Wednesday, May 22, 2013

Horse Gram, the Wonder-Bean

Everybody's heard of garbanzo, kidney beans, black eyes peas, red adzuki beans, cannellini beans, etc.... you find them in any grocery store. But do you know the horse gram? If you do, then great (and you can skip the next paragraph)! If you don't, then well, it is time to introduce you to this wonder-bean.

The wonder-bean- Horse Gram (cooked) 
Horse Gram, the wonder-bean: Used widely in Ayurvedic medicine, here are some important health benefits, in no particular order, of the horse gram:

1. Natural remedy for gall, and kidney stones

2. Reduces flatulence, and acidity, and keeps your innards in great shape (good fiber)! 

4. Used for treating rheumatism.

5. Used to treat obesity- and this one is a BIGGIE, especially in these times of biggie fries, super-sized cokes, double whoppers; heck, even those venti frappuccinos and whatnot! 

6. Used to treat menstrual problems in women. Forget those dozens of ibuprofen capsules that you ingest. Try incorporating some horse gram into your diet, instead!

7. Lowers cholesterol

So there, now that you have been introduced to this truly wonder-bean, here are a couple recipes for you. These two are in fact popular South Indian dishes.

First, and Foremost, before anything:

1. Soak the beans in water overnight. This will allow for easy cooking the next day. I haven't seen canned horse gram anywhere- if you do find it, then you can skip this step altogether, and proceed to the recipes.

2. Cook the soaked beans, along with the water that it was soaked in, and with extra water, in a pressure cooker. Add some salt, and a pinch of turmeric powder to this as well.

Note: If you don't have a pressure cooker, you'll have to cook the beans in a pot, like you would cook lentils in a pot. I prefer the pressure cooker, as it does the work in half the time- about 15 minutes.

Horse gram cooked in the pressure cooker
3. Once the cooking is done, separate out the beans from the water, and save that water- that is a key ingredient!

The Water

Cooked Horse Gram
And now we can jump right into the recipes!

Recipe 1- Horse Gram Soup/Hurali Saaru

You need:

1. The water from the above-mentioned cooking-the-horse gram-step

2. 1 teaspoon of ghee/clarified butter, or oil

3. 1 teaspoon cumin seeds

4. Some curry leaves (key to a proper south-indian recipe!)

5. Some tamarind water/concentrate- to add the tang factor. OR lemon juice.

6. 3-4 tablespoons of cooked horse gram, mashed into a paste. You could use a pestle-mortar for this, or just mash it up with a spoon.

7. Some salt, if needed. Remember- we had already added salt in the very first step, so there's salt in that water already.


1. Take a pot, add a teaspoon of ghee/clarified butter, get the heat going, temper some cumin seeds, throw in the curry leaves (careful here, the leaves tend to splatter up, so cover the pot with a lid immediately).

2. Then add the horse gram water into this, and the mashed horse gram to impart some texture (sort of acts as a thickening agent). Bring to boil. Spoon in some tamarind water/concentrate for tang, else squeeze lemon juice in the end.

3. Taste, and add salt if needed. That's it! You got yourself a wonder-soup, that can be eaten as it is, or if you can't do without your starch, mix with rice, and enjoy! We call it Hurali Saaru back home.

Note: If you love garlic, you could add some crushed garlic in Step 1. That'll add extra flavor.

Horse Gram Soup/Hurali Saaru
Recipe 2- Horse Gram Salad/Hurali Usali or Sundal:

You need: 

1. Cooked horse gram (remember, the one you get after separating the beans from the water)

2. Grated coconut- 2-3 tablespoons. Fresh coconut would be the first choice, but frozen, as well as dried coconut flakes will work just fine.

3. Curry leaves

Curry Leaves
4. A couple green chilies

5. Salt (again, don't go overboard with this, since we had salted the entire thing in the very first cooking step).

6. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

7. A pinch of asafetida- I don't think I have ever mentioned this very important spice/resin used in almost all Indian cooking. I will have to dedicate one entire post highlighting the asafetida- known as Hing/Heeng in India. In fact, most of our cooking, almost always begins with a pinch of hing, especially when we cook legumes, beans, lentils-- all those proteins. But more about this in a later post.

8. 1-2 teaspoons oil


1. Get a pan going on the stove, add a couple teaspoons of oil, heat, add a pinch of hing, followed by a teaspoon of mustard seeds- get them to splutter. Then throw in the curry leaves, and the chilies. Cover with lid.

2.Once the spluttering (and potential splattering!) is over, switch off the stove, take off the lid, and add the cooked horse gram, with the coconut. Give it all a good stir. Add salt if needed.

And you got yourself a super-healthy horse gram salad! Yeah, that's it! We call it Hurali Usali or sundal back home.

Horse Gram Salad/Hurali Usali/Sundal
You could get creative, and add some chopped cucumber to this, or even finely chopped onions, and tomatoes, squeeze some lemon juice--- your choice.

Make this wonderful horse gram salad instead of the same old five bean salad. It might just become your new favorite dish to take to the next potluck! Don't forget the soup!

No comments: