Huggi /Seasoned rice gruel

My mother used to tell me a story about a destitute girl who prayed to lord Vishnu to help her ease the pangs of Hunger. Lord Vishnu appears before the girl and presents her an Akshayapatra that could produce Huggi on a particular command, stopping at another command. The girl is generous and kind and serves Huggi to needy. This triggers the neighbour's jealousy. The neighbour steals the Huggi Akshaypatra but does not care much about the commands. She commands it to start whence Huggi starts to overflow. But she does not know how to stop!!! Alas.. first the Huggi fills up her kitchen and then the whole house and then the village that she would have to be rescued by boat :) Then the actual owner of the Akshyapatra turns up, now knowing where exactly her Akshyapatra was and commands it to stop!

Yeah! when ever i make Huggi, eat Huggi, think of Huggi, I kinda of start imagining a girl in a boat rowing across a pool of Huggi! How funny. Who ever wrote the story. But then I love the story for precisely being funny!! Ah! Stories, I love them, much more if they have to do something with food.

Here is a simple Huggi recipe. Huggi is similar to Khichdi/Pongal. My baby son loves it. In fact we have been making Huggi more often than usual for this reason. It is indeed a great baby-friendly food. Try it with your young one.

Rice           1 Cup
Split Moong Dal    1/2 Cup
Water          9 Cups
Black pepper 1 tsp
Jeera               1.5 tsp
Ghee               2-3 tbsp
Curry Leaves      a handful
Green Chillies      4-5 (optional )
Coconut                3-4 tbsp grated (optional)
Mustard seeds      1/2 tsp
Turmeric     a generous pinch
Hing a dash

Method :
  1. Wash rice and moong dal in several changes of water, combine it with 9 cups of water in a pressure cooker and cook till done, about 2 whistles.Set it aside to cool.
  2. Crush pepper and Jeera roughly till the pepper breaks down into two pieces and not more; set it aside.
  3. Once the rice mixture is cool, Heat ghee in a pan throw in the Mustard seeds, hing, curry leaves, pepper, jeera, turmeric saute till fragrant. If using coconut and green chillies, throw them in now. Saute till fragrant. Turn off the heat. 
  4. Pour the mixture over the cooked rice and dal. Mix well. Bring it to a simmer and adjust salt. Serve immediately.
If serving a young one, avoid chillies and use whole pepper instead of pounded pepper.

Huli Anna /Tamrind Rice

Hulianna is Pulioggare's lesser known cousin. One of the rice dishes that are destined to be lunch-box-hits!
I make a big batch, leave it in the refrigerator. Heating up each serving as I pack Honey's lunch box.

We will need,

Rice                       2 cups cooked and cooled
Tamarind                   size of a lemon (Soaked in warm water for 15-20 minutes)
Huli Pudi /Sambar Powder    1.5 tsp
Jaggery                  1.5 tbsp (crushed, more or less depending on taste)
Peanut Oil              3 tbsp
Green Chillies        2-3 slit
Mustard            1/4 tsp
Hing                   a dash
Onion               1 medium chopped (Optional)
Curry leaves      a hand full
Peanuts              a hand full
Salt to taste

  • Squeeze and extract as much pulp from the tamarind. Discard the fibers.
  • Combine the pulp, Huli pudi, jaggery in a thick bottomed pot. Cook till the mixture smells fragrant, about 20 minutes. Set it aside
  • In another pan, heat oil. Toss in the mustard seeds, hing, curry leaves, green chillies, onion and peanuts one after the other. Cook till peanuts are toasted. Set it aside.
  • To assemble, stir in the cooked tamarind into the rice, a teaspoon at a time. Check the taste and stop mixing once the desired taste is achieved. I like it with a lot of tamarind, MIL likes with just a hint!! So play with it...Adjust salt.
  • Finally mix in the onion- peanut takda with the rice and enjoy...

Peanut Chutney

Though it is not quite a native species groundnuts aka peanuts have been something my ancestors relished!! It has a cultivation history of least 150 years in the old Mysore region. Primarily an oil seed, it was also converted into favorite condiment like chutney.

In my kitchen, it is the most accepted and adored Chutney. We like its versatility, taste and the ease with which it ends on the dining table. We eat it with Idli, dosa, Akki rotti, Ragi rotti and plain rice...Could it be better? try it with bread!

They say the way to a man's heart is through his stomach. If it my Father-in-law's heart, it is through Peanut Chutney..I discovered it very early on. When ever MIL was out of town and I had an opportunity to cook I would ask FIL about his lunch preference. He did say 'Kadalebeeja Chutney madbudamma' / Please repare some peanut chutney'... It happened a few times to make me feel that he was just being considerate and did not want me to dish out elaborate meals. Considerate he was, but MIL later told me it was his preference as well! So folks, try this one and let me know..

We will need,

Peanuts/ Groundnuts      1/2 Cup
Red Chillies                   4-5 ( Byadigi ) Adjust according to taste
Garlic                            1 small clove
Tamarind                       1/2"strip
Curry leaves                   a handful
Coriander fresh               a handful
Salt to taste

  • Heat a skillet. Toast the peanuts till fragrant about 5-8 minutes. Remove and set it aside to cool.
  • In the same skillet, toast the red chillies for about 3-4 minutes till fragrant, remove and cool.
  • Turn off the skillet and throw in the curry leaves. Toast it on the hot skillet. Remove and cool.
  • Combine all the toasted ingredients and the rest of the ingredients in a blender, add a little water and pulse till almost smooth. 
  • Remove and serve it with Idlis, rice...

See/ Sweet Chutney

Idlis are traditionally served with savory chutney, peanut, coconut etc. But we also relish it with sweet coconut chutney. It is my grand mother's specialty. My grand father is a very big fan of this chutney, so am I. It is pretty easy to whip up and makes a breakfast hearty and festive.

We will need,

Roasted Channa Dal / Kadale Pappu    1/4 Cup
Shredded Coconut                                1 Cup
Jaggery                                                  1/2 Cup or so Adjust according to taste
Cardamon                                             1

Method :
  • Combine everything in a blender with very little water and pulse till smooth. Serve with Idlis .


Fermentation is very whimsical here in the US..How hard did i try to make the perfect Idlis that smells so much like home, just as soft, as pillowy...just as heavenly..It did take me quite a while, but now I guess I am in Idli heaven. The secret, ELGI Ultra Wet Grinder my MIL got me from India this summer..The timing could not have been better, as I call spring/Summer - "Idli Season". During this period, the whimsical fermentation turns less temperamental and more predictable.

The other Idli recipe I have here on this blog is made from Idli-rawa, which essentially means the resulting Idlis are kinda second grade, not the best quality that can be called "premium grade A"!!!!The best of idli is always the from the scratch rice idlis. In fact the 'Idli rice' is supposed to yield excellent result. However I figured out that using the Carolina long grain rice yields good quality Idlis as well. Try a few varieties before you know your Idli!! Chances are that you will start appreciating Carolina long grain rice much better. In fact Arborio rice makes good Idlis as well, for those of you who's Risotto plans went sour. Try making Idlis with the Arborio rice that makes you feel guilty every time you reach out for the pantry door.
I have fallen in love with Carolina long grain rice for it takes only about a fourth of soaking time than the traditional Indian Idli rice. Again the choice is yours.
After having these Idlis for breakfast the other Wednesday, I drifted away to a time that would never come back...Lounging on the Mango trees in my late Grandfather's grove. It was like summer vacation all over again, at a time when vacations did not mean coming back home with a suitcase full of dirty clothes crying to be laundered; Vacations meant, sun, summer, mangoes, jack fruits, Grandparents, cousins, aunts, uncles,water-from-the-pumpset, delightful aromas from Granny's kitchen, unlimited Idlis, Dosas, Pooris, a hearty appetite, a vocabulary sans words like 'diet' 'weight' 'watch' 'inches' 'kilos' 'pounds'......Ha!

Here we go again...


We will need,

Idli Rice     1 cups
Carolina Rice/ Sona Masuri 2 cups
Urad Dal   1 cup
Beaten rice /Avalakki/Poha 1/2 Cup
Fenugreek    1 tsp
Kosher salt   2 tsp
Channa Dal   2 tbsp

  • Soak all the ingredients except salt separately overnight.
  • Grind separately the dals and the rice adding as little water as possible. Try using the soaking liquid instead of water. Mix well. Stir in the salt. Sit it in a warm place, say a warm oven for at least 8-10 hours to ferment. The mixture is ready to be used when it is almost double in volume.
  • When the batter is ready, grease Idli moulds. Set a steamer or a pressure cooker with about 2 inches of water. 
  • Without stirring the batter, gently scoop a ladle full of batter and pour it on to the Idli moulds. The idea is to retain as much aeration as possible. Steam for 10-14 minutes till the idlis are firm and done.
  • Rest the idlis in the mould for a few minutes, Scoop them out and serve then with sweet chutney, peanut chutney and Sambar just like my Ajji / grandmother would.

Balida Rotti

Balida rotti literally means spread-flat bread! There is just so much to it, but the simplicity is what makes it so difficult.. I am yet to master the art of spreading the dough on a hot griddle. These are fat free and super healthy and is worth every effort it takes...Recipe courtesy : Aunty Susheela

We will need

Ragi flour  1 cup
Onions   1 medium minced

  • Mix ragi flour, salt to taste, onions with enough water to make a very soft chapati dough. The dough should be very soft, very pliable, say the consistency of peanut butter. It should not fall from the back of the spoon though.
  • Heat a light weight griddle. When it is hot, take a lemon sized ball of dough and place it on the tawa . 
  • Using your fingers, spread the dough all over the tawa, giving it a shape of roti.
  • Cover and cook for a few minutes.
  • Remove from the tawa and serve hot with some peanut chutney and ghee/butter.

Aunty Susheela's Motte Pulav /Egg Pulav

My blog is skewed disproportionately toward vegetarian fare till date. This is not intentional, just that Kannadigas are very vegetarian-friendly folks! Historically speaking, we are a creed who experienced strong religious stimulus endorsing vegetarian way of life! In the ancient period it was the Jain monks... Jains are so rigid in their practice of vegetarianism that they do not eat meals after sunset lest they consume the fly that accidentally fell in their meal by the light of earthen lamp! They also refrain from eating vegetables, if the plants growing then has been harmed while harvest of the vegetable, like root vegetables. The contribution of Jain poets to Kannada literature is also widely recorded. One epic in old Kannada revolves around the ill-fate of a King spanning several births for killing an animal.
In the 11th century Ramanujacharya fled the religious persecution in the hands of Cholas to  Melukote in Karnataka bringing with him his brand of vegetarianism. That is why 'Ranganatha'- temples dedicated to lord Vishnu is so common in the the old-Mysore region!
In the 12th century it was Basavanna. His influence swept through wide swaths of from north to south. He recommended a softer brand of vegetarianism and roots vegetables were  very welcome. In later centuries, it was Madhwacharya and Ramanujacharya.
Our erstwhile Maharaja of Mysore were also strict vegetarians and indirectly endorsing Vegetarianism. No wonder 15-20 years ago to restaurants serving non-vegetarian food were very hard to come by.
This does not mean we do not have a talent to cook up great tasting non-vegetarian fare!! People from Coorg, Chikmagalur / Malanadu region are famous for their game-meats dishes. Coastal Kannadigas prepare excellent sea-food.. reserving these schools for later. I have asked my sister to source some Coogi recipes from her MIL for me.. Yes she is married to a wonderful Coorgi..

For now it is Gowda-style recipe series courtesy aunty Susheela, our delightful neighbour.

We will need,

Rice                   2 cups  washed and cleaned
Eggs                   4
Onions               2 medium chopped

Garlic                 4-cloves
Ginger                1"
Cloves                6
Cinnamon           1"
Coriander           a handful
Red Chilly Powder 2 tsp
Dhania powder       2.5 tsp
Peanut oil             3-4 tbsp
  • Wash clean rice in several changes of water and soak it in clean water. set it aside
  • Grind together ginger, garlic, cinnamon, cloves, chilly powder and dhania. set it aside.
  • Heat oil in a thick bottomed pot. Toss in chopped onion. Saute till onion is golden. Pour the ground masala and cook till the oil floats on the top, about 8- 10 minutes.
  • Push the masala to the side and break eggs one after the other into the center of the pot, scrambling the eggs. Once the eggs are set, stir in the masala. Cook the eggs thoroughly. 
  • Add about 3-4 cups of water. (3 if using Basmati, 4 if using other varieties). Adjust salt. 
  • Once the water comes up to a boil, add the soaked rice. Cover and cook till rice is done. Throw in the coriander.
  • Serve hot with lemon wedges and hard boiled eggs

Togaribele Dose / Toor Dal Dosa

Recently we moved from Connecticut to New Jersey. My belly has been more than happy ever since. So many varieties of Indian restaurants, Karnataka-styled Hoysala to Indo-China styled Nanking! I could not believe there was such a big Indian community to support all these restaurants. In fact there is! The coolest part of our new residence is our Kannadiga neighbour. Aunty Susheela, is a lady of charm and a repertory of fabulous recipes. She pampered us with good food all these days. It is sad that she will be leaving to India but will return next summer. She has taught me some mouth-watering Gowda-styled food. The gowda community is famous for its non-vegetarian offering. So watch out meat-lovers out there, there will be quite a few recipes coming up!!!
But for now one of Aunty Susheela's recipe, the toor dal dosa. It was a super hit!My MIL got me a new ELGI Ultra Grinder and I am a happy lark making Dosa, Idlis every other day :)

We will need,

Toor Dal/ Split Pigeon peas/ Togari bele  1 Cup
Rice                                                        2 Cups
Red Chillies (Byadige)                             4
Ginger                                                     1 " piece
Jeera/Cumin                                            1/2 tsp
Dhania/ Coriander seeds                          1/2 tsp
Oil /butter/Ghee

  1. Pick and clean the dal. Wash dal and rice separately in several changes of water.
  2. Soak the dal and rice separately in water for at least six hours.
  3. Toast the red chillies, Jeera and Dhaniya on a hot griddle till fragrant.
  4. Grind the soaked dal, rice and spices into a smooth paste adding as little water as possible. Use the soaking liquid if necessary.
  5. Mix in salt and set it aside in a draft free place to ferment overnight. In the Eastern coast of USA, i preheat the oven, turn it off and set the batter in the oven overnight. The batter doubles in volume after fermentation. 
  6. To make dosa, pre-heat a skillet. Ladle about 3/4 cup of batter to the center of the pan. Spread it out evenly using a circular motion from the center of the batter reaching out to the edges. Pour a tablespoon of peanut oil /Ghee on the dosa. Cover and cook for a few minutes till the bottom of the dosa is golden brown.
  7. Flip the dosa and cook for a couple of minutes. Remove from heat and serve with chutney or Saagu