I love to travel, especially for the food. I am always in search of places serving authentic fare. A few years ago on one such outing, I came across Hotel Pranjali on the Kolhapur highway. What caught my attention were the two huge figurines donned with traditional Mavla costume blowing a tutari (a traditional musical instrument) The restaurant served us authentic Tambda and Pandhra Rassa in unlimited quantities. The fiery red Tambda rassa was more to my sister’s taste. I guzzled the soothing Pandhra rassa by the gallon. The delicate flavor simply got me hooked.
Till date I have cooked Mutton and Chicken Pandhra Rassa numerous times at home each time tweaking the recipe a bit tying to find the perfect balance. Today it so happened that I ran out of veggies but had soaked some Masoor earlier the previous night. Usually the lentils and pulses are reserved for the days we abstain from eating non veg. Somehow I find the flavors of the Masoor curry are the closest to the Chicken or Mutton curry, so on a whim decided to cook the Masoor curry but instead of using the fiery hot kanda khobra masala, I opted for the milder more subtle Pandhra Rassa.
This curry was quite a hit with the family. It has delicate flavors and absolutely no turmeric or red chilly in it. The Rassa gets its spice majorly from the peppercorns and some from the green chillies.
1 cup Masoor (soaked for atleast 5 hours)
2 green chilies
1 inch Ginger
3 Garlic cloves
1 Onion (finely chopped)
1 tsp Shahi Jeera
1 Bay leaf
3 tbsp Oil
For the Pandhra masala
1/4 cup fresh coconut
2 tbsp poppy seeds
2 tbsp Sesame seeds
1 tsp Shahi jeera
2 Star Anise
1 inch Cinnamon
1 Green Cardamom
1 Stone flower (litchen)
a small piece Nutmeg
Make a paste of the green chillies, ginger and garlic.
Heat a heavy bottomed pan and roast all the ingredients for the masala on a very low heat for about a minute, taking care not to burn the spices. Add the poppy seeds towards the end as they burn very easily. Cool and grind into a fine paste using water as required.
Heat a pan. Add the oil. When hot add the bay leaf and the shahi jeera. Saute till aromatic.
Add the green chilli paste and saute for a minute on low heat.
Add the finely chopped Onion and saute till it turns pink. Do not brown it.
Wash the soaked masoor and add them. Give it a mix.
Season with salt (I have used 1 tsp here) Add 2 cups water. Mix well. Cover and cook for 10 to 12 mins.
Add the pandhra masala paste and 1 cup of water. Let the curry simmer for another 5 mins.
Serve with Roti, Rice or Phulkas.
The masoor cook really fast so keep an eye on the curry. Some like the masoor with a little bite to them while some like them slightly mushy, its an individual preference.
Also I have kept the curry is slightly on the thicker side to be mopped up with roti. But you can thin it out by adding a little more water.
Lastly, the white masala is very versatile. It can be used for making vegetable stew as also in Mutton and Chicken curries.