Antinunde/ Edible Gum Ladoo

Breast feeding mothers need extra calories. But they should also be very careful as to what they consume because babies have a weak digestive system and are sensitive to a lot of common foods well tolerated by adults. In fact every day vegetables like tomatoes, onions, green chilies can irritate breast fed babies leading to colic. To increase nutrition and calorific value of the mother’s meal as well as making sure that the food contains no potential irritants is an ordeal in itself. Antinunde is one such dish. Consuming this rich food is supposed to strengthen back, aid recovery as well as help augment milk supply. I vouch of the potency of the food myself.It is simple to make and delicious to consume. In fact Honey has been having a merry time with these goodies all along.

Antinunde

Serves 25 ||  Calories per serving  225 Kcl || Protein 3.15 gm ||  fat 5.66 gm || Fiber 2.56 gm

Dates 2 cups
Almonds 2 cups
Raisins 2 cups
Edible Gum 1 cup
Poppy seeds 2 tbsp (optional)
Cloves 6
Nutmeg/ Jaikai grated ¼ tsp
Saffron a pinch (optional)
Jaggery 1.5 cups (coarsely powdered)
Ghee for deep frying
Method:
  • Deep fry the edible gum in ghee in several batches till they are light and puff up. Drain on a paper towel and cool. When completely cooled pound them into a fine paste.
  • Toast Almonds on a warm skillet until fragrant, about 4-5 minutes. Set it aside to cool. When cool enough to handle chop it into pieces similar in size to raisins
  • Similarly chop dates. Toss them into a big mixing bowl along with the raisins.
  • Toast poppy seeds and toss them into the mixing bowl.
  • Add pounded edible gum, ground cloves and nutmeg to the mixture. Mix well and set it aside.
  • To prepare the jaggery syrup which imparts sweetness as well as binds the mixture together, combine the jaggery, saffron and a little water in a thick bottomed saucepan. Cook the mixture unto ‘one thread’ consistency. i.e. dip the back of a spoon into the syrup. Test the mixture between moist thumb and moist fore finger. If the syrup is sticky between the fingers and can be stretched into a single thread, then the syrup is ready to go.This step takes some practice and the mixture will obviously be very hard and can scald. So one should be very careful at this point.
  • Pour little syrup on the side of the dry fruit mixture. Tightly press them on the palm into small balls/ladoos. If doing a particularly large batch, make the syrup in small batches to avoid the chance of the jaggery syrup turning hard before the ladoos are done.
    P.S: Originally Antinunde is made using shredded dried coconut/ copra and cashew nuts. The idea is six cups of dried fruit and nut mixture for every cup of edible gum and 1.5 cups of jaggery. I am not a particularly big fan of coconut and cashew nuts in this dish, therefore Mom eliminated them for me.


Jeerige/Cumin Chutney

Child birth in India is probably a celebrated affair like nowhere else in the world. So many rituals, so many festivities and such joy no wonder we are the second most populous nation on this planet!!
It is also a critical period for the newborn as well as the new mother. A grueling experience for the mother, she needs to be taken care of the first few postpartum months. Back home, pregnant women go back to their maternal homes for the delivery and stay there for months where she is fed with special meals, giving elaborate oil baths and plenty of rest. It is a time of life except for the dietary restrictions.
I find the dietary restrictions rather strange. In my family, permitted foods include vegetables like carrot, beans, beetroot, Methi, dill, and rice & toor dal. No ragi, no wheat no other cereals. In my friend's family permitted foods include tomatoes, brinjal, bread, chapati and Moong Dal. In my co-sister's family it is brinjal, Cluster beans, Ridged gourd, Ivy gourd. No beans, no carrots. So postpartum or 'Banati' foods typically vary substantially. Universally accepted postpartum foods include garlic and Ghee.
My mother also tells me that folks back home have so much more to follow like having to wear warm clothing, consuming betel leaves after meals etc. All these are followed for anywhere between three to nine months postpartum. I wonder what my grandmother has to say to women here in the USA going back to work two weeks after childbirth!!!

I will be posting for a series of recipes that are specially served to new mothers in my family. I am sure there are new mothers out there who will find these recipes useful. Of course other folks can try these as well, for it is definitely worth the effort.



We will need,

Kopra/ Kobbari/ (dry coconut) 1/2 cup grated
Tili Saaru Powder 1 tsp
Garlic 4 large cloves
Jeera 1.5 tsp
Mustard 1/4 tsp
Tamarind 1/2 tsp extract
Jaggery 1/2 tsp crushed
Ghee 1 tbsp
Curry leaves 6-7
Salt to taste

Method:
  • Roast kopra and Jeera separately till fragrant.
  • Combine kopra, Jeera, Jaggery, tili saaru powder, tamarind and 1/2 a cup of water in a blender. Pulse till almost smooth.
  • Add the garlic to the same blender and pulse till smooth.
  • In a wok heat the ghee, drop the mustard seeds. Once it stops spluttering, add the the ground mixture and bring it to boil.
  • Simmer for a 15 minutes and turn off the heat. Serve hot with rice and ghee. To make a fab meal serve it with Rasam, Rice, pickles and Papads.

Herekai/ Ridge Gourd Chutney

Herekai or ridged gourd is one my favorite vegetables. Though not as versatile as say the ash gourd, it is definitely something to have regularly on my shopping list. It is a vegetable which is quite popular back home. In fact i remember it growing in many a backyards just like that. So for a quick fix meal, just hop to the back yard, pluck a plumy gourd and bingo! dish out something truly comforting. It is generally considered 'sheeta' or 'cold' food therefore out of bounds for me. ( postpartum/ Bananti) Rest of my folks nevertheless enjoyed it immensely.



We will need,

Herekai/Ridged gourd 1 lb
Green Chilies 2 -4( adjust according to taste)
Dry chillies 2 (adjust according to taste)
Tamarind extract 1 tsp
Jaggery 2 tsp (crushed)
Oil 2 tbsp
Curry leaves a handful
Hing a dash
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Coriander fresh a handful
Salt

Method:
  • Clean the ridged gourd. Give it a rough chop and set it aside.
  • Heat oil in a wok. Throw in the mustard seeds, hing and curry leaves. Once they stop crackling throw in the chilles. Cook for a brief minute.
  • Throw in the ridged gourd and cook covered till the vegetable is tender. Set it aside to cool.
  • Once it is cool, combine it with the rest of the ingredients in a blender and pulse till the mixture is smooth.
  • Serve hot with a dollop of ghee and rice or Mudde.

Apple Kosambari /Spicy Apple Salad

Fall is synonymous with apples here in New England. They grow so many varieties here I did not even know existed. For me apples meant Simla apples, small sweet and dull looking. (I also remember the Golden apples, but do not quite remember how it used to taste). But here apples are huge, shinny (because they are waxed and yucky), anywhere between maroon-golden-green in colour, very sweet to very tart, soft to kind of woody in texture. In fact Granny Smith apples can be so tart that it can practically be substituted for raw mangoes in most of the dishes. We make chitranna, tokku and kosambari as well. This is mom's innovation and we all loved it.

Serves 4 ||  Calories per serving  143 Kcl || Protein 14 gm ||  fat 0.02 gm || Fiber 0.2 gm

Granny Smith apples 2 diced
Salt
Pepper
Chilly powder 1/4 tsp
Sugar 1/2 tsp
Lemon Juice to taste

Method
  • Dice the apples into chunks. Mix all the ingredients in a big bowl.
  • Toss well.Serve Immediately.
P.S : For an alternate dressing, substitute honey for sugar and sprinkle a pinch of Chat masala, it tastes heavenly.

This recipe goes to the FIL- fruits, Thanks a lot Sanghi for the idea :) Dedicating it to Mother dear because she is my 'personal mom'...

Tomato Saaru/ Tomato clear curry

It is fall here and of course the onset of eating season! This time I am not doing much of baking because I am supposed to keep away from all such goodies for the next few weeks. So my baking season this time starts when the holidays are over. Till then it is just warm comfort foods that is easy to digest. Topping the list of such dishes will be Rasams and Tili Saaru of all variety. For me they are the ultimate comfort food. Here is mom's version of tomato Saaru

Tomato Saaru

We will need,

Tomatoes 2 large
Tamarind extract 1/2 tsp
Jaggery 1/2 tbsp (crushed)
Tili Saaru Powder 3/4 tsp (adjust according to taste)
Ghee 1 tbsp
Mustard 1/4 tsp
Hing a dash
curry leaves
Salt to taste
Fresh Coriander a handful

Method:
  1. Rough chop the tomatoes. Combine it with crushed jaggery and tamarind extract in a glass dish and pop it in the microwave for 4 minutes or till the tomatoes are mushy. Else cook the contents on the stove top till mushy.
  2. Remove and transfer the contents to a saucepan. Add the Tili Saaru powder and 2 cups of water. Bring it to a boil and simmer till the raw smell disappears, about 15 minutes.
  3. Prepare the oggarane in another pan. Heat ghee, drop the mustard, hing and curry leaves into the hot ghee. Once the mixture stops crackling pour it onto the tomato mixture.
  4. Simmer for a few more minutes, adjust salt and finish with fresh coriander.
  5. Serve piping hot with rice, a dollop of ghee and Papad.

Averebele toge/ Split Hyacinth Bean Curry

Averebele is split dried Indian beans/papadi lilva/Avarekalu/Cow beans. It is such a delicacy back home that during winters (when the vegetable is in season) the vegetable finds its way into practically everything that comes out of the kitchen. During off season, the dried variety is used. Though the dried ones are no where close to the fresh ones in either flavour or taste, it is definitely something that can sooth a craving palate for the time being. I have never liked the dried variety despite my undying love for the fresh ones. That is till my mother made this dish.
She is visiting us from India. We are having a fun time here with all experimentation in the kitchen and of course long sessions of yapping.
I have been prodding her for old forgotten recipes. This is one of the results. I have a treasure trove to publish and hope I find time in between our yapping sessions to get on to my machine and do some writing!!!

Avarebele Toge

we will need,

Avarebele 1/2 cup
For the spice paste
Garlic 2 cloves
Coconut 3 tbsp
Dry red chillies 4-5 (adjust according to taste)
Black pepper 1/2 tsp
Turmeric a pinch
For the Oggarane/Tadka
Oil 1 tbsp
Mustard 1/4 tsp
Hing a pinch
Curry leaves a handful

Method
  1. Pick and clean the Avarebele washing it in several changes of water.
  2. Drain the Avarebele and combine two cups of water and the Avarebele in a pressure cooker and cook till very soft. (About 5 whistles in my pressure cooker) Set it aside to cool.
  3. Grind all the ingredients listed under the 'spice paste' into a smooth paste adding a little water.
  4. Bring the spice paste to a boil and simmer till the rawness disappear about 20 minutes.
  5. Mix in the cooked Avarebele and stir well. Add salt to taste and simmer.
  6. In another pan, heat oil. Drop the mustard seeds, hing and curry leaves. Once they crackle, pour the mixture onto the simmer Avarebele-spice mixture. Mix and cover. Simmer for a few more minutes till the flavors are well combined about 10-15 minutes.
  7. Finish with some fresh coriander. Serve hot with rice.

Tomato Cherry Pepper Tart

Fall is the season of Atlantic storms here on the East Coast of USA. That means a lot of rains. On one such rainy evening, I started craving for something rich but also spicy, also something that did not require me to stand in front of hot oil!! I did have a box pf puff pastry lying in my freezer and calling out for me!! What better day I though to bake some savoury puff pastry tarts.. We enjoyed this tart enormously

Tomato Tart

We will need,

Puff Pastry sheet 1 (or half a box)
Mozzarella Cheese ½ cup grated (or more if desired)
Cherry peppers in vinegar 2 diced
Tomato 1 medium diced
Onions 1 medium diced
Fresh coriander 2 tbsp Chopped
Green Chillies 1 minced (Optional)
Salt
Pepper to taste

  • Follow the instructions on the puff pastry box, and thaw it on the counter for 15-20 minutes.
  • Preheat oven to 400 0 F. Spread the puff pastry sheet on a floured surface and cut it into six pieces.
  • Lay the sheets on a cookie sheet. (grease the sheet if the instructions on the box calls for it)
  • Spread the cheese on the pastry pieces, sprinkle the diced cherry peppers, tomatoes, onions, chillies and coriander on the cheese. Add a dash of salt and pepper on the topping and bake the Pastries for about 10-12 minutes. (Again follow the instruction on the box) Keep an eye on these tarts for they go too far very quick.
  • Once the cheese is melted and the pastry is golden on the edges the tarts are ready.
  • Remove from the oven and rest it for at least 5-8 minutes. Serve it with tomato/chilly sauce

Hurana Kadubu/ Sweet Dumplings

More of Vinayaka Chaturti recipes…. It cannot be Ganesha Habba without Kadubu or a variety of them. Mom makes at least 3 of them for the festival. Me… well I did like to eat them all and more but making them on the same morning with the Pooja due, it quite a task and I did rather contend myself with just one variety… This time we had just one variety with the sesame/ poppy seed filling. I got the recipe from MIL.



We will need,

Rice Flour
Salt
Water 2 cups

For the filling (hurana):
Toor Dal 1 cup
Turmeric a pinch
Jaggery 3/4 cup (can use up to 1:1 Toor dal: Jaggery, but that will be too sweet for my palate!)
Cardamom 2

Method:
  • To prepare the dough, bring the salted water to a boil. Dunk the two cups of flour into the hot water, stirring slowly. Reduce the heat and combine the flour and water thoroughly, cover and cook for at least 5-8 minutes till the dough when touch no longer sticks to the finger. Remove from heat and set it aside to cool. 
  • Meantime for the filling, combine the dal, turmeric and about 3 cups of water and bring it to a boil. Simmer and cook till tender. Drain, save the stock and use it in curries. (We make Holige saaru , a delicacy in itself)
  • Combine the drained dal, crushed cardamom and jaggery in a thick bottomed pan. Cook the mixture till the Jaggery has become molten and has combined well with the dal and the mixture is dry.Set it aside to cool.
  • When cool transfer it into a food processor and pulse till the mixture is smooth.
  • Pinch lime sized balls of dough. Roll it out into small Rotis. Spoon the filling onto one half of the Roti.
  • Smear some water on the edges and bring the other side of the roti to the one with the filling and tuck both the sides.
  • It is far more easy if you have the Kadubu mould. I do not have one and I had to do it by hand. The edges can be as ornate as your creativity permits. This is kind of a plain Vanilla product !!!
    Serve it with Kai Haalu and ghee

Kadalekalu Usli/ Sauteed Chickpeas

Vinayaka Chaturti or colloquially called Ganapathy Habba in my hometown used to be a so much fun. We kids would have a small Pandal in our street, and almost every street would have its own Ganesha complete with stereos blazing ‘Gajamukhane ganapatiye ninage vandane…’ In fact for me it is no Ganesha habba with out hearing all the songs on this particular tape. This time around I almost spent half an hour trying to search for the album and finally did manage to get it on Kannadaudio. Sometimes, it is the smells, sounds and sights that make festivities so much fun.
We lived in my home town Madhugiri for a couple of years when my father was posted there on request. Both my grand parents lived there, next to each other. Though they had some problems between themselves, it was a big happy family with both my paternal and maternal cousins around. My maternal cousin was pretty enterprising. He was the leader of all the kids on the street. He always had grand plans for Ganesha festivals. He would collect money for the show from far off places and get a big Ganesha to beat all most all Ganeshas in our area!! Of course Ganesha Pandal means pooja twice a day with the distribution of Prasad. As a good will gesture, my grandmother would chip in for the Prasad on one of the days. Other neighbours would take turns too. This Usuli would be one popular Prasada. And I have grown to associate Ganesha Habba with this Usuli. So it is a must for me. I absolutely love it and I can have it as a breakfast rather than an accompaniment.




We will need,
Black Channa/ Chickpeas 1 cup soaked over night
Oil 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds ¼ tsp
Hing a dash
Curry leaves 8-10
Green Chillies 3-4 minced (according to taste)
Coconut 3 tbsp grated
Lemon juice 1 tbsp (according to taste)
Fresh Coriander a handful chopped
Turmeric a generous pinch
Salt to taste

Method:

  • Combine the soaked Channa with salt and turmeric in a pressure cooker. Cook till done about 3-4 whistle. Set it aside to cool.
  • Once cool, drain and save the stock to make Rasam or soups.
  • Heat oil in a pan, throw in the mustard seeds, hing, curry leaves followed by the chillies and coconut. Stir and cook for a few minutes. Throw in a small pinch of turmeric if desired.
  • Throw in the cooked drained Channa. Adjust the lemon juice and chopped coriander. Take it off the heat and serve warm or at room temperature.

    This also goes out to MLLA 15 started by Susan

Nucchina Unde/ Split Pigeon Pea Dumplings

This is a steamed spiced lentil dumpling most commonly prepared during Vinayaka Chaturti. It makes for a hardy breakfast as well. But somehow I associate it only with Vinayaka Chaturti. Literally ‘Nucchu’ means broken cereals or pulses, Unde means dumplings or balls. Back in the days when Toor dal was cultivated mostly for domestic consumption, households used to end up a lot a broken Toor Dal and this is a creative way to use up such broken Dal.



We will need,

Toor Dal 1 cup washed and soaked overnight
Onion 1 medium finely chopped (optional)
Coconut 1/4 cup grated
Dill ½ cup washed and chopped
Green chillies 4-5 (Adjust according to taste)
Ginger ½” grated
Salt
Clove 3-4
Cinnamon ½”

Method:
  • Set up a steamer. I use my prestige pressure cooker with about 2 inches of water and a small piece of tamarind (or lemon peel to keep the cooker stain free). Cover and bring the water to a boil.
  • Mean time, drain the soaked Toor Dal. Combine the dal, green chillies, ginger, clove and cinnamon in a food processor and pulse till the mixture is well combined but coarse.
  • Remove the mixture into a bowl. Stir in the chopped onion, coconut and dill. Adjust salt.
  • Pinch small balls and roll them into desired shapes, say flat like vada, small spheres or elongated Sheek Kabab like shape. I prefer mine in the shape of vada so that it fits my Idli mould perfectly.
  • Arrange the rolled dal mixture on a greased plate/ Idli mould and steam in the steamer/ pressure cooker (without the weight of course) for about 8-10 minutes. To check if it is done, pierce a fork into the dumplings and it should be springy but firm.
  • Serve hot with a chutney of choice
This is my entry to
MLLA 15 hosted by Sia, started by Susan ...

Kai Haalu/ Coconut sweet sauce

Kaihalu is a sweet sauce that is consumed with anything from vermicelli, Holige to Kadubu. I am not a big fan of Kai halu but Honey is. Basically this dish is very popular in coconut growing regions of south Karnataka. I have seen folks from the Coconut belt of Tumkur-Hassan-Chitradurga considering it a sacrilege to serve Holige or Obbattu without this Kai haalu on the side! It is not too elaborate and I made a double batch for Janmastami, froze half of it for Vinayaka Chaturti for I knew Honey would definitely want it with the Kadubus!
There are several versions of this dish, a few recipes calls for only three ingredients, while a few calls for as many as 10!! The one I went ahead is my MIL’s recipe and I kind of liked it. Also, it is a good idea to use fresh coconut instead of frozen ones in this recipe. The fresh coconut makes the dish sweeter and tastier.

Shavige kaihalu


We will need,
Coconut 1 cup grated
Jaggery ½ cup (more if you like it sweeter)
Milk 1 cup
Poppy seeds 1 tbsp
Sesame seeds 1 tbsp
Cardamom 2

Method:
  • On a dry toasting pan, toast poppy seeds and sesame seeds separately till they become fragrant and start popping. Set them aside to cool.
  • Grind the coconut with milk into a very smooth paste. (In fact coconut milk can be extracted and all the residual fibers discarded for a smoother consistency, but I prefer mine to be a slightly coarse)
  • Now grind the cooled poppy and sesame seeds with the cardamom into a smooth powder. Mix it with the coconut milk mixture.
  • Combine the mixture with Jaggery and some water and bring it to a gentle boil. Turn the heat off when the mixture is well combined and fragrant.
  • Serve it hot or cold with fresh Shavige or Kadubu or Holige.

Shavige Uppittu/ Vermicelli Upma

This is again a special ‘fasting day’ recipe. It was not one of my favorites till I discovered how easy it was to prepare this dish. It makes a super fast breakfast or a quick meal. Traditionally the Shavige or the rice vermicelli is made right at home. But it is a labour intensive process. I remember my grand mother used to make fresh rice vermicelli, divide it into half, turn one half into this savory uppittu and the other half would be devoured with enormous quantities of Kai-Haalu or a sweet coconut sauce. She used to make this elaborate breakfast when all of us visited her for the vacation. I still remember my uncle manning the Shavige mould. It was a difficult job for the women folk, so it fell upon my youngest uncle (who was then a mint-fresh bachelor doctor). It must have been a very good for his biceps!! The mould was awfully tight. Though today’s technical improvement has lead to the emergence of many easy to use moulds, it is just so much less fun with fewer mouths to feed and fewer kids screaming in the yard




We will need,
Rice Shavige/ iddiyapam/Vermicelli ½ lb
Oil 2 tbsp
Mustard ¼ tsp
Urad dal 1 tsp
Channa Dal 1 tsp
Peanuts 2 tsp
Green chillies 4-5 (according to taste)
Curry leaves 8-10
Hing a dash
Coconut 2 tbsp grated (optional)
Lemon juice 1 tbsp (or to taste)
Salt

Method:
  • Soak the vermicelli in hot water till it softens, that is about a 7-10 minutes and drain. Else follow the instruction on the packet.
  • Heat oil in a Kadai. Throw in the mustard seeds, hing, curry leaves in quick succession with an interval of say 10-15 seconds between each.
  • Throw in the green chillies, the dals and peanuts. Toss and stir till the dals are golden in colour.
  • Now reduce the heat and toss the coconut if using and lemon juice. Throw in the drained vermicelli, adjust salt. Toss well and serve hot.

Gojjavalakki/ Tamarind Poha

We Hindus fast on certain days of the calendar like Ekadashi the 11th day of the hindu fortnight (Krishna & Sukla Paksha or the two weeks following new moon and full moon respectively), the fourth day of the fortnight also known as Sankasta Chaturthy, Srikrishna Janmastami, Shiva Ratri etc. Fasting like many parameters in our religion can take up different meanings, I guess mostly based on personal convenience! (This is the best part of being a Hindu, you define your religion and practices, very personalized) So fasting can mean anything between complete fasting, no food, no fluids to a semi-feasting which will include sweets, fruits and cereal preparations. Somewhere in between are special sweet and savoury fasting dishes make of Avalakki/Poha,, Semolina etc. The savoury ones generally do not contain either onions or Garlic but can be very tasty and flavourful. One such dish is Gojjavalakki. It is often served as a Prasada in temples in southern Karantaka


Shavige kaihalu

We will need

Poha 1 cup
Water 1 cup + a little more
Tili Saaru Pudi/ Sambar Power 1 tsp (adjust according to taste)
Tamarind extract 1 tsp
Jaggery 2 tsp grated (more if you like it sweeter)
Salt to taste
Oil 2 tbsp
Dry red chillies 4-5
Curry leaves 8-10
Peanuts ¼ cup
Channa Dal 1 tsp
Urad dal 1 tsp
Mustard Seeds ¼ tsp
Hing a Dash

Method:
  • In a blender or a food processor, grind the Poha into a coarse powder. Set it aside.
  • Combine water, Tili Saaru Pudi, tamarind extract, salt and jaggery. Mix well thoroughly. If you have problem dissolving the jaggery, just pop the mixture into the microwave for about 20 seconds and it will dissolve in a jiffy. Taste the mixture. The balance of flavors should be right. Adjust the ingredients accordingly.
  • Mix the coarse Poha powder in the mixture. Set it aside for at least 15 minutes.Once the Poha powder has absorbed all of the mixture, fluff it up with a fork.
  • Heat oil in a Kadai. Throw in the mustard seeds, hing, curry leaves and the chillies. Once the spluttering stops, throw in the peanuts, channa dal and urad dal.
  • Once the dals are fragrant and golden brown, throw in the fluffed up Poha mixture. Give it a good toss. Cook for a few minutes and remove from heat.
  • Serve hot or at room temperature with a dollop of thick curds

Ragi Rotti / Ragi Roti

Ragi is one of the ancient grains, native to Africa but very popular in Karnataka. It has been consumed for a long time and has remained popular even though evolving food pattern and changing tastes and preference over the past 4-5 decades seem to ignore mi’!! Surprising is it not that the most nutritious millets (including foxtail/Navane, finger/Ragi, Bajra/Sajje, Sorgum/Jola) should all be included in this category of ‘coarse cereal’ in India, which makes it sound inferior to Rice and Wheat. Should not we have a name that is more dignified and sort of sounds more respectful towards to under appreciated foods??
Well the nomenclature apart, I love millets, all of them. In fact Ragi happens to be one of my favourite cereals. I simply cannot get enough of Ragi. When my mother asks me what I would like to eat for break fast, the answer would be a straight –Ragi Rotti. In fact my sister would get really pissed of with me for this, more so when I used to return home for vacations during my university days. Needless to say she is not a big fan of Ragi. Apart from all the health benefits from Ragi, we should also remember that it is a far less resource intensive than say Rice or Wheat and can be cultivated under rain-fed conditions. There used to be drought resistant breeds of Ragi long back which I am not sure exist anymore.
I guess I can go on reams and reams over my love affair with Ragi. I should probably get back to the recipe part of it.

Photobucket

We will need,

Ragi flour 1 cup Scant
Water 1 cup
Avarekalu/ Lilva beans ¼ cup tender ones
or Dill chopped ¼ cup
Onion 2 tbsp finely chopped (optional)
Curry leaves a handful chopped
Green Chillies 5-6 chopped (adjust according to taste)
Jeera ½ tsp
Fresh Coriander a handful chopped
Salt
Oil as required (about ¼ cup)

Method:

  • In a thick bottomed pot, bring a cup of salted water to a rolling boil.Dump the flour into the water, mix is slightly and close the lid.Cook on low heat for about 3-4 minutes and switch off the heat.Once the flour is cool enough to handle, stir in all the other ingredients except oil.
  • Knead the dough till it comes together nicely. In case the dough is too tight or dry, heat some more water and mix it right into the dough. If it is too soft ( the chances are remote with this measurement :) ), add Ragi flour by the spoon fulls till the dough is pliable.
  • Divide the dough into 4 parts (according to preference). Roll each part into small balls.
  • Take a plastic sheet or a piece of wax paper. If using plastic sheets, grease the sheet with oil.
  • Place a dough ball in the centre of the plastic sheet/ wax paper. Grease your finger and start rolling the ball out into flat breads from the centre reaching the edges. Keep stretching the dough out till the flat bread is uniform in thickness resembles and has a thickness of about 1/6 of an inch.
  • Heat a griddle/ tawa. Gently place the rolled out flat bread on the hot tawa and peel off the plastic/wax paper. This needs to be done pretty fast to avoid the plastic melting over the tawa!! Else gently slide the roti onto your hand and transfer it to the hot tawa. (My preferred way)
  • Cook covered for about 3 minutes. Flip and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  • Remove from heat and serve hot with some ghee and chutney of your choice.

Tondekai Palya Ver.2/ Sauteed Ivy Gourd

Tondekai is one of my favourite vegetables. In fact it is my long time desire to have the creeper in my yard so that I can revive our childhood practice of plucking them off the vine just before tucking them into our tiny mouths. It is not too versatile that it is limited to Huli, Palya and Gojjus. But there can be a variety of Palyas. I have already posted one version here . This version is a much simpler version which goes well with Dal/ Huli or curries. I love it because of its crunch and because it is very easy particularly suitable for a busy week night meal.

Tondekai Palya

We will need,

Tondekai/ Tendli 1 Lb
Green Chillies 4-5 slit
Coconut 2 tbsp grated
Oil 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds ¼ tsp
Jeera ¼ tsp
Urad Dal 1 tsp
Channa Dal 1 tsp
Curry leaves 8-10
Fresh Coriander a handful chopped
Turmeric a pinch
Hing a dash
Salt

Method:
  • Wash and pat dry the Tondekai. Remove the tops and tails and slit length wise into fours. Set it aside.
  • Heat oil in a Kadai. Throw in the Mustard seeds and jeera.
  • Once they stop spluttering add the Urad and Channa dals. Stir for a minute till they are golden in colour.
  • Toss in the green chillies and curry leaves. Once they stop spluttering add coconut stir the mixture.
  • Now throw in the cut vegetable and toss them well. Cover and cook till tender but still has a crunch to it.
  • Finish with coriander and salt.
  • Serve hot with rice and dal/ Huli of your choice

Dumrot / Kashi Halwa/ Ash Gourd Halwa

Dumrot or Kashi Halwa is this decadent dessert that is also a standard feature in Kannada wedding feasts. It is mostly served with Idli and Pongal for breakfast and I love such a lavish breakfast spread. But otherwise it is a mostly made as offerings for gods during festivals and special occasions. In my place, this is one of the offerings made during the 9 days Navaratri/Dasara festival when we are supposed to make offerings twice a day all 9 days. But this time around I made it Janmastami. Because I was quite bored with just the used raveunde, Hesarunde, Chakkli, Karjikai etc.. This dish is one of the easiest to make and I love it for this. It is also a a great fit for Janmastami for the recipe calls for Cream and Milk and Ghee all of which were Lord Krishna's favorite foods..

Dumrot

Ash Gourd 2 lbs or about 2 cups grated and drained and squeezed thoroughly
Sugar 1 1/2 cups more if you like it sweeter. (I use 2 cups if I am serving my FIL)
Whole Milk 1 cup
Cream 1/2 cup
Ghee a little over 1/4 Cup
Saffron a few strands soaked in 2 tbsp warm milk
Raisins 1/4 cup fried in ghee.


Method:
  1. Heat the ghee in a think bottomed pan. I generally use my small cooker. It is somehow perfect for this kind of recipes.
  2. Throw in the grated and squeezed Ash Gourd. Toss well and cook till the vegetable is almost transparent.
  3. Now throw in the remaining ingredients. Cook till the mixture thickens to a jam like consistency. Finis with the raisins. Serve warm
P.S: A note on the cream.
I prefer to use home made cream, (cream that has been accumulated for a couple of days or so.) the cream that is sold in supermarkets tends be have a higher percentage of fat and a lower percentage of milk solids that the texture of the finished dish gets altered to a great extent and definitely not to my liking. Also if Khoa is available, grated khoa can be used instead of cream. That gives the dish a better finish.

Sending it out to FIL Milk . Dedicating this dish to my Honey.. He loves the dish. It had once happened during Dasara festival that I had as usual prepared this dish and had placed it in front of the deities as offering. Half an hour past the pooja, I see the offering is all gone.. My Honey then started blaming stray cats. We all knew which was that cat. So it is for him

Janamastami

Hearty Janmastami wishes to all. Today is the commemoration of Lord Krishna's birthday. Very auspicious day. The day is generally marked by fasting and mid night prayers. This year I am not fasting. But yes tried to keep away from rice, onions and garlic. The obvious choice on such days will be something with Avalakki/beaten rice/ poha. So dished up some Gojjavallakki, Kashi Halwa, Shavige Uppittu and Kai halu. Honey will not be home for dinner. So it is just me and I am not complaning :)
All the recipes will follow shortly.


For now, dear Lakshmi has tagged me, so here it is.

1. What is your current obsession?
Research and food…Trying to combine both :)
2. What are you wearing today?
A cotton wrap skirt and a linen blouse
3. What’s for dinner?
It is Janmastami therefore Gojjavalakki and Kashi Halwa
4. What’s the last thing you bought?
Haldiram’s Rasgolla
5. What are you listening to right now?
Birds chirping out in the yard
6. What do you think about the person who tagged you?
Lakshmi is a wonderful person. She encouraged me when I started my blog and of course her blog ‘taste of Mysore’ is like my go-to-recipe-reference!!
7. If you could have a house totally paid for, fully furnished anywhere in the world, where would you like it to be?
J.P.Nagar, Bangalore!! I am pretty specific about J.P.Nagar
8. What are your must-have pieces for summer?
Cotton sleeveless blouses, Jeans (for all season), cotton dresses.
9. If you could go anywhere in the world for the next hour, where would you go?
Home, Maddur or Bangalore.
10. Which language do you want to learn?
Sanskrit ..or may be Spanish
11. What’s your favourite quote?
Live and let live; If only we all appreciated the quote enough, the world would have been a better place today.
12. Who do you want to meet right now?
My sister
13. What is your favourite colour?
Yellow
14. What is your favourite piece of clothing in your own closet?
Black skirt (Lycra Spandex mix) and my Maroon top.. (That’s what Honey saw me in for the first time and here we are today )
15. What is your dream job?
Consultant Economist, researching on an array of problems ..
16. What’s your favourite magazine?
Economist, Reader’s Digest, Science Reporter, Kurukshetra and Yojana, Sudha (when available)
17. If you had $100 now, what would you spend it on?
I did stash it away in my bank
18. What do you consider a fashion faux pas?
Faux Pas…. copycat clothes that’s ill fitting and those that makes absolutely no sense to wear just because some Celebrity or some fancy designer promoted the wear.. Unseasonal dresses…
19. Who are your style icons?
My sister, she carries off anything and everything with the grace of a real princess…
20. Describe your personal style.?
Comfortable and youngish
21. What are you going to do after this?
Continue reading ‘Satanic Verses’
22. What are your favourite movies?
Roman Holiday, Casablanca, Lamhe, Half Ticket, Beladingala Bale, Eradu Kanasu etc… mostly feel good comedies and oldies.
24. What are three cosmetic/makeup/perfume products that you can't live without?
Neutrogena Mineral Sheer Powder Foundation, L’Oreal infallible eye liner and C O Bigelow lip gloss.
23. What inspires you?
Success, Talent and Achievement
24. Give us three styling tips that always work for you:
Accessories, scarves, chunky jewellery and little make-up
25. What do you do when you “have nothing to wear” (even though your closet’s packed)?
Close my closet and tell myself thrice that I have all that I need in the world!! It works.
26. Coffee or tea?
Neither.. how about some frooti…
27. What do you do when you are feeling low or terribly depressed?
Forage the fridge
28. What is the meaning of your name?
Smile
29. Which other blogs you love visiting?
All those that I follow
30. Favorite Dessert/Sweet?
Rasgulla, Kashi Halwa, Kaju Burfi, Holige, Chocolate, Indian-style ice cream….
31. Favorite Season ?
Spring
32) If I come to your house now, what would u cook for me?
Today is Janmastami, so it is going to be Phalahara or just some fruits, some sweets and may be Avalakki…

My addition to the list of questions is,
33) What is your favourite snack?
Chickpea vada!!!!

Passing it on to
Deesha of Vegetable platter,
Paru of Brindavan ..
Vanamala of Nalapak
Gayatri of Gayarti's adigemane
Archana of Archy's recipe book

Garam Masala

A very important spice blend in our pantry is Garam Masala. Aromatic, floral and powerful, this particular blend adds a zing to most North-Indian, Punjabi dishes. I have been making my own Garam Masala for quite some time. One reason why my recipes call for such small quantities of Garam Masala. However, the quantity will need to be increased if using the store brought version. I am unhappy with the store brought version because they are mostly a combination of cumin and coriander and much less other floral spices that actually make dishes fragrant. It is indeed very simple to make and a little goes a long way. In fact the quantity mentioned below lasts me for more than 4-5 months :)
This is also a versatile blend. I know we have our favorite spices, not-so-favored spices and cannot-stand-spices. Honey for instance hates cloves, I for instance cannot take too much of cardamom. This blend therefore can be altered according to ones taste. I am after a couple of tries, we will end up with out perfect version of Garam Masala. I did after a couple of attempts and this is my favorite version from my test kitchen!!

Also Garam Masala especially the home made kinds should be used almost at the very end of the cooking process;overcooked spices sort of smell acrid and I hate it. Most store brought varieties withstand rigorous cooking because they are more of a coriander-cumin mixture than a combination of delicate floral spices.

Garam Masala

This makes about a few tablespoon fulls. But it does last a long time. I store it in a tiny glass jar with a tight fitting lid. In fact the lib is so tight that when I open it there is a whiff of all wonderful spices seducing my nose !!!

Cardamom pods 1 tbsp
Cloves 2 tbsp
Cinnamon 2 tbsp
Cumin 1 tsp
Pepper corns 1/2 tbsp
Star Anaise 1
Maratha Moggu 1

Method:
  • Heat a small pan. Toast the cardamom pods till fragrant. Set aside to cool
  • Toast all the other spices one by one till fragrant. Set aside to cool.
  • Shell the cardamom and separate the seeds. Discard the shells.
  • Combine all the spices in a coffee blender and blend till the mixture resembles the texture of fine sooji. I prefer mine to be on the coarse, Somehow when the spices are ground very fine, they somehow tend to loose their aroma.
Store it in a small jar with a tight fitting lid.
Enjoy

Dahi wali Saag Panner/ Spinach & Cottage Cheese in Yogurt Sauce

Summers on the east coast is lovely. The trees are lush green, the lawns emerald and flowerbeds colorful. The air is filled with the smell of grass and the chirping of the sparrows, blue bird, robin, black birds and numerous other birds.. So much to look around and so little time. This summer has been pretty mild, yet I have been preferring lighter, cooler foods than our normal fare. Tambli has become a favorite, I am making it often. Along with it, I have been experimenting with other yogurt based dishes that are lighter and cooler as well. This is what I ended up the other day. Me and Honey both loved it. What was meant for two meals, disappeared right at lunch :) So I guess it was good.

Dahiwali Saag

Here is what we need,

Spinach 1/2 lb washed and chopped
Onion 1 medium diced
Tomato 1 medium diced
Ginger 1/2 tsp scant grated
Garlic 1/2 tsp scant granted
Chilli powder 1 tsp (adjust according to taste, Mine is not too hot this time around)
Garam Masala 1/4 tsp (more if it is ready made)
Panner 1/2 lb cubed and fried
Yogurt 1 cup (Use non-fat, low fat, anything of your choice)
Oil 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds 1/2 tsp

Method:
  1. Heat oil in a Kadai. Throw in the cumin seeds.
  2. Once the cumin stops spluttering, throw in the onions. Cook till translucent.
  3. Throw in the ginger and garlic puree. Toss the vegetables a few times till the raw garlic smell disappears.
  4. Throw in the chilli powder and the diced tomatoes . Cook till the tomatoes are mushy.
  5. Add the Spinach. Cook uncovered for all the liquid to evaporate.
  6. Now toss in the Panner. Mix gently, cover and cook for 10-15 minutes till the Panner is spongy and flavourful.
  7. Turn off the heat.
  8. Now beat the yogurt well. Stir in the yogurt into the spinach- Panner mixture. Adjust salt.
  9. Serve warm or at room temperature with Pulkas or a choice of bread.

Spicy potatoes

Potatoes were not something I liked much as a child. Unlike my sister who is a big potato eater, I liked potatoes only if they were highly seasoned, spicy and fried.. Over these years I have come to appreciate the vegetable better. There was a time however during my years in the hostel and immediately afterward, that I had banned potatoes in Mom kitchen as well as mine! Now I have started to use them again and of course in a lot more creative ways than before.
This is one such dish. We had it as a side dish the other day.

Spanish Potatoes

We will need,

Potatoes 1/2 lb cubed
Olive oil 1/4 C
Chilly Powder 1 tsp (adjust according to taste)
Capsicum 1 medium diced
Cumin powder 1/4 tsp
Garlic 1 clove diced up fine.
Vinegar 2 tbsp
Salt
Pepper to taste
Mint leaves a handful

Method:
  1. Heat oil in a thick bottomed saute pan.
  2. Toss in potatoes. Coat well with oil and saute it on medium high heat till they are browned at the bottom.
  3. Stir to make sure they brown well on all sides.
  4. Mix the vinegar, chilly powder and cumin powder. Set it aside.
  5. When the potatoes are cooked half way through, toss in the chopped garlic, diced capsicum and the spice-vinegar mixture.
  6. Mix well. Sprinkle the mint leaves, salt and pepper and cover. Cook on a low heat till the potatoes are fork tender.


Serve as a side dish with rotis or paranthas.

Spinach Tambli/ Spinach in Buttermilk Sauce

Tambli is a cold, yogurt based accompaniment to rice. However, it is not popular amongst the folks from the interior plains! The unfamiliarity of the dish is portrayed pretty well in the Kannada movie 'Galipata' -the Kite. In the movie the hero visits his friend's family somewhere in Malenad region and is unable to identify the dish. He likes it but asks his hostess to serve him the 'green colour oil paint' kind of emulsion. It was funny. It is indeed what happened with us when we were eating at a friend's wedding. In this particular wedding that took place in Sirsi, they were serving all sort of strange food !!! Something called Kashaya instead of beverages, (a potion which is given to us when we are kids) then Mosaravalakki for breakfast!! (that is our fasting foods), then the feast itself. We did not know what to expect and we filled our stomach half way through the feast and regretting it later. I wish we had know to take it slow, or may be we had someone familiar with such feasts to guide us. But then it is history. The next time we are invited for a wedding in that part of the world, I am sure to do a better job.


Tambli

For the Tambli, actually local greens are widely used like Amaranth etc. But we hardly find it in markets here. So had to do with what ever is available on hand- in short, spinach.

Spinach 1/2 lb
Coconut 1/4 c
Green chillies 1
Ginger 1/2 " piece about 1/2 tsp if grated
Curry leaves 8-10
Oil 1 tsp
Hing a dash
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Dry red chilly 2 beak into pieces
Buttermilk 2 cups or yogurt 1 cup

Method:

  1. Wash and drain the spinach well. Chop it coarsely and pop it in the microwave for a few minutes till cooked but vibrant green in colour.
  2. Alternately, Cook the spinach with little water on stove top. Set aside and cool
  3. Combine the cooled spinach, coconut, ginger and green chillies in a blender and blend it till smooth.
  4. Whisk the buttermilk well. If using yogurt, beat it well and combine it with a cup of water and beat it into a homogeneous mixture.
  5. Combine the spinach puree and the buttermilk/yogurt.
  6. To make the oggarane/tadka, heat oil in a pan. Throw in the hing, mustard seeds, curry leaves and dry red chillies. Once the spluttering stops, pour over the spinach buttermilk mixture. Adjust salt.
  7. Serve it with rice.


This goes out to the RCI Udupi Mandalore hosted by Sia, started by
Lakshmi .

RCI-Udupi & Mangalore

Bolu huli

When the RCI -Mangalore- Udupi event was announced, I was all excited. In fact I had wanted to do something in this direction myself. My cousin was actually giving me ideas to host events to highlight the regional culinary diversity of Karnataka. This is a perfect platform for one such cuisine.
The problem however is the common features of cuisines from the Karavali and the Bayaluseeme. There are several dishes like Huli, Tovve, Kosambari, Palya/Upakari, Gojju/Menasinakai which are common to both the regions. Looking up for something unique from that region was indeed quite an adventure. Besides, there is a lot of variations in the food habits of people hailing from the region. There are at least four major sub currents in this region, mostly depending on the community.
  • Bunts -a major community speaking Bunt-Tulu are non-vegetarian and they prepare some amazing Gassis using Chicken and fish viz Kori gassi and Kane Gassi. In fact our erstwhile Bunt tennat used to go 100 kilometers every Sunday to fetch their 'Halwa-piece' Kane- the lady fish. That was my introduction to Mangalorean cusine I guess. Their fish fries are amazing. Fresh mackerels, sardines lightly coated with a spice mixture made of ground dry red chillies, coriander, black pepper, rice and shallow fried to be crisp. Then of course the Gangi anna/boiled rice with pickles and a palya. My mother used to get the starch water they discard after draining the Gangi rice to starch my school uniforms (this was before the era of instant starches available these days :) Since my father works for a Bank with a lot of people from this community we had some wonderful friends and they always surprised with one their culinary specialities. But now I could not quite get in touch with any of them to borrow some recipes. I have this on my agenda now. For extra info, Aishwarya Rai and Shilpa Shetty, Sunil Shetty belong to this community. They also operate a large number of Udupi restaurants and of late high end restaurants especially in Mumbai.
  • Konkanis, mostly made of Gauda Saraswats, Chitpavans speaking the Konkani language, whoes cuisine is closer is Maharastrian cuisine than to the local one. Originally from Konkan region, they dispersed in waves to escape the persecution of the Islamic rulers and Portugese hundreds of years ago carrying with them their language, tradition and cuisine. The GSBs make generous use of spices including onions, garlic and consume sea food/fish. Some of their delicacies include Dali thoy, various ambats and sukkes.
  • Shivalli Madhwa Bramhins : They are the custodians of the Udupi Krishna temple and speak Udupi-tulu which is a dialect different from the Bunt-tulu. They are renowned for their excellent culinary skills. In fact there was an era not too long ago when hotel boards announced that the cooks were Shivalli bramhins. It used to say "Bramhanara Upahara Mandira (Shivalli bramhanaru)". Dietary restrictions including a ban on onions, garlic, bringal most vegetables that were exotic in the context of Ayurveda. (Which means 80% of the vegetables on a super market shelf today) meant that these eateries were the safest places to eat for orthodox people away from home. They were originally the chefs who dished out all the Udupi hotel/Darshini foods. Their domination was complete till recent years. In fact even today they are specifically selected to cook feasts for weddings and other auspicious occasions. We had a team of Shivalli bramhins cook the feast during my sister's wedding. My god! what a fabulous time we had. I ate like crazy and tried to replicate their 'Saaru' and needless to say failed repeatedly. Each and every dish was fantastically prepared with a lot of love and devotion. My tongue is slightly partial to this sub-cuisine from the region. Ah! if only I had had enough time with those cooks at the wedding that I would have asked them for culinary tips.
  • Roman Catholic: Mangalore also has a small Christian population with their own style of cooking. I do not actually know much about their food habit. I only remember the dinner we were invited to when I was a very young. My father's colleague invited our family for dinner. He was Mr Rai. We went to their place and as we moved to the dining hall for the dinner, my mom noticed a big frame of Jesus and a couple of candles. She was shocked. I still remember it took her a while to realise that she was about to feed in a non-Hindu household for the first time in her entire life!! But Mrs Rai was very sweet. I guess my mother was to go through a lot more 'shocking' experiences later on in her life and now she will eat anything vegetarian except snake gourd, any where without much qualms. I cannot not say the same of my grand mother though. She still remains suspicious of all store brought foods, including bakery biscuits :) I guess she is too old to change.
So for the RCI event itself I had a choose something that was truly unique to the region. Not something like Mosaravalakki, tovve, kosambari... But something unique. I had to fall back on Krishnaveni and Sushma for reference. I finalized on making Bolu huli. Bolu huli literally means bald huli. I am not sure if it is the absence of dal or coconut that make this version of huli bald. may be someone can enlighten me on this.

Bolu Huli

We will need,

Baby eggplants 2 cubed
Yellow Cucumber 1 large cubed
Green chillies 3-4
Saarina pudi 1 tsp (Substitute chilly powder)
Turmeric 1/4 tsp
Tamarind paste 1/2 tsp
Jaggery 11/2 tbsp crushed.
Ghee 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves 8-10
Hing a generous dash

Method:
  • Combine the cubed eggplants and cucumbers in a pressure cooker or a thick bottomed pot with turmeric and a drop of oil. Cook till tender but not mushy.
  • Throw in the Saaru pudi, jaggery and tamarind. Bring it to a gently boil. Simmer till the flavors combine.
  • Prepare the oggarane/tadka. Heat ghee in a small pan. Throw in the mustard seeds, hing and curry leaves. Once fragrant pour over the vegetable-spice mixture, adjust salt and turn off the heat.
  • Serve hot with rice.


This is my entry to the RCI started by lakshmi, Mangalore-Udupi event hosted by Supriya.
RCI-Udupi & Mangalore

Eggplant Stew

Mediterranean cuisine is so much closer to our own than I had ever expected. Similar techniques, similar spices makes it one of the closest cousins of our food. I got hold of a couple of books from the library on the subject and of course found some interesting recipes. One of them was the Eggplant stew. I sort of tweaked on of the recipes to accommodate things in my pantry. I liked it and Honey loved it. We had it for dinner with rice and packed the leftovers for Honey's lunch.

Eggplant Stew

We will need

Eggplant/Brinjals 2 small (baby eggplants)
Masoor Dal/Lentils 1/2 c (Soak over night)
Tomato 1 giant
Onion 1 small
Garlic 2 cloves
Dhania powder 1 tsp
Chilly powder 1/2 tsp (adjust according to taste)
Turmeric scant 1/4 tsp
Jeera powder 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon powder /2 tsp
Olive oil 3 tbsp
Mint leaves 2 tbsp chopped
Salt
Lemon juice

Method:
  1. Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan. Throw in the onions followed by minced garlic.
    Saute till golden.
  2. Throw in the chopped Brinjal, saute for a few minutes and throw in all the spice powder.
  3. Mix well and saute for a few minutes till the masala smells cooked.
  4. Throw in the lentils, diced tomatoes and about 2 cups of water.
  5. Bring it to a quick boil and simmer till the lentils are tender and all the spiced are cooked.
  6. Finish with salt, mint leaves and a dash of lemon juice. Check before adding the lemon juice. Sometimes the tomatoes are tart and in that case, Lemon juice is entirely optional.
  7. Serve hot with rice and Boondi mixture


Sending it to the FIL Brinjal . Thanks a lot Nithya for letting me know. Dedicating this dish to my Honey for he is the one who gets to eat what ever comes out of my kitchen, and because he is sporty enough to try new tastes.

Urad Dal

For some reason I never thought of making Urad dal as a main course dish. The legume was reserved for Idlis and Dosas, nothing less and nothing more. But last time when I visited my friend in Bangalore, she was telling me about her postpartum sojourn with her north Indian mother-in-law. Apparently the MIL was dishing up Urad dal every day as it is considered good for new moms. I was horrified but at the same time curious as well. I had to give it a try.
To be on the safer side I did not do the simpler basic dal, instead took the longer route because I was not convinced that this dal was fit to be consumed this way.
The results were not bad. Honey liked it. I was OK with it but definitely not something I did dish up thrice a week. May be it is a good way to use up the dal if it is sitting on your pantry self for too long.

Urad Dal
We will need,

Urad Dal 1/2 C (Split and hulled variety )
Tomato 1 small diced
Onion 1 small diced
Turmeric 1/4 tsp
Ginger 1 tsp chopped
Chilly powder 1 tsp
Dhania powder 1 tsp
Ghee 2 tsp
Hing a generous pinch
Jeera 1/2 tsp
Kasoori Methi 1 tbsp
Salt and lime juice

Method:
  • Wash the urad dal in plenty of water several times. Combine it with turmeric, water, ginger in a pressure cooker and cook till soft. (That is one whistle in my cooker) Set it aside.
  • Heat the ghee in a pan. Throw in the Jeera, hing.
  • Once the spluttering stops, add the onion. Fry till golden. Throw in the chilly powder, dhania powder. Stir briskly for a couple of minutes and add the diced tomatoes.
  • Scrap the bottom of the pan and crush the tomatoes as you cook.
  • Once the tomatoes are mushy, remove from fire and mix it with the cooked dal.
  • Reheat the dal and finish with some kasoori methi. Serve with rice or roti. We had it with Brinjal potato curry on the side


This goes out to MLLA 13 started by Susan

Sorekai (Lauki, Ghiya, Doodhi, Bottle gourd) Salan

Bottle gourd or Sorekai or Lauki, Ghiya,Doodhi is one vegetable absent in my mother's kitchen. Strangely enough even grand mother seems to have banned this one vegetable from her kitchen. I know my family is not supposed to eat Snake gourd because of the special pooja for the well being of my father long time back. There could be a similar story with this vegetable as well. I should remember to ask mom later. Well as far as I am concerned, I always felt bottle gourd looks better for musical instrument than something I did have for dinner-lunch. My opinion firmed up after eating the Lauki subzi served in Sabarmati hostel, JNU my home away from home a few years back. The mucilaginous channa dal along with the mushy lauki was anything but appetising. But this week end during our religious shopping ceremony, Honey found this real fresh bottle gourd lying cozyly in the bin. He had already set his heart upon it and there was no way I could stop him from buying the vegetable even though I had never experimented with this one before.
Despite my discouragement, the item found a place in our shopping cart, and later on, on our dining table. Being very alien to the vegetable, I took the help of Sanjeev Kapoor of Khana Khazana. He has this wonderful recipe to offer, it is a Hydrabadi style salan.
I was so sure that I will not like the vegetable nor the preparation I skipped on the Panner called for in the original recipe.(Why waste Panner when the dish is destined for the dust bin ??). I also finished the dish with some fresh mint, I happened to have that day. The result was yum. It is a very good recipe. It has already found a way into my written recipe collection and surprise I had it for both my lunch and dinner. Honey was not complaining either :) 

We will need,

Sorekayi/ bottle gourd  1 lb trimmed and chopped into 1.5" cubes
Peanut oil 4-5 tbsp
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Cumin seeds 1/2 tsp
Fennel seeds 1/4 tsp
Fenugreek seeds 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves a handful
Onion 1 medium
Garlic 3 cloves
Ginger 3/4" piece
Turmeric powder 1/4 tsp
Cumin powder 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder 1/2 tsp (adjust according to taste)
Dhania powder 1/2 tsp
Tamarind concentrate 1/2 tsp
Peanuts 2 tbsp
Kopra 2 tbsp
Sesame seeds 1 tsp
Salt
Mint a handful
Coriander a handful

Method:
  • Cook the chopped bottle gourd in about 1 cup of water till crisp tender. Set it aside.
  • Combine the onion, garlic and ginger in a blender with some water and pulse till the smooth.
  • Heat the oil in a thick bottom pot. Throw in the mustard, cumin, fennel and fenugreek seeds. Once they stop spluttering add the curry leaves, followed  by the onion paste. Cook till the mixture is deep golden brown.
  • Throw in the turmeric, cumin, red chilli powder and dhania powder. Stir and cook for a few more  minutes till the oil separates. 
  • Throw in the tamarind concentrate and about 1/4 c of water. Simmer on very  for a few minutes till the raw smell of the tamarind disappears. 
  • Meantime, toast till fragrant the peanuts, kopra and sesame seeds separately on a hot pan. Remove from heat and grind it into a fine powder.Set it aside.
  • Transfer the cooked bottle gourd. Simmer for a couple of minutes gently tossing the bottle gourd.
  • Stir in the nut mixture into the bottle gourd. Simmer for a few more minutes till everything is well combined.
  • Adjust salt, throw in the garam masala and finish with some chopped fresh mint and fresh coriander. Serve hot with rotis.

Monthly Mingle :Mexican fiesta Chutney Quesadilla

This July 4th we had a fabulous time. My brother-in-law, co-sister flew in from Atlanta, we had a friend visiting us from India, another from Jersey city and yet another from Chicago. So it was barbecue time. Barbecuing for a majority vegetarian crowd was easier than I had anticipated. For a moment I thought was making it all vegetarian. But the three non-vegetarians in the group ganged up against us and declined to participate in the absence of non-vegetarian options. So I had to make something in Chicken as well. In the end we ended up grilling Corn on the cob (just like home, Jola with chilly powder, salt and lime juice), Mushrooms, Capsicum, onions all on tacos/tortilla with cheese, beans, tomatoes, Salsa and Guc. The center piece was however Panner tikka for the veggies and chicken tikka for the others. The party was good we all had a lot of fun.

After the party I was literally sitting on a pile of corn tortillas, beans and of course cheese. Had to some how figure out a way to finish up all these before they go bad. So this is what I ended up doing. Quesadilla... we both loved it and the advantage of home-made version is that it is a lot more healthful and you can make it just the way you like.

We will need,

(serves 2)

Corn Tortillas 4
Chutney of choice (peanut, mango, garlic, mint etc) 2 tbsp
Cheese 1/4 cup and above
Tomato 1 big diced
Black beans 1/4 cup and above (cooked and drained)
Oil about 2 tbsp

Method:
  1. Heat a tawa/ pan. Drizzle a little oil. Once the pan is hot place a tortilla. Flip the tortilla after 30 seconds, or just warmed through.
  2. Spread some chutney on the tortilla, I had some peanut chutney and went ahead with it and it was very good. It will just be fine with what ever chutney you have on hand or your favorite chutney.
  3. Sprinkle the desired amount of cheese. I used mozzarella, because it melts fabulously and has a fantastic taste. Monetary Jack, Cheddar or a combination of the two, will also make very good substitutes.
  4. Add beans, tomatoes fold it over.
  5. Press it down with the back of a spatula till it is slightly crisp
  6. Turn it over and press it down again till the other side is crisp and the cheese starts oozing out.
I used low fat cheese and kept it on the lower side as well as included a larger quantity of beans and tomatoes. But again this dish is so versatile that there is no hard an fast rule about the measurements. It is just an idea, go ahead experiment and have fun.

This recipe is my entry to the Mexican Fiesta as a monthly mingle event of the month.

Chutney Pudi/ Chutney Powder

My mother-in-law is an expert Chutney Pudi maker. She makes a variety of them and all of them are equally yummy. Steaming hot rice, some Chutney Pudi and a spoonful of ghee together makes such a good combo. I love it and it is something I crave for when I get tired of the normal rice-curry routine. This time in India I noted down the recipe for her Curry leaf Chutney pudi and here it comes.



we will need,

Curry leaves 2 cups (washed and wiped dry)
Dry coconut/copra/ona kobbari/ dessicated coconut 3 cups (grated and loosely packed)
Dry red chillies 10 -12
garlic 1/4 c loosely packed
Tamarind the size of a lemon
Pepper corns 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Hing a generous dash
Oil 2 tbsp
Salt to taste

Method:
  1. Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan.
  2. Throw in the mustard seeds, once they splutter add the hing.
  3. Throw in the curry leaves, stir.
  4. Add the chillies and keep stirring
  5. Add the remaining ingredients, keep stirring till the dry coconut is warm and fragrant.
  6. Remove from heat and spread it on a cookie sheet. Cool it down to room temperature.
  7. Pulse the spice mixture in a coffee grinder till coarse.
  8. Serve it as a accompaniment with meals.

Summer Citrus Salad

And finally it feels like summer here. I love it this way. I do not mind the heat a bit :) I know a lot of people who disagree with me including Honey. But these few months have been really damp and cold nothing like spring at all.. And finally when the sun started smiling at us, I was the happiest. Though too much of sun makes me avoid cooking, standing in front of the electric stove (yes we have an archaic coil stove in our apartment..) instead crave for something cool, light and 'summerish'... So one such after this week end, we had this salad. We both loved it. i am going to make it more often.

Summer Salad
We need,

Pink Grapefruit (Chakkota ) 1 segmented
Strawberries 4-5 jumbo chopped
Avocado 1 sliced
Lettuce or cucumber 2 cups chopped (sliced)
Orange juice 1 tbsp
Lemon 1 zest + 1 tbsp juice
Salt
Pepper
Olive Oil

Method.

  1. Mix the orange juice, lemon juice, lemon zest and olive oil in a small bowl, beat it till it is sort of emulsifies. Alternately you can give it a spin in the blender.
  2. Stir in salt and pepper. The dressing is ready. Set it aside.
  3. On a serving plate arrange sliced or cucumber or make a bed of lettuce.
  4. In a separate bowl, toss together the grapefruit segments, avocado slices and strawberry chunks.
  5. Pile the tossed fruits on the bed of lettuce or cucumber.
  6. Pour the dressing just before serving.
Enjoy it for a sunny lunch.

Batani Saagu/ Peas Stew

Saagu is again a confusing genre of 'curries'. I just finished reading a book on the culinary history of India and every time I use the term 'curry', it has started to sound very alien!! But then there is no other term that can rather capture the essence of our culinary creations than curry. That is rather strange. May be centuries of influence is not so easily shaken off :)

Coming back to Saagu, it is a thick curry kind of accompaniment to breads like Chapati, Poori, Dosa, Idli etc. I am sure every household and every restaurant in Karnataka (or rather should I say south Karnataka) has a secret recipe for this one. In my family we have multiple Saagu recipes, each different from the other. I have specific combination though. This particularly Saagu goes well with Idli and Dosa. I hate it when it is served with Poori or Chapati.
In most restaurants back home Saagu is served with Rawa Idli rather than the rice Idli. I somehow prefer to eat this Saagu with Rice Idli... Today we had it with Dosa, coconut Chutney and some Chutney powder. It was heaven, a perfect way to begin the week end.

Photobucket

We need,

Shelled Green Peas 2 cups
Potatoes 2 large
Onions 2 large
Tomato 1 medium
Capsicum 1 medium
Green Chilles 5 and above
Oil 3 tbsp
Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves 10-12
Hing a generous pinch
Turmeric 1/4 tsp
Fresh Coriander a few sprigs.
Lime juice
Salt to taste

Method:
  1. Wash, clean and cube potatoes. Pressure cook till tender. Alternately place it in a microwave safe bowl, sprinkle some water, microwave high for 7-8 minutes. (keep an eye)
  2. Dice onions, tomatoes and capsicum. Slit the green chillies.
  3. Heat oil in a thick bottom pan. Throw in the mustard seeds, when they stop spluttering, throw in the hing, curry leaves and green chillies. Cook for a minute.
  4. Add onions and cook till golden.
  5. Add tomatoes. Cook till mushy.
  6. Reserve about 1/4 cup of cooked potato chunks and throw in the rest into the pot. Stir in the turmeric. Cover and cook.
  7. Mash the reserved 1/4 cup of cooked potatoes into a fine paste.
  8. Add green peas to the pot and stir. Throw in the capsicum and add about 2/3 cup water. The quantity of water depends on how thick you want the Saagu to be. I like mine fairly thick so I add rather a small quantity of water.
  9. Now stir in the mashed potatoes. Adjust salt and bring it to a boil. Finish it with fresh coriander and lime juice. The addition of mashed potatoes creates a kind of silky gravy which I absolutely adore
I like my Saagu to be rather chunky and keep most of the potatoes whole. But I know many in my family they like their Saagu less chunky and more like a gravy. In that case, before adding water in step 8, mash all the ingredients in the pot using the back of a big spoon or a masher or India buttermilk churner (Maggige manthu as we say in Kannada). The Saagu will be smoother and will have a glossier finish.

This goes out to the MLLA event hosted by Annarasa

Aloo Bhendi/ Spicy Potato & Okra

Lady's finger aka Okra is my all time favorite vegetable. I know it is a slimy little thingie, but I have grown to love it in all forms... except the boiled version. It is perennial vegetable back home in Karnataka. So we always had the required supply at the market. I discovered its seasonality during my years in Delhi. It is a winter vegetable there and our miserly hostel mess used to serve us this vegetable only during winters. When ever they made Bhendi, it was my feast.. .I should say it was never Bhendi alone, it was Aloo Bendhi. Loads of aloo and a few bhendi peeping from in between. Because I used to be the first to go to the mess, I had this option of asking for more bhendi and less aloo. Our 'bhaiyyaji'- the cook in charge of serving that day would mostly oblige, after all I was one of the few hazzle free senior citizen of 'Sabarmati'. However pathetic the other food was, I still miss a few good things our mess provided us and Aloo bhendi is definitely one of them. I always wondered why Bhendi tasted so different in our mess, till one day one of the cooks revealed the secret. Deep frying...
Last week I suddenly started craving for Aloo bhendi the way they made it back in 'Sabarmati' hostel! So here it is.

Aloo Bhendi

Serves 4 ||  Calories per serving  275 Kcl | Protein 5.5 gm |  fat 14 gm || Fiber 7.52 gm |

Okra 1 lb
Potatoes 2 big
Oil to deep fry + 2 tbsp
Red chilly powder 1 tsp
Dhania powder 1 tsp
Turmeric 1/4 tsp
Cumin ground 1/2 tsp
Coriander fresh 1/4 cup
Onion 1 big
Tomato 1 big
Garam Masala 1/4 tsp
Lime juice
Salt to taste.

Method:
  1. Wash the Okras and spread it out to dry for at least an hour. That way it will be a lot less slimy.
  2. Trim the tops and tails of the okra and cut it into 2.5" pieces. Chop the potatoes into one inch cubes.
  3. Heat oil in a pot. Once it is hot enough, gently lower okra pieces and fry till done but still bright green in colour about 3 minutes or so. Drain it on a paper towel
  4. Deep fry potatoes and drain them on a paper towel.
  5. Heat the 2 tbsp oil in a wok. Throw in diced onions. Cook till the onions are light brown, that is a tab more brown than say if it were golden!
  6. Add all the spice powders, toss well and throw in the diced tomato. If the tomato are not juicy enough, add about 1/4 cup of water. Simmer till the tomato breaks down. Now throw in the fried okras and potatoes. Sprinkle some water, and cover with a tight fitting lid.
  7. Once the potatoes of tender and breaks down between two fingers, adjust the salt, throw in the garam masala and turn off the heat.
  8. Sprinkle the coriander and lime juice and serve hot with Phulka and a raita. We had it with Bajra phulka, raita and Bharwan Karela... It was a yummy meal.

Bisibelebath/ Curried Rice & Lentils

It is rather surprising that after such a long time in the blog-o-sphere, I still have not posted the poster child of Kannadiga food! I did call it the emperor of Kannadiga food as well...May be not the emperor, personally it is always Vangibath for me :) So definitely the king. And I have met loads of people who tend to think of only Bisibelebath as Kannadiga food, clubbing everything else as 'Madrasi' meaning 'South-Indian'. I get mad, feel like screaming 'folks, I am as much alien to 'Madrasi' culture/language/food as you are'. But what is the point convincing folks who hardly know the difference between Masale Dose and Set Dose. Ha!
It reminds of this cute friend of mine, who of course moved to Bangalore post-software boom. Being a Bihari, he was hardly into South-Indian foods. He kept telling me that the Masala Dosa he used to have, back in Patna or where ever it was in Bihar, was much better than what they make in Bangalore!! and he had major problem with 'double beans' the big plump bean that is very expensive and is copiously used in Kannadiga Pulaos. I found it so very funny. This time when I was in India MIL wanted to prepared Pulao and she belongs to that category of cooks who cannot go ahead without all the listed ingredient, and in this case it was double beans and fresh peas. So we got quater kilogram of each. The peas costed Rupees 40 per 1/4 kilo. The double beans costed Rupees 50 per 1/4 kilo!!! While the shelling the two, I was just thinking what my Bihar friend would do if we served him the pulao that day.. Such a sheer waste right. But then that is way they say, 'Loko-bhino-ruchi', that is taste is not uniform.

Bisibelebath also reminds me of this puccha Delhite friend of mine in Delhi. My mom made all nice bisibelebath with loads of ghee. My friend happened to drop by and my mom served him a ladle full of steaming bisibelebath. I was so anxious to see his reaction. He did seem to enjoy it. But then my heart sank when he said, " Auntyji, badiya hai, like Khichdi". Comparing Khichdi to bisibelebath! what a sacrilage. The two have nothing in common except rice and the consistency. Thankfully there were others who throughly enjoyed and really appreciated it.

So here comes my second love.... Bisibelebath. This is what my Doddamma had prepared when we visited her in Chikkanayakanahalli, Tumkur dist. She has a coconut plantation and it was lovely meal of Bisibelebath, obbattu etc. It was so much more enjoyable because of the Mutukada leaf plates that we had it in. I simply have to eat that way - plantain leaf or Mutukada leaf, and the meal will be so much better.

Bisi Bele Bhaath

You will need,

For the pressure cooker:

Rice 3/4 cup
Tur Dal a little less than 1/2 cup
Vegetables (green beans, carrots, potatos, green peas) 2 cups
Water 6 cups
Turmeric a pinch
Ghee a teaspoon

For the Masala /Bisibelebath Pudi

Channa Dal 1 tbsp
Urad Dal 1 tbsp
Dhania seeds 2 tbsp
Dried Red Chillies - Byadige -20 and above
Fenugreek a generous pinch
Kopra/ dry coconut/ dessicated coconut 4 tbsp
Cinnamon 1/4"
Marathi Moggu 1
Tamarind 1/2 tbsp
Jaggery size of a lemon (adjust according to taste)
Salt to taste

For the tadka

Ghee 3-4 tbsp
Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Hing a generous dash
Curry leaves 20-25
Dry red Chillies broken 4-5
Cashews broken 15-20 pieces

Method:
  1. Wash rice and dal, combine it with the rest of the ingredient mentioned under 'for the pressure cooker' in a pressure cooker. Turn on the heat
  2. Cook for two/three whistles till soft and completely cooked. Set it aside
  3. Mean time, toast all the spices under the 'masala' individually till fragrant.
  4. Toast the Kopra as well. Make sure it is still pale golden in colour.
  5. Combine the toasted spices, Kopra and everything else under the 'masala' with a little water in a blender and grind it into a paste. The paste should be slightly coarse, not too smooth like say Sandal paste, but still slightly coarse, like say chutney.
  6. Pour the ground masala and some water into a thick bottomed big pot. Bring it to a boil. simmer. Make sure there is enough water in the masala and it is not sticking to the bottom of the pot. So keep and eye on it and keep stirring. Simmer it for 20 minutes, till the rawness of the masala disapper and the aroma is mellow and heady. If you have any doubts about the doneness of the masala, go ahead and simmer it for another 10 minutes, but do not hurry into the next step.
  7. Once the masala is cooked and aromatic, carefully mix in the cooked rice-dal-vegetable mixture. Needs to be very careful, it is gonna scald in the matter of seconds.
  8. Combine eveything well. Bring it to a gentle boil.
  9. Prepare the tadka. Heat ghee in a pan. Throw in the mustard seeds, hing, curry leaves, chillies and the cashwenuts one by one. Pour the sizzling mixture on the rice mixuture.
  10. Adjust salt. Add more ghee if needed. Serve hot with Bundi or chips or mixture of choice.
Serves 5-6 people

P.S : I am adding this after a complaint from my cousin who grew up in Bellary. He says had not tasted a good BBB till he moved to Tumkur! And that no one in North Karnataka really calls BBB their own..It is sort of very alien to folks from the northern parts. So I stand corrected and say BBB is very representative of South-Karnataka instead of just Karnataka. He also suggest I do something that highlights the regional cuisines of Karnataka. Now that is a jabardast Idea.