I often sit & wonder how certain food items must have been ‘invented’.Actually I would really like to know the history of all the food items. I wonder why someone thought of collecting the wheat grains and making a powder (flour) out of it, adding water to make a dough and then rolling out Rotis and then baking them on the Tawa (griddle). What must have prompted the earliest human being to make curd/yogurt from the milk, how they might have stumbled upon it. How they discovered that certain things were edible & tasty when made in a particular way. Who thought of boiling /steaming the rice and how did they come across so many varieties of it. It must have been a massive trial & error session as regards to the rice, I am sure.
More than the complex recipes it is the simple and basic things that intrigue me. The complex ones, if you ask me, are easy to build on when you know the basics. Similar to spelling out large words when you are thorough with the ABC’s. It might take some time to learn but you know you will get it.
These thoughts were triggered as I sat there thinking how to introduce the dish in question here – Misal Pav. The first thing that came to mind was that people must have started with the basic Usal, which is made with sprouts or dried beans. So someone must have added some farsan to the Usal just for that extra crunch & liked it so much that ‘Misal’ was invented. So there you are, Misal is nothing but basic Usal mixed with Farsan (Namkeen/Mixture), topped with garnishes such as chopped onion, chopped coriander etc.
But while Usal can be with a bit of gravy as well as dry, the one made specifically for Misal should have a lot of liquid to compliment the addition of Farsan which tends to soak up some of the gravy. The correct or the traditional way of making Misal is to make two separate things namely the usal, which is made dry and the Kaat which is the one with the gravy. But I have been making Misal by combining the two steps together to save a bit of time.
This is my version of the Misal.
I always make a sprouts Usal and most of the times it is Matki (sprouted Moth Beans). To get the sprouts, soak the Moth Beans overnight and then drain them well and cover and leave them at a warm place. It takes 1-2 days for the sprouting, so you have to plan ahead.
- 2 tblsp oil
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 8-10 curry leaves
- A pinch of Asafoetida
- 1/2 tsp Turmeric Powder
- 2 garlic cloves, crushed
- 1 small onion, chopped
- 1 Tomato, chopped
- 1-2 tsp Red Chilli powder
- 1.5 tsp Goda Masala
- 2 Cups Sprouts (I used Matki i.e. sprouted Moth Beans)
- 1 Medium Potato cut into small cubes
- A pair of Pav buns (or white rolls)
- Farsan (Namkeen/Mixture)
- Chopped onion
- Chopped fresh Coriander
- A Wedge of Lime
- Thin Sev (Optional)
Heat the oil in a deep vessel and add the mustard seeds. As they start spluttering add the Curry leaves and Asafoetida.
Add the crushed garlic & fry until the garlic just starts browning. Put in the chopped onions and fry till the raw smell goes away and onions turn translucent.
Next, add the chopped tomato and cook till the tomatoes are all mashed up. Add the salt, red chilli powder and the goda masala and keep frying till the oil separates.
Add the chopped potatoes and cook for 5 min with the cover on. Add the sprouts and mix well.
Add about 3 cups of water, enough for the potatoes & sprouts to cook and also to be left with some gravy. Bring this to a boil and then simmer until cooked.
To serve, take a bowl and fill a little more than half of it with the Farsan. Pour over the Usal, adding gravy enough to immerse the Farsan. Top this up with chopped onions and Coriander and the thin sev. Serve this with the wedge of lemon and the Pav.
My notes: If you don't find the right Pav or white rolls, substitute with bread.