Kala’s Usili with Mullangi Keerai (Dry Dhal Curry with Radish Tops)

Paruppu Usili, a dry dhal curry, is combined with finely chopped vegetables such as cluster beans, beans, etc. It is a special and auspicious vegetarian preparation which features in wedding feasts in Tamil Nadu and is the first to be served on the plantain leaf along with pickle and salt. There are different versions of usili, but I created this version with radish tops because of the many medicinal values attributed to them, some of which I myself have benefitted from. The traditional combination of red gram dhal and Bengal gram dhal results in a lot of flatulence and discomfort, so I have used only red gram dhal. I have also left out the curry leaves because the radish tops have a very pronounced flavour which clashes with the curry leaves. Usili can be packed as a side dish along with rice in a lunchbox (as it is dry), and I eat it as a snack because of its high satiety value combined with enticing flavour 🙂

Kala's Usili with Radish Tops - Kalas Kalai

Kala’s Usili with Radish Tops

Nutritive Value

Radish tops are very low in calories, containing just 28 Calories per 100g. They also provide 3.8g protein, 265mg calcium, 80mg vitamin C, and a whopping 5,295µg of beta carotene per 100g. The dhal contributes 22g of protein per 100g. This usili is a low calorie, high protein and high antioxidant preparation which is very good for health and can help relieve many medical conditions.


  • 3 bundles Mullangi Keerai (Radish Tops)
  • ¾ C Red Gram Dhal
  • 5 Dry Chillies, deseeded
  • ½ tsp Asafoetida Powder
  • 1 tsp Salt, or to taste
  • ¼ C Vegetable Oil
  • 5 C Water


  1. Wash the dhal. Soak the dhal and dry chillies in 2 cups of water for 1-1 ½ hours.
  2. Remove and discard the baby radishes from the tops. Wash the leaves in running water to remove fine earth adhering to it.
  3. Remove the thick veins from the leaves. Chop the leaves coarsely.
  4. Drain the soaking water from the dhal, and retain a tablespoon of the water. Grind the dhal in a mixie or a blender with the dry chilli, asafoetida powder, and salt.
  5. Add a tablespoon of the soaked water to the dhal.
  6. Grind the dhal at speed 1 for 10 seconds to arrive at a coarse consistency.
  7. Blanche the leaves in 3 cups of boiling water for a minute. Drain and discard the water.
  8. Heat the oil in a non-stick kadai or skillet. Add the dhal to the oil, and cook while stirring continuously to prevent lumping.
  9. When the dhal is half cooked, add the blanched leaves. Stir well and continue to cook till the dhal and the leaves are fully cooked.


  1. If the radish tops come along with fully grown radish, you will have to pressure cook the leaves as the fully matured leaves will be very coarse. The ground dhal can be pressure cooked along with the radish leaves to save cooking time, fuel, and oil added for cooking (only half the oil will be required).
  2. I use sunflower oil supplemented with rice bran oil for its neutral flavour and cholesterol lowering properties.


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