Easy Usli Recipe: A Healthy South Indian Snack Guide

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Written By Haryana’s Restaurant

Authentic Indian Food – Classic Indian Cuisine in Terrace BC

Imagine starting your day with a burst of energy from a dish that’s not only nutritious but also packed with flavors that dance on your palate. Usli, a beloved South Indian snack, is all about simplicity and health. Made from a mixture of steamed lentils and spices, this dish is a popular choice for breakfast or as a light afternoon snack.

Usli is celebrated for its versatility and ease of preparation. Whether you’re a seasoned chef or a kitchen novice, you’ll find joy in creating this delightful dish. It’s perfect for those busy mornings when you need a quick yet satisfying meal or for those lazy afternoons when you crave something light yet fulfilling.


To make this delightful Usli, here’s what you’ll need:

  • 1 cup of split pigeon peas (toor dal), soaked for at least 1 hour
  • 3 cups of water
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 tablespoon of coconut oil
  • 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
  • 2 dried red chilies, broken into pieces
  • A pinch of asafoetida (hing)
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • 1/4 cup freshly grated coconut
  • 2 tablespoons of chopped cilantro for garnish

Make sure to gather all these ingredients before starting your cooking process to ensure a smooth and efficient preparation.

Necessary Equipment

To create the perfect Usli, ensure you have the right equipment on hand. This will help streamline your cooking process and enhance your culinary experience.

Kitchen Tools

  • Measuring Cups and Spoons: Accurate measurements of spices and lentils are crucial for the perfect balance of flavors.
  • Steamer Basket: Essential for steaming the lentils, preserving their texture and nutritional value.
  • Skillet or Frying Pan: Needed for tempering the spices and sautéing the ingredients, which brings out their aromatic flavors.
  • Spatula: Useful for stirring and ensuring that the ingredients do not stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Grater: For fresh coconut, a grater will be required to achieve the right texture for garnishing.
  • Mixing Bowl: For assembling the tempered spices with the steamed lentils before serving.
  • Pressure Cooker or Large Pot: Used for boiling the lentils until they’re just right – tender but still holding their shape.
  • Saucepan: Perfect for tempering the spices. Choose one with a heavy bottom to prevent the spices from burning.
  • Serving Dish: A beautiful serving dish to present the Usli appealingly, enhancing the overall dining experience.

With these tools and vessels, you’ll be fully equipped to make a delicious Usli that looks as good as it tastes.


To begin crafting your Usli, ensure all your ingredients and kitchen tools are ready. This will make the preparation process smoother and more efficient.

Washing and Soaking

Start by thoroughly rinsing 1 cup of split pigeon peas under cold running water. Use a fine mesh strainer to avoid losing any peas down the drain. Once rinsed, soak the peas in three cups of water for about 4 hours. This softens the peas, ensuring they cook evenly and blend easily with other ingredients. After soaking, drain the water and set the peas aside.

Chopping Vegetables

Next, focus on prepping your vegetables. Finely chop one medium onion, two green chilies, and one carrot. Also, grate half a cup of fresh coconut. Having your vegetables chopped and ready to go will not only speed up your cooking but will also help in layering the flavors in your Usli. Ensure you keep these chopped items separate, as they will be added to the dish at different cooking stages.

Cooking Instructions

Get ready to turn your prepped ingredients into a delightful Usli. Follow these step-by.Dom-tostep instructions to ensure every bite is as tasty as it is nutritious.

Roasting the Lentils

  1. Begin by draining the soaked split pigeon peas.
  2. Heat a skillet over medium heat. Once hot, add the drained lentils.
  3. Roast the lentils for about 5 to 7 minutes or until they turn golden brown and emit a nutty fragrance. Make sure to stir frequently to prevent them from burning.
  4. Remove the lentils from the skillet and set aside to cool slightly. This roasting step enhances the lentils’ flavor and texture in the Usli.

Preparing the Tempering

  1. In the same skillet, heat two tablespoons of coconut oil.
  2. Add a teaspoon of mustard seeds and let them splutter.
  3. Follow by adding finely chopped onions, green chilies, curry leaves, and a pinch of asafetida. Sauté these ingredients until the onions turn translucent and the mixture is fragrant, about 3 to 4 minutes.
  4. Incorporate the chopped carrots and any other vegetables you prefer. Cook for an additional 4 to 5 minutes until the vegetables are tender.

Finishing Up and Serving the Usli

  1. Return the roasted lentils to the skillet with the sautéed vegetables.
  2. Add salt to taste and half a cup of water. Mix well.
  3. Cover the skillet with a lid and let the mixture cook for 8 to 10 minutes, or until the lentils are completely cooked through.
  4. Remove the lid, and if there’s any excess water, increase the heat to evaporate it quickly.
  5. Finally, stir in the grated coconut and chopped cilantro for a fresh burst of flavor.
  6. Serve your Usli hot, garnished with additional coconut and cilantro if desired. Enjoy your perfectly spiced and satisfying meal!

Serving Suggestions

Once your Usli is ready, how you serve it can enhance its flavors and make your meal even more enjoyable. Here are a few suggestions to garnish and pair your Usli perfectly.


A beautifully garnished Usli not only looks appealing but also adds an extra layer of flavor. After plating the warm Usli, sprinkle it generously with finely chopped fresh cilantro and some freshly grated coconut. These ingredients not only complement the earthiness of the lentils but also introduce a fresh, aromatic lift to the dish. For a bit of crunch and additional flavor, you can also add a few fried curry leaves on top.


Usli is versatile and pairs wonderfully with a variety of sides. For a traditional touch, serve it with a side of tangy tamarind rice or fluffy basmati rice. It also goes well with rotis or fresh dosas, making a wholesome meal. If you prefer something lighter, a bowl of raita—especially cucumber or pineapple raita—works beautifully to balance the flavors. For those who like a little heat, accompany the dish with some spicy mango pickle or a dollop of coconut chutney on the side.


Ready to dive into the delightful world of Usli? With all the tips and tricks you’ve gathered, you’re set to master this nutritious snack. Whether you’re pairing it with a spicy pickle or a cooling raita, Usli is sure to impress. So why wait? Grab your ingredients and let the aroma of coconut oil and spices fill your kitchen today. Here’s to a delicious, healthful journey with every bite!

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