Tuesday 18 July 2017

The lazy chef's quick Misal Pao

After my first encounter with Misal Pao, I was sure I would never ever eat it, leave apart preparing it someday and blogging about it!

A day after we landed up in Mumbai, I ate Misal Pao in the breakfast buffet of the hotel we were staying at. My first impression was - something watery with just few lentils for the sake of formality and lot of namkeen and onions compensating for the lack of lentils. The next time I tried my luck was  during snacks time at the office cafeteria and needless to say, I was equally disappointed. "This dish is not meant for the Dilliwalla" I concluded and wrote it off. 

However, I often wondered what is so good about Misal Pao that my Mumbaikar friends can't stop going gaga over it. So much that a friend of mine has named her blog after the dish!

Anyway, the ice breaking happened few days ago, when Mr. Hubby declared that he had developed the taste for the dish. Now let me tell you, he is thousand times more finicky about food than me. So, when he appreciates a dish, I do pause and take notice. "It's about the preparation. If it is prepared well, it tastes awesome!" Apparently one of his friend's wife is a pro at the dish. 

Few days back, I was at a restaurant near my office for a quick bite and as I was glancing through the options that they could serve me within the next 5 minutes, my eyes fell on Misal Pao. My scepticism was obvious, considering my earlier experiences. But, being the typical Indian wife, how could I not decode the mystery of Misal Pao! So I ordered one plate and to my utter surprise, it tasted so good! The humble sprouts added to the body while the crispy farsan and the chopped onions played sporty. The right dash of lemon juice added well to the romance! Perhaps it was indeed about the preparation style!

Now the only milestone left was to prepare it better than his friend's wife, and going by his reaction to my maiden attempt, I am sure it was a job well done! 

Since I am a lazy cook, here's a simpler version of the recipe that I managed in 15-20 minutes while the toddler was enjoying his afternoon siesta!

Ingredients (Serve 4)

Mixed Sprouts - 250g (The main advantage of this dish is that it makes it easy to feed protein rich sprouts to otherwise fussy eaters!)

Onion (chopped) - 2 medium,

Green chillies (chopped)- 4
Tomatoes (chopped) - 3 large

Dried Coconut, grated - 1/2

Oil - 1 tbsp
Asafoetida - a pinch
Whole cumin seeds - 2 tsp
Salt - to taste
Turmeric powder - 1tsp
Coriander powder - 2 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1tsp
Misal Pao masala - 2-3tsp (The most important ingredient!)
Water - 2-3 cups
Lemon juice

While most recipes I saw on Youtube involved preparing the sprouts and gravy separately, I have decided to play quick and easy by cooking everything together in my pressure Handi. However, to each his own!

1. Heat oil in a pressure handi. Add asafoetida, cumin seeds. 

2. When the seeds splutter, add chopped onions and green chillies. 

3. When the onions turn pink, add the grated coconut and cook on medium flame for 2-3 minutes.

4. Add turmeric powder, coriander powder, red chilli powder, salt and Misal Pao masala. Cook on low flame for 1-2 minutes till the spices are cooked.

5. Add the chopped tomatoes and mix well. If the masala sticks to the surface, you can add a bit water at this stage. Cook the masala till it leaves oil on sides.

6. Add the sprouts and mix well.

7. Add water generously. Mix well and adjust seasoning.

8. Cover the lid and cook it till 1 whistle. Allow the steam to escape and open the lid.

Add some lemon juice to a bowl of the Misal and garnish with namkeen and chopped onions. Your Misal is ready to romance the Pao!