My cook is originally from Mumbai, which means that she knows more about the Maharashtrian cuisine than I ever aspire to. Usal is one of her specials. But because I don't know how to break open and grate a coconut, and she hasn't volunteered either, this is not something we make often.
Every few weeks, when I manage to get hold of some grated coconut in the supermarket, it's usal time.
Buy bean sprouts or make your own. For a cup of sprouts, you need 2 cloves of chopped garlic, a small onion chopped finely and 1/3 cup grated coconut. Parboil the sprouts. Heat a tsp of oil in a pan, add garlic and stir till lightly browned. Add the onions and stir fry on a low heat till softened. Add 1/2 tsp turmeric powder and 1/2 tsp of cumin-corainder powder (sold as such in Mumbai, but you can make your own with half of each). Now add the sprouts, coconut and salt to taste. Stir, add a little water (very little, just a tbsp or so) and cover the pan. Let cook on a low heat for a few minutes for the sprouts to absorb flavors.
I eat this with roti, but it's a great snack in itself with some lemon juice. Oh! and I still have half that coconut stowed away. There's another treat in the offing, soon.
In the meantime, usal goes to Weekend Wokking, being hosted by Kits Chow this month.