Daikon rasam & Fenugreek red-brown rice

collage-1459781635185.jpgBrowsing through an Asian store, we picked up a daikon, which I would soon experiment with pickling. Before that though, it had to satiate a craving for both my husband and me. Both of us like when white radishes are stewed in with daals or lentils. I even love when it is added to the fish stew that my mother makes of “Bombay Duck” (yes, it is a fish… common to the waters of west coast of India, near Mumbai). So while I don’t get Bombay ducks here in Michigan, I could definitely try the daikon with daal, making a rasam. Here’s how I went ahead.



2-3 cups of half-sliced daikon

1 cup toor/ pigeon pea daal

1 tomato

2 green chillies

1 tbspoon mustard seeds

1 teaspoon cumin seeds

3 cloves of garlic

1 teaspoon turmeric

5 pinches of asafoetida

10-15 curry leaves

1 red chilli

1-2 tbspoons of soaked tamarind pulp OR 2-3 tbspoons of lemon juice

2-3 tbspoons of rasam curry powder (available in Indian stores. I used the one by MTR. It is optional in a way. Without it the end product may not be ‘rasam’ but you would still have a tasty, perhaps a bit less spicy daal soup/ stew)


  1. Soak daal in warm water for about 30 minutes.
  2. Combine soaked daal, turmeric, and three pinches of asafoetida along with chopped tomato, half-sliced daikon, half-slit green chillies in a pressure cooker. Add a glass of water, and cook till 3-4 whistles. In regular pot it would take about 20-30 minutes.
  3. In another pot, warm oil for preparing a tempering/ tadaka. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, 2 pinches of asafoetida, curry leaves, chopped garlic, and a red chilli to the oil and stir till spices give off aromas.
  4. Over this tempering, mix in the cooked daal, daikon, and tomato mix, along with its juices.
  5. Whisk everything together. Add salt to taste, rasam powder (if you have any), and soaked tamarind pulp/ lemon juice at this stage.
  6. Adjust the water to your liking and let everything come to boil. After that put it on a low-medium heat/ flame to simmer for few more minutes and tale it off the stove.

It can be enjoyed simple as a soup or as entree with rice. I had it with fenugreek-flavored mix of red and brown rice. Just add 2 tbspoons of fenugreek seeds and dried fenugreek leaves (available in Indian and Mediterranean stores) with a dash of olive oil into the pot in which your rice is cooking. It adds a subtle taste to the simple pot of rice, which does not require salt.


Bottle Gourd Daal


I really wanted to name it as K-25 Daal in the memory of house in Delhi where I once stayed as a paying guest. My first abode away from home, the tiny room in the house numbered K-25 in Hauz Khas Enclave of Delhi brought me in company of new people, each bringing in different food habits and cultures. Daal, basically a stew of lentils or pigeon peas is a pan-South Asian dish. Cooked in innumerable homes and kitchens, it has equally innumerable variations, based on the other  ingredients, spices, and cooking methods employed.

This particular version, which uses bottle gourd (called lauki in Hindi and doodhi in my native tongue Marathi) I picked from my roommate who hailed from Kanpur. In the harsh summers of Delhi (and in general, of entire north India), my usual favorites of vegetables like French beans and greens would be quite deplorable in the vegetable market. A variety of squashes or gourds would be the only few options left that would not only survive the summer but also come relatively cheap for someone like me- a student on a tight budget. So learning to use this vegetable with toor daal (split pigeon pea) came quite as a boon. A simple recipe, with few ingredients (with several alternatives to number of those as you would notice later), that would go perfectly with rice and/ or flat breads.



1.5 cup of toor/ split pigeon pea daal (Do you want to replace this with red lentils or even moog daal? Go ahead!)

1 tomato

1 onion

1 medium sized bottle gourd (Don’t have bottle gourd? You can use any other thing from the gourd/ squash family. I have even used bitter gourd, which actually gives a nice slightly bitter taste.)

1-2 tbspoon oil

2-6 cloves of garlic

1-2 green chillies

1-2 teaspoons of cumin seeds

1 teaspoon of turmeric powder

a pinch of asafoetida (It is kind of optional but I would suggest it for its digestion aid qualities with daals)

1-2 tbspoons of powdered coriander powder (optional)

7-8 curry leaves (if you get those! Thankfully they store well in fridge and give full flavor and aroma even when they are dry. Just make sure that the leaves are not wet)

Salt to taste

2 cups of water


  1. Wash and soak daal for 30 minutes (important step,  especially if you do not have a pressure cooker).
  2. Meanwhile, chop onion, tomato, bottle gourd. Thinly slice chillies and garlic.
  3. Heat oil in pot/ pressure cooker  pan.
  4. Add cumin seeds, a pinch of asafoetida, garlic, chillies, curry leaves, turmeric powder. Let everything splutter and release their aromas. Just take care not to let it burn.
  5. Add chopped onions and gourd over the above tadka and mix properly to coat everything evenly.
  6. Once onions start turning translucent, mix in tomatoes.
  7. Let everything cook till tomatoes lose their firmness and  then add daal.
  8. Adjust salt and add water.
  9. Cook till the daal is mushy and gourd is pulpy. Quicker feat if you have pressure cooker. With lidded pot, it would probably take 20-30 minutes.

As I mentioned before, it can be enjoyed it with both rice and flatbread. Today my pick was brown rice that was flavored with dried fenugreek leaves and cumin. Just throw in those things along with a dash of olive oil in your cooker/ pot while the rice is cooking. There have been times when I had this as a one-pot meal. Really, it works in so many ways… Its magic lies just in a few unassuming ingredients that simmer together in a pot.