Brussel Sprouts Rice

We Indians have long been a seafaring community. We have long gone to unknown lands and called it our home. Our forefathers went to lands as far as Guyana, Caribbeans,South Africa, Mauritius, Belize, Fiji, Malaysia ages ago when they were quite sure that once they left there was no coming back. Back in those days when there was not as much as a telephone much less 'unlimited calling to India and 60 other countries- try Vonage today'!

How did they feel when they landed on lands that were so alien to what they had seen their entire life? Were they forced to leave their home country because the far off lands promised them a life that their home land could not afford? Was life back home so miserable that they readily boarded a ship to cross an ocean they had never seen? Was it the spirit of adventure, the innate human curiosity to see and experience things that were new? What ever it was, we were absolutely unapologetic about it. We went everywhere, where ever we went, we took a part of homeland and made a new land our new home. So people in Trinidad still eat what their ancestors remembered for their meals back home albeit with new ingredients and substitutions for ingredients that were hard to find. That is why curry is so pervasive all across the populations descending from the south Asian stock. (I meam the broader sense of curry, the subzi,bhaji, saaru,kari, all together)

As I think of all these people, I think of myself an expat too. I also think of people who came to the States about thirty-forty years ago, who ended having and raising kids here. The first time they set their foot in this country of skyscrapers, underwater tunnels, cable bridges and other engineering marvels! of 24 hr electricity, metaled roads, cars...coming from a country that had a handful of airports let alone metaled roads or 24 hr electricity or TV! When I set foot here for the first time, it was just another place. I was used to almost 24 hrs electricity, back up power, broadband internet, car and a pot holed but still metaled road. There were a few cultural surprises but I was not surprised that buildings could indeed be so high. All I could marvel was the time they were constructed. Just around the time when my great grand father as a police officer rode a horse all night long across tiger infested jungles to attend a status meeting with his British bosses!
As I try to incorporate more seasonal produce in my menus, the more I Indianize, just like our forefathers elsewhere did, to please our palate. So here goes a sort of Vangibhath styled Brussel Sprouts rice. Please do not go in search of Brussel sprouts if it is hard to find. Just substitute any leafy member of the cabbage family.

We will need,
Rice 2 cups cooked and cooled
Brussel sprouts 2 lbs washed cleaned
Peanut oil 1/4 cup
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Jeera 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves 15-20
Green chillies 2-3 (Adjust according to taste)
Hing a dash
Chilli powder 2 tsp (adjust according to taste)
Dhania powder 2 tsp
Jeera powder 2 tsp
Turmeric 1/4 tsp
Garam Masala 1/4 tsp
 Salt to taste
Lemon juice to taste

  • Spice the brussel sprouts length wise and chop the halved into thin strips (julienne). Set it aside.
  • Heat oil in a wok. Once hot, throw in the mustard, Jeera and Hing. 
  • Once the spices stop spluttering, thrown in the curry leaves and the slit green chillies. Once they stop sizzling, throw in the powdered spices. Saute the spices for a few seconds till aromatic and throw in the brussel sprouts.
  • Saute the sprouts till tender crisp. Keep moving the vegetable, we need it nice and tender not steamed and mushy.
  • Adjust salt and remove from heat. 
  • Stir in the cooled rice, adjust lemon juice and serve warm with yogurt on the side.

Grilled Veggie Salad

I got to know that recently a Kannada cookery show aired an episode featuring Oats in good old Akki Rotti. Ah! So good job Quaker and agriculture department of Australia.
It looks like there are pouring tonnes of money on promoting the 'healthfulness' of oats and our people are readily buying it. So we are abandoning our native grains which our forefather ate, thrived well on and lived long healthy lives, for grains that were grown and consumed in very different climates by people with very different lifestyle, habits and of course genes. We so very well buy the argument of loud MNCs than look at our own backyards. There is a saying in Kannada, 'Hittala gida maddalla'. Your backyard herb cannot be a medicine! indeed.

I know we are a generation living on instant gratification and depth of sensual experience. But our common sense is not something that should take a back seat. 'I was never thus, but keep going on...' goes a poem. Yes I was never thus. But as more candles pile on my birthday cake my point of view changes. Now when I look back at all the years trying to  'live healthy' eating 'canola oil' I cannot stop but think 'what the hell was I thinking?'.
Now it is all about eating sensibly. No hard rules. But I am not going to buy ten different of things, just because a recipe calls for it,or it so 'oh!god so healthy'. So if I have peanuts instead of peanut butter I just go ahead crush some and toss it. I am not buying raw peanuts, peanut butter and salted peanuts. I am also not going on a missionary quest for some strange vegetable that I read about or the miracle food that has kept some Amazonian tribe youthful into their eighties.  

The mantra now is what is available locally and seasonally. The best part of summers in this part of the world is the bounty of vegetables. Keeping in mind my current approach to food, I just grilled a few fresh vegetables and served it with minimal dressing. It was yummy. The dressing also was do-with-whatever-is-in-your-fridge, but very creamy and tasty.

We will need,

Zucchini  2 medium cut into length wise and diced into half moons about 1/4"thick
Peppers   4 medium cut into 2" squares
Red Onions 2 medium cut into quarters and separated
Lettuce as needed
Oil as needed

for the dressing,
Yogurt/sour cream 2-3 tbsp
Ginger grated 1 tsp
Garlic 1 clove
Green chilli 1 minced
Coriander a handful
Salt to taste
Juice of lemon to taste

  • Heat a griddle on high heat. Brush the griddle with some oil and dump the Zucchini, peppers and onions. Sprinkle salt. Grill till the vegetables and nice and charred on the edges. Remove and keep it warm. If the griddle is small, do the vegetables in batches as we do not want them steam. Also the vegetables can be done one at a time because the cooking time varies for the vegetables. My griddle is fairly big so I could accommodate all of them at once.
  • Crush the garlic and ginger. Push the mixture through a sieve and collect the juice in big serving bowl. Discard the ginger garlic fibers. 
  • Toss in the lemon juice, green chillies, chopped coriander and yogurt/sour cream. Adjust salt. 
  • Toss in all the grill vegetables. Serve warm on a bed of lettuce. We had it for lunch and this was the only dish that day. We just grated some cheese on top.  It was yummy.

Avial - Majjige Huli

All cultures celebrate a vegetable medley dish. For some reason we all adore our mixed vegetable dish. They are just so festive and awesome.  We Kannadigas we have Huli where all kind of vegetables find a place. The Gujarati's have Undiyo, then the Bengalis have Shukto, the French have their Ratatouille and of course the Malayalis have Aviyal.
Aviyal is a wonderful combination of vegetables in a coconut and yogurt gravy, much like our own Majjige Huli.  The actual version calls for the vegetables to swim in the gravy but I did rather have just enough gravy that we could finish the dish in day. We do not appreciate the gravy sans the veggies.
Just about any vegetable can go in there. But my favorite combination is green beans, carrots, ivy gourd, Zucchini and plantain. I would love the snake gourd, raw mangoes (those that are not so tart).
So here is how it goes. This is typically not the way to make Aviyal. The purists will cringe at my handling, But this is more or less how we make Avial's cousin Majjige Huli. I love the idea of mixed vegetables in a Majjige huli like gravy. So here it is.

We will need,

Mixed vegetables 1 lb (cut into 1/8" wide 2" long sticks)
Coconut         1/4 cup grated
Green Chillies 4-5
Coriander a handful
Turmeric 1/4 tsp
Jeera 1 tsp
Coconut oil 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Hing a dash
Curry leaves a handful
Yogurt 1/4 cup
Salt to taste

  • Combine the vegetables in a wide mouth pan and about 1/2 a cup of water. Cove and cook the vegetables till they are slightly tender but still crunchy, about 10-15 minutes on medium low heat. Set it aside.
  • Combine the coconut, green chillies, Jeera, coriander, turmeric and 1/4 cup water in a blender and grind till smooth.
  • Place the ground mixture in a thick bottom pot and bring it to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer for 5-7  minutes. Add more water if mixture is very thick.
  • Transfer the coconut mixture to the vegetables. 
  • Prepare the oggarane. Heat the coconut oil. Throw in the mustard seeds and hing. Once they crackle throw in the curry leaves. Remove from heat and pour over the vegetables. 
  • Stir in the yogurt simmer the mixture for a few more minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature with hot rice.