Recipes: Pune Style Maharashtrian Misal

Misal is probably a quessiantial Maharashtrian dish, you will find it in every corner of the state and each city, town or district has their own variation of this dish. Misal pav consists of usal which is a spicy curry usually made from moth beans, which I think is called haricot beans and pavwhich is a type of an Indian bread roll. The final dish is topped with farsan which are dry snacks or sev, onions, lemon and coriander. It is served as a breakfast dish, as a snack and also as a full meal.

I have been wanting to try and make this for the longest time, but somehow the fact that this is quite a lengthy recipe to make always put me off. Then one Sunday, I finally decided to make it. I read up a few recipes and then did it my own way. Traditionally Misal is made with sprouted green gram or sprouted brown gram, but I decided to make this more healthy by incorporating many dried beans and also since this was a fairly last minute decision, I did not sprout the beans and just soaked them in water. The version I have made is in the Pune style which incorporates poha or flattened rice flakes, while the Nashik version is usually spicy and served with pav, curd, chopped coriander and onion.

Pune Style Maharashtrian Misal

Ingredients:

For the Usal

  • 1.5 – 2 cups mixed dried beans soaked in water overnight (I used a mixture of dried chickpeas, dried black-eyed peas, dried green peas, dried black beans and black chickpeas, but you can use what you have in the kitchen)
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 5-8 curry leaves
  • 2 medium sized onions, chopped finely
  • 3-4 medium sized tomatoes, chopped finely
  • 1 tbsp tamarind pulp
  • Kashmiri red chilli powder to taste
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp cumin powder
  • ¼ tsp turmeric powder
  • ¼ tsp asafoetida powder

For the dry masala paste

  • 1 tbsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp sesame seeds
  • 7-8 pepper corns
  • 5-6 dried red chillies
  • 1 inch piece of cinammom
  • 4-5 cloves
  • ¼ cup dessicated coconut

For the wet masala paste

  • 1 medium sized onion
  • 1 bulb garlic, peeled
  • 1 inch piece ginger

For the poha

  • 1 cup poha or flattened rice flakes
  • ¼ tsp plus a pinch turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • ¼ tsp asafoetida powder
  • 1 small onion, finely chopped
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp oil

To serve

  • 2-3 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 medium sized potatoes, boiled, peeled and chopped into small pieces
  • 1 cup mixed farsan
  • Date Tamarind chutney (optional)
  • Green Coriander chutney (optional)
  • 1 cup beaten yoghurt mixed with rock salt

Method:

  • Cook the soaked dals in a pressure cooker with a bit of salt and cook till the beans are soft, but not overcooked. Let it cool and keep aside. Don’t drain the water it has been cooked in.

For the dry masala

  • In a dry pan, heat the masala ingredients except the coconut and let them brown.
  • When the dry spices become brown and start to emit an aroma, add the desiccated coconut and continue stirring until the coconut becomes crisp and brown and loses its moisture.
  • Remove from the flame and keep aside till it becomes cool.
  • Then grind it to a fine powder and keep aside. If there is any left over after using it for the usal, you can use it to spice other stir fries.

For the wet masala

  • Grind together the ginger, garlic and onion to a smooth paste and keep aside.

For the Poha

  • Wash the poha in running water till it softens and then let the water drain.
  • Add some salt and the sugar plus a pinch of turmeric powder and mix well. Keep aside.
  • Heat 1 tsp oil in a pan and when the oil heats up, add 1 tsp mustard seeds and let the mustard crackle. Next add the curry leaves and let the leaves become crisp.
  • Then add ¼ tsp turmeric powder and ¼ tsp asafoetida powder and stir for a few seconds.
  • Then add the finely chopped onions and a pinch of salt and let the onions soften.
  • When the onions soften and become translucent, add the soaked poha and mix well.
  • Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes. Remove into a serving dish and keep aside.

For the Usal

  • Heat oil in a large pan and when the oil heats up, add the mustard seeds and let it crackle.
  • When the mustard seeds crackle, add the curry leaves, turmeric powder and asafoetida and let the curry leaves crisp up.
  • Then add the finely chopped onions and let it cook for a while.
  • When the onions are translucent, add the wet masala paste and let it cook for a while.
  • Add the finely chopped tomatoes and cover and cook till the tomatoes become mushy and disintegrate.
  • Now add about 3-4 tbsps of the dry masala (or as much as you want) and then add the cooked beans along with the water it was cooked in.
  • Add in the dry spice powders – cumin powder, coriander powder as well as salt and cook covered for about five minutes.
  • Add in the tamarind paste and about 1 to 2 cups of water (you can make this as thick or thin as you like it) and continue cooking covered for about 10 minutes more.
  • Cover and keep aside till it’s time to assemble it.

To assemble the Misal Pav and Dahi Misal

  • In a bowl, layer some poha and pour in some usal above the poha.
  • Top with some of the onions and potatoes and finally add some farsan on top of it.
  • Add some of the green and tamarind chutney if you want and also a squeeze of lime.
  • You can eat it as it is or with some pav or bread.
  • To make dahi missal after you top the farsan, add some of the prepared yoghurt and tp with the chutneys and then eat as it is.

It’s a tad long to make and takes time, but the taste is totally worth it!

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