Fruit Cake

My mother used to make three types of cakes before her old fashioned oven broke down on her. The regular butter-cake, Mango cake and Fruit cake. Fruit cake was the special of them all reserved for birthdays and special requests. We used to love it. It never lasted for more than two days. It never does. I have no clue why people complain of fruit cakes sitting idly in the fridge for years. This version gives awesome results. In fact if I am asked to choose between Warrior -fruit cake and Mom's fruit cake I did be confused. Both are equally good.

A word about Warrior bakery, Rajajinagar, Bangalore. Well after the old oven broke down, Mom never took to baking much and she never appreciated the fancy 'Lexus OTG' much. Then it was all about Warrior. It is one of the best know bakeries of the old world Bangalore, much like Indian Coffee House and Koshys. I love the fruit cake they make. We had to be at the bakery at the right time, else they would run out of it, quite some 'hot cakes' they were. On the day I did leave home for university, my father would get me this huge loaf of fruit cake. Back at my university hostel, I would keep this one thing from my friends. I would eat it a small piece at a time. By the time I am half way through the cake, tears would roll down my cheeks while eating, partly missing my home and my folks and partly the fast disappearing cake!

For now it is the home made version! Photographs never quite justly the goodness of this cake, after umpteen number of shots and styling efforts I give up. This is the best I could do

We will need,

Dried cherry 50 grams
raisins 50 grams
cashew 50 grams
Tutty Fruity 50 gram
Date 50 grams
All purpose flour 140 grams
Salt a pinch
Baking powder 1/4 tsp
Sugar 100 grams
Butter 100 grams
Eggs 2
Vanilla 1 tsp
Instant coffee powder 1 tbsp
Caramel 2 tsp
Cloves and Cinnamon (ground) 1/4 tsp
Nutmeg (ground) a pinch
Lemon juice 1 tsp
Lemon zest of 1 lemon

  • Butter a loaf pan and line it with wax paper on all sides and the bottom.
  • Preheat oven to 350 F.
  • Chop all the dried fruits and cashew finely and set it aside.
  • Shift the flour with baking powder and salt multiple time. Toss the fruits in the flour and set it aside.
  • Cream the butter till it is soft and add sugar. Cream till sugar is almost dissolved.
  • Crack one egg and beat till well combined, crack the second egg and beat again till well combined.
  • Throw in the Vanilla, coffee, lemon zest, lemon juice, ground spices and caramel. Mix it well.
  • Now carefully stir in gently the flour and nut-fruit mixture. Mix till well combined and do not over mix it.
  • Transfer the mixture to the loaf pan.And pop it into the hot oven. Bake till a toothpick inserted in the center of the loaf comes out clean, about 40 minutes. If the cake is browning rapidly on the top, cover it with a piece of aluminum foil.
  • The original recipe calls for shortening instead of butter, I hate shortening and therefore never used it.
  • I substitute caramel for honey most of the times, this time, I had some maple syrup, so used it. I also substituted instant coffee powder for some Espresso (that is what I had on hand)
  • Use any combination of fruits and nuts. I had run out of cashews so used almonds instead and the results were fabulous.
  • I have used dried apricots, figs, cranberries before and they turn out very well. Just to keep the measurements correct, the total fruits and nuts used must be equal to 250 grams. Most often then not, I soak the fruits in some kind of alcohol overnight. I have tried Grand Marnier, Rum, this time about 40 ml Limoncello.It adds a another dimension to the fruit cake.
  • Lining the loaf pan with wax paper is very important else, the edges will be charred and bitter by the time the center of the loaf is done.
  • If you want a light colored fruit cake omit the coffee powder.

Coconut Chutney

Coconut chutney is the staple chutney amongst us Kannadigas. We probably eat a tonne or so of this chutney every year! Well obviously, we are people who have at least one to two coconut trees in the backyard and we make the best use of our resources. Therefore there are not many dishes which does not call for coconut. The recent 'eat-healthy' trend has damped our love for coconut a bit, but mine is coming back with vengeance!! I heart coconut.. Cannola oil lobby 'go to hell'.

Typically this chutney is served at breakfast with Idlis, Dose, Chapati, Rotti and every other bread imaginable. Coconut is cracked open, the flesh grated and then combined with other spices and ground in a huge mortar-pestle we call "Rubbo Gundu" the stone grinder. The resulting goodness is heavenly in texture, perfectly combined, neither too rough, not too smooth, and it does not bleed water. That kind of perfect consistency is not achievable in a blender, mixie. The heat for the motor generally causes the essential oils in the spices and coconut to breakdown and therefore the resulting chutney is way inferior to the stone ground version. But modern convince is something, not many apartments in Bangalore has a stone grinder anyway. 

The best chutney I ever had is one the we regularly ate at Kyatsandra, near Tumkur on NH 4. Unlike the regular Darshinis, Idlis here are served with Chutney and Saagu not thechutney-sambar combo. These Idlis there are super soft, and chutney is so heavenly that we will not miss the sambar at all. During my growing up years, Kyatsandra a small town near Tumkur in Karnataka (Now grown into a suburb of Tumkur) is known for the famous Siddaganga Mutt and his holiness Sri Shivakumara Swamy and of course the Idlis... 

We will need,

Green Chillies 10
Curry Leaves 25
Coconut 1/2
Roasted Channa 3 tbsp
Tamarind (size of a chickpea)
Coriander 1/4 cup
Garlic clove 1 small

  • Heat a heavy skillet. Roast the chillies on the hot dry skillet till blisters appears. Remove and set it aside.
  • Throw curry leaves into the skillet and toast till fragrant about 30 seconds or so. 
  • Combine all the ingredients with little water in a blender / mixie and grind till it resemble coarse.
  • Serve it with hot Idlies, Dose or a bread of your choice.

Aloo Palak

Sometimes, the palate craves for something spicy, something that pops and dance to a Bollywood chart buster.. while the soul craves for something soothing and simple. On a day when you are hard put for time, there are very few options indeed.. This is one such pantry-constrained, time-constrained but not taste-constrained recipes..

Serves 2 ||  Calories per serving  304 Kcl || Protein 9.65 gm ||  fat 21.73 gm || Fiber 4.79 gm

Aloo 1 big (cubed)
Palak 3 cup (chopped )
Chilly powder 1 tespoon
Dhania 1 teaspoon
Amchoor 1 /2 teaspoon
Turmeric a big pinch
Garam masala 1/2 teaspoon
Peanut oil  3 tbsp

Method :
  • Heat oil in a pan. Throw in the jeera. 
  • Once it has stopped spluttering, drop the potatos cover and cook till almost done. 
  • Now stir in the chopped palak along with the spices cover and cook till done. Adjust salt and finish with some cilantro. Serve with a bread of your choice.

Panner Tikka Masala

I love Panner..I keep looking for excuses to make panner! most of time, I need no excuses is another story.This time was actually an important birthday and could not have gone wrong with Panner Tikka Masala. Sunny boy was in good spirits that day and I was able to pull off the show with a relative ease!! This indeed is a time consuming dish and it requires at least an hour and half from start to finish. So I cannot make it as often as I would like to. Sunny boy loves the Tikka Masala curry. If I ask him what he would like to eat, the instant answer (at least right now!!!!) would be 'Tikkamasale'. Though he is not much into the Panner part of it. Well I am not complaining! Hopefully he will acquire a taste for Panner later. This dish has become birthday staple!! To think of it, I had it on my birthday, just that it was from a nearby Indian restaurant. But sadly, the resturant version had so much more cubed onions and capsicum than Panner. I hate any of those vegetables in Tikka Masala. They deserve to be limited to Kadai Panner. Only Kadai Panner!!!!
I was wondering if I should make a double batch of the curry and freeze half for another day. I do not know how good it will turn out. Will update if it turns out to be good. 
Till then, it is just one batch of Tikkamasale...

We will need,

Panner 1lb
Yogurt 2 tbsp
Turmeric a generous pinch
Ginger garlic paste 1/2 tsp
Chilly powder  a generous pinch
Garam Masala a generous pinch
Salt to taste

For the curry

Onion 1  medium
Oil  to deep fry 
Butter 2tbsp
Jeera 1/2 tsp
Ginger paste  1.5 tsp
Garlic paste 1.5 tsp
Chilly powder  1-2 tsp (according  to taste)
Dhania powder 2 tsp
Tomato paste  3 tbsp
Sugar 2 tsp
Kasuri Methi 1/4 cup
Whole milk  1.5 cups
Garam masala a generous pinch
Salt to taste

  • Slice the Panner block  into 5 equal parts, running lengthwise, so as to increase the surface area for the marinade.
  • Whisk the yogurt and stir in the ginger garlic paste, chilly powder, garam masala, salt and turmeric. Drop the panner slices into the yogurt mixture. Apply the mixture evenly on all the sides of panner. Cover and marinate for 15-20 minutes.
  • For the curry, Heat oil in a wok. Slice onions. Drop the sliced onions into the hot oil and deep fry till brown in colour. Remove and drain on a paper towel. 
  • Melt butter in another thick bottomed wide saucepan. Throw in the Jeera. Once it stop spluttering toss in the onions.  Follow it with the ginger and garlic paste. Cook for a few minutes till the raw smell disappears. Throw in the chilly powder, dhania powder, cook for a few seconds  and add the tomato paste. Stir well. Add 1/2 to 3/4 cup of water to thin it out a bit. Bring it to a gentle boil and then simmer till the fat separate. Remove from heat and allow it to cool.
  • Meantime, turn the broiler on. Arrange the marinated panner on a greased wire rack and place the rack on a drip tray.  Place it in the broiler for about 4-5 minutes, till the Panner is slightly charred on the edges. Keep an eye because there is a big difference between slightly-charred Panner and 'burnt' Panner in terms of taste but not in terms of time!!!
  • Remove and turn the Panner over on to the other side and return it to the broiler for another minute or two. Remove and it warm. If desired, the slabs of Panner can be chopped into cubes.
  • Once the onion mixture is cool enough, transfer it to a blender and pulse it til very smooth. Add a little water if necessary, the thicker the mixture the better though.
  • Pour the ground onion mixture to a saucepan and warm it gently. Once it is simmering, add the milk , Kasuri methi, garam masala, sugar and salt to taste. Simmer till the mixture thickens to the desired consistency. If the curry is too thick, thin it out a bit with some more milk or just water.
  • Once the curry is homogenous as thoroughly cooked, smoother in the panner slab/cubes. Heat for a few minutes till the Panner is warm to touch and serve immediately. We liked it with Chapati and rice.

Peas Pulao

So, the official eating season is in full swing. We are have a good time eating. During such times, I realized that I tend to repeat a few rich-festive recipes very often Malai Kofta , Dum Aloo , and Panner Tikka Masala. Will be updating the last recipe very soon. Along with such curries it will be Jeera rice or of late Peas Pulao. Peas Pulao is not actually a Pulao in technical sense, it is just a mildly spicy but very fragrant rice which goes very well with rice curries mentioned above. If cooking for ourselves I did make it in the Microwave oven!! It takes 12 minutes start to finish that way. Cannot be faster with anything else. Happy eating.

We will need,

Basmati Rice 3/4 C (Use good quality Indian Basmati)
Ghee 2 tsp
Cardamon 3
Black Cardamon 2
Bay  leaf 2
Cloves 4
Cinnamon  1/4"
Marati Moggu 3
Fennel Seeds 1/4 tsp
Green Chilly 2 slit
Fresh Mint a handful
Peas 1/4-1/2 C
Salt to taste

  • Wash the rice in multiple changes of water. Soak it in two cups of water and set it aside.
  • Heat ghee in a pan. Throw in the cardamon, black cardamon, bay leaf,cloves, cinnamon, marati moggu and fennel seeds.
  • Once the spices stop sizzling, throw in the green chilies and the fresh mint.
  • Throw in the peas. Sprinkle salt and cook the peas for a couple of minutes and remove it from heat.
  • In a Microwave proof bowl, combine the rice, along with the soaking water and the peas and spices.
  • Pop it in the Microwave oven for 6-10 minutes depending on the strength of the oven.
  • Once the rice is cooked, remove from the oven, fluff it up with fork and serve hot.

Sabakki Uppittu

Uppittu...the word conjures up some really strong reactions. Lot of people I know either love or hate Uppittu. I myself can eat a bowl full of Avarekalu Uppittu with the greatest of delights, while abhorring the thought of eating the caked up rawa version, the version served on the great Indian railways as well as in most of north India as 'Upma', come on my cow would not eat it, if I had one, much less my Sunny boy. Amongst the Uppittus I love are the Avarekalu uppittu as mentioned earlier, Shavige uppittu and Sabbakki Uppittu. The last one has always been challenging, either it would not cook through or it would get all mushed up. It was not until recently that I feel comfortable making it and we are loving the results! I am almost making it once every week. The trick is in soaking the Sabakki for about 2 hours in warm water.This is the only way it would work for me. I hate the idea of remembering to soak it the first thing in the morning,given my poor memory these days, but the short cooking time makes up for the long soaking time. It hardly takes any time to cook at all. And it really fills me up. One bowl and I can  actually skip lunch!!!

We will need,

Sabakki 1 cup
Peanuts  1/4 cup
Peanut Oil  1 tbsp (divided)
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Jeera 1/2 tsp
Hing a dash
Turmeric a generous pinch

Green Chillies 3-4 (or more )
Curry leaves
Onion 1 medium
Salt to taste
Lemon juice to taste
Cilatro 1/4 c chopped

  • Wash the Sabakki in multiple changes of water and drain well. Soak the drained Sabakki in warm water for at least two hours. The Sabakki is ready when the center is not hard and the Sabakki is completely squishy. Once ready transfer it a colander and washing it under running water to remove all the excess starch. Drain and set it aside.
  • Heat a Kadai on medium flame. Toss the peanuts. Toast till the peanuts are fragrant. Remove from heat and crush it into a coarse meal. Set it aside.
  • Heat about 2 tsp of oil in a Wok. Throw in the mustard and jeera. Once it splutters, throw in the hing,turmeric, green chillies and curry leaves in quick succession. 
  • Once the sizzling stops, add the onions. Cook till the onions turn golden brown.
  • Now toss in the sabakki. Keep stirring the Sabakki to make sure that bottom is not burning.
  • Throw in the toasted peanuts and drizzle the remaining oil.
  • Once the sabbakki turns slightly translucent, adjust the salt and lemon juice and throw in the cilantro. Stir well and serve it hot.


How would a South Indian palate react to a very buttery-but-no-kick-even-after-a-mile preparation of a 'royal-urad' dal?? Well, just not very cordially. My first introduction to 'Raj' the royal 'mah' or urad dal was not all that friendly. Our erstwhile landlady in Amritsar had sent us this rich dish of plump kidney beans drowned in a combination of tomatoes, onions and butter. The beans I felt was such a hardy guy that the simple combination of tomatoes and onions did nothing but torture my palate. Rajma would definitely hold up to something stronger in the background I imagined. But I never liked the beans enough to explore other ways of preparing it. What started on a sour note ended up absolutely rancid during my hostel days! Folks at Sabarmati hostel in JNU had an uncanny knack to prepare an inedible version of Rajma and Kichidi. I am yet to recover from the 'Kichidi-treatment' but 'Rajma-treatment' I guess I have gotten over.
So what is the secret? The secret is Rasam powder. I know traditionalist would scoff-faint at the idea but well Honey sure liked it and that makes me confident that most 'south'ish palate would readily accept this version of Rajma better. What is more, this recipe is onion-garlic free! Yet so very tasty.

We will need,

Peanut oil/Butter  2tbsp 
Mustard seeds 1/8 tsp
Jeera 1/4 tsp
Hing a dash
Green Chillies  4  slit(adjust according to taste)
Turmeric a generous pinch

Tomato Puree  2 Cups
Rajma  2 Cups cooked
Jaggery 1 tbsp (Shhh!!! this is a secret!!)
Rasam Powder 2 tsp (adjust according to taste)
Salt to taste
Heavy Cream to garnish (optional)

  • Heat peanut oil /butter in a thick bottom pot. Throw in the mustard and the Jeera. Once they stop spluttering add the slit green chillies, hing and turmeric.
  • Follow immediately with the tomato puree. Stir and cook the mixture for a few minutes.
  • Add the rajma, and all other ingredients except cream. Add about a cup of water (left over cooking liquid) and simmer for about 10-15 minutes. If the mixture appears too thick add some more water to bring the curry to the desired consistency.
  • Adjust salt, remove from heat.  Garnish with cream if intended. Serve hot with warm Phulkas or rice.
If using canned beans, be sure to drain the beans and rinse it well under running tap water. For some reason, the beans straight out of can smells funky. If cooking rajma from scratch, pick and clean the beans and soak it in plenty of water overnight. Pressure cook it with some chopped ginger.Drain and reserve the cooking liquid. Use the cooking liquid in the curry. I generally cook an entire kilo / 2 lbs of beans and freeze it in big zip lock pouches. It will last me for at least 4-5 meals. I like these better than the canned version while enjoying the convenience of not having to plan ahead - soak -cook. 

Badam Halwa

Wow! It is already November..Sunny boy turned two years old today..The entire previous month went into birthday party planning, Deepawali..It was a busy few weeks indeed. Now here we are Sunny boy graduates to a toddler from a baby. It is rather sad that he is no longer a baby. I just loved his smell after nursing, may be even after the clumsy burping and also all the spit ups..I loved to see him smile at me, those shy, hesitant smiles and the aaas...ooos and all the cooing..How I miss those babyhood days. Now he is old enough to tell me what he wants me to make for his lunch. The common refrain right now is "Nooooo,Nooop, NooooQQQ" It is rather funny how your sweet helpless baby who needs you for everything grows in independent spirited-I-know-my-mind type toddler. It is probably one of the very few instances which makes you both sad and proud at once.

Now for the Badam Halwa. I had to make something ultimately decadent for this occasion. Sunny boy loves only creamy light desserts. He refused to taste my Kajjaya this Deepawali :( So,I was thinking and thinking and zeroed in on Badam Halwa. It is rich, creamy and luxurious.... Verdict, Sunny boy had two scant bites...Not so great a verdict, hopefully, he should appreciate the dessert better later this evening.

We will need,

Almonds 1 cup
Sugar 1 to 1.5 cups (or even more if you like it sweeter)
Ghee 4 tbsps
Saffron 1/4 tsp (yes! that is more than generous)
Whole Milk 1/4 cup

  • Soak the almonds in warm water for a few hours ( I do it overnight). Drain and de-skin it.
  • Combine the almonds and the milk in a blender and pulse till the mixture is almost smooth but still has some texture to it. Remove and set it aside.
  • In a wide non-stick pan, combine 2 tbsps of ghee, sugar and the almond mixture and bring the mixture to a gentle boil.
  • Reduce heat and keep stirring constantly lest the mixture burns. Throw in crushed saffron and cook till the mixture leaves the side of pan and thicken slightly.
  • Finish it with the remaining ghee and remove from heat. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Goes to Sravani's festive foods

Haal Paak

It is my favorite part of the year. The festival season. Dasara is here and soon it will be Diwali and new year.As usual it is the time when the Doll collection sees the light of the year. This time it is special because my Sunny boy is old enough to  understand what it is all about. I do not have the 'Pattada Bombe' which  usually presides over the celebrations, hope to get one for the next season. I miss the collection I have back home in India, Dashavathara, wedding ceremony, the traditional music band, temple, assorted animals, so many pieces all wrapped up and secured in the attic! The ones that I have now are just a few pieces from the holiday collection. I look forward to the day when I will have a grand 'Bombe habbba' displaying all the pieces I have collected through the years. For now it is the tiny version.

It has been a  crazy past few weeks.Sunny boy managed to rip open the space bar of my laptop. So blogging is a very laborious process now. I only hope all these figurines will retain their heads and hands till Vijaydashami.

'Bombe Habba' ,means feasting because we need to make something to offer the gods as 'Neivaidya'. Today's offering  Haal Pak.  It is a very delicious fudge and my version is pretty easy. Here we go.

We will need,

Evaporated milk 1 can (354 ml)
Sugar  1.5 cups
Butter 2 tbsp

  • Grease a plate with some butter and set it aside.
  • In a non stick pan, combine the sugar with a few tbsp of water and bring it to a gentle simmer.
  • Stir n the butter and the evaporated milk. Stir  well to combine.
  • Cook the mixture on a gentle heat till it leaves the side of the pan.Keep stirring often making sure that the mixture is not sticking to the bottom.
  • Once it starts leaving the sides of the pan,stir vigorously and pour it onto the greased plate. Smooth out the top using a spatula if you like. I like mine rustic. 
  • Cut into squares once it is slightly cool. Makes 10-12 pieces.
Happy Dasara or as we say it  in Kannada 'Dasara Habbada Shubhashayagalu'....

Ragi Sari for a toddler

Ragi porridge for baby is a preferred food back home. Starting with the blander version and continuing it with a picky toddler can be hard. So I had to tweak the original recipe to make it more flavorful and nutritious. So here I am experimenting with a lot of ingredients to check what my little one likes. Finally this is what he liked!  Sure they grow up very fast. 

We will need,

Whole Ragi  3/4 cup
Cardamon 2 pods
Saffron a generous pinch
Almonds  10-13 lightly toasted

  • Pick and clean Ragi for gravel and dirt. Wash it in several changes of water. Drain well and dry it indoor till no trace of moisture remains.
  • Heat a thick bottom skillet. Throw in the Ragi, reduce the heat to medium-low. Keep stirring till the ragi is fragrant, about 15-20 minutes. Remove from heat. Throw in the saffron and cardamon. Spread it out on a plate to cool down.
  • Once cool enough to handle, grind it into a powder in a coffee grinder. 
  • Remove and store it in a glass jar. It stays good for at least 3 weeks.
  • Grind the almonds separately and store it in another glass jar. ( Vary of plastic after the BPA mess)
Prepare the Sari like you would the regular variety. Stir in ground almonds while the Sari is still warm.

Sabakki Payasa Short cut

Festival season in full swing and here comes Sabakki payasa. As kids me and my sister called this one "gulle gulle payasa" aka 'bubble bubble' payasa, and the name has struck to it. Pearly bubbly milky delight it is still my sister's favorite dessert. To me it always reminds me of 'Pythons'.... well the story goes something like this. Mom was making this payasa one day probably the year was 1991. As usual I was lying on the couch probably reading or watching TV. Mom wanted me to help her, one of the very few days that she needed me to do something. But I did not move, I was there lying like a lazy Python. She got angry and called me just that, 'you lazy Python, come here and help me'. For some reason, I got very offended. Now that I look back what was it about? Just a Python! But back then I was very upset, 'Python' I hate snakes. I said I have nothing to do with anybody for the rest of the day. I went and shut myself up in my room. Later, at dinner time, my mom cajoled me to come and have some 'gulle gulle payasa'. Barely awake, I said ' Pythons do not eat gulle gulle payasa' and I did not eat it. I fell back asleep. Later the next day, I realized I had not had my 'gulle gulle payasa' but nothing remained it of, not even a trace. Probably that taught me well and I never skip my meals or for that matter, I just eat when ever I have a chance!

Like any other Payasa, the regular version means reducing milk till it becomes creamy and rich. But this time around, I did not have the time to stand at the stove and stir..stir and stir. I had to get it done fast, so I took the help of my pantry friend Nestle S A....It worked out fine. Though it is just not the same when I stand at the stove and stir the milk to make a creamy payasa. Like, I never had back ache later, and the payasa still managed to disappear with immediate effect!

We will need,

Sabudana/ Sabakki  1/2 cup
Whole milk  1 cup
Sweetened condensed milk  5 oz
Evaporated Milk 5 oz
Saffron a pinch
Cardamon ground a pinch
Raisins 1/4 cup
Ghee 1 tbsp

  • Wash the Sabbakki in several changes of water. Soak in water just enough to cover it for about 1 hour sometimes longer. When it is ready it should not be tough in the center when we bite it. Drain it throughly.
  • Soak the saffron in a tbsp of warm milk. Set it aside.
  • In a thick bottom pot, I use a non-stick pot, combine the Sabakki with 3/4 cup of water. Put the pot on medium-low heat. Cook till the Sabakki is almost translucent but not fully cooked. 
  • Now stir in the rest of the milk and cook till the Sabakki is completely cooked. Reduce heat to low and simmer till it thickens about 5 minutes.
  • Stir in the evaporated milk, saffron, cardamon and the condensed milk. Cook till it is well blended and coats the back of the spoon. remove from heat.
  • Heat ghee in a pan. Once hot, throw in the raisins. Saute the raisins till they plump up. Remove from heat. 
  • Pour the ghee and the raisins on the Payasa. Serve hot/ cold/ room temperature.

Holige Saaru

I cannot believe the Sravana month is almost coming to an end! It feels like last week that we celebrated Ugadi..So official Hindu festival season has started. We have already had two sweets - Sabakki Payasa and Kesari Bhaath in as many weeks, one for Varamahalaxmi and then Krishnajanmastami, more to come in the next few weeks. After Honey went sugar free, I make sweets with a lot of guilt. I do try and make very small quantities just good enough for the Neivedya and probably one small serving for each of us. Even then it is a lot of sweets! Lo behold, Ganesha comes next week. Ganesh Gowri means Holige again. Here is Holige Saaru my Mom's version.  This is what we do with the stock after making Holige. 
Often the water used to clean up the grinder/ mixer used to grind the dal-jaggery mixture is also used with the dal stock to make this curry. After all we are a culture that treats wasting food as criminal offense! 

We will need,
Dal stock from making Holige (or cooked dal +water) 4 cups
Tili Saaru Pudi   2tbsp
Coconut fresh 3/4 cup grated
Ghee  3 tbsp
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Hing a generous dash
Curry leaves a generous handful
Whole red chillies dried  3-4
Coriander fresh a handful
Hurana/ the dal stuffing for Holige 1/4 cup (substitution is jaggery)
Tamarind extract 1 tbsp
Salt to taste

  • Combine the tamarind, saaru pudi and a little stock in a thick bottom pot and bring it to a boil. Simmer and cook till the mixture smells fragrant. Add more stock if the mixture reduces rapidly. The idea here is to mellow the spices and tamarind to the right consistency.
  • After about 20 minutes or so, add the remaining stock, the Hurana, coconut and salt. 
  • Prepare the oggarane. Heat ghee in a ladle, throw in the mustard, hing, curry leaves and red chillies. Once the sizzling stops, pour the mixture right onto the Saaru. I generally immerse the ladle into the dal so that the fumes perfumes the curry, just the way mom does.
  • Finish with the coriander.. Serve with Holige, rice and ghee...
P.S: Mom eats her Holige with a generous topping of this Saaru.. I do not :)

Happy Janmashtami

Happy Janmashtami ....Here is my little Krishna, after a meal of Gojjavalakki, Kosambari and Kesari Bhaath...

Summer Squash Chutney

Continuing with the season's best.. Summer Squash

We will need,

Summer Squash  1 lb cleaned and chopped into chunks
Garlic  2-3 cloves
Chillies (red/ green) 4-5 (adjust according to taste)
Cumin seeds 1/2 tsp
Tamarind - size of two peas
Coriander a generous handful (optional)
Black pepper  1/4 tsp
Peanut oil  3 tbsp
Mustard seeds a generous pinch
Salt to taste

  • Heat oil in a Kadai. Throw in the mustard seeds, cumin followed by the chillies.
  • Once the chillies stop sizzling add the squash, pepper,tamarind and garlic.
  • Saute till the squash is tender and garlic is mellow. Remove from fire, let it cool.
  • Once cool, combine the rest of the ingredients and pulse in a food processor to desired consistency. I like my chutney a little chunky! Serve with hot rice and ghee.

Summer Squash Kootu

What would you do if your CSA bombards you with a variety of Squash- Zucchini, yellow, grey!Try to eat as much as possible and pass it on to neighbors. What if neighbors grow Squash and are eager to double your kindness and send you back with two squash for every one that you tried to get rid of? You will try novel ways  to use up the squash.. So that is what happened here. Loads and and loads of squash and I used them all up! Yippee...this one is the simple Kootu

We will need,

Summer Squash of choice  1 lb
Whole Moong Dal      1/2 Cup
Coconut grated          1 Cup
Cumin seeds             2 tsp
Green Chillies  + Red Chillies 3-4 each (according to taste)
Black Pepper corns  1 tsp

Ghee   2 tbsp
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Hing a dash
Turmeric a generous pinch
Curry leaves a handful
 Salt and lime juice to taste.
  • Pick and wash the whole moong dal. Soak it in water for a few hours. Drain and wash a few more times. 
  • Chop the squash into 1cm cubes. Combine the dal and the squash with about a cup and a half of water and turmeric in a pressure cooker. Cook till the dal is soft. (My mother says, till the beans' belly bursts -"hotte odi") Remove from heat.
  • Grind together the coconut, cumin, pepper and chillies into a smooth paste.
  • Bring the coconut mixture to a boil. Add the cooked dal and squash. Simmer till the Kootu is fragrant about 15-20 minutes.
  • Now prepare the Oggarane - Heat the ghee, toss in the mustard seeds, hing and curry leaves. Once they stop crackling, pour it over the Kootu. Cover the Kootu. Adjust salt and lime juice and serve immediately with rice.

Vangi Bhaat

I have always had Vangi Bhaat at the top of my 'Bucket List' it is now slightly refined. It ought to be the Eerinagere /Mysore Badanekayi aka fingerling eggplant Vangi baath. How can I describe the serendipitous reappearance of this miraculous vegetable (or botanically a fruit) and all the joy it has brought....This summer, we have been going to pick-your-own-farms. Just could not resist the freshness of the vegetables there. And imagine my delight when I see these beauties hanging in the thorny bushes!
Ah! I said, 'we are in for some serious luck'. We snipped all the eggplants we could find and dumped them in our wagon.

Once we were home, it was all about Vangi baath or brinjal rice. I cannot figure out the origins of this dish. Vangi sounds so much alien in Kannada, or may be 'Vangi' was the old Kannada usage. Or may be it came to Karnataka with the Maratha invasion, and we indigenous Kannadigas tweaked the recipe to mke it our own. Never know where it all started. There are several recipes in my family for this particular dish, but my Mom makes it the best. Sorry Ammaji (my maternal grandma and the best cook in my world) you loose to Amma (Mom) when it comes to Vangi Baath.  This time when my Mom was here, I standardized her recipe.  The spice blend can be make in large quantities and used for both BBB and VB but I prefer to make small batches and using it all up. The longer the spice blend sits on the shelf,  the more it will resemble saw dust!! So here it goes.

We will need,

Fingerling eggplant / Mysore Badanekayi  2 lbs
Expeller pressed peanut oil  1/2 cup
Mustard seeds  1/4 tsp
Cummin 1/2 tsp
Hing a generous dash
Curry leaves a generous handful
Tamarind  extract  3-4 tsp (or tamarind the size of a lemon soaked in a 1/4 cup of water)
Copra/ Kobbari  grated, about 1 cup loosely packed
Rice   2 to 2.5 Cups
Ghee and lemon juice to taste (optional)
Salt to taste

For the spice blend

Dhania 4 tbsp
dry red chillies (Byadagi) 15-20 (adjust according to taste)
Channa Dal / Kadalebele  2 tbsp
Urad Dal/ Uddinabele 2 tbsp
Marat Moggu 2
Cinnamon 1"

  • Wash rice in several changes of water and cook it with about 4-5 cups of water till al dente, soft but still has its integrity. Spread it on a large plate and allow it to completely cool.
  • Toast the spices for the blend on a heavy and hot skillet one by one till fragrant. Remove and cool. Pulse it in a coffee grinder till the mixture is fine-coarse, finer than say breadcrumbs, but not as fine as the prepackaged spice powders. 
  • As the skillet is hot throw in the Copra and heat it through. Keep stirring and once fragrant remove from heat. Cool down and  pulse it in the grinder to get a coarse powder. Set it aside.
  • Wash and clean the eggplants. Remove the tops and cut it lengthwise into 1 to 1.5 " strips. Place the cut eggplants in a large bowl of cold water. This prevents the eggplants from discoloring.
  • Heat oil in a large and heavy Kadai/ Bandali. Throw in the mustard seeds, cummin, hing and curry leaves in quick succession. Once the spices crackle, throw in the cut eggplant strips. Sprinkle some salt and stir a few times gently. 
  • Once the eggplants change color and cooked half way through, throw in the spice blend. Stir well to coat the eggplants. Reduce heat to 'low' and cook the mixture for 5-10 minutes till the spices sizzle and are fragrant. 
  • Now add the ground Kopra, tamarind extract. Cover and cook till the  mixture oozes oil on top. Keep stirring at regular intervals else it will burn. Remove from heat.
  • Once the mixture or gojju is ready, Take a small quantity of gojju about 1/2 cup and start mixing it into a cup of rice, gently making sure that rice does not break. Add more of gojju or rice to get at the desired taste. (I like mine with a lot of gojju) A tsp of ghee and a dash of lemon will be a great addition at this point. Adjust salt and serve immediately. 
A note on the quantity: This quantity should normally serve about 4 people, but if it me and Honey, then may be two or three !!! This is the reason I never specify about 'number of servings. Well each persons appetite is different! How are we to know how many servings this recipe will yield!! 

Badanekai Donnemenasina Palya / Curried Eggplant and Capsicum

Continuing with the celebration of summer bounty here comes more vegetables, absolutely fresh and no sign of wax what so ever! The taste of fresh vegetables had actually become vague after years of consumption of the waxed supermarket stuff. But it is all coming back. The only gripe, the shortness of the season. Why cannot the sun be munificent for a few more months? Nothing can beat 'pick your own' produce, well may be 'grow your own' would!!

Here is a simple Palya, a staple during the Capsicum season back home. My little sister loves this preparation and MIL sets the benchmark. Honey loves it and this time around he was quite impressed. I give credit to the fresh vegetables, they are the actual stars. The best part of course were the India-style eggplant and capsicum. They really made my job easy.

We will need,

Eggplant/ Brinjal/ Badanekayi (preferably irinagere) 1/2 Lb
Capsicum/ Green Bell Pepper        1/2 lg
Potatoes         2 good size
Green Chillies  3-4
Tomato  1 large
Onion 1 large
Peanut Oil  1/4 cup or more
Mustard seeds  1/4 tsp
Jeera 1/2 tsp
Hing a dash
Huli Pudi /Sambar Powder 2 tsp (adjust according to taste)
Coriander fresh a handful
Salt to taste

  • Wash and clean all vegetables. Wipe dry and dice them so they uniform in size.
  • Heat oil in a wok. Throw in the mustard, Jeera, Hing in quick succession.
  • Once the spices sizzle, throw in the onion, chillies. Saute till onion is golden.
  • Throw in the Potatoes. Add a pinch of salt, cover and cook till the potatoes are slightly soft.
  • Throw in the brinjal. Cover and cook for 5-7 minutes. Now throw in the rest of the vegetables and the sambar powder/ Huli Pudi. Cover and cook till all the vegetables are tender crisp. Sprinkle some water if needed. (Water not needed if the vegetables are fresh)
  • Finish with some fresh coriander adjust salt. Serve hot with Chapatis or Akki Rotti

Tomato Kayi Chutney / Green Tomato Chutney

I cannot get enough of summer. Love the fresh vegetables that comes with it. Yesterday we got some as fresh as it could possibly get. We went to a pick your own farms and got a carton load of vegetables and we are loving every bit of it.  After a long time I chanced upon raw tomatoes. I started drooling right then and there thinking of this chutney. I pulled a few right off the vine. Although the hostess did not seem take it kindly, I was not thinking of anything else but this chutney.
We also managed to find from 'Eringere aka Mysore' Eggplant/ Badanekayi.. So it is going to be Vangibhat festival later today :) For now it is just the chutney

We will need,

Raw /Green Tomatoes  4 medium
Green Chillies         about     3
Dried red chillies (Byadagi) 3
Garlic  4 cloves
Pepper corns 1/2 tsp
Jeera 1/2 tsp
Mustard 1/4 tsp
Expeller pressed Peanut oil  4-5 tbsp (or more if you like)
Salt to taste
Tamarind (if needed)
Jaggery a small piece

  • Wash and wipe the tomatoes clean. Dice them into big chunks. Taste the tomatoes, if they are tart enough do not add the tamarind.
  • Heat oil in a wok. Throw in the mustard and jeera. Once they stop crackling throw in the rest of the ingredient except Jaggery and cover and cook till the tomatoes are mushy and cooked. Remove from heat and allow it to cool.
  • Once the mixture is cool, transfer it to a food processor, add the jaggery and adjust salt. Process till the mixture is smooth. Serve with hot rice or Ragi Mudde.

Carrot Palya and an experiment

Hmm...summer in full swing and I am not complaining. Love the fresh local produce and the farmers market overflowing with vegetables and fruits. Suburban Organics is sending us all bounty of the season.. fresh strawberries, apricots, peaches and berries..
Amidst this bounty I decided to do some experimentation on myself. Inspired by fellow bloggers who found certain dietary changes beneficial, I decided to tweek my diet. 
Very honestly I have never gone on a starvation diet. Thanks to my parents, who encouraged good eating habits early on, my diet has always been very balanced. When I was younger and lived with my parents, we generally ate plenty of vegetables, rice, ragi, plenty of fresh fruits, plenty of dairy, 2-3 eggs a week. Home made cakes and sweets in tiny quantity (A Starbucks chocolate chip cookie would feed my entire family twice !!!) and deep fried food would be once in a blue moon. This diet was much like what my grandparents ate (except for the egg, cake part). I never had any health related issue during that phase of life. My problem started once I left home for University. The hostel food was very alien to me. Chapati and potatoes were the staple. Yogurt was served just once a day for lunch..No yogurt at dinner? I was heart broken. We had to wait for the winters to see any trace of vegetables. The first six months were ok, the damage started to show up during the next six months.
* First sign of problem was my hair fall.
*Second sign was weight loss. I lost about 3-4 Kgs. Which was very unlike me. I have always maintained my weight.
*Third sign was breakouts. Wow, I never had them in my teen years...
*Then aunt-flow messed up my calender, again very unlikely. 
After a while I realized that it was partly due to academic stress and of course the diet. Diet I could not help as long as I was there except supplement the hostel food with some fruits and dairy. That was not enough however.  Then after the university days, I was on my own and the recovery process started. Shortly afterward I moved to the US to be with by husband. Here again, some more problems started.
Aunt-flow was screwing me big time now. Boy o boy... what was going on?? It ought to be either the weather or the food. Weather cannot be controlled, food can. Growing up in sleepy towns in India, we were always used to wholesome foods, be it produce, be it dairy, be it legumes and grains. Lot of the legumes and grains were from the family farm as well. But here everything were done factory style. God knows what ever was in that creepy looking contains of dairy,produce everything got from the supermarket indeed. Then switched over to organic dairy, organic fruits and organic produce when ever possible. That seemed to have solved the problem, aunt-flow is now benign. Breakouts gone, hair fall back to normal. My weight is normal. Yeah! I was never quite able to shed the last 2-3 Kgs after giving birth to my son. But it does not bother me as long as I am able to fit into my jeans.  I find it amusing when people pick a certain health issue and try to isolate it for treatment. Breakouts? oh! must be the oily foods, so go zero fat! How logical can it be?Should it not always be a wholistic view? Breakouts can be a part of larger problem. Somethings are just not right.

Now to experiment part. Eating real foods. The adjustment was not much. me and Honey together consumed over 1 Kg of vegetables each day. We also ate around a cup of rice per head per meal (lunch and dinner). We ate 3 eggs each week (of course when I say eggs, I mean everything inside the shell, never thought of separating the while and yellow except for the souffle!!! I laugh when people say 'whole eggs'.. eggs are supposed to be whole, aren't they!). My sweet tooth always meant a stash  of dark chocolates, an occasional chocochip cookie and dry fruits. But Honey is already sugar-free, so we have indeed reduced out sweet intake. Eliminating vegetable oil was not a problem because I already use Ghee in most of my cooking for my own reasons (1. that is what my great grandparents ate and lived a healthy life 2. Ayurveda recommends consumption of ghee in moderate quantities 3. Nothing can beat the taste of home made organic ghee)
To stick to the experiment, I had to reduce consumption of rice, eliminate sweets and increase the quantity of vegetables and protein consumed. Protein was easy. I just had a gulp down a mug full of milk or fill my plate with the home made organic yogurt which I love. I did it religiously for about two weeks.

The results were hmm surprising- I started to crave for sweets and cool foods like Salads. Most of the time, our bodies know better. Any imbalance in the Vatta-Pitta-Kapha, your dietary preference will change. Craving for sweets meant Pitta dosha. So this experiment screwed up my Dosha-balance... Looks like it is not for me! I am good with the traditional Kannadiga meals. Give me my rice, and I am a happy lark. So for now, it is back to our original diet even as I think of some warm Jelebis... 

We will need,

Carrots chopped 2 cups
Expeller pressed peanut oil 2 tsp
Mustard seeds   1/4 tsp
Jeera 1/2 tsp
Hing a dash
Channa dal split 1 tsp
Urad dal  split 1 tsp
Dry red chillies (Byadagi) 3
Coconut grated
Salt and black pepper to taste
Lemon juice to taste

  • Heat oil in a wok. Throw in the mustard, jeera, hing, channa dal, urad dal and the chillies in quick succession.
  • Once the spices are fragrant, throw in the chopped carrots. Sprinkle a little water about 3 tbsp, add salt to taste and cover. Cook till the carrots are crisp tender.
  • Throw in the coconut, stir, throw in the black pepper and the lemon juice and remove from fire. Serve as a part of a South-Indian meal.

Kesar Badam, Fig & Honey Ice Cream revisited

Summer is in full swing and we are loving it..I love patio dining. The other day we ate at one of these Tapas bars.. lots of good Tapas, my kind of munchies, small portions but a variety of ingredient. We loved most of the Tapas except one- the one with Goat Cheese. That was the first time I was eating Goat Cheese. OMG, it did smell like Goat. I felt like I was sitting and eating with dozens of goats around me. The next time I come across Goat Cheese, I know my answer - "No, Thank you very much!!"
After the goaty Goat Cheese adventure there was not much space left in my tummy, though my tongue kept complaining about the 'goatiness' of the whole affair. What better way to wind up the day than home made Ice Cream. (We all love home made Ice Cream so much that I cannot eat Turkey Hill anymore, H-D is still a distant runner up :). This home made Ice cream is Mom-Certified, given that Mom is such a picky eater: I am a happy lark)

This time it was Fig and Honey and Kesar Badam.
Basic recipe is here  Also, I substituted Turbinado sugar for white sugar, the flavour was only awesome but I needed to use only about 8-10 tbsp of sugar rather than 10-12 tbsp. Less the better, Hooray to Turbinado Sugar.

Fig and Honey

Stage 1:
Refer to the basic recipe, reduce the quantity of sugar to 8 tbsp. Prepare the basic recipe as given and freeze till almost set.
Stage 2 :
Remove and beat in 2-3 tbsp of Honey and pureed dried figs. (Soak half a cup of dried figs in warm water for 20-30 minutes. Drain and puree it in a food processor.) Proceed with the recipe.

 Kesar Badam

Stage 1:
Add 1/4 tsp of saffron to the basic ice cream mixture, preferable before the milk is hot. Proceed with the recipe as given.
Stage 2:
Toast and chop 1/4 Cup of Almonds into very fine pieces. It should almost be half almond meal and half fine slivers. Stir into the mixture during the second stage. Follow the recipe.

Enjoy the summer :)

Soppina Chutney / Mixed greens Chutney

There are days when I do not want to use either the pressure cooker or our staple Toor Dal. Especially summers means an inherent preference for something light. On such days I go for dishes like Chutneys and Mosaru Shale. It does not need long hours in front of the stove. For Soppina Chutney, assorted greens can be used including Spinach, red spinach, Sorrel, Basale etc. Zucchini or Ridge gourd gives this chutney some texture and body.

We will need,
Spinach 1 lb (washed)
Sorrel, Basale, red Spinach etc  1 lb (washed)
Ridge Gourd or Zucchini   1 large (washed & roughly diced)
Onion   1 medium diced
Garlic 4-5 cloves
Green Chillies 5-8 (adjust according to taste)
Salt to taste
Peanut oil  3-4 tbsp
Lemon juice (optional)

  • Heat half a  tbsp of oil in a thick bottom Kadai. Throw in the diced onion, garlic and green chillies. Toast it till the vegetables are golden in colour, about 10 minutes. Remove and set it aside.
  • In the same Kadai, heat the remaining oil and throw in all greens and the ridge gourd/ zucchini. Cover and cook till the greens are wilted and the ridge gourd/ zuccchini is cooked, about 20 minutes.
  • Allow the mixture too cool. Once cooled, transfer the mixture along with the toasted onions, garlic and green chillies to a food processor and pulse till the mixture comes together but still is chunky.
  • Adjust salt and lemon juice if desired.Serve with hot rice and ghee.

Batani Usli Spiced green peas

Summer in right around the corner here in the East Coast.. Summer brings fresh local produce aka vegetables and fruits. It is like a huge celebration to see so many fresh vegetables. Now that fresh green peas has already started hitting the markets, it is definitely time to dish up some Usli- a winter favorite back home.

We will need,

Green Peas  3 cups
Onion  1 large
Garlic   3 cloves
Ginger  1/2"
Green Chilies   7-10 (depends on how spicy one likes )
Expeller pressed groundnut oil  4 tbsp
Cumin seeds    1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds 1/4 tsp
Mustard seeds  1/4 tsp
Curry leaves a handful
Fresh Coconut  1 cup (yes that is awfully lot! but it is required)
Salt and Lime juice to taste

  • Clean and wash the green peas and set it aside. 
  • Combine onion, garlic, ginger and green chillies in a food processor and whiz it till chunky , think of Salasa like consistency.
  • Heat oil in a thick bottom pan. Once it is hot throw in the mustard seeds, curry leaves followed by the onion garlic mixture. Cook till the mixture is almost golden. Keep stirring it often else it is stick to the bottom.
  • Throw in the Green Peas, add a little water, cover and cook till the peas are almost cooked. 
  • Toast the fenugreek seeds and Cumin on a hot skillet and crush it into a coarse powder. 
  • Stir in the fenugreek powder, coconut and salt into the peas. Simmer till everything is combined. Say about 10-15 minutes.Adjust lime juice and remove from heat.
  • Serve it with Akki rotti.
This recipe goes to the MLLA 36 hosted by aqua started by beloved Susan  

    MLLA 35 Round up

    Hosting MLLA 35 was a wonderful experience. Thanks a lot Susan for giving me this opportunity. All the 42 entries were exciting, each in its own way.  Different ingredients, different cooking styles, different cuisines but the end results always delightful. So here we go with the roundup. Such diversity amongst the entries, it was quite difficult to segregate them into groups, then I decided to go along the trodden path and style it like a restaurant menu.. Soups, Starters, Main Course, Sides and Dessert. So here we start with soups.

    Raven Johnson's Hot and spicy Lentil soup is lentils and vegetables simmered with an array of spices, hardy and super comforting. Janet's Stew has colourful yams simmered with black beans in a medley of spices and orange juice, perfect for a rainy day.
    Heather's 'Tuscan bean soup' is hardy sumptious and flavoured with balsamic vinegar.. Chick-flic, Tuscan Bean soup and the TV remote is what a gal needs!! Libby sends us a heart warming bowl of soup made with lentils, spinach, potatoes, tomatoes and herbs in her 'Kitchen Sink Soup.

    Priya sends us 'oats crusted rajma balls' a delightful snack gorgeously served Kebab Style. Rajji 's 'Kala Channa Salad' is Cooked chickpeas spiked with Amchoor and a host of other spices, onions tomatoes gives this dish a 'Chat' like appeal. Mangocheeks innovative combination of lentils and chard wrapped in wonton skins to make cute potstickers. Akhella Deep fried Tofu, coated with mild seasonings like pepper, garlic and soy sauce good enough to seduce the tastebuds of the mightiest tofu-haters. Lakshmi sends us a perfect weekend breakfast of Idlis and crunchy Vada and Kanchipuram Idlis, which says heaven in one bite. Srivalli  presents an Indian twist on the baked beans on toast, this is spicy Rajma on smoothered between two slices of warm bread. Raksha offers the perfect evening snack, the well loved and appreciated 'Pakoda'. Harini's 'Channa Dal Fry' is something of a cross between the traditional south Indian Usli and the north Indian Channa Chat, it is a winner nevertheless. Valerie's unconventional humous is made of Edamame and Adzuki, a perfect accompaniment for fresh vegetables. Susan's 'Bindaetteok' is a pancake spiced with kimchi. Raji's 'Chole Bature' is one of the most popular street foods of north India, chickpeas simmered in spices served with crispy Bature. Adam Keen has sent us a 'vegan Spanish Tortilla'.I never imagined a vegan omlette like creation that can be so satisfying and packed with the goodness of soy and yeast. This Tortilla looks good for breafast-lunch-dinner-anything in between..
    Nandita sends us beautiful pictures of the king of all Kannadiga meals, BBB is rather elaborate to make from scratch but worth every effort. Though BBB cannot be called a starter I am forced to include it here because other categories are full :) Vaishali sends us 'Bean Burgers'. It is the time for burgers, cute and adorable, these are a breeze to whip up.

    Check out these sumptuous curries.
    Priya's 'Green Tomato Kootu' is made with home grown green tomato which makes the dish tangy and great. Meghna sends us her forever comforting 'dal' to be served with steamed rice :). Kritika Very thoughtfully uses watermelon rind, combining it with Adzuki beans to end up with a delightful stew. Claire presents her rich vegan 'Makhani' gravy with soulful tofu to be served over Lemon rice. Harini sends us her 'Channa Dal over Rice' a hardy combination of tomatoes and split chickpeas. She has also sent us her Alu Ginger Pappu and Pindi Miriam which is a mixed vegetable and dal stew. Rupali combines the goodness of dal and spinach, can it sound more comforting than that!! Priya Sreeram's 'Cholar Dal' is channa dal in a spicy gravy spiked with coconut' a Bengali favorite. Valli sends over 'Gujarati Dal', a comforting combination of Dal and tomatoes…. Vanessa tempers her dal with fragrant fenugreek seeds to end up with 'Lentils with fenugreek seeds'. Renu sends us my favorite Kannadiga style Chickpeas preparation, what we call "Kadalekalu Huli", serve it up with 'Ragi Mudde'!!!

    We also received some wonderful side dishes. Salads, pastas and what not! Here goes the side dishes. Janet sends us a summer salad.What says 'summer' better than starwberries? Here is a salad combining the season's best strawberries, Edamame and asparagus.She also sends us her Mango BBQ beans .Summer is almost here and so are BBQ Bean, this is the perfect marriage of Mangoes and beans BBQ style.
    Caffettiera's 'Risi-e-pisi' is a creamy concoction of rice and peas an Italian comfort food with butter and Parmesan. Lubna's 'Kandi Podi' is a blend of spices that heats up the palate just enough to brighten up any meal. A must for Andhra style meals
    Lisa's 'Refried Beans' is a definite crowd-pleaser loaded with spices including the unconventional asafotida. Abhirami sends us her 'Paruppu Thuvaiyal'. It is Moongdal toasted till fragrant, mixed with spices and ground into a chutney. Chitra's 'Black Urad Dal Rice' is rice cooked with roasted Urad Dal, fragrant and delectable. Richa has sent sauteed 'Cluster Beans' A popular dish down south this is cluster beans sauteed with some whole spices, tomatoes and lemon juice. Kalinda's 'Pasta-e-fagioli' is a super hit combination of beans and pasta with lots of spices.

    Now for the desserts. Surprisingly enough there were only two entries on this

    Raji's 'green Peas Kheer' is a heart warming mother's day presentation that is an absolute delight. Sravani celebrates her 50th post with Bobbatlu /Obbattu which has celebration all over.

    And here are the winners...

    Adam Keen
    and the winner of the draw for the US resident is

    Congrats Adam and Heather.. Thanks to all you folks for participation..I had a great time doing this round up. Hope you all had a nice time being part of MLLA 35.

    My Legume Love Affair 35...

    Three years ago, on a dull dreary day in the depth of harsh Eastern winter, I decided to convert my love for food into something more substantial..  How about sharing it? How about introducing my love to others? How about translating it to words? I always thought Food-Writing was sexy. Growing up in India, I collected that part of Sunday Times that featured glossy pictures of exotic foods and recipes. I borrowed my neighbors' Femina to peep into the recipes...I so much envied that guy Rahul Verma who wrote about street food in the Delhi edition of The Hindu. In fact I went out and tried a lot of his favorite vegetarian haunts.

    So here I am, after three years, one sunny boy later I am still at it and enjoy it so much! Ever since I started blogging, My Legume Love Affair has been one of my favorite events and probably the most I have ever contributed. Not only was it so much more convenient to contribute because Legumes occupy such an important place on our table that we eat everyday, but also that Legumes are so versatile, be it appetizers, main course, desserts, sides or Curries. Legumes are always there. Now here is my opportunity to host this event. It has been a long wait, but definitely worth it.

    For this event, 'Legume' is essentially 'fresh or dried beans, lentils, pulses, and/or the sometimes edible pods that contain these seeds, and derivative products like tofu or besan'. It does not include French legumes, which means any vegetable at all.  Legumes like tamarind, fenugreek, carob, peanuts, alfalfa, clover, peas,beans,lentil, lupins, mesquite, soy, peanuts are among some of the other edible plants in the legume family which ARE included in the event.
    • All courses, cuisines and cultures are welcome. Vegan, vegetarian and non-vegetarian recipes are welcome as long as 'Legumes' are the star ingredient and the entries are in English.Recipes calling for a spoonful of legumes is not acceptable.
    • Multiple recipes are permitted but limited to 10 per participant but only one submission will be counted towards the random drawing. 
    • Use of logo is optional 

    • Recipes from archives can be accepted ONLY if updated and re-posted as current.
    • Entries should be linked to this post and Susan's host lineup
    • Recipes from those who do not blog are accepted and are eligible the participants to win a prize.
     Please send me your entry to with the subject line ' MLLA 35' before 4th June 2011.
    • Your name
    • Location (necessary but will not be published)
    • Your blog name
    • Name of the entry/recipe
    • URL of your post
    • An optional photograph of the final dish that is  preferably resized to 400 X 300 (in pixels) or 300 X 400 (in pixels)
    •  Prizes
    1) Whoopie Pies : Dozens of Mix 'em, Match 'em, Eat 'em Up Recipes by Sarah Billingsley and Amy Treadwell. This prize is offered by Susan without influence at her expense, and she will also absorb worldwide shipping charges.  F.T.C. Notice: Susan does not receive any compensation from Amazon.

    2) Hurst Bean Box - A case of six bags of the winner's choice of Hurst Bean products, suitable for every diet, sponsored by Hurst Bean. (Due to shipping restrictions, this prize can only be awarded if the winner is a U.S. resident.) F.T.C. Notice: In May 2010, Susan, at her request, received two Hurst Bean complimentary products which are not available for purchase in her local markets. Susan does not generally accept free products from Hurst Bean nor is she financially compensated by them.

    3) Drawing Structure - If the winner is a U.S. resident, she/he will be the recipient of both Prizes 1 and 2 above.  In the event that an international winner is drawn, a second drawing will be conducted from the U.S. pool of entrants to ensure that the Hurst Prize is awarded every month.  In these instances, the international winner will receive the book, and the U.S. winner will receive the Hurst Prize. 

    Green Beans Palya

    We are a big vegetable loving family! My gut is happy when I load it with Veggies.. Same with all my folks.I need at least 2 lbs / 1 kg of vegetable for Palya alone.So my effective weekly vegetable shopping means 7 * 2lb of vegetables.  Also we like our vegetables tender crisp, not soggy and shapeless. Therefore our option is limited to either Palya or Salads. So here is one of the most sought after Palya of our family. I used organic Green Beans and it was fantastic

    Serves 6 || Per serving Calories| total 148 | Protein 4 |  fat 8.3 || Fiber 7 gm |

    Green Beans  2 lbs
    Expeller pressed Peanut Oil  2 tbsp
    Urad Dal                1 tbsp
    Channa Dal             1 tbsp
    Hing                 a dash
    Mustard Seeds    1/2 tsp
    Cumin Seeds      1/2 tsp
    Dry red chillies (Byadagi)     4-5
    Fresh grated coconut  1/2 cup

    Salt to taste
    Lemon Juice to taste

    • Wash and clean the Green Beans. Trim the ends and chop it. Set it aside.
    • Heat oil in a wok. Toss the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and hing. Once the spices crackle throw in the chillies, Urad dal, Channa dal. Toast till the dal is golden brown. 
    • Throw in the Green Beans. Add about 1/4 cup of water. Cover and steam till the beans almost tender but still crisp.
    • Toss in the coconut. Adjust salt and lemon juice. Cook for a few more minutes. Serve with hot rice.

    Herekai Palya / Curried Ridge Gourd

    It was Sriram Navami a couple of days back. As much as I remember Lord Rama on the occasion of his birthday, it is all about Panaka, Majjige and Kosambari. We did not celebrate the festival this time because my Grandmother was operated upon that day. We reserve the celebration for tomorrow. Thanks to Lord Rama my Grandmother is recuperating.

    Back to Ramanavami. For me this occasion somehow brings back my school days. It was around Ramanavami that the results of Final exam would be announced. Many a years it would be right on the day of Ramanavami. On such days, we did set out to bring our Report Cards and en-route munch on Kosambari served ubiquitously by devotees of Lord Rama on the roadside, at temples etc . There would be tonnes of Kosambari, and liters of Panaka /Maggige. Some would taste soggy and sad, some bright, happy and a sheer delight to our senses. Eating the cold salad right under the early summer sun had a charm of its own. Ah! Wonder years, they were.
    My Grandfather has a practice of taking us kids, his own and all the kids in the neighborhood, basically, who ever wanted to walk a milk to hear his stories and eat all the goodies he gave, to his farmland. There was a Banni tree and he did arrange for Kosambari-Panaka-Majjige routine there. The specialty of course was his story telling session. He was an expert and well loved story teller. So we kids would trek all the way to the farmland and listen to his stories, mostly related to Lord Rama and eat Kosambari served in 'Donne' a bowl make of dried leaves and drink utterly sweet Panaka and Buttermilk in stainless steel glasses. Of course there were no disposable plastic ware to choke our farms and farm animals!  After all the eating we did linger around trying to siphon off the end of the season 'Elachi kayi' / Ber fruit...By then all the 'Avarekai' would have gone, and we did wait for Mangoes. There were a few mango trees right next to the 'Banni' tree. It was my favorite place to hang out. I did climb one of the smaller trees and hoist myself on its lowest branch. (That would probably be about 7-8 feet from the ground!) I did be in heaven till the big-bad-red-ant got me!! The 'Raspuri' Mangoes from that tree used to be so sweet, so juicy, never had anything like that after the tree died.  Yes, it did after my Grandfather......

    Now for some Herekai Palya...

    We will need,

    Herekai/ Ridge Gourd  1 big (about 1 lb)
    Onion        1 small diced
    Expeller pressed Peanut oil  1 tbsp
    Hulipudi / Sambar Powder  1 tsp
    Green Chillies  2 slit
    Mustard Seeds   1/4 tsp
    Cumin  Seeds 1/2 tsp
    Hing a dash
    Fennel Seeds  a generous Pinch
    Salt to taste
    Lime juice to taste

    • Wash and clean Herekai. Using a vegetable peeler, peel the ridges and discard the same. Chop the Ridge Gourd set it aside.
    • Heat oil in a wok, throw the mustard seeds. One they pop, follow with cumin and fennel seeds. After 5 second, throw in the Hing.
    • Now add the diced onions and green chillies. Saute till the onions are soft.
    • Throw in the Ridge gourd, a little salt and the Huli-Pudi. Cover and cook on low.
    • Once the Ridge gourd is cooked, adjust salt and lime juice and remove from heat. serve it with rice or Chapatis.

    Vegetable / Panner Biriyani

    I love Fridays. Something magical about not having to prep break fast the following morning, wake up early morning the next day and pack lunch box etc etc. The very thought of not having to do all that means its a Friday. So Fridays put me in the mood to make something luxurious but not too laborious. What better than Biriyani! We love it so much that two of us end up finishing a potful meant for four! I keep kidding Honey that the minute we see Biriyani, the flexible sack our stomach is, grows bottomless.

    We will need, (yields 2 servings)

    Basmati rice  3/4 C
    Onion      1 medium chopped
    Fresh Mint / Fenugreek   1 generous cup
    Tomato   1 medium chopped
    Green chillies   3-4 slit
    Red chilly powder 1 tsp
    Dhania 1 tbsp
    Cloves  4
    Cinnamon 1/2 "
    Garlic 3 cloves
    Ginger 1/2 " piece
    Ghee  3 tbsp
    coriander chopped 
    Choice of mixed vegetable, panner  -1- 2 cups  (I prefer 2 cups, but not many people like vegetables in every spoon of biriyani)

    For the oggarane:
    Fennel Seeds   1/2 tsp
    Jeera 1/2 tsp
    Mint leaves a handful
    Cardamon  3-4
    Marat Moggu 2-3
    Star Anise 2
    Kalhuvu  ( I do not know what it is called in English it is kind of a fungus) a small piece
    Bay leaf 1

    • Wash rice in multiple change of water, drain and soak it in 2 cups of water. Set it aside for at least 20 minutes.
    • Combine red chilly powder, Dhania powder, cloves  cinnamon garlic ginger and coriander in a food processor and pulse till smooth. Set it aside.
    • Heat ghee in a Handi or a thick bottomed pot. Throw in all the ingredients listed under Oggarane.
    • Once the spices sizzle and are fragrant,throw in the onions, fresh mint/ fenugreek and green chillies. Saute till the onions are golden
    • Throw in the tomatoes and cook till tomatoes are mushy and oil separates from the mixture.
    • Stir in the ginger-garlic spice paste.Cook on low flame till the mixture is fragrant and oil separates from the mixture.
    • Now stir in the other vegetables and cook for scant minute or two. Pour about 1.5 to 2 cups of water depending on the quality of rice. Increase heat and bring the mixture to a boil. Adjust salt and add lemon juice. 
    • Drain the rice and gently add the rice to the vegetable mixture. Stir gently for a brief second. Cover and cook till the rice is done about 20 minutes.
    • If using panner, open the rice mixture 15 minutes through the cooking.Toss the panner and cook the last 5-10 minutes on low heat

    Shavige Payasa and Ugadi 2011

    Ugadi 2011 was good. After a long long time, we had been to the temple on Ugadi had the 'Bevu-Bella' prasada there.  The cherry on the pie was the nice weather. So got to wear nice silk Saree and my little one got to wear his new Sherwani!
    Food wise it was a toned down affair. We just had Carrot Palya, Beans Palya, sprouted Moon beans Kosambari, Chitranna, Payasa, Tovve and Tili Saaru...

    Here is the recipe for Shavige Payasa...

    Shavige /Vermicelli   1/4 Cup
    Whole Milk    3 Cups
    Ghee     2 tsp
    Raisins  a handful
    Cashews a handful
    Saffron   a pinch
    Cardamon 1/2 a pod
    Sugar 1/4 cup  - more or less depending on your taste  (I used sugar on the raw)

    •  Heat a teaspoon of ghee in a non-stick pot. Throw in the Vermicelli. Toast till golden.Set it aside. 
    • Warm 1/4 cup of milk, throw in the saffron and let it soak for a while. 
    • Once the vermicelli is slightly cooler, pour in the warm milk. Stir and set it on low flame. Stir frequently making sure the creamy film does not form on top.
    • Once the milk is creamy and the Payasa is thicker, stir in the saffron, sugar and crushed cardamon. 
    • Simmer till the Payasa is thick almost reduce to about 1.5 cups. Turn off the heat. Serve it at room temperature or chilled.


    Winters in Karnataka is always mild. We have never seen a bone chilling winter! A shawl, a sweater or say a monkey cap is all we needed if we had get out early in the morning to fetch milk or something like that. My mother for instance never even owned a sweater till my father was posted to Northern part of the country where it does get a little colder. But that does not mean we southern Kannadigas don't have specialty winter time snacks! By all means we do.
    Right around Sankranti, when the air is still nippy and the first rays of sun warms up your toes like a cup of hot filter coffee would, we make this deliciously crazy snack ...'Kargalu'. Its literal meaning is Kari + Kalu - Deep fry + beans. We love it and god has endowed us the potential to demolish bowls after bowls of Kargalu. My grand mother always used to make it. She does not any more. It is too taxing on her aging body. But MIL still makes it. And I am as happy as a lark.

    We will need,

    Avarekalu / Pappadi lilva/ Indian beans  - 1.5 cup
    Roasted Peanuts   -hulled and split           1/2 -3/4 cup
    Channa Dal                                              1/2 c
    Dry red chillies  (Byadagi)                         2-3  
    Curry leaves                                              a handful
    Koshar Salt to taste
    Chilly powder  to taste (optional)
    Fresh ground black pepper to taste
    Peanut Oil to deep fry

    • Soak the avarekalu in cold water over night or for at least 4-6 hours. Drain and squeeze the beans out of the skin. Spread it out on a cookie sheet and air dry for about an hour or so. 
    • Heat oil in a Kadai. Once the oil is hot and has ripples in it, lower a handful of beans into the hot oil using a slotted spoon. 
    • Fry till the blisters appears on the beans and it turns golden in colour. Remove and drain on paper towels. Stir in a pinch of salt while it is still hot, that way the salt sticks to the beans. Repeat till all the beans are used up.
    • Now heat a tbsp of oil in another Wok. Once hot throw in the red chillies and curry leaves. Once they stop sizzling throw in the Channa dal. Stir till the channa dal is fragrant and changes colour to a shade of golden yellow. Turn of the heat.
    • While the  wok is still hot,  throw in the peanuts, fried beans and toss it well. Add salt, chilly powder and ground pepper to taste and toss. Allow it to cool and store it in an air tight jar. It stores very well for a few weeks. But that is if you are not me :)

    Goes out to Treat to eyes series 2 hosted by Rumana @ spice Ur Senses