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
Pepper to taste
Mint leaves a handful

  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.


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


  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

  • 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
Lemon juice

  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

  • 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
Mint a handful
Coriander a handful

  • 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

  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

  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.