Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Bassaru Palya - Broth and Dry Vegetable Curry

Long long before the food manufacturing companies started coming out with Vegetable Stock Cubes, the farmers of Karnataka have been using fresh vegetable and lentil stock to prepare a deliciously spicy broth to eat with their staple - Ragi Muddae. The traditional Ragi  Muddae, Bassaru,  Palya meal is a highly nutritious combo evolved out of their inherent knowledge of nutrition. Bassaru or Basida Saru gets its name from the Kannada words 'Basida' meaning strained and 'Saru' meaning broth. The stock of greens, lentils and vegetables are used to prepare the broth, while the cooked and drained vegetable lentil mixture is seasoned into a Palya ( dry curry). Bassaru Palya can be prepared using any vegetable, lentil and greens of your choice.

Spinach / Palak - 2 bunches ( Chopped )
Carrots - 2 ( Peeled and chopped)
Green gram dal / Moong dal - 1/2 cup
Turmeric - 1 pinch
1. Cook chopped carrots, spinach and dal in a pot of water adding a pinch of turmeric.

2. Remove from flame before they become mushy and drain them using a colander.

3. Keep the Stock aside.
Sesame oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 pinch
Black gram dal /Urad dal- 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Red chilly - 1 ( broken)
Curry leaves - a few
Salt - 1/4 tsp

1. Heat oil in a kadai and splutter mustard seeds.
2. Add black gram dal and stir till it becomes golden in colour.
3. Add asafoetida, broken red chilly, curry leaves followed by the cooked vegetables.
4. Add salt and saute the Palya till dry.
Garnish with coconut gratings if desired.
Baby onions - about 8 or 10 ( Peeled)
Mustard seeds - 1 pinch
Curry leaves - a few
Sesame oil - 2 tsps
Tomatoes - 4 ( chopped)
Salt - 1 tsp
Tamarind - a small marble size ball
Garlic - 6 cloves ( Peeled )
Grated coconut - 1 tbsp
Bengal gram dal / Chana dal - 1 tsp
Black gram dal / Urad dal - 1 tsp
Coriander seeds / dania - 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cinnamon - 1'' stick
Red chillies ( Byadagi) broken - 4
Sesame oil - 1/2 tsp
1. Heat oil in a pan and fry the cinnamon.
2. Add all the other ingredients and roast till they turn crisp and golden in colour.
3. Add chopped tomatoes and cook till they are soft and allow it to cool down.

4. Grind all the roasted ingredients and cooked tomatoes with tamarind, garlic and coconut gratings into a smooth paste.
1. Heat oil in a kadai and splutter mustard seeds.
2. Add curry leaves followed by baby onions and cook till the onions become glassy.
3. Add the STOCK and salt and bring it to a boil.

4. Finally blend the ground paste and cook till the BASSARU starts emanating a very pleasant aroma.

Enjoy Bassaru and Palya with Ragi Muddae .

Bassaru goes well with steaming hot rice, dosas and idlies too.

Monday, April 13, 2020

Sodhi Kuzhambu - Vegetables Stewed in Coconut Milk

 Sambar is an every day Kuzhambu served with rice in almost all South Indian homes. Numerous other varieties of Kuzhambus are prepared on special occasions or on week ends for a welcome change. While Sambar is based mainly on tamarind and spice, other Kuzhambus based on tomatoes, yogurt and coconut milk are equally delicious. Sodhi is one such traditional festive Kuzhambu which is a regional specialty of Tirunelveli District in Tamil Nadu. Vegetables are stewed in fresh coconut milk to make a rich and flavoursome Sodhi Kuzhambu. Sometimes a scoop of mashed dal is added to thicken the milky Sodhi. I pressure cooked the vegetables with coconut milk for easy and fast cooking .

Carrots - 2
Green Beans  - a fistful
Drumsticks - 2
Potatoes - 2
( Washed, peeled and chopped into one to one and a half inch long pieces )
Coconut oil or Sesame oil - 2 tbsps
Cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp
Cinnamon - 1 inch
Green chillies -2 ( Slit )
Fresh ginger - 1 inch ( Peeled and chopped )
Baby onions ( Optional ) - 8 ( Peeled)
Curry leaves - a few
Green gram dal - 1/4 cup
Turmeric powder - 2 pinches
Garlic (Optional ) - 2 or 3 cloves ( Peeled )
Salt - 1 tsp
Juice of one lime
1. Soak 2 cups of grated coconut in one cup of warm water for about fifteen minutes .
2. Grind the soaked coconut gratings into a fine paste, squeeze the paste to extract milk using a strainer and keep the thick milk aside.
3. Add another cup of water to the squeezed out coconut, grind and extract the second milk. Repeat the procedure and extract milk for the third time.
4. Wash the green gram dal and add 1 cup of water, peeled garlic cloves and one pinch of turmeric powder. Set the vessel in a pressure cooker.
5. Take the chopped vegetables in another cooker vessel and add the second and third extract of coconut milk and a pinch of turmeric powder. Place it on top of the dal vessel.

6. Pressure cook until it gives out three whistles and switch off flame.
7. Heat oil in a kadai , add cumin seeds and cinnamon.
8. Stir in slit green chillies, chopped ginger, curry leaves followed by baby onions.


9. When the onions turn glassy add the pressure cooked vegetables.                                                   

10. Mash the pressure cooked dal and add only one scoop to the kuzhambu.

11. Add salt and cook until the dal and vegetables blend together.
12. Mix 1/2 tsp of rice flour to the first coconut milk and add it to the Kuzhambu.( This is just a precaution to prevent the milk from curdling)

13. Switch off flame when the Sodhi Kuzhambu is about to boil.

Blend in  the juice of lime and enjoy the flavoursome SODHI KUZHAMBU with steaming hot rice.
It tastes delicious with Idiyaapam , Dosas, and Parotas too.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Killiya Milagai Sambar - A Sambar without Sambar Powder

We enjoy our visits to our native village for its rustic and serene atmosphere. The authentic food served lovingly by Rukmini is another major attraction. A mere thought of her Chettinadu Takkali Rasam, Kuzhal Puttu, Pachai Poondu Takkali Chutney, Vegetable Biriani, Vadais, Paniyarams, Bajjis and super soft Idlies is enough to transport us to an entire new world filled with the aromas of a traditional South Indian rural kitchen. Rukmini's special Sambar is a flavoursome blend of local vegetables and dal seasoned with Killiya Milagai ( Broken Chillies ).
Her  plating ( Or leafing? ) was very simple.
A flavoursome Sambar prepared with drumsticks, baby onions and tomatoes was virtually poured over fluffy and light Idlies on a shimmering banana leaf, with delicious Vadais and coconut chutney served on the side.

The secret ingredient she did not use while preparing the slurp worthy Sambar was -Sambar Powder!

Tur Dal - 1/2 cup
Turmeric Powder - 1/4 tsp
Tamarind - a cherry size ball
Salt - 1 tsp
Sesame oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 pinch
Fenugreek seeds - 1 pinch
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Red chillies - 3 ( Broken)
Green chillies - 2 ( Slit )
Curry leaves - a few
Baby onions ( Peeled ) - 1/4 cup
Capsicum / Eggplant ( Chopped ) - 1/4 cup
Potatoes ( Peeled and chopped ) - 1/4 cup
Tomatoes ( Chopped ) - 1/4 cup
1. Pressure cook dal with turmeric powder and 2 cups of water.
2. Soak tamarind in warm water, extract juice and keep it aside.
3. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed kadai, splutter mustard seeds followed by fenugreek seeds.
4. Add broken red chillies, asafoetida, slit green chillies and curry leaves one by one. Increase the number of chillies if you prefer a more spicy Sambar.
5. Stir the seasoning and add baby onions.
6. When the onions turn glassy add capsicum / eggplant (Locally known as Vari kattirikai) and potatoes and saute till they are cooked.
7. Add tomatoes and stir for a couple of minutes.


8. Stir in the tamarind juice, salt and the cooked and mashed dal. Add a cup of water if the Sambar is too thick.

9. Cook the Killiya Milagai Sambar for another five minutes till the flavours blend together.

Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and enjoy the Killiya Milagai Sambar with Idlies and Dosas. This Sambar without Sambar Powder can also be relished with steaming hot rice.

Sunday, March 8, 2020

Jack Fruit Mousse

Days are gradually getting hotter indicating that summer is fast approaching. The occasional thunder storm brings in the aroma of wet mud and also the sweet fruity aroma of the tropical fruits. Just the other day my brother shared with us the first Jack fruit of the season freshly harvested from his garden.The ripe fruit was very sweet and juicy emanating a heavenly aroma. ' Unda Mavu, Hasida Halasu ' is a saying in Kannada which means a mango should be relished after a meal and jack fruit needs to be savoured only when hungry. Jack fruit is a highly nutritious fruit with high fiber content, hence it takes a longer time to digest. Relishing it with honey helps in easy digestion. We enjoyed the fruit well before our meal. And who could refuse the delicious 'Jill' Jack Fruit Mousse prepared and served as a dessert by my dear sister?! ( Jill - means chilled in Tamil)
Recipe and Preparation - By Vidya Murali

Jack fruit bulbs ( ripe and juicy) - 2 cups
Milk or Almond milk or Soy milk - 1/4 cup
Chia seeds - for topping
1. Remove seeds and blend the Jack fruit bulbs into a smooth puree.
2. Add thick milk and blend it again till it becomes fluffy.
3. Pour into a dessert bowl and sprinkle chia seeds.

 4. Chill .

Enjoy the 'Jill' Jack Fruit Mousse and celebrate the flavour of summer ! 
( The fruit was so tender, juicy and sweet that it did not need any sweetening or cooking. Milk can be added as required so that the blend obtains a custard like consistency before chilling.)

Tuesday, March 3, 2020

Vazhaikkai Finger Chips and Chips - Banana Finger Chips and Chips - A Snack and A Side Dish

Lush green banana plantations and golden paddy fields loomed in front of the windshield as we turned into the narrow road which led us to our native village. Just harvested healthy looking humongous banana bunches were being loaded into trucks and bullock carts to be transported to local as well as city markets. Mother nature was at her benevolent best this year.
Enjoyed the cool breeze as it combed through the greenery and brushed over the cool waters of the check dam across river Kaveri. The chime of the temple bells, the sweet and strange calls of various birds, the wonderful Sunsets and above all delicious food cooked by Rukmini were powerful batteries that charged our spirits afflicted by urbanization. After four days of vacation at paradise, it was time to get back to our daily grind. Mani brought a bag full of fresh bananas to be loaded along with our luggage . "What do I do with so many bananas?" I wondered . "CHIPS!" chimed my dear family!

Fresh and firm raw bananas/ Vazhaikkai - 2
Oil - for frying
Salt and pepper - as required
1. Wash and cut both ends of the bananas and peel the green skin.
2. Immerse the peeled bananas in salt water so that they do not turn black.

3. Cut the bananas into two inch long thick fingers and immediately immerse them in salt water.

4. Heat oil in a heavy bottomed kadai.
5. While the oil is getting heated take out some of the banana fingers and wipe them using a paper towel.
6. Gently slide the dry banana fingers into hot oil and reduce heat.

7. After two or three minutes flip the finger chips using a slotted ladle. Cook till they are crisp flipping now and then.
8. Remove and drain on a paper.

9. Increase heat, slide the next batch of dried banana fingers into the oil and cook the chips similarly.
10. When the finger chips are done sprinkle salt and pepper to taste.

Enjoy the Banana Finger Chips with any dip of your choice while they are still crisp on the outside.
Fresh and firm raw bananas / Vazhaikkai - 2
Oil  - for frying
Sambar powder - 1/4 tsp
Salt - 1/4 tsp
1. Wash and peel bananas and keep them immersed in salt water.
2. Cut the bananas into uniform slices using a sharp knife.

3. Heat oil in a Kadai.
4. Wipe the slices and drop them one by one into hot oil.
5. Do not disturb until you see the slices puffing up like small poories.

6. Flip them using a slotted ladle and reduce flame.

7. Cook on medium flame flipping now and then till the chips become crisp.
8. Remove the chips when done and drain them on a paper towel.

9. Increase flame and repeat with the remaining batches.
10. Sprinkle sambar powder and salt on the chips and pour a spoon of hot oil over the spice.

Mix well and enjoy the Vazhaikkai chips with your meal.                                                                                       

Thursday, February 20, 2020

Kunukku Puli Kuzhambu - Rice and Lentil Fritters in Spicy Tamarind Sauce

Kunukku , usually prepared out of left over Adai batter is a wonderful snack to munch along with evening tea. The snack can also be made from scratch for its delicious taste. As we were enjoying Kunukku the other day, my sister mentioned about the yummy Pakoda Kuzhambu she had relished during her tour. 'Why not Kunukku Kuzhambu ?' said I and here is Kunukku Puli Kuzhambu ready to tickle your taste buds!


Rice - 1 cup
Tur dal - 1/2 cup
Bengal gram -1/2 cup
Black gram dal   - 2 tbsps
Red chillies - 4
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida -  1 pinch
Curry leaves - a few
Finely chopped onions - 1/2 cup
Oil for frying

1. Wash and soak rice and all the lentils together for an hour.
2. Drain the soaked ingredients and grind them together with red chillies, asafoetida and salt to a thick and coarse paste.
3. Mix in the chopped onions and curry leaves.
4. Heat oil in a kadai and drop spoonful of batter to make 6 to 8 Kunukkus at a time.
5. Fry the Kunukkus till they are golden brown in colour .
6. Remove them when they are done and drain them on a paper towel.
Tamarind - one lime size ball (Soak in warm water and extract juice - about four cups, which will reduce as the Kuzhambu cooks)
Salt - 1 1/2 tsp
Sambar powder - 1 1/2 tsp
Powdered jaggery - 2 tbsps
Sesame oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 pinch
Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
Bengal gram dal - 1 tbsp
Red chillies broken - 2
Green chillies slit - 2
Fresh ginger slivered - 1 tbsp
Curry leaves - a few
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Sesame seeds ( Roasted and coarsely powdered) - 1 tbsp

1. Heat oil in a kadai and splutter the mustard seeds.
2. Add fenugreek seeds followed by Bengal gram dal and fry till they are golden in colour.
3. Add asafoetida, broken red chillies, slit green chillies, slivered ginger and curry leaves.
4. Add turmeric powder and fry well.
5. Add tamarind juice, salt, sambar powder and jaggery .
6. Cook till the Puli Kuzhambu emanates a very pleasant aroma.
7. Blend in the roasted and powdered sesame seeds.
1. Add the prepared Kunukkus to the Kuzhambu and cook for five more minutes.

2. Switch off flame when the Kunukkus turn soft and luscious.

Enjoy a bowl of hot Kunukku Puli Kuzhambu as it is. Or you may relish it as a side dish with rice or any tiffin of your choice.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

" Walk with Pardhis " - A Guest Post by Vidya Murali and the recipe of Guava Chutney !


It is an interesting initiative by The Last Wilderness Organization that helps city bred people to discover the charm and mysteries of the jungle led by members of the Pardhi tribe, who were once forest dwelling nomads of Panna, now relocated to nearby villages.
At the end of a four hour trek, we were treated , with much love and care , to a sumptuous hot lunch served on leaf plates and cups in the adobe house of a headman.
We climbed up some narrow steps into a large attic from the edge of which we could see the kitchen below. Two ladies were making fresh rotis on old fashioned wood stove.
" Tread softly," said the man of the house gently. " or the mud plaster might flake off and rain upon the kitchen below!"

It was a wonderful spread . First came a salad of chopped raw onions and cucumber , with tomato slices and two whole green chillis . Then two varieties of chutnis - Guava and Amla . All raw ingredients , freshly ground on stone mortars . The guava chutni was a discovery . The sweetness of half ripe guavas was set off by the sharpness of green chillies and the rich aroma of coriander leaves , while a hint of garlic and some tang perked up the aftertaste. It was difficult to guess what imparted that very slight sourness - tamarind or lime . With the freshly roasted rotis ( made of a mix of three flours - Bajra , Gehu and jowar ), the Guava chutni tasted heavenly . Amla was also prepared similarly and the tang quotient was much higher . There was a sumptuous bharta , with mashed and roasted eggplant as base for mixed vegetables . Channadal mashed with greens was mild and wholesome and went well with rice . The meal was rounded off with a delicious kheer .

( Vidya Murali is a travel blogger and she blogs at . Her experiences and adventures come alive as she vividly describes even minute details about her sojourns on her return. I enjoy those arm chair travel moments when I visualize the beautiful scenes of strange places, and my ears prick up when the topic steers towards food ! The description of Guava Chutney she enjoyed inspired me to try out the relish immediately. I requested her to write a guest post about the Pardhis' food before posting this recipe. And here we go! )

Koyyapazha Chutney/ Seebehannina Chutney

Guava (Half Ripe ) - 1 big 
Fresh coriander leaves ( Chopped ) - 1 bunch
Fresh ginger - 1'' piece
Green chillies - 3
Garlic ( peeled )- 4 or 5cloves
Salt - 3/4 tsp
Juice of half lime
1. Wash and chop the guava into cubes.

2. Remove the hard seeds.
3. Add all the ingredients into the mixer and blend into a slightly coarse chutney.

Fresh and green Koyyapazha Chutney / Seebehannina Chutney is ready.                                        


Enjoy the Guava relish with rotis, dosas, rice and with a whole list of other dishes.

Wednesday, January 8, 2020

Kollu Semia Bath - Horse gram Vermicelli Savoury Dish

Kollu ( Tamil ) or Hurali ( Kannada ) is one of the most nutritious legumes and is the richest source of plant protein. It is also a good source of energy because of its heat generating property. In this era of advancing technology we do not need super power to go about our normal day to day activities. But people who take up intense physical activities like sports , dancing , trekking etc will need immense Human Power to pursue their endeavours.  Kollu/ Hurali ( Horse gram) is a super food that builds and strengthens muscles and also generates the heat to boost Human Power. A Rasam/ Saaru prepared using sprouted Kollu / Hurali is a popular soup usually prepared during winter.
Here is a recipe of  Kollu Semia Bath prepared using Kollu/Hurali/Horsegram Vermicelli - a novel item in the Food Market.


Kollu Semia ( Horsegram Vermicelli ) - 1/2 packet (200 gms)
Sesame oil - 2 tbsps
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Cashew nuts - a few
Green Peas - 1/2 cup
Tomatoes ( Chopped ) - 1 cup
Grated ginger - 1 tsp
Curry leaves - a few
Sambar Powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt  - 1/2 tsp
1. Soak the Kollu Semia in cold water for exactly one minute.
2. Drain and keep it aside.
3. Steam cook the drained Vermicelli for exactly three minutes . I steamed it in a pressure cooker.

4. Heat oil in a pan and splutter mustard seeds and cumin seeds.
5. Add cashew nuts and fry till they are golden in colour.
6. Add asafoetida followed by curry leaves, ginger, green peas and tomatoes.
7. Stir in Sambar Powder and salt, and cook on medium flame.
8. Cook till the oil separates and switch off flame.
9. Add the steamed Kollu/ Hurali Semia / Horse gram Vermicelli into the gravy and gently mix together taking care not to smash the Vermicelli.
10. Switch on the stove once again and warm up the Kollu Semia Bath on low flame, stirring for two more minutes.

Enjoy the power packed Kollu Semia Bath with a cup of thick curd.