India is a country of 1.3bn people who live across 29 states from the Himalayas to the Indian Ocean. But, despite that huge regional diversity, it often feels as if the same boilerplate menu is served in Indian restaurants. Today’s recipe for usal, from Maharastra, a mixture of pulses and peas in a light, spiced tomato broth, is one I’d love to see more UK restaurants adopt.
Green pea, black-eyed bean and chickpea usal
You can swap the beans and pulses listed for whatever you have to hand: I particularly like sprouted mung beans in my usal, but they’re not easy to find in shops, and take a few days to sprout from scratch. This is best eaten with a hunk of bread for mopping up the spicy juices.
Prep 12 min
Cook 30 min
4 tbsp rapeseed oil
2 red onions, peeled and chopped
2 green finger chillies, very finely chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled and minced
2 big vine tomatoes, chopped
1 ¾ tsp salt
1 tsp ground kashmiri chilli
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp ground cumin
½ tsp turmeric
1 x 400g tin black-eyed beans, drained
250g frozen petit-pois, defrosted
1 x 400g tin chickpeas, drained
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 large handful coriander leaves, finely chopped
Heat the oil in a pot over a high flame and, when hot, add the onions and chillies, and cook for 10 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions look like pink jewels.
Stir in the garlic, cook for two minutes, then add the tomatoes. When the tomatoes have broken down and become paste-like (around five minutes), add the salt and spices, and stir-fry for a minute.
Pour one litre of water into the pot, bring it to a boil, then turn down the heat to medium and leave to bubble away for eight minutes. Stir in the beans, peas, chickpeas and mangetout, cook for about five minutes, then take off the heat.
Mix in the lemon juice and coriander, and adjust the seasoning to taste. Divide the peas and legumes between four bowls, ladle the spiced broth on top and serve.
- Food styling: Amy Stephenson