Nallikayi Chutney

This time the Loksabha elections are like nothing we have seen before. The slander, bitter war of words and lack of a meaningful debate on issues that matter is actually so frustrating. Is this the best show we could put forward? I am sure we can do better. But the fact that an erst while tea seller is vying for the post of Prime Minister and legions of 'aam admi's are makes me hopeful that 'we shall overcome, someday'.

For now it is Nallikayi chutney. I was not a big fan of the Gooseberries also called 'Bettada Nallikayi'. But I loved the smaller ones called just 'Nallikayi'. I loved the tart brightness of the fruit. My neighbor had a bush and we did pick juicy ones and pop them into our mouths. Then there the old lady near my school who would sell Nallikayi, Elachikayi, the star fruit and such fruits when they are in season. She would bring the fruits in a wicker basket and wrap a hand full of these goodies with a sprinkling of salt and chilli powder in a piece of news paper. The tartness of the fruit complemented the salt and chilly powder so very well. Who ever discovered the combination must have been a genius.
It has been so long that I have Nallikayi. But I saw a bag of frozen gooseberries aka Bettada Nallikayi.  Frozen fruits are not suitable for pickles so chutney was one recipe that I could think of.  So here comes Nallikayi chutney.

We will need ,

Gooseberries 8-10 big ones
Fenugreek seeds a generous pinch
Peanut oil /coconut oil 1/3 cup (I know, that is good enough for me to faint!!!)
Mustard seeds 1/8 tsp + generous pinch
Jeera 1/4 tsp
Turmeric a generous pinch
Hing a generous dash
Curry leaves a handful
Chilly powder 1 tsp (adjust according to taste)
Salt to taste
Tamarind  paste (optional about 1/4 tsp)
Jaggery to taste

  • Crush the gooseberries in a mortar roughly with a little salt. Remove the seed in the middle of the  fruit. Crush the flesh well, the mixture should resemble shredded coconut.
  • Toast the fenugreek and a pinch of mustard on a hot skillet.  Crush it into a fine powder, reserve.
  • Heat oil in a pot. Throw in the mustard seeds, Jeera and Hing. Once the spices sizzle, throw in the turmeric and curry leaves.Once they sizzle, throw in the gooseberries. Add a few tbsps of water, cover and cook on low heat till the fruit is tender.
  • Throw in the chilli powder, jaggery and the fenugreek mixture. If the gooseberries are not tart enough throw in the tamarind as well. Adjust salt and cook the chutney till it comes together. Serve with hot rice and oodles of ghee. (slurp!)

Oggarane Anna with a twist

Which is the most entertaining event in India? is it the soap operas? no; movies? no; IPL? no; Elections? Yes; We have "Shehezada", "Monkey", "Joker","Hitler","Mussolini","Idi Amin" and what not...It is entertaining nevertheless a disgrace that we have handed over our future and the future of our country to people who are not debating the issues that need their attention but are engaging in name calling, one-upmanship and blatant populism. We have so called leaders who trivialize a violent crime like rape, openly threaten people to vote or to loose water supply and worst of all accuse an esteemed institution like EC of partisan politics. Some times it surprises me as to how we have survived all these years despite the negativity but then 'men may come and men may go but' India will go on for ever like it has always been.

Now for some Ogggarane Anna. When ever there would be some left over rice from the previous dinner, my mother, Ajji and Ammaji (both my gradmother), indeed all the women folk in the family would make this the morning after. The underlying current of patriarchy would become striking on such occasions. The  servants were the first in line for Oggarane anna. Any thing more would be for the women. The next in line would be children. But men folk almost never ate something like for breakfast. It was always fresh-hot breakfast for them. How much ever we deny the under currents of caste and patriarchy has always been a part of our life. So much so that Pranoy  Roy was calling Karnataka a 'CASTE'-nataka. It took me a while to realize he is right indeed. Caste back home determined what we eat and how we eat and where and when we eat too! So much for a state that boasts of itself as the Silicon Valley of India.

Oggaraneanna is Chitranna-coconut + onions.  To make it a little more healthy, marginally so ,I added a handful of spinach too. So here is Oggarane Anna

We will need,

Rice(cold, left over preferably) 2 cups
Peanut oil /Coconut oil 1-2 tbsp
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Jeera 1/4 tsp
Urad dal 1 tsp
Channa dal 1 tsp
Curry leaves a handful
Hing a generous dash
Green chillies 3-4 (adjust according to taste)
Onion 1 small chopped
Turmeric a dash
Spinach washed and chopped  2 cups (loosely packed)
Coriander washed and chopped a handful
Salt and lemon juice to taste

  • Heat the oil in a wok. Throw in the mustard, Jeera, Urad dal,Channa dal, curry leaves and Hing. 
  • Once the spices sizzle, throw in the green chillies and onions. Saute till the onions are soft.
  • Increase the heat and throw in the spinach . Saute till the spinach is wilted.Remove form heat and allow it to cool down.
  • Once slightly cooler, stir in the rice and adjust salt and lemon juice. Finish with fresh coriander.

Vegetable Soup

It is election time in India. I love elections, somehow the curiosity of who is going to be our next leader and the hope that someone will do a difference for the better gives me a high that nothing else can! Despite all the negativity and vicious personal attacks, this election has thrown us two welcome surprises. One is Modi and the other is AAP. I am hopeful about Modi because he is a guy who was born in to a regular lower middle class family and became what he is only because of his hard work and merit. As a chief minister, he has improved infrastructure in Gujarat. I for one have always believed that development follows proper infrastructure. Despite several criticisms against him I feel he is a welcome change in the  Indian political scenario where meritocracy has always been an endangered species.

Then the AAP. That is a political outfit started by people like me. It is an outfit where people like me can participate in the democratic process from a closer quarter. So much for the dynastic politics, the very thought that a regular person could build a political party from scratch is exciting. It is indeed exciting times in Indian political scene.

Let us say cheers to these two developments with some warm vegetable soup, a regular Minestrone that I have adapted to suit my complex Indian palate. The idea is to cook up a delicious broth with our regular spices instead of using canned broth or stock. Not only does my palate reacts favorable to the flavor of spices but also that it is way healthier to cook something from scratch at home than use processed product like canned broth/stock.
Spring in the North East is cold, rainy and best time for a bowl of vegetable soup.

We will need,

Coconut/ peanut oil 3 tbsp
Garlic 3 cloves
Big Cardamon 1
Star Anise 1 
Bay leaves 2
Cloves 3-4
Onion 1 big chopped

Carrots 2 diced
Green Beans 1/2 lb chopped
Mushrooms 1 pack diced
Zucchini 2 diced
Tomatoes 4-5 medium chopped
Spinach 1 pack washed and chopped
Chickpeas .51 cup (cooked)
Coriander fresh a handful
Mint a handful
Salt, pepper and lime juice to taste.

  • Heat oil in a soup pot. Throw in all the spices and the garlic. Cook the garlic till it is golden brown. 
  • Throw in the onions  and cook till slightly brown. Add the carrots and  green beans cook for about 5-7 minutes.
  • Add the tomatoes and saute for a few more minutes. Once the tomatoes look slightly softer, add about 10 cups of water.
  • Throw in the chickpeas, zucchini and mushrooms. Bring the broth to a boil. Once the vegetables are tender, throw in the spinach and the rest of the ingredients. Adjust salt, pepper and lime juice to taste and remove from heat. The heat of the broth will wilt the spinach.
  • Serve hot with crusty bread or crackers.
1.Cooked rice or pasta can also be added  to the soup to make it a hearty meal.