Thursday, June 25, 2020

Pavakka Oorugai / Bitter Gourd Pickle

 According to Ayurveda Bitter Taste or Rasa has to be included in a diet along with the other five Tastes / Rasas to maintain a healthy body. Studies have proved that the bitter vegetable Pavakka / Bitter gourd has various health benefits. It activates the digestive juices and keeps the digestive tract clean. It expels toxins and worms from the system. It is also said to be an anti diabetic food. A popular restaurant serves a Bitter gourd dish as the first course in their Ayurvedic Thali Meal. Pavakka can be used in the preparation of  various South Indian dishes like Gojju, Chips and  Pitlai. It can also be stuffed with masala. Pavakka Oorugai is an instant Bitter gourd pickle and it can be prepared in two methods. I love to start my meal with a spoon of Pavakka Oorugai with or without rice.

Washed and finely chopped Bitter gourd - 1 cup
Chopped green chillies - 2 big
Chopped fresh ginger - 1 tbsp
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Juice of one big lime
Sesame oil - 2 tbsps
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Turmeric powder - 1 pinch
1. Heat oil in a pan and splutter mustard seeds.
2. Stir in asafoetida and turmeric powder.
3. Add the chopped green chillies and ginger followed by chopped Bitter gourd.
4. Add salt and stir for two or three minutes.
5. Squeeze in the juice of lime and switch off flame.

6. Mix well, store in a clean jar after the pickle cools down and refrigerate.
Washed and finely chopped Bitter gourd - 1 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Chilly powder  - 1 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Fenugreek seeds - 1/2 tsp
Tamarind - a small marble size ball
Sesame oil - 2 tbsps
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
1. Take chopped Bitter gourd in a bowl.
2. Add chilly powder, turmeric powder and salt on top.
3. Dry roast fenugreek seeds till it emanates a pleasant aroma.
4. Heat 1tsp of oil and fry the tamarind till it becomes crisp and allow to cool.
5. Powder the roasted fenugreek seeds and tamarind into a fine powder.
6. Add the above powder to the ingredients in the bowl.

7. Heat the remaining oil and splutter mustard seeds.
8. Add asafoetida and pour the oil on to the Pickle ingredients in the bowl.
9. Mix well till the spice coats all the chopped pieces of Bitter gourd.
10. Cover and keep it aside for a day so that the vegetable releases all its juices.

If you feel that the pickle is dry you may add some more oil. Keep it refrigerated. Stir the pickle every day as long as it lasts. 

Wednesday, June 10, 2020

Sihi Kumbalakayi Idly - Pumpkin Idlies

Sihi Kumbalakayi Idly is a traditional breakfast dish popular in the coastal regions of Karnataka. It is a nutritious and kid friendly food prepared using Idly Rava and pumpkin. Coarsely ground parboiled rice  is called as Idly Rava and is used in the preparation of the ubiquitous Idlies. Batter for Sihi Kumbalakayi Idlies  need no fermenting. It is almost an instant Idly which has a sweet as well as savoury version.The savoury version can be prepared using two methods as shown below.

Idly Rava - 2 cups
Cooked and mashed pumpkin paste - 2 cups ( slightly more does not matter)
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Sesame oil or coconut oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp
Chopped green chillies - 2
Chopped coriander leaves - 1 tbsp
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
1. Soak Idly Rava in lukewarm water while cooking the peeled pumpkin.

2. Grind the cooked and cooled pumpkin into a paste using a mixer.
3. Squeeze out the soaked Idly Rava and add it to the pumpkin paste.

4. Add salt and give it one more swish to blend the Idly Rava and the pumpkin paste together.
5. Heat oil and splutter mustard seeds followed by cumin seeds, green chillies and asafoetida.
6. Add the seasoning and coriander leaves to the ground paste and mix well.

7. Let the mixture which now resembles Idly batter stand for about fifteen to twenty minutes.
8. Stir and pour the batter into greased Idly plates and steam in the pressure cooker for 15 minutes.

Enjoy the super soft delicious Sihi Kumbalakayi Idlies topped with a dollop of butter.

Or enjoy the flavoursome Idlies with sambar and coconut chutney.

1. Soak two cups of Idly Rava in lukewarm water for 15 minutes.
2. Peel and grate pumpkin to get two cups of Pumpkin gratings.
3. Squeeze out the soaked Idly Rava and add it to the grated pumpkin.
4. Heat one tablespoon of sesame/ coconut oil and splutter mustard seeds.
5. Add two tablespoons of broken cashew nuts and fry till it turns golden in colour.
6. Add two teaspoons of chopped green chillies and a pinch of asafoetida, and pour it into the Idly mixture.

7. Mix well adding chopped coriander leaves.
8. Take a ball of the Idly mixture and gently pat and pack it into the greased Idly plate.

9. When entire Idly mixture is thus packed and patted into the Idly plates, steam the Idlies for 15 minutes in a pressure cooker.                                                                                                         
10. Allow the cooker to cool down a bit and remove the Sihi Kumbalakayi Idlies on to a plate.

Enjoy the soft and flavoursome Idlies with any side dish of your choice.

 Follow the same procedures as shown above. If you like you may include fresh coconut gratings in all the versions. Mix in two or three tablespoons of organic brown sugar or powdered jaggery to the Idly Mixture instead of the seasoning mentioned in the savoury version. A dash of allspice powder or cinnamon powder added to the Idly mixture will make the SWEET PUMPKIN IDLIES  appealing to the sweet tooth. 

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.