Gongura pappu/ Pulicha keerai kootu/ Lentil stew with Roselle /Florida cranberry /Indian Sorrel leaves

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Last week was really bad one for me; as my daughter got high fever and the first time in her 4 years she told me, my tooth is aching. Poor girl could not sleep even with two doses of Tylenol.  On the top of it my mobile won’t work in the morning. It said no service. I fell in love with AT&T for their world class service? Dropping my calls and also not providing the service when it is most needed. Since my phone doesn’t want to work, I had to go to my neighbor and friend Yolanda’s house to get a phone.  When I started dialing the nearest dentist office since it is Friday they were not open, and I have to wait till Monday to see the doctor. I know tooth ache is most horrible pain one can think off, so I decide to take her to another dentist in 45 minutes drive. Finally after reaching there I came to know she has 3 bad teeth in front and few molar has cavity. I asked the doctor when the front set of tooth come back after these milk teeth are gone.  He told me around 5-6 years and molar comes back on 6-12 years. So they decided to extract decayed tooth. She was prescribed with antibiotics.  After few dos of antibiotics, they extracted her two front teeth yesterday; poor girl was still smiling and told me that she is fine. Again I got shocking news that she more decayed teeth and they would want to work on it and it going to cost me $4000. Also want to do IV sedation, that part scares hell out of me.
I am fine with spending money, still in my mind is the question why I am torturing her with this cavity filling for a tooth that going to comes out eventually, so I am planning to get a second opinion with another dentist. Let me see how it goes.
I remember my picture of toothless smile around 6 years in my uncle’s wedding. I was so proud to show off my smile than not to worry about the beauty at that time. That is innocence of that age.
Thanks to all of you for asking my little boy’s penny adventure, he is fine running around, eating, and pooping.
Okay coming back to the dish of the day, it is from Andhra Pradesh. Among the south Indian states, Andhra is largest one, and also the 4th largest state in Indian sub continent. Just like any other regional cuisine, it has its own trade mark dishes, they are major rice and chili producer in the southern states, obliviously their food is spiciest among the south.  Do you want to know spiciest cuisine in Asia, mean’s hottest, take a look at this article in Time Magazine, Korean comes first, and Assamese (( land of Naga Bhut Jolokia/spiciest chili pepper) comes 4th? Okay you will be wondering why I am talking about spices and Andhra, just like chilies, this Gongura, or Roselle, Indian sorrel leaves, is another essential part of Andhra cuisine.

  I read that you get the best variety of gongura from Guntur city of Andhra Pradesh.  They make Gongura pachadi, Gongura mutton,  Gongura Pickle etc.  In Andhra, it is difficult consider food without gongura.  

Gongura comes in two varieties, red stemmed one and green stemmed one. Red stemmed ones are called Roselle and they are sourer than green stemmed variety. Gongura /Roselle/Florida Cranberry/Jamaican sorrel/Indian Sorrel (Hibiscus sabdariffa) is red stemmed variety.  It is native of India to Malaysia found in West Indies, Central America, in India and Burma leaves are used mainly; rest of the world (Thailand, Mexico, Trinidad and Tobago , Africa) its calyx the outer covering of the flower buds is used to make drinks and in food coloring. Roselle/ gongura buds are used to make jam and jelly. If you want to read take a look at here. The stems are fiber rich and it is substituted for jute.  Gongura is pulicha keerai in tamil, Ambadi in Marathi and Pitwaa in hindi, Pandi/pundi in Kannada, if you want to rest local Indian names take look at here
Health benefits include its diuretic, cholerectic, febrifugal and hypotensive, decreasing the viscosity of the blood and stimulating intestinal peristalsis.  And also it is rich in vitamin C and other minerals.
Green stemmed variety is the garden sorrel/ spinach dock (Rumex acetosa), often simply called sorrel, is cultivated as a garden herb or leaf vegetable (pot herb). It is commonly used in East European cuisine and there is a milder variety called French sorrel (Rumex scutatus (French or “round-leafed” sorrel) used in French cuisine. Young leaves are used to make salad and is cooked to make stew or soup. If you want read more from here. The presence of oxalic acid produces acidic and tart or sour notes that are not so prominent in young leaves, which are preferred for harvesting. Sorrel is available year-round, but it is at its youngest and mildest in spring. It is high in vitamin A and contains some calcium, phosphorus, potassium, magnesium and vitamin C. Once you cook the sorrel leaves amount of oxalic acid content gets reduced.
On a trip Indian store I spotted a fresh bunch of Gongura/Roselle, however I was reluctant to buy them as I don’t know how to cook them. Then one lady came to aisle and started picking one bunch, I asked her how do you cook it, she told you can just pressure cook them with dal and make it as a stew. I decide to try them. She even told me to try to pick young leaves as they are tastier than old ones. I bought a bunch and made this stew with toor dal/ split pigeon’s peas. I try to make it authentic as possible, so pressure cooked the dal and cooked gongura separately and added crushed garlic, green chilies and cumin seeds. I think the tanginess the gongura is amazing.  You need to try this delicious dish which goes well with rice. My friend Suja told me that I need to season them with little ghee and asafetodia at the end of cooking. Next time I will try that.
I bought the dried calyx of Gongura/Roselle which sells as Hibiscus flower/Flor de Jamaica to make Hibiscus tea. Next post is going to that one.  Please stay tuned for that.
By the way how you cook gongura ? Do you have any family recipe let me know?
Here comes the recipe of gongura pappu

Gongura  pappu/ Pulicha keerai  kootu/ Lentil stew with Roselle /Florida cranberry /Indian Sorrel leaves
Preparation time: 30 minutes
Yield: 4 serving

  •   2 cups chopped Gongura/ Indian Sorrel /Roselle leaves
  • ½ cup Cooked Toor dal/Split Pigeon peas
  • 1 tablespoon urad dal/ split black gram
  •  11/2cup water+ extra for cooking the Toor dal
  • 2 no of chopped green chilies
  • 2 no of Red chili halved
  • 3/4cup chopped onion
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon Mustard seeds
  • 2 no of garlic cloves crushed
  • 1 teaspoon Salt
  • ¼ teaspoon Turmeric powder
  •  1 sprig of Curry leaves: 1 sprig
  • Coriander leaves: 1 tablespoon
  • Oil: 2 tablespoon (I used olive oil)


  • Pluck and clean the Gongura/Roselle/Indian sorrel leaves, remove stem, wash them in running water and  chop into fine pieces and set aside.
  • In pressure cooker cook the toor dal with 1 ½ cup water for 3 whistles (it takes about 15-20 minutes) and set aside.
  • In a medium sauce pan heat 1 ½ tablespoon of oil and add , mustard, cumin seeds and crushed garlic  and halved red chilies  once they starts splutters add chopped onion, green chilies   and curry leaves fry them until they become translucent or change color it takes about 6 minutes.
  •  To this add cleaned gongura leaves and cook until they are wilted it takes about 7 minutes.
  • Once they are well done add cooked toor dal and turmeric and let it boil for another 9 minutes with stirring in between. Adjust salt if needed. Add water if needed to make desired consistency. 
  • Enjoy with rice.


  • To make it authentic add little ghee and asafetodia while you remove from the fire.
  • Make sure to wash gongura leaves before storing them for long time. Use it immediately as they tend to lose their charm on refrigeration. 

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  1. says

    Hope your daughter is much better.. I remember picking up these leaves and didnt what to do with them! Then made this after browsing.. its really ncie for a change!

  2. says

    Hey Swathi, did u check with dental insurance, and they also have some installment plans . But I know with little ones sick its really hard. This past week both my girls were running very high temp.

    By the way gongura with dal is simply superb. take care of ur little daughter…

  3. says

    If you remove those teeth, I think she won’t get new ones. I have one friend whose son had exact same thing. He is now 8 and no teeth at all. So it’s better u go for second opinion.

  4. says

    Can’t ask for more Swathi..I love such curries.Even I have one in my draft.The combo of drumstick leaves and dal…
    The bowl of umpteen nutrients..

  5. says

    Looks delecious swathi, thanks for updating them with pics. That will help me to find one next time I shop here!! Though I live in AP, didnt have chance of cooking with gongura leaves, will have to try soon!

  6. says

    we love tangy gongura in all forms, its very good for health too, this dal will help us to relish our fav. greens even more, thanks for sharing :-)

  7. says

    I understand your worries,guess the worst thing for a mother is watching their little one in pain and tooth ache can be real hard.My prayers for her to get well very soon..Though we think that they are little they are more stronger and positive than us and will bounce back very soon. The keerai kootu looks wonderful…lovely clicks too !

  8. says

    Toothache scares the hell out of me even at this age… Hope your princess is doing well now.

    The sorrel leaves curry looks delicious.