Nuchinunde or nuchina unde is a healthy, protein-rich Indian breakfast or snack recipe that is vegan and gluten-free.
Nuchina unde is a combination of two words, nuchu and unde which translate to nuchu (nucchu) = small broken pieces of grains or lentils and unde = ball, in the Kannada language.
A mixture of lentils along with basic spices and herbs are required to make this traditional Karnataka dish.
If you are bored of the regular Indian breakfast like dosa, idli, upma, poha, etc., and want to try a healthy wholesome dish, look no further!
Nuchinunde is a protein-rich, delicious breakfast option suitable for the whole family.
In Karnataka, there are so many varieties of steamed breakfast options, like akki kadubu (akki nuchinunde), ragi kadubu, wheat kadubu, jowar kadubu, etc., depending on the regions.
While those varieties are made of grains, nuchinunde, also known as togari nuchinunde is purely made of lentils.
I am greatly fond of nuchinunde both as breakfast and as a snack option, and would not mind eating it all through the day.
It tastes great when served hot with ghee most importantly. Coconut chutney or any other side, like shunti thambuli, majjige huli, hasi majjige would make it extra delicious.
Nuchinunde has to be soft and moist but well cooked. Hard and cold nuchinunde is not the best, although it would be tasty.
I am sharing this authentic nuchinunde recipe that I learned from my mom with a secret tip from one of my paternal aunts who makes really soft nuchinunde.
What is Nuchinunde / Nuchina Unde
Nuchinunde can simply be called steamed lentil dumplings.
The lentils, toor dal, moong dal, and chana dal are soaked for a couple of hours, drained, and ground coarsely with basic spices like ginger, pepper, cumin.
Generous amounts of chopped coriander, curry leaves, grated coconut are also added to the ground mixture.
This is then shaped into cylindrical dumplings and steam cooked.
Zero oil, completely lentil based, and absolutely delicious. What’s not to like about it, right?
Health Benefits of Nuchinunde
As mentioned above, lentils are the main ingredients used here. Lentils, as we all know, is a powerhouse of nutrients.
Lentils are rich in fiber, complex carbohydrates, varied minerals like iron, folate, potassium, manganese, and have a low glycemic index (GI).
Being an excellent vegan/vegetarian protein-source that is also gluten-free, lentils are also known to promote gut health.
Lentils contain anti-nutrients like trypsin and phytic acid that inhibit the absorption of nutrients.
Therefore, it is important to soak the lentils for a couple of hours and discard the water before cooking them.
Spices like ginger, cumin, pepper, and herbs like coriander and curry leaves are also used in this.
Not only do they add lot of flavor, but they all aid in good digestion of the lentils and avoid bloating.
The addition of coconut contributes to the good fat content in nuchinunde. Good fat is extremely essential to the body for multiple reasons, one of them being that it helps protein do its job.
Now would you also not agree that this is indeed a super healthy, nutritious dish?
Nuchinunde recipes might differ between families with slight variations.
The version I am familiar with and commonly make includes only curry leaves and coriander leaves as the herbs and no dill leaves or chopped onions.
However, a lot of people use dill leaves in this. You can definitely add them, finely chopped, if you like. Dill adds a wonderful flavor to this dish.
You can also add finely chopped onions, but ensure that you immediately shape the mixture into balls and steam them as onions leave moisture to the mixture.
Tip: If the mixture has turned a little soggy after adding onion, add in more grated coconut and shape them immediately. Do not squeeze the mixture or mix it too much after adding coconut.
Tips to make soft Nuchinunde
Nuchinunde can easily turn hard if the proportion of lentils is not right.
While most people mainly use toor dal with some chana dal, this combination makes the unde quite hard, in my experience.
Adding moong dal in equal quantity as the toor dal and a small amount of chana dal is essential to make the unde soft. This is the tip I learned from my aunt.
Also, nuchinunde will turn hard if steamed for a long time. Around 10 minutes are sufficient to cook them well.
They will harden up a bit after cooling as well. So, it is really important to not over steam them.
They can further harden up as they cool, and hence, are best served fresh.
Just these two tips and you are all set to make soft and delicious nuchinunde!
What to serve with Nuchinunde
Traditionally, nuchinunde is served with majjige huli (the Karnataka counterpart of Tamil Nadu mor kuzhambu), or hasi majjige, which is very similar to hasi gojju but with added yogurt.
Shunti thambuli (ginger raita) is also a great side dish for this.
You can also serve it with coconut chutney, especially when you want a simple and easy to make side dish.
My favorite way to serve this is with generous amounts of ghee and coconut chutney.
Since nuchinunde has a great flavor from spices, I personally also love it just with ghee. Of course, only when served fresh and hot. 🙂
The main ingredients: toor dal (split pigeon peas), moong dal (split yellow lentils), chana dal (split chickpeas).
The best ratio of the lentils would be 1:1:0.25 (toor:moong:chana).
You can also use masoor dal (red lentils) additionally. I have not tried it, but I don’t see a reason why it would not work.
Spices and Herbs-
You will need the following spices and herbs:
Whole black pepper
Fresh coriander and curry leaves
Salt, of course.
Additionally, you will need freshly grated coconut.
You can use frozen grated coconut as well. Just thaw it for a couple of hours to bring it to room temperature and then use.
To summarise, Nuchinunde is
- Protein-rich and nutritious
- Makes a great breakfast or snack option
Note: 1 cup= 250ml
Wash half cup each toor dal, moong dal and 2 tablespoons chana dal well until water runs clear and soak them in about 3 cups of water for 2 hours.
Soaking the lentils help in softening them so that they can be ground easily.
Also, it will aid in removing the phytic acid present in them thereby avoiding bloating and making the digestion easier.
The lentils would have then soaked well, turned soft, and would be easily breakable.
Next, drain the lentils well in a colander or spread on a kitchen towel so that the water content is removed as much as possible.
Transfer the well-drained lentils to a mixer jar along with green chilies, ginger, black pepper, and cumin seeds.
Since I used rock salt, I added it too to grind.
Without adding any water grind the mixture slightly coarsely. Ensure that you don’t grind it too smooth.
Transfer the ground mixture into a bowl and add chopped cilantro (coriander), curry leaves, grated coconut, turmeric powder, and asafoetida.
If you did not add salt while grinding, add it now. Mix everything well.
Immediately shape the mixture into oval-shaped dumplings and place them on a steamer plate or idli plates.
In case you ground the mixture too smooth by mistake and you are not able to shape them, add more grated coconut.
Meanwhile pour water into your steamer or idli cooker and bring it to a boil.
Once it starts to boil, place the idli stand or the steamer plate inside. Close the lid and steam it for 10 minutes.
After 10 minutes, take out the idli stand or steamer rack and let the nuchinunde cool a bit.
They might look undercooked at this stage but they harden up a bit and get the right texture on cooling. So let them rest for 2 minutes.
Remove the nuchinunde from the idli plates/steamer and serve hot with ghee and coconut chutney, majjige huli, or shunti thambuli.
More high-Protein Vegan Recipes:
Quinoa Cucumber Dosa
Pumpkin & Black Eyed Peas Curry
Green gram coconut milk curry
Measurement: 1 cup = 250 ml
- 1/2 cup toor dal
- 1/2 cup moong dal
- 2 tbsp chana dal
- 3 numbers green chilies
- 1/2 tsp fresh ginger - fairly chopped
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 tsp salt
To add to the ground mixture
- a handful cilantro (coriander leaves) - finely chopped
- 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves - finely chopped
- 4 tbsp fresh grated coconut
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- a pinch of asafoetida
- Wash the three lentils well until water runs clear and soak them in about 3 cups of water for 2 hours.
- The lentils would have then soaked well, turned soft, and easily breakable.
- Next, drain the lentils well in a colander or spread on a kitchen towel so that the water content is removed as much as possible.
- Transfer the well-drained lentils to a mixer jar along with green chilies, ginger, black pepper, and cumin seeds. Since I used rock salt, I added it too to grind.
- Without adding any water grind the mixture slightly coarsely. Ensure that you don't grind it too smooth.
- Transfer the ground mixture into a bowl and add chopped coriander leaves, curry leaves, grated coconut, turmeric powder, and asafoetida. If you did not add salt while grinding, add it now.
- Mix everything well and immediately shape the mixture into oval-shaped dumplings and place them on a steamer plate or idli plates.In case the ground mixture is too smooth and you are not able to shape them, add lot more grated coconut.
- Meanwhile pour water into your steamer or idli cooker and bring it to a boil. Once it starts to boil, place the idli stand or the steamer plate inside. Close the lid and steam it for 10 minutes.
- After 10 minutes take out the idli stand or steamer rack and let the nuchinunde cool a bit. They might look undercooked at this stage, but they harden up a bit and get the right texture on cooling.
- Remove the nuchinunde from the idli plates/steamer and serve hot with ghee and coconut chutney, majjige huli, or shunti thambuli.
- Do not steam the nuchinunde for more than 12 minutes, as they will turn hard.
- Adjust the salt and spices as per your taste.
- If you want to store the mixture or make the nuchinunde in batches, do not add salt at once. Add it just before steaming the nuchinunde. If not, the mixture will turn slightly runny and you will not be able to shape them.
I hope you give this recipe a try and enjoy it as much as I enjoyed preparing it and writing it down for you all. 🙂
If you have any questions about the recipe, kindly post them below under comments.
If you try this recipe, do share a picture and your feedback with me personally on Instagram / Facebook.