Huli Soppu

Here comes one more recipe that has been in my inbox for god-knows-how-long!! We Kannadigas pride ourselves with simple, unpretentious every day food. Most often than not, our every day foods fits every dietary bill out there, or it can be tweaked a bit -be it vegan, vegetarian, gluten free, low fat, low carb, primal etc. Life was that, simple and healthful. Well I do not imply that people lived longer back in the days, on the contrary, it is common knowledge that human beings are now living longer than ever before. But then we are also suffering from a host of life style related diseases. Western medicine only offers treatment symptomatically and every now and then some for-profit research comes up with a miracle food but people keep getting sicker and sicker. Addressing the primary problem is still a long shot. The primary problem of course is self-control. That is the reason why most Eastern medical treatments often combines dietary restrictions. It is  so much easier to pop that pill rather than abstain from eating all the tempting goodies. It is indeed hard. Just one look at Mithais and all my self control crumbles in an nano second, health be dammed.

But then eating traditional every day food cannot go wrong. What ever FDA might say, I bet on our traditional food, just that I need to eat very slowly and give my stomach to send signals to my brain when it is full. As a person who hardly works her jaws and rely on stomach acids to do the job, it is a very hard proposition. Who every thought that chewing and eating slowly could be such a hard task?
Accordingly to Ayurveda each morsel of rice/chapati needs to be chewed till we can feel the natural sweetness of the grain. Believe me I have tried and it does feel sweet about chewing for about 25-30 times! In this era of desk lunches, grab and goes and drive thru how can we manage to work our jaws 25-30 times per morsel? We did rather work our jaws the other way -yapping. Now enough of Yapping and getting back to the recipe Huli-soppu.  Huli in Kannada means sour also Huli means tamarind as well. So this is a sort of tamarindy, sour mix of greens and toor dal.

We will need,

Mixed greens  2 lbs washed and chopped.
Toor Dal 1/4 cup
Green Chillies accordingly to taste
Tamarind size of a small lemon
Tomato 1 chopped
Onion 1 small chopped
Garlic cloves 4-5
Jeera 1/4 tsp
Turmeric 1/4 tsp
Hing a couple of dashes
Red chilly powder 1/4 tsp (adjust as per taste)

For Oggarane:
Ghee 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds 1/4 tsp
Curry Leaves a handful
Hing a dash
Salt to taste

  • Wash the dal in several changes of water and place it in a pressure cooker. Add about 1.25 cups of water. Place the chopped greens and then place the remaining ingredients except the ones for Oggarane. Cook till the dal is soft. It gets done in 3-4 whistles in my pressure cooker. Remove from heat and allow it to cool.
  • Prepare the tempering. Heat the ghee in a small wok. Throw in the mustard seeds, hing  and curry leaves. Remove from heat once they stop spluttering.
  • Once the pressure cooker is cool enough to handle, pour the ghee on the dal and stir well. Add ghee and Mash it using a potato masher or even a hand blender. Bring it to a gently simmer and remove from heat.
P.S: By mixed greens I mean assorted greens. Typically in south Karnataka, we can ask the vendors to give us mixed green and they will throw a bunch of spinach, bunch of Chikke, bunch of Chakota etc.  Else choose a combination of green that you like. Here in the USA, we get bags of mixed baby greens and they work very well.

Ragi Halbai

It has been very busy on personal front. Though there is a lot of cooking happening in the kitchen, there is a dearth of motivation to take pictures and write about my beloved food.  It does not help that Sunny boy is rather picky and I have that small repertoire of recipes that I know he will eat without much fuss. This draft has been lying in my inbox for a long time since Navratri , I thought I did post it today!

Vijayadashami was the culmination of the ten day long Dasara celebrations. Back in Mysore that is also the day of the grant parade from Ambavilas palace to Banni Mantap. I loved watching that parade as a kid. I have not watched it these past few years since the time of the parade has been pushed earlier in the afternoon which is way early in the morning for us here.
Vijayadashami for me brings a mixed back. It is of course the day commemorating the victory of good over , "VIJAYA" it self means victory. But then the same evening our Bombe are put to rest. The following day and perhaps the week end is all reserved to packing them up with lots of love and care and putting them away. So there is a sense of relief that the poojas and all the extra work related to the Bombe habba is finally done but by evening my heart is heavy. This time Sunny boy was adamant that I do not put the Bombe away and that he wanted Bombe habba 'every since day of the year'. He did better get a job at Shankar's doll museum.
This year the offering on Vijayadashami was Halbai, a very traditional, tender burfi which used to break the back to prepare. Traditionally, ragi is soaked in water and ground repeatedly to extract milk. The milk thus extracted is combined with Coconut milk and Jaggery and cooked till the mixture coagulate into this jelly - burfi like goodness! But that is a really long process. Now that she is rather busy my sister has figured out an easy method as well. Just use finely sifted ragi flour and soak it in water for a few hours in lieu of the back breaking process of ragi-milk extraction. So here it is. If a lighter colored Halbai is preferred then stick to the traditional recipe!

We will need,

Ragi flour 1 measure
Jaggery 1 measure
Coconut milk powder 1/2 measure
Ghee 2-4 tbsp
Cardmon seeds (ground) to taste
salt a pinch.

  1.  Sieve the ragi flour using the smallest of mesh strainers. Discard the husky part.  Pour about half a measure of water into the sieved flour and set it aside.
  2. Crush the Jaggery, place it in a narrow bowl and cover it with water, should not be using more half to 3/4 measures of water.
  3. Stir in about 1/4 cup of hot water into the coconut milk power one tablespoon at a time making sure there are no lumps. Once all the hot water is used up, run the mixture through a sieve and make sure there are no lumps left behind.
  4. Once the Jaggery has dissolved, combine the salt, coconut milk, ragi flour mixture and the Jaggery mixture in a think bottomed pan. Place it on medium-low heat. Stir often.
  5. Spread about 1 tsp of ghee on a brownie tin or a plate and set it aside.
  6. The mixture will thicken gradually and starts to resemble molten fudge. It can splatter and will be super hot. Caution is required here.
  7. Pour in the remaining ghee into the hot mixture. Keep cooking till the mixture comes together into a ball and starts to leave sides.  Quickly stir in the ground cardamon seeds. Remove from heat and pour the mixture into the greased brownie tin/ plate. Cover and place it in the refrigerator for a few hours for the mixture to set. 
  8. Cut it into squares or desired shapes.