Misal and Usal are the favorite street food of Maharashtra, and anyone who has not tried this dish on their visit to our city, is really missing something. You are likely to find at every street corner and in every local hotel, the smaller the restaurant, tastier is the dish.
First and foremost, let me tell you the difference between Misal and Usal, or else, you might end up ordering the wrong dish.
You see, both Misal and Usal can be eaten with Indian bread rolls called Pav, to prepare Misal first make 'Usal' which is a water based curried preparation of cooked sprouted lentils and then, when topped with pohay, Chivda, farsaan, raw chopped onions and tomato it is called Misal. This is a healthy food made from tiny dried dark-green beans call matki (Moth beans). Some use the combination of 3-4 different kinds of beans.
Misal Pav is not for people with elite stomach, who are so delicate that even a small innocent chilli can scratch the lining of their intestine and they end up vomiting the whole day and might even need bed rest for a week or two, till their stomach learns to behave itself.
No,Hello Mister NRI, this is not for you too.
Many of my NRI friends get vaccinated before coming to India and still risk all that street food only on their last day of their visit.
It is the food for rough and tough people who can eat almost everything, not caring about its hygienic values. It is for people who live in Maharashtra and who don’t use wet tissue papers before and after every meal. It is for people who enjoy spicy food that drifts them to nirvana.
The main ingredient that is used in Usal is ‘Goda’ masala.
Now you will ask me how do I make Goda masala? Ask! Ask!
Well...This is a paste which can be made and stored in air-tight bottles to be used as required.
Okay, here is the recipe:
150gms small coriander seeds
50gms cumin seeds
50gms dried red chilies
25gms white sesame seeds
25gms dried coconut
10gms cinnamon sticks
15gms bay leaves
1/2 tsp asafetida
I inch turmeric stick
- 1. Roast coriander seeds, dried red chilies and cumin seeds
- 2. Roast white sesame seeds and dried coconut separately
- 3. Roast rest of the spices separately
- 4. Mix all the roasted ingredients and grind it together
- 5. Spread it for some time to bring it to room temperature, then bottle it and store it in air tight container.
This Goda masala is what gives that authentic taste to the Maharashtrian dishes.
But if you are in hurry and don’t have a prepared ‘Goda masala’, you could take a cup of grated coconut and one big onion sliced length-wise, fry with garlic(one pod) and ginger(small slice) and grind it with dry garam masala.
Now let us concentrate on preparing Misal Pav
In Matki, dried lentils are used. 1 cup of beans are soaked for 7-8 hours, and then wrapped in moist towel for another 7-8 hours till you see the beans sprout.
Take marble-size tamarind and soak it in one cup of water, boil it and extract the pulp.
Grind the following ingredients into smooth paste: 1/2tsp cumin seeds, ½ tsp peppercorns. ½ tsp fennel seeds, 2 cloves, 1tbsp coriander powder, pinch of asafetida, 5 red chilies, 1inch ginger, 2 medium onions, 2cloves garlic, 3tbsp fresh grated coconut.
In a pressure cooker, steam-cook the sprout beans and thinly sliced potatoes. Mash the potatoes when soft.
In a separate pan, heat 2tbsp oil and splutter 1tsp mustard, add 1tsp sugar and one finely chopped onion, sauté till light brown.
Add red chili powder and the ground paste that you made in step 3, fry till oil leaves the sides.
Add the cooked sprouts and potatoes that you made in step 4,
Add the ‘goda’ masala, garam masala, salt and the 1 cup tamarind extract pulp that you made in step2
Keep it on medium flame and cook it till the gravy becomes thick but liquidy.
Your Usal is ready, you can have it with Indian bread(pav)
For those who want to eat Misal, wait, there is more.You must follow the next step
Take a large bowl, just enough for one serving. Serve the Usal and top it with farsan, chiwda, red chili powder, finely chopped onions, green chillies, tomatoes, and coriander leaves, squeeze few drops of lime juice on it.
Serve it with bread.
Ps: For those who live out of India, the Sev and the Farshan packet you can find it at Indian grocery stores.
Okay I am drooling now………