There are so many wonderful, colorful, and intriguing recipes in Archana Pidathala's book Five Morsels of Love thatyou'll be spoiled for choice when it comes time to pick one. This recipe, for pulagamu, a quick and simple dish of rice cooked with a handful of spices and split green gram, is a perfect window into Pidathala's unique way with ingredients and the elegant simplicity of the food of Kurnool.
You can read more about Pidathala on Tiffinover here.
PULAGAMU | SPLIT GREEN GRAM RICE
(Adapted from Five Morsels of Love)
1 cup short or long grain rice
1 tbsp neutral-flavored vegetable oil
2 tbsp ghee, separated
1 cup skin-on split green gram
salt to taste
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 onion peeled, trimmed, and sliced thinly through the root
3–4 green chillies, slit on one side (or to taste)
1–2 tsp puréed ginger and garlic
10–15 fresh curry leaves
Wash the rice in an abundant quantity of cool water, gently rinsing it and draining it repeatedly till the water runs clear. Soak the washed rice in cool, clean water for 15–20 minutes, then drain.
Heat the oil and 1 tablespoon of the ghee in a high-sided, heavy-bottomed pan over high heat till they begin to shimmer.
Add the split green gram to the pan and cook, stirring often, for 2–3 minutes, or until gently aromatic. Take care not to burn the lentils.
Add the rice to the pan along with 3 cups of water and a large pinch of salt. Stir to make sure that neither the rice nor the lentils are sticking to the bottom of the pan. Reduce the heat to low and let the mixture cook while you prepare the seasoning for the dish.
In a small frying pan, heat the remaining 1 tablespoon of ghee over high heat until it is nearly but not quite smoking. Add the cumin seeds to the hot pan, and as soon as they begin to sputter, add the sliced onions, green chillies, and the puréed ginger and garlic. Fry in the hot ghee for 3–4 minutes till the ginger and garlic no longer smell raw.
Next, add the curry leaves. Take care to stand back when you do—the leaves will sputter impressively in the hot oil. Cook briefly—for just 20 seconds or so—stirring often as you do, and then add the entire contents of the pan to the pot of cooking rice and lentils. Stir to combine well.
Cover the pan with a tight-fitting lid and continue to cook on low heat until the rice is fully cooked. The rice, when done, should be fluffy with light, separate grains.
Enjoy while still hot with a hearty dollop of ghee.