Kimball Farm

This summer was unusually lazy for us; however, the last few weeks really got busy. We were going all around making our weekdays as well as weekends packed tight. So today has been a really rare lazy day after a while. So today i was sorting out some of the pictures and came across a picture of Kimball farms near Lowell, MA. Our dear friends who live in New Hampshire invited us for a weekend getaway. We had a wonderful time, had real good food. Our friend is a wonderful cook! We had lovely Pulao and sandwiches. On one of the days we went to a new Indian restaurant in the area and the food was extremely good. Our last stop was Kimball farm; our friend who is a big fan of the place insisted we go there! thank heavens we went there.

Kimball had a small selection of lunch-brunch. But their highlight is their fresh ice-creams. The place is very very modest, but the variety of ice-creams they serve is amazing. We had never heard of unique flavors including combinations like orange-pineapple, molasses, grape-nut, black-raspberry, etc apart from other normal flavors.
I had never imagined flavors like orange and pineapple can be combined in one ice creams. We loved it, i had never had something so special and something that tasted so good!
I wish they were closer home... and they were open all the year round!

I should think of our friends who took us there; after having been there, i understood what i would have missed had we skipped the place!


Are we not all big Dosa-Idli fans? I know I am, and like all south Indians, i am very finicky about my Dosa, Idli, Smabar, Chutney and of course Saagu! Like every body back home, I have my own set of parameters a good Saagu should meet. Personally i like it red-brown colored rather than the yellow-white one. I like it hot, but not oily. I also like a variety of vegetables in mine. Most importantly, the blend of spices should be just right.
If I think of a good Saagu, I can recollect only S.N in J.P.Nagar 6 th phase. He probably makes the best of Saagus in the whole of south Bangalore. Of course we all have our own favorites right. And of course there is the perpetual favorite of Bangalore CTS, Malleshwaram- Kallu Hotel as we used to call it because it is Granite stone building! Love it!

Last week end I had prepared Dosa for a friend who is expecting!! What more nutritious than a mixed vegetable Saagu? So here it comes Bisi Bisi Saagu

Mixed Vegetables 3 cups
Coconut 2 tbsp
Red Onion 1 small (Use pearl onions if you have patience, its worth all the effort)
Tomato 2
Tamarind paste 1 tsp
Coriander leaves
Curry leaves
Ghee 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Hing a pinch

For the spice blend:
Channa dal 3/4 tbsp
Urad Dal 3/4 tbsp
Red Chillies 6 and above
Coriander seeds 1 tbsp
Jeera 1 tsp
Cloves 4
Cinnamon 1/4"

Heat a pan. Toast all the spices one by one till fragrant. Set aside to cool. Once cooled, combined the spices, coconut, tamarind, coriander and tomatoes in a blender. Pulse it till smooth.
In another pan, heat ghee. Drop the mustard seeds, hing and curry leaves. Once done add the chopped onions. Stir in the spice mixture and bring it to a boil. About 10 minutes. Now add the mixed vegetable and simmer till the vegetables are cooked but crisp-tender.
Serve it hot with Dosa-Idli-Set Dosa.

Puri Usli/ Spiced Puffed Rice

Back in the days when eating out was not very popular, 'Puri Usli' was probably the most popular snack down home. My mother made this often when we were kids mostly for a light evening snack. Of course she was the type who did not believe in 'do minute rukh sakte hai ......Maggi Maggi'. Now i do! Times have changed and what was a rare treat is now something we eat every other day, courtesy Nestle foods( what do you think is driving their upward bound revenues) And what was a humble snack back then is a treat today. So last week we decided to have this treat after returning from work.

The only disadvantage of this this quickie dish is that non-availability of good quality puffed rice. Its such a simple dish that a good quality puffed rice becomes very important.I am not very happy with the ones available here in North America. But it is OK.

Puffed rice 1 medium bag
Onion red 1 big chopped fine
Green Chillies 9 and above
Coconut grated 3 tbsp
Channa dal 1 tsp
Urad Dal 1 tsp
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Oil 1 tbsp
Curry leaves 10
Lemon juice

Wash the puffed rice in a colander and drain it well. Set it aside. Heat oil in a wok. Add mustard seeds, hing, channa dal, urad dal, hing, curry leaves in order. Keep stirring. Add chillies, onion and coconut. Toss. Once the onions are translucent mix in the drained puffed rice. Finish with coriander.
Serve hot with Chutney pudi

Uppittu/ Upma

Uppittu or Upma is so much like fondant! Either you like it or you don't. There is absolutely no two ways about it. I like uppittu, not that i have always liked it, but now i do! My father cant stand it, My cousin cannot have enough of it! Anyways, there are certain joints in Bangalore very very famous for uppittu or Khara bath as it is generally listed on the Darshini menus.
People swear by Brahmin's coffee bar somewhere in Chamrajpet.. i have never been there. But i know of a friend, who goes there every weekend to have break fast!! My personal favorite is SLV near ragi gudda, and S N near Amrish's house in J.P.Nagar... and of course how can i forget Adiga's !!! Lovely lovely khara bath! The taste lingers on my tongue even today....
Tried to recreate those mouth watering stuff and it turned out well.We liked it with the rains courtesy storm Hanna!!!

Sooji 3/4 cup
Oil 1/4 cup or may be ghee!
Shallots 2 diced
Green chillies 8 and above
Tomatoes 2 (preferably tangy ones) diced
Curry leaves
Mustard seeds
Channa Dal 2 tsp
Urad dal 2 tsp
Coconut grated 1 tbsp
Ginger freshly grated 1 tsp

Toast the sooji in a hot pan till warm and fragrant. Set aside to cool. Heat oil in a wok. Toss in the mustard seeds, hing and curry leaves. Wait for it to stop spluttering. Toss the Channa Dal and urad dal. Keep stirring. Toss in the shallots followed by chillies and ginger. Mix in the tomatoes. Cook till all the liquid is evaporated and the tomatoes are mushy. Now measure 1.5+ 1/4 cup of water. The rule is 1:2 sooji:water ratio, but if you like it it softer like me, add in 1/4 cup more. Mix coconut, cover and bring it to a rolling boil. Once the mixture starts bubbling, reduce the heat and mix in the toasted sooji a tablespoon at a time, till all the sooji done. At this point vegetables like capsicum, peas, avarekai(indian beans) can be added. Cover and simmer for about 10 minutes. Finish with Corriander. Serve hot with a pickle on the side.. We also love some crackers or chips on the side!.. Enjoy

Badanekai tumbgai

Continuing with my palya pudi creations, i ended up making badanekai tumbgai or spicy stuffed egg plants. This dish is slightly different from ennegai, that ennegai has a gravy and tumgai is a dry dish. Its an excellent side dish and one particular dish you might like how ever much you disdain brinjals.

Brinjal/egg plant 6
Palya pudi 4 tbsp
Til 1 tbsp
Dry coconut 1 tbsp
Curry leaves
Mustard seeds
Oil 1/4 cup +2 tbsp
Tamarind size of a lime, soaked and extracted in 1/2 a cup of water

  • Toast the til and coconut one by one till fragrant, cool and grind it coarsely in a coffee grinder. Mix the ground til and coconut with palya pudi and 2 tbsp oil. 
  • Slit the brinjal into four quarter stopping at the tip, so that the brinjal quarters are still held at the tip. Stuff the palya pudi mixture into the brinjal quarters set it aside. 
  • Heat the remaining oil in a pan. Toss in the mustard seeds, curry leaves and hing. Place the brinjal gently in the hot oil Making sure not to spill the spice stuffing. Cover and simmer for 10 minutes.
  • Keep checking so that brinjal does not stick to the bottom. After 10 minutes add the tamarind extract. Simmer till done. Brinjals in this dish easily stick to the bottom and burn, so it is a very good idea to keep checking once every few minutes.
Serve it hot with rotis or bajri rotis

Tondekai Palya/ Sauteed Ivy Gourd

Tondekai or the Ivy gourd is one of the most popular vegetable back home. It is not something you buy in the market, after all they are the most abundant crops that can be easily cultivated, even in a small patch in the back yard!!! As a kid, back in my home town of Madhugiri in Tumkur district, i remember our farm had a huge, long running hedge fence and through out the hedge fence these tiny like cousins of cucumber grew abundantly. When ever we went to our farm, we would just pluck the green tender ones and eat it! They are super crunchy and yummy. I can never forget those days. And while getting back home, we just used to tear some into our bags/or pockets or sometimes even a small towel!! and take it home.. my grandmother would churn out these yummy palyas for the next meal. Nothing can beat the taste of fresh vegetables, i long to got back to those days and enjoy my time in our farm. The mangoes, the yelchikai, (i dont know what it is called in English) and there was one more sweet, waxy,tiny fruit... kare hannu(the last time i had it was in 2001 when my cousin got married and we were at our home town and the fruit was in season) figs, and of course nerale hannu more popularly known as jamoons. These were some of the vegetables and fruits we never purchased. we just happened to pick them and eat it! Now everything has a price.. and a few are price less because they do not enter the markets at all!
Now coming back to tondekai palya. This particular genre of palya is prepared using a blend of spices called palya pudi. The spice blend is particularly versatile and is used in Massappu/maskai curries as well. My grand mother always used to prepare huge jars of this spice blend and use it through out the year. But me.. i m lazy, so i make it in little quantities and store it in an air tight container. It will last me a couple of months. But making a fresh blend is definitely worth the effort. The freshness of the spices will make the dishes extra special.
So this week my agenda was making palya pudi and using it in with two of the most popular vegetables.

Palya pudi:
Dhania 1 .5 tbsp
Channa Dal 1.5 tbsp
Urad Dal 1.5 tbsp
Jeera 1 tsp
Methi 1/4 tsp
Red Chillies 10 and above
Clove 2-3

Toast all the spices one by one till fragrant. Cool and then grind it coarsely in a coffee grinder or spice grinder. Pounding it in a mortar-pestle will make it taste better!Store in an airtight jar.

For the Tondekai palya
Tondekai/ivy gourd 1 lb quartered length wise
Oil 1/4 cup (I know that is a lot of oil)
Peanut or til or dry coconut 2 tbsp toasted and ground
Mustard seeds
Curry leaves
Tamarind a size of a lime soaked in warm water and squeezed
Jaggery size of a lemon
Palya pudi 3 tbsp

Heat oil in a pan/ wok. Toss in the mustard seeds, hing, curry leaves. once the spluttering stops, toss in the tondekai. Add salt and toss. Pound the jaggery into a coarse powder and mix it with the tamarind extract. Sprinkle the palya pudi and ground peanut/till/dry coconut all over.Toss to coat well. Add the tamarind-jaggery mixture, cover and simmer for about 15 minutes. The Tondekai should still have some crunch left but should be tender. Turn off the heat and serve it hot with chapati or Bajri/sajje roti.