happy hope! Love to you and your work! ❤️❤️

    • You're such a sweetheart. Thank you for your love for Aarya. I am so glad to hear that our inconsequential chats cheer you up. Grateful for your encouragement as well❤️

  3. I have made this usal many times, but I feel they don’t become soft even after pressure cooking it for 10 12 whistles. I do soak it for 6-8 hrs or overnight as well. What’s wrong 🤔

    • Thank you for your feedback Pratiksha. It may well be that your horse gram is too dry and hard. Have you tried soaking it for 12 hrs in lukewarm water? I have uploaded a new blog post detailing where we could go wrong whilst sprouting horse gram. Have a read and let me know if you still have questions.

    • Hi Hemal,
      The goda masala recipe is published on the masale bhat recipe card. I have linked it up on this blog post. Alternatively, please go to my masale bhat blog post and you'll find the goda masala recipe there. Hope this helps.
      Rieethaa

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