Payaru Kurma – a South Indian style kurma
Kurma is a very versatile curry that is highly popular all throughout India and just like most curries, varies in taste and addition of ingredients based on the regions. A south Indian version invariably has coconut paste or coconut milk whereas a north Indian version can use either cream or yogurt. The addition of fennel seeds is also quite indigenous to the south, if I am right. A northern version may use soaked cashews whereas in the south we use roasted gram dal/ pottukadalai. They act as a thickening agent and bring the curry together beautifully !
Every region in Tamil Nadu has a kurma recipe, some use tomatoes, some don’t, some use whole garam masala while others make a paste of them along with freshly grated coconut, the variations are, like always, aplenty. Meat is mostly the main component for a kurma but for a culture that consists of many vegetarians it was inevitable that we come up with vegetarian versions!
There are many kurma recipes that use whole beans and legumes and are paired with a main dish that is heavy on carbs. Guess it’s a balancing act and also many such legumes are grown in the southern states, which is also a reason why they ended up in the kurma. My aunt makes a Navadhanya kurma (9 bean kurma) to go along with parottas. I haven’t eaten hers in 2 decades but I can still recollect how fragrant and rich her version is! She also makes a mean parotta!
This kurma is inspired by her 9 Bean kurma and my mother’s tomato kurma. You can add as many varieties of beans as you can digest in this recipe. This time I have used just sprouted green mung beans. A powerhouse ingredient that blends well with the flavors. The addition of paneer to this was inspired by another recipe from Spice India Online – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zKHB0-W_v_I. I have made that one a couple of times and it was a hit at home.
Recipe : Green Mung Korma
|Prep Time for beans : Soak beans overnight; |
(Sprout time 10 hours,if needed)
Kurma prep time : 20 minutes
|Cook Time : 30 minutes|
|Ease Level : 😃||Spice Level : 🌶🌶|
|Serves: 4 to 6||Tamil Cuisine/Curry|
Check Notes for variations.
- Dry Green Mung bean – 1/2 cup
- Finely chopped onion – 1/2 cup
- Puréed tomato – 3/4 cup
- Turmeric powder – 1/2 teaspoon
- Cumin seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
- Water – as needed
- Salt to taste
- Ginger paste – 1 teaspoon
- Garlic paste – 1 teaspoon
- Coconut oil as needed
- Cubed Paneer – 1 cup (use tofu for an entirely vegan version)
- Powdered jaggery – 1/2 teaspoon (optional)
To make a paste :
- Dry/Fresh coconut – 1 tablespoon
- Fennel seeds – 1/4 teaspoon
- Roasted gram dal – 1 tablespoon
- Green chili – 2 (or to taste)
- White poppy seeds – 1/2 teaspoon
Soak all these in warm water for 5 minutes.
How to :
Prep the mung beans:
- If using dry whole green mung beans, wash them thoroughly and soak them overnight or for at least 8 hours, ideally.
- Once they are rehydrated, drain all the water, rinse again well and drain completely.
- If choosing to sprout them, add them to a very lightly damp cotton cloth/ cheese cloth, tie them up and place them in a bowl. Place that bowl in a warm place/inside the Instant Pot/inside the turned-off oven for another 8 hours and let them sprout. It takes longer for them sprout in the winters.
- Once they are ready, cook them until soft. I placed them in the inner vessel of the Instant Pot, added water just enough for the beans to get immersed in and pressure cooked them on High for 4 minutes.
- Prep the curry/kurma base while the beans are cooking.
For the curry/kurma :
- Heat a saucepan on medium high, add a tablespoon of coconut oil, once oil is hot add the cumin seeds. Let them toast for a few seconds.
- Next add the onions, a pinch of salt and let them cook until they start to sweat and turn a little translucent.
- Add the ginger and garlic paste, saite for a few seconds.
- Then add the tomato puree, turmeric powder and mix well.
- Cover the pan with a lid and let it cook on medium heat for at least 5 minutes or until the raw smell of the tomatoes and onions is gone.
- Add 1/4 cup of water if you feel the base to be very thick so as to avoid burning. The consistency of your kurma is completely up to you, thick or soupy.
- Make a paste of the ingredients listed above under the paste list. Once the onion-tomato base has simmered enough, add this paste and mix well. Let simmer for 2 minutes, covered.
- Next add in the cooked mung dal and check for salt. Add the powdered jaggery if using.
- Finally toss in the paneer and simmer for another minute or 2.
- Remove from heat and serve with roti, rice, quinoa, naan, etc.,.
In Pictures :
- Use any beans/lentils of choice instead of green mung.
- Sprouted mung beans are easily available in Indian grocery stores if you do not have time to sprout at home.
- Fry up some green cardamom, cloves, bay leaf along with the cumin seeds if you want an extra oomph in the kurma. Mine is a kid friendly version hence I haven’t.
- Add fried tofu instead of paneer for a vegan version.
- Add a splash of coconut milk in place of grated coconut.
As always, make it your own and enjoy! Thank you for stopping by!