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
Olive Oil


  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.


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

  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.

  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

  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.

Ugadi it lingers in my memories

This Ugadi the Kannada new year was fun. If the day was any indication as to how the year was going to be, I could not ask for more...not more love, family and great food, it was all there. Of course it has been ages that we celebrated Ugadi like that back home. Ever since my University days, my visits home was determined by the academic calender. My mother used to joke that it was Ugadi-Dipawali when ever I went home :) After university it was marriage and then relocation etc. But this time it had to be good after all, my sister was due to get married after Ugadi, so was my younger cousin. Therefore we all decided we will celebrate it together like we always did when we were kids; who know when our next Ugadi will be like that. We all got together, me, sister and my two cousins. As usual my mother was more than eager to feed us.

Our morning started early. By the time I woke up, mother was already in the kitchen, that means she had finished her oil-bath and prayers. She had also decorated the front courtyard with a small Rangoli. Rangoli is generally super fine granite powder. As an outline, clay is used. The picture below is that of the small Rangoli. Apparently it was still in the small hours of the morning that she finished her ritual bath and before she could start her ritual prayers, it is a practice to wash the front courtyard and draw Rangoli. Larger Rangoli would have taken her longer in the dark, so she did a small one just for the sake of practice. Then she happily went on to her prayers. Well all these before I could even stir out of my bed :)

Well after I woke up, well after day break, Mother decided to draw the festive Rangoli. In her dictionary it means covering the entire 20 feet or so of asphalt with a pretty Rangoli. So this is what we ended up with after a while or I should say a few hours.....

As a kid, I was raised in Mysore, where we always had asphalted roads, but back then in my grandmothers little town, they did not have asphalted roads, they had muddy roads. To tame the mud and the dust, it was a practice there to cover the courtyard with a thin layer of cow-dung. It was an art, to fetch fresh dung of the right consistency, mix it with just the right amount of water and spread it evenly. Even before the dung dries up, the Rangoli was drawn. It used to looks so pretty once it is all dry. I know there are a lot of people thinking 'yuk cow dung, that is obnoxious'. But then it was one of the most creative use of resources, no carbon foot prints, no imported coal-tar, no need of fancy equipments, engineers... Just some very creative use of what was available on hand. Of course if we think cow dung as a cheap source of cellulose and an insect repellant, it might be rather easy to accept this kind of usage.
Any ways we did not have anything like that this time around thanks to the asphalted roads. But I do miss it, was it not such an integral part of festivals?

Next was the 'Torana' programme. It is a practice to replace the 'Torana' -the string of mango leaves that hangs on the frame of the main door, with a fresh one on every major festivals. On Ugadi it is a must. These days of course the cheaper plastic version have taken the place of fresh mango leaves, but mon being old fashioned still insits on the fresh ones. It is a fun job. All of us cousins, three girls and a guy decided to take up the job as a team work. One of us picked and tore the right leaves, the other one held the string while one more stapled the leaves to the string. The brother had to tie the string to the nails on the door way. Finally fresh neem branches act as tassles at each end of the door way. It was so much fun making it all, one for the front door, one for the puja room and another for the back door. Boy! how much miss all such celebrations.

The centre piece of any Hindu festival needless to say will be the food. Especially so on important festivals like Ugadi, Gowri-Ganesha, Deepawali. Mother as usual was at her top form and by noon we were ready to dig in. Papa had got big Plaintain leaves, so green and so fresh. We spread it on the floor, squatted in front of it and were waiting for mom to arrive with all the side dishes. This was what my plate-leaf looked like.

This is definitely not the best of pictures, but I was so eager to finish the shots and start eating, I probably did not care for the pictures much. This is usually what is made in most Kannadiga homes on Ugadi. The dishes are as follows, the top row: Mango pickles, beans Palya , Cucumber Kosambari, Channadal Kosambari, Moongdal Kosambari, Peni Sandige, Ganghi sandige, Pakoda.
Bottom row: Rice and Obbattina Saaru, Payasa, Mango Chitranna , Hulianna, Obbattu . The rest of the recipes will follow soon. For now, it is time for me to linger over the pictures and the try to remember the few hours we spent together, like we always did when we were kids.