Brussels sprouts in a South-Indian style recipe might sound terribly inauthentic. It is, and it’s probably why it comes as a surprise to most people when I tell them about this poriyal (as well as ones using oyster mushrooms, broccoli and lettuce). Growing up though, this was pretty normal. When I was at boarding school in Ooty and my parents would come on their monthly visits to see me, a stop at the local market was always on their agenda (much to my annoyance at the time). Carrots and beets with their tops still intact, humongous heads of cauliflower and broccoli, fresh peas, lettuce and hill garlic—all being cold weather produce—were ubiquitous. Brussels sprouts albeit seasonal would be available for most of the year. And they would buy them all.
I’m a bit of a sceptic when it comes to ‘fancy food’, and I realize that this might sound like a misguided attempt to make Brussels sprouts into something that’s exactly that – fancy. Truth is, I look at it the way my mom did. She bought them because they were fresh and seasonal and found a way to incorporate them into our regular meals; made it accessible and ‘regular’ in a way that everyone at home would eat them, my grand mom included. It stuck, and is now a common enough occurrence at my parents’ as well as in ours.
I like to either halve or quarter the Brussels sprouts here depending on how big or small they are. Basically keeping them intact. But if you don’t particularly enjoy biting into a Brussels sprout in this form, slice them really thinly like you would cabbage.
If you scroll through the recipe you will notice that I sit the sprouts in salted boiling water tinted with turmeric. This is for two reasons. One, it removes some of the bitterness from the vegetable and two, any impurities or worms from the layers within. It’s a mandatory first step so please don’t skip it.
3-4 as a side
- 500 grams Brussels sprouts
- 1/4 cup shallots, roughly chopped
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- 1 tsp sambar chilli powder
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
- 1/4 tsp split urad dhal
- 2 tbsp grated coconut
- 1 tbsp oil
- Salt, to taste
- Trim the hard bottom core of the Brussels sprouts and remove any scraggly outer leaves if any. Halve the big ones, quarter the smaller ones and add to a bowl with turmeric powder and salt. Pour over boiling water and let sit for 10 minutes. Drain and set aside.
- Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. Once they start to splutter, add split urad dhal and let it colour for 15 seconds.
- Add shallots and curry leaves and sauté until shallots brown, about 3-4 minutes.
- Tip the Brussels sprouts in and season with salt. Cover and cook over a medium flame, occasionally flipping them over until the sprouts are lightly browned on the flat side and cooked through. (You want them to be just cooked with still a bite to them).
- Add chilli powder and salt. Cook for 3-4 minutes longer. Scatter grated coconut over the top and toss through just before serving. Serve hot or at room temperature.
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