Each fall, between the months of September and October, hundreds of millions of Indians celebrate one formidable force in all her avatars — Goddess Durgā. Her strength, power, and victory in an epic 10-day-long battle over the demon king Mahishāsura are celebrated as Navrātri (nuv-raa-three).
Navrātri in Sanskrit means nine nights, and the Goddess is welcomed into people’s homes each night with prayers, food offerings, rituals, and festivities. People from the State of Tamil Nadu call it Nava-rā–tti-ri, and one dish, in particular, is a must-have specialty in every Tamilian home — sūndal (soon-dull).
Each spoonful of sūndal is packed with the nuttiness of the garbanzo beans, the fresh, cool, creaminess of the grated coconut, the herby flavor and aroma of the curry leaves, and a delectable, spicy kick from the mustard seeds and dry red chiles. You can switch the canned garbanzo beans for canned kidney beans, canned corn, or any other legume. In fact, in Tamil Nadu, nine different varieties of sūndal are made for each of the nights of Navarāttiri!
This year, Indians will begin celebrating Navrātri from the 7th of October, so here is a quick and easy recipe for making sūndal. This is a faster version of the traditional recipe for those of you who do not have the time to soak and cook the dried chickpeas; we will be using canned garbanzo beans.
- 1 can garbanzo beans, liquid drained
- 3 tablespoons grated coconut
For the tempered oil:
- 1 tablespoon vegetable oil
- 1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
- 3 dry red chiles, split in half, stems discarded
- 1 sprig curry leaves, washed, leaves removed, stem discarded
- Heat a heavy-gauge sauté pan on medium heat. Wait for any residual water to evaporate. Add the oil and mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to splutter, add the split dry red chiles and curry leaves. Temper these ingredients for 20 seconds in the oil, to fully incorporate their flavor into the oil.
- Add the drained garbanzo beans, and season with salt. Stir and sauté the beans for two minutes. Taste; season with salt as needed.
- Add the grated coconut. Stir and sauté for an additional minute.
Your sūndal is now ready!
- Sūndal keeps well at room temperature for about 3 hours.
- Refrigerate any leftovers in an airtight container, to prevent the garbanzo beans from drying out.
- Dry red chiles give this dish a wonderful smoky flavor. You can add more dry red chiles to suit your heat preference. Although green chiles aren’t traditionally used, you can add them too!
Bae is a food writer and author of Dāl — her forthcoming debut cookbook. Find her on Twitter @QueenBaesHive.
Images in this article are under CC 4.0.