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.
Why is horse gram so popular amongst Maharashtrian farmers?
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 curryCourse: MainCuisine: Maharashtrian, IndianDifficulty: Medium
400g horse gram
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
- 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.
- 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.