Alasande Saagu or red cow beans (also sometimes referred to as red cow peas) is a flavourful semi-gravy dish straight from the kitchens of Karnataka. It is a healthy mix of lentils cooked with potatoes, carrots and French beans (but you can also substitute these with other veggies of your choice like cauliflower and flat beans) and spices. It takes about 20 minutes to cook and is a dish which can be had with pooris, chapatis, rice, dosas or parathas. Alasande Saagu in North India is cooked as lentil or daal and doesn’t include vegetables or a coconut-based paste to spice it up. This version from Karnataka is sweet-savoury and offers a distinctive taste and aroma. It is also protein dense and very nutritious.

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 20 minutes

Servings: 3-4 servings 

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup - red cow peas / Alasande Saagu
  • 1 cup - water (to pressure cook)
  • 1 tbsp – refined oil 
  • ½ tsp - cumin seeds
  • 4-5 - curry leaves
  • ½ cup - chopped onion 
  • ¼ cup - chopped tomato 
  • ½ cup - potatoes cubes  
  • ½ cup - carrot cubes
  • ½ cup - chopped beans 
  • ½ tsp - salt 

For Coconut Masala/Paste

  • ¾ cup - fresh coconut 
  • 2-3 – green cardamoms 
  • 1 inch – cinnamon 
  • 3-4 - cloves 
  • 3 cloves - garlic 
  • 5 - peppercorns 
  • 3 green chillies 
  • 1 tsp – fennel seeds
  • Half an onion sliced into 2  
  • ½ cup coriander leaves 
  • ½ cup water grind finely 

Method:

  1. Take the red cow peas / Alasande saagu and rinse well with enough water 
  2. Pressure cook Alasande saagu along with potatoes, carrots and beans for 2-3 whistles 
  3. In a mixer grinder make a fine paste of fresh coconut, garlic, chillies, cardamom, cinnamon, cloves, peppercorns and the sliced half onion
  4. In a deep kadhai / pan, heat the oil put in cumin seeds and curry leaves and let sputter 
  5. Add finely chopped onion and saute till translucent
  6. Add finely chopped tomato and saute till it turns mushy
  7. Now add the ground coconut masala to the pan mix. Stir and mix well. 
  8. Saute for 3 minutes 
  9. Take the lentils and veggies, and transfer them to the spice mix in the pan – mix and stir well
  10. Add water as needed
  11. Add salt and let it boil for a couple of minutes. Serve hot.

You can also soak the beans overnight. There are two benefits to this. Not only does the lentil cook faster, but soaking also helps release the nutrients. All the lentils are rich in minerals and when soaked (for at least one hour prior to cooking) it breaks down the phytic acid present in the lentil, which helps bind the minerals in it, which then get absorbed better in our body. It also enhances the taste of the Alasande Saagu and makes it easier to digest. Go ahead, try it and enjoy it.