In Andhra Pradesh, South India, there is no dish that can get more authentic than a traditional Gongura delicacy such as Pappu (dal), pickle, Pachadi, thokku(chutney), Pulihora (rice) or the ever-popular Gongura Mutton Stew (Mamsam) amongst many others.
In India, there is a common tendency to shy away from leafy green veggies during the rainy months to generally avoid the contamination & sticky muck coming into the kitchen. However, it is also a time when vibrant fresh greens are available in plenty & in a wide variety of them.
Gongura is probably one of the few greens consumed right through monsoon as it’s long stems grow fairly off ground level (keeping most grime off) & the leaves are an excellent source of Iron, vitamins A, B & C especially folic acid, minerals, calcium, magnesium, phosphorus, zinc etc. thereby providing great nutrition. Thus, rather than avoid eating it, do just be careful to wash the leaves well, until the water runs completely clear.
This leafy green is popular in Maharashtra as Ambadi bhaaji, Pundi Palle/ Soppu in Karnataka, eaten with Jowar rotis & in Tamil Nadu as Pulicha keerai, often eaten with Ragi Mudde or steamed ragi balls. It is widely consumed across the northern & eastern parts of the country too.
Gongura Pappu is a delicious dal or lentil preparation made with naturally sour, marijuana-shaped leafy greens known as Gongura / Ambadi /Sorrel leaves (hibiscus cannabinus), an edible plant grown in India.
There are two varieties of Gongura leaves available – the one with the red coloured stalks that’s sourer than the other green stemmed ones. They both impart a unique natural sourness to the dish and so it’s a good idea to be careful / avoid adding any other souring agent to the dish. Being largely a summer crop, the hotter the place, the sourer the leaf gets.
See my recipe for an interesting Betel Leaves Rasam here
Recipe for Gongura Pappu – Tangy Sorrel Leaves Lentil
Ingredients (Serves 2- 4 Persons)
- ½ cup split Toor Dal / Arhar Dal / Split Pigeon Pea Lentil, washed & soaked 30 mins
- ½ teaspoon turmeric / haldi powder
- 2 cups Ambada / Sorrel Leaves / Gongura, washed & chopped
- 1 tablespoon Sesame /Gingelly Oil
- ½ teaspoon methi / fenugreek seeds
- 1 teaspoon cumin / jeera seeds
- 8-10 curry leaves
- 3-4 cloves garlic, crushed roughly
- 2 dry red chillies, broken
- 2 green chillies, slit
- 1 medium onion, chopped or 8-10 sambar onions, chopped
- 1 teaspoon coriander /dhania powder
- Water for cooking
- Salt to taste
For the final seasoning
- ½ teaspoon mustard / rai seeds
- ½ teaspoon cumin / jeera seeds
- Pinch of asafoetida / hing powder
- 3-4 cloves garlic, crushed
- Few curry leaves to taste
- 1 tablespoon Sesame /Gingelly Oil
- Pressure cook toor dal along with haldi & 2 cups of water for 3-4 whistles. Once the pressure falls naturally, open & mash the dal well.
- In a heavy bottom pan, heat oil, add methi & jeera seeds & allow them to splutter.
- Add fresh curry leaves, dry red chilies, crushed garlic cloves, green chilies, chopped onions and cook till the onions become pink.
- Add chopped Gongura / Sorrel Leaves, coriander powder, haldi & salt. Saute till they soften & wilt- about 2 minutes.
- Once done, add ½ cup water & mashed toor dal. Cook covered on low flame for five minutes until the Gongura flavours are absorbed by the dal.
- Check and adjust the salt and spice levels to your taste.
- Transfer the Gongura Dal to a serving bowl & make a seasoning in a small pan with 1 tbsp oil, mustard & cumin seeds, pinch of asafoetida, crushed garlic & curry leaves. Saute a second & pour onto the cooked dal.
- Serve Gongura Pappu with piping hot steamed rice, ghee, French beans potato stir fry, Curry leaves dry chutney powder mixed in hot oil & a bowl of curd for a delicious Indian meal.