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


  • 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
Clove 3-4
Cinnamon ½”

  • 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

  • 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)

  • 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

  • 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.


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
Oil as required (about ¼ cup)


  • 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

  • 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