Thursday, January 13, 2011

Simple Lunches - 24 (Beans Kootu with Moong Dal)

The heart feels heavy. The shooting rampage of last Saturday is heavy on my mind with feelings ranging from sadness, anger to helplessness.

I would so like to lay the responsibility for this on Sarah Palin's feet. She has a big mouth and would probably talk anything to get a few popularity points. She and her other shouting, screaming, frothing Talk Show friends, all of them. They have lowered the civility and intelligence of the civil discourse and though they claim to have America's best interest at heart, sorry it is only their self interest that they care about most. So I am no way feeling sorry for the heat they are getting. But to lay the blame on them is perhaps a stretch.

It is rather sad that besides a few editorials nobody is talking about the root cause of most of these mass killing and shootings. Namely the predominant gun culture and the power and might of the NRA in making it almost impossible for meaningful gun control laws. Palin is an easy scapegoat but I would not say she does not deserve it. It is a perfectly easy way to gloss over the real problem. In most societies disagreements are settled with a few scuffles or loud words. But not here, we exercise our second amendment right.

None of the sad episodes would have happened if the access to guns are restricted like they are in other civil societies. The second amendment was written at a different time and age and to hide behind that is a shame.

I am shocked every time I witness the extent to which guns are woven into this culture.

I was speechless when I learned that for less than $100 I could be armed and dangerous. Almost too easy. It is much easier than admitting your child to a school.

Every time a mind numbing gun violence happens the country goes through a period of soul searching. We debate about civility, being good to our neighbors and those with views different than ours, the mental health system and the lack of access, but always a deafening silence about the ready access to weapons.

Come on, this is a country where a sitting Vice President shot someone thinking he was a duck and never found the need to report it until someone else did.

I live in perhaps one of the most liberal counties in the country and you'd think things would be different here. Nope. This obsession with all things guns starts at an early age. From toy guns kids graduate to real ones by middle school I suppose. I was at DD's school on a Saturday volunteering as a Math tutor. I was tutoring 2 boys and they were paying attention and learning. That is until another boy(the son of the organizer) walks in with a gun catalog. In less than a nano second my tutees had jumped out of their seat and were near the catalog.

Seeing a gun catalog brought to school was itself a shock to my system and then the Principal of the school walks past and sees the boys involved in the discussion of the merits of each model and she never baits an eyelid! I expected her to do something. She did not. Maybe it was not in her job description. The whole thing bothered me enough.

DH warns me every time I honk at someone on the road I am in danger of having my head glown off. Yes! my friends road rage is another popular reason to use the weapon.

Now that one of their own is a victim maybe Congress will wake up and get its act together and do something about it. Australia did it Scotland it but then again not so fast, this is America we are talking about.

None of the violent incidents - Columbine, VA tech and Tuscon would have happened if owning guns were illegal like it is in most parts of the world. You'd think any sane person would see the connection.

Talk about gun control and you are sure to be branded a whacko. No wonder no politician would not even touch the issue with a 10 feet pole.

Let's move on to the recipe now that I feel a little lighter.
I fall back on kootu when I have had enough of sambhar for the week. The recipe I follow is a standard one that I learned from my mother. The spice paste is simple and is made while the dal is getting cooked and the whole process takes less than 1/2 hour.

I saw this recipe for kootu on Akshayapaatram where the spice mixture is different from mine. I tend to use green beans, cabbage and occasionally squash when I make kootu. Any of those vegetables or brussels sprouts like Priya has done in the recipe should all work.

1. 1 cup of split moong dal
2. 1-2 cups of finely chopped green beans
3. 1 tsp turmeric powder
4. 3 green chilies slit
5. seasonings: curry leaves, mustard and cumin seeds
6. jaggery (optional, I did not use it)
7. salt to taste + 1 tsp oil

Spice Powder
1. 1 tbsp urad dal
2. 1 tsp channa dal
3. 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
4. 1 tsp cumin seeds
5. 1/2 tbsp peppercorns
6. 3 red chilies
7. 1 sprig curry leaves
8. 1 tbsp grated coconut (I used frozen and thawed)

1. Roast the chana dal and when it starts to turn color add the urad dal roast for a minute and then followed by the coriander, cumin and peppercorns and red chilies. When the chilies get a slightly black tinge remove from heat
2.Now add the curry leaves and coconut and roast them on low flame till the coconut turns brown
3. Cool and powder in a blender without using water

1. Pressure cook the moong dal with excess water with the beans with the turmeric powder and a drop of oil till mushy
2. Dissolve the spice powder in about 1/2 cup of water and add it to the dal and let it cook on low flame for 8-10 minutes
3. Meanwhile heat a tsp of oil or ghee in a small pan and add the seasonings and when the mustard starts to pop pour it over the dal
4. Add salt and the jaggery if doing and turn off the heat in a couple of minutes

Goes well with rice or chapati


  1. This is completely different kootu for me. I think I will have it as kootu one day and thin it down and have as soup the next day.

    Happy New Year ISG!

  2. I'm with you- completely baffled by the gun-happy attitude even when it kills innocents week after week. The kootu looks wonderful. More home-cooked food and fewer guns, that's what this country needs.

  3. Dear ISG, you mentioned something I have long believed: the constitution of this country was written at a different time to address different challenges. The events of Saturday were indeed awful -- on top of that, I couldn't help feeling a little strange, watching that crowd cheering for the president's speech at an event that felt more like a campaign rally than a memorial.

    Now for the kootu -- looks fantastic! But ISG, how do you ever get enough of sambhar ;)

  4. Indo, Just the previous week, I think, I saw Michael Moore's film on the subject. And two days ago, some guy in Delhi ran over another man and killed him because of road rage.

    I'm really surprised to know that the Princi of the school didn't think it fit to say anything to those boys. Or would she have said something to them in private?

    I also read that the sales of guns rises sharply immediately after a shooting, because people want to protect themselves, but I really didn't think arming oneself was as cheap as $100.

  5. I haav never made this looks so good, is the green we see in the curry the small green beans then.

  6. Yummy kootu, would love with some hot steaming rice and papads..

  7. curry looks delicious,..;-)

  8. A real pity that inspite of all these happenings, there won't be more restrictions on owning guns....

    I hardly make kootu with this podi mix must try sometime.

  9. simple but wholesome meal.

  10. Sad. Road rage is rampant in India too. Real scary.
    Moong and beans ... sounds great. That pic of rice and curry is making me hungry now. :-)

  11. I was talking to my American friend about the gun culture and she never seemed to think that was a problem and she believes that the society needs it, it was her opinion but I was surprised.
    Anyway, I always thought that there should be some restrictions atleast and fear for the safety of my kid while she is at school.
    ...kootu looks delicious.

  12. yep, I still don't get it... even the locals told me how it (pro-gun) relates to the constitions/ self-protection/hunting blah-blah-blah... now I am even more shock to hear your experience (kids reading gun catalogs). Where does the common sense go?
    I have a mood for moong dal these days, your lovely recipe just comes in handy. Thanks!

  13. It feels really sad to know that a normal person has resort to guns to safeguard himself!

    The Kootu looks delicious.

  14. Thought provoking-- btw the kootu looks yummy !

  15. The shooting, besides displaying the appalling ease with which guns can be bought, also displays the isolation of individuals in society. Where were the friends/family/community for this disturbed young man while he was spending so much time being angry and frustrated? Mental health issues do not make people into monsters overnight - they are simply ill and need human contact even more than normal. What they do not need is to be pushed away thinking they are "weird" or "abnormal"

    The kootu is good - we did not use such a roasted spice paste at home but I have eaten it in other homes and think Im going to adopt this one for our home as well

  16. Miri, you are so correct. I just read an opinion piece by one Arizona native who says how isolating and lonely life there really is. When I read the piece I thought to myself that even in the frigid(not the weather) North East US people find time to talk to each other and have some form of community.

    Social life, community and family are all big reasons why India is such a great place and the cornerstone for being grounded. I hear things in the cities in India are not much different compared to the US. People like their privacy and nuclear families, away from family and are starting to lead lonely lives. Privacy is so overrated.


Thanks for stopping by. Appreciate you taking the time.
Comments embedded with links, spam and in poor taste will not be published.