Kumbalakai Palya

The Yellow Indian Pumpkins are one of those vegetables that grows like weeds back home in Karnataka. There was a time when most of our backyards had at least one Pumpkin creeper that we would scoff at the idea of having to buy them in the market. My grandmother probably would still not agree with the idea of buying pumpkins!! It used to so happen that these giant vegetables were just too much to be used up for a meal or two. Therefore sharing was the name of the game. If we had a Pumpkin in our creeper today then the entire block would be cooking Pumpkin. Same if our neighbour harvested Pumpkin from their backyard the next week. Food was all about sharing right. Now towns like Bangalore and Mysore have grown beyond recognition. As far as me, I am still in the time shell that was my childhood, when air at this time of the year was permeated with the aromas of Mangoes and Jackfruits not burnt out gasoline!!! None of my family members have a back yard these days. My grandparents got their backyard paved with concrete because there was not enough sunlight in the backyard, (thanks to the matchbox-over-matchbox concrete construction around their home in Bangalore!!) and nothing would grow there anymore. It is now my dream to have a large backyard and all sort of fresh vegetables flourishing there.
Coming back to Pumpkins, we did not get these in the Indian stores when we lived in Connecticut. But here in New Jersey, it is different. We get all sort of vegetables. I only hope we do end up getting raw Jackfruit and plenty of Indian mangoes...

We will need,

Yellow Pumpkin          1 lb cubed
Coconut                      3 tbsp (yes be generous)
Green Chillies               6-7
Peanut Oil                    1 tbsp
Mustard Seeds             1/2 tsp
Hing                             a dash
Cumin Seeds                1/2 tsp
Curry Leaves                a handful

  • Heat oil in a Wok. Toss in the Mustard, Cumin, Hing and curry leaves.
  • Once they crackle, drop the slit green chillies. Once they pop, drop in the cubed pumpkin and coconut.
  • Sprinkle a scant 1/4 cup of water, cover and cook till the pumpkin is soft. They cook pretty fast. So keep a close eye on them. Adjust Salt.
  • Serve them with Akki Rotti. 

    Akki Rotti / Rice Roti

    One of the most popular breakfasts back home is Akki Rotti, more so during winters when 'Avarekai'/Papdi Lilva aka flat beans crowd the markets. We consume tonnes and tonnes of Avarekai Usuli with innumerable Akki rottis each season. Even as I write this post, the tantalizing aroma of Usli whiffs the air around me, though it is well past winters...So much is my connection with Akki rotti-Usli. In fact we used to bring Avarekai in the multiples of 2.5 kilograms called 'Tuka', sometimes running upto to 5-6 tuka for the week. But this is post is much about Rotti than Usli so lets get on with the Akki Rotti. During the rest of the year we pair these Rottis with Ennegai, Kumbalakai Palya and Assorted Chutney. Well this rotti is pretty versatile for it is very mild tasting with a hint of sweetness of cooked rice and goes well will pretty much everything. My sister's MIL who is a Coorgi serves it with 'Pandi Curry' or Pork Curry. So let imagination rule and enjoy the Akki Rotti.

    Needless to say, mom excels in this dish. In fact she makes much better Akki rotti than her mother, who usually sets my ultimate food benchmarks!! Congratulations mom, when it comes to Akki Rotti, you win. Sorry Ammaji (my grandmother) this time you loose :(

    Serves 6 ||  Calories per serving (Kcl) | total 127 | Protein 2 |  fat 2.2 || Fiber 0 gm |

    Rice Flour       1.5 cups + extra for rolling.
    Salt  a pinch
    Ghee or peanut oil as desired

    • Bring a cup and a half of water to boil. Dump in a generous pinch of salt.
    • Reduce heat and stir in the rice flour, a tablespoon at a time. Making sure there are no lumps.
    • Cover and turn of the heat.
    • When the mixture is cool enough to handle, kneed it into a dough akin to the chapati dough. If the dough is very tight, sprinkle some hot water. If it is too runny, mix in a handful of rice flour.
    • Pinch a ball as big as probably a golf ball or may be a little larger.
    • Roll it between the two of your palms making it perfect sphere. Flatten it slightly and place it on a floured board. 
    • Roll it out into circular discs using a rolling pin. 
    • Place it on a preheated tawa. Cook on one side, sprinkle some water, turn it and cook it on the other side as well. Apply oil or ghee if desired. If I am eating, it is Ghee please :)
    • Serve with Ennegai

    Menasina Saaru

    It is again cloudy and raining. It is so boring a day that I hardly feel like cooking anything. On such days we dish up some Menasina saaru, something that warms me up from within as well as takes just over a few minutes to cook. This is again one of the first foods that a new mother is served. It is also a tonic that does a world of good to a runny nose and a sore throat, a South Indian equivalent of 'chicken-soup-for-the-soul'.

    We will need,

    Tamarind soaked in warm water size of a medum lime
    Jaggery crushed 1 heaping tsp
    Pepper 1 tsp crushed
    Jeera 1 tsp crushed
    Garlic 3 cloves crushed
    Ghee 1 tbsp
    Curry leaves a handful
    Dry red Chillies 3-4
    Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
    Hing a dash
    Coriander fresh a handful chopped

    • Squeeze the tamarind pulp and add water making it about 3 cups or so. The water should be tangy but not too sharp on the tongue.
    • Add the jaggery to the tamarind water and bring it to a boil
    • Meantime prepare the 'oggarane'. Heat ghee in a small wok. Drop the Mustard seeds, Hing, Curry leaves, Pepper, Jeera, Garlic and  the dry red chilies. Once the mixture is fragrant, turn off the heat.
    • Pour the 'oggarane' over the tamarind water and adjust salt. The saaru should have a pleasant balance of spice, sweet and tang. Bring it to a quick boil and serve piping hot.

    Bread Uppitu

    Bread uppittu is a variety of upma made using stale bread. We so much love it that we end buying bread to make it instead of using stale bread :). But I should mention that the Upma turns out better if the bread used is at least a couple of days old and kinda holds it shape. Also the best variety of bread will be the sweetish Iyengar bakery style bread. We do not get it often here, so I use 'Whole wheat white' bread. Ya! I know it is no where close to the Iyengar bakery bread, but then got to do with it.

    We will need,

    Bread        1 loaf cubed. (Trim edges if you like)

    Peanut oil     1 tbsp
    Channa Dal   1 tsp
    Urad Dal       1 tsp
    Peanut           2 tbsp (optional)
    Jeera             1/4 tsp
    Mustard         1/4 tsp
    Curry leaves   a handful
    Lemon juice   1 tsp
    Hing                a dash
    Turmeric         a pinch
    Green Chillies  4-5 adjust according to taste
    Onion            1 medium chopped

    • Heat oil in a wok. Toss the mustard, Hing, jeera, Curry leaves, Channa dal, Urad dal one of the other.
    • Toss in the green chillies, turmeric and the peanut. Stir for a few minutes.
    • Tip in the chopped onion. Saute till golden. Add Salt and drop the bread cubes. Toss well to coat the bread pieces with the onion mixture.
    • Squeeze the lemon juice over the bread and mix well. 
    • Serve warm or room temperature.
    We love it as a quick breakfast or an evening snack.

    Bendekayi Paccadi/ Okra raita

    It is raining bendekai here!!! Got to post this one. It has been lying in my folder for god-knows-how-long. So no banter, no nonsense, lets head straight to the recipe.

    We will need,

    Okra/ Bendakai   1/2 lb
    Yogurt                 1 cup
    Peanut oil            1 tbsp
    Green chillies        4-5 slit, adjust according to taste
    Mustard seeds      1/2 tsp
    Channa Dal          1 tsp
    Urad Dal              1 tsp
    Hing                     a dash
    Curry leaves         a handful
    Salt                      to taste

    • Dice the okra and toast it on a hot griddle till the edges char. 
    • Heat oil in a wok. Toss in the Mustard seeds, once they splutter, toss in the urad dal, channa dal, hing, curry leaves and green chillies. 
    • Once the sizzling stops, toss in the toasted okras. Mix well. Add salt and set it aside to cool.
    • Beat the yogurt well. Once the okra mixture is warm, pour in the beaten yogurt. Adjust salt.
    • Serve immediately at room temperature with Tovve or dal and Rice.

    Bendekayi Chutney/ Okra Chutney

    My love for Okras is legendary. Keep searching for new ways to eat them. Pushing mom for those forgotten recipes, came across this recipe. Mom made it after a long time and it was a super hit. I have been making it regularly these days.

    We will need,

    Okra/ Bendekai/ lady's finger 1 lb
    Green Chillies 6 -10 adjust according to taste
    Tamarind extract 1 tsp
    Garlic 3 cloves
    Curry leaves a handful
    fresh Coriander a handful
    Mustard 1/4 tsp
    Peanut Oil 1 tbsp

    • Clean Okras and wipe it dry, any water on them makes them a lot more slimy. Dice them and toast them on a hot skillet till the edges char. Set them aside.
    • Heat oil in a pan, drop the mustard seeds, curry leaves and the crushed garlic. Once the spluttering stops, toss in slit green chillies. Saute.
    • Add the okras and toss. Remove from heat.
    • Once the mixture is slightly cool, pile the okra mixture and the remaining ingredients in a food processor and pulse. Better yet, pile everything into a mortar-pestle and pound it till well mixed and coarse.
    • Serve with hot rice and lots of ghee.