Saturday, May 26, 2018

Mavinakayi Gojju/ Menaskai - A Sweet, Tangy and Spicy Raw Mango Relish

Gojju or Menaskai is a sweet, tangy and spicy relish which originated in the traditional kitchens of Udupi. The widely acclaimed relish is included in all festive lunches through out Karnataka. The unique combination of spices used in its preparation makes the simple dish into an exotic finger licking relish. Pineapple Gojju and Mango Menskai  are highly relished and most popular. Here is a recipe for a delicious Mavinakayi Gojju/Menskai in keeping with the season.

Raw mangoes - 2
Jaggery - 1/4 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/8 tsp
Salt - 2 tsps
Sesame oil - 1/4 tsp
Black gram dal - 2 tsps
Bengal gram dal - 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds - 1/8 tsp
Red chillies - 2 or 3 ( Preferably Byadagi chillies for its rich color)
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Sesame seeds - 2 tbsps
Copra / Dried coconut ( grated) - 2 tbsps
Sesame oil or Coconut oil - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves - a few.
1. Wash and cut mangoes into cubes. Retain a layer of flesh on the seeds since they will also be going into the cooking pot.

2. Cover the cut mango cubes and the seeds with water.
3. Add turmeric powder and jaggery and cook till soft.

4. Dry roast sesame seeds and keep aside.
5. Heat 1/4 spoon of sesame oil and roast together Black gram dal, Bengal gram dal, fenugreek seeds, red chillies, cumin seeds and asafoetida till the dals turn golden in colour.
6. Cool the roasted ingredients and grind them together with roasted sesame seeds and copra into a fine powder.
7. Add little water and once again grind it to get a thick paste.
8. Add the ground spice paste and salt to the cooked mangoes and stir well.

9. Cook the Mavinakayi Gojju/Menaskai till it thickens emanating a very pleasant aroma. If it gets too thick add some more water and cook for another two minutes.

10. Heat oil and splutter mustard seeds and curry leaves, and pour the seasoning over the gojju.

Mavinakayi Gojju/Menskai goes very well with rice, dosas and rotis. But it can also be relished as it is, literally to a finger licking finish. The mango seeds are a bonus for connoisseurs who like to slurp and relish the sweet, tangy and spicy pulp still sticking on to them!
Mavinakayi Gojju / Menaskai is best eaten with your hands - Indian style - for highest satisfaction!
Here are two steps to eat Mavinakaui Gojju/Menaskai with your hand - Indian Style!
1. Use your forefinger and middle finger together to swipe up little bit of the relish from the plate and lick it off your fingers.

2. Hold the seed in your hand and suck the seed dry finishing off the sweet, tangy and spicy flesh still sticking all around the seed!
And that is what we call pure bliss!

Friday, May 11, 2018

Pachai Sundaikkai Porial - Fresh Turkey Berry Dry Curry

Turkey Berry
Botanical Name: Solanum Torvum 
Health Benefits:
Good for digestion.
Eliminates worms from the system.
Alleviates colds and chest infections.
Purifies blood, is diabetes friendly, et cetera, et cetera!
We are overwhelmed by the flood of information provided by the internet regarding the health benefits of the bitter berry called Sundaikkai. My grandmother packed the 'information deluge' in one simple sentence when she uttered, 'Sundaikkai is good for health'! That was that! No questions were asked when the berry was cooked and served as kozhambus or porials! We dutifully gobbled up the 'health food' with slight reluctance though! Grandmother used certain tricks to tone down the bitterness of the berries while cooking, which gave no chance for any complaints from any quarter! You will have to just cultivate the taste and savour it with all the health benefits in mind.Then you are sure to enjoy it.
Here is a simple recipe to prepare Pachai Sundaikkai Porial. I am also sharing the trick taught by grandmother to make the Porial delicious and less bitter.


Fresh Sunndaikkai / Turkey Berry - 2 cups
Tamarind - 1 marble size ball 
Turmeric powder - 1 pinch
Powdered jaggery - 2 tbsps 
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Salt - 1 tsp
Sesame oil - 2 tsps
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Split black gram dal/ Urad dal - 1 tsp
Red chillies (broken) - 2
Curry leaves - a few
Split pigeon peas/Tur dal - 4 tbsp
Pepper corns - 6
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Red chilly - 1
Salt - 1 pinch
1. Remove the fresh pea size Sundaikkais from stalk and wash them thoroughly.

2. Cover the Sundaikkais with water.
3. Add turmeric powder, asafoetida and tamarind which will disintegrate while cooking. 

4. Cook till the Sundaikkais are almost done.
5. Add salt and cook till the water evaporates.
6. Drain if there is excess water.
7. Heat oil in a kadai and splutter the mustard seeds.
8. Add the Blackgram dal and roast till it becomes golden in colour.
9. Add broken red chillies and roast till they become crisp.
10. Saute the curry leaves with the seasoning and add the cooked Sundaikkais.

10. Stir in the roasted and powdered ingredients and blend well.(Instead you may use two tablespoons of Paruppu Podi or Chutney Podi). 

11. Switch off flame when the Sundaikkai Porial emanates a pleasant aroma.

Enjoy the Pachai Sundaikkai Porial mixed with steaming hot rice topped with a spoon of ghee. You may also relish it as a side dish with your meal. 
NOTE Grandmother's trick: 
Cooking Sundaikkais with tamarind juice and jaggery tones down its bitterness considerably.The addition of the spicy Paruppu podi used to camouflage the left over bitterness also enhances the aroma and taste of the Porial. 

Tuesday, May 1, 2018

Sutta Vazhaikkai Podi - Grilled Raw Banana Spicy Crumble

Whenever my Mami and I get together our conversation veers in all directions and finally culminates in our one and only indulgence : cooking! Vazhaikkai Podi is a spicy curry which has to be crumbly as the name itself suggests. I usually cut the Raw Banana/ Vazhaikkai along with the peel and then boil it till done. Then I cool it, peel it, crumble it and then mix it with the spice powder to make this delicious dish. If the vegetable is slightly overcooked the Vazhaikkai Podi (Raw Banana Crumble) is sure to turn into Vazhaikkai Masial (Raw Banana Mash)! Mami taught me a traditional method to cook Raw  Banana/Vazhaikkai wherein it would remain dry and crumbly even after cooking. Here is the traditional method to make a delicious and crumbly Vazhaikkai Podi.

Raw Banana/Vazhaikkai - 1 
Sesame oil - 1/4 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 pinch
Black gram dal/Urad dal - 1 tbsp
Bengal gram dal/Chana dal - 1 tbsp
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Broken red chillies - 3
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Tamarind - 1 small marble size ball
1. Wash and wipe the Raw Banana/Vazhaikkai and place it on live flame.

2. Hold the stalk and turn it now and then so that it is uniformly grilled.

3. Allow the skin to char on all sides.
4. The sharp edge of a knife can be easily inserted into the Banana/Vazhaikkai when it is done.

5. Allow the grilled Raw Banana/Vazhaikkai to cool down completely.
6. Scrape off the charred peel using a knife.

7. Heat the oil in a pan and fry the tamarind till crisp and keep aside.
8. Add the dals, red chillies and mustard seeds into the same oil and roast till the dals turn golden in coliour.
9. Add asfoetida and switch off fame.
10. Cool the roasted ingredients and grind them coarsely adding the fried tamarind and salt.

11. Cut the grilled and peeled Raw Banana/Vazhaikkai into four pieces and add to the mixer.
12. Just give it one swish so that it crumbles and blends with the spice. 
One extra swish will make the Podi mushy. Safest method is to crumble the grilled Raw banana/ sutta Vazhaikkai using your hand.

 The powdered spice can be gently worked into the crumbled vegetable.

Enjoy the Sutta Vazhaikkai Podi mixed with plain rice or relish it as a side dish with your meal.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

Tondekai Bath - Spicy Ivy Gourd Rice

Cooked rice is usually referred to as Bath. A particular 'Variety Rice', Kalanda Sadam or Chitraanna gets its name depending on the ingredients cooked along with rice. When rice is cooked with bele/dal and spice it is called Bisibelebath. Cooked with Eggplant/Brinjals and spice it becomes Vangi Bath. Plain rice turns into Tomato Bath when cooked with tomatoes and spice.The spice powder used  makes a huge difference when it comes to the taste and flavour of different varieties of Baths. Here Tondekai/Ivy gourd is combined with rice and spice to make a delicious and flavoursome Tondekai Bath.

Rice - 2 cups 
Ivy Gourd/Tondekai - 500 gms
Sesame oil - 2 tbsps
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Curry leaves - a few
Turmeric powder - 1 pinch
Salt - 1 1/2 tsps
Lime - 1 small
Coriander leaves
Cashew nuts - 10 (Roasted)
Coriander seeds - 1 tbsp
Bengal gram dal/Chana dal - 1/2 tbsp
Black gram dal/Urad dal - 1/2 tbsp
Red chillies - 8 to 10 
Cinnamon - 1'' stick
Cardamom - 1
Cloves - 4
Dry coconut gratings (Copra) - 1 tbsp
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
Sesame oil - 1/4 tsp

1. Heat oil and add cinnamon, cardamom and cloves.
2. When the cloves and cardamom bloat up add the coriander seeds, dals, fenugreek seeds and red chillies and roast till they emanate a pleasant aroma.
3. Add asafoetida, fry for a second and switch off flame.
4. When the roasted spice are completely cooled blend them into a smooth powder using a mixer.
5. Add the copra gratings and blend once again.
1. Cook rice with four cups of water and spread it out on a plate to cool.
2. Cut Ivy Gourd/ Tondekai into lengthwise strips.

3. Heat oil in a kadai and splutter mustard seeds.
4. Add asafoetida, curry leaves and turmeric powder followed by chopped Tondekai/Ivy Gourd.
5. Stir in the salt and cover and cook till the vegetable is al dente.
6. Add the spice powder and stir well.
7. Switch off flame, squeeze in the lime juice and garnish with chopped coriander leaves.

Tondekai Curry is ready to be mixed with rice. This Curry can also be relished with rotis or chapatis.
8. Break the lumps and fluff up the rice so that each grain stands separate.
9. Add the Tondekai Curry to the rice and mix gently till each grain is evenly coated with spice. Add little more oil or a spoon of ghee if you feel that the Curry is too dry to be mixed.

 Add the Curry little by little as much as required and adjust the taste of the Bath to your liking.
10. Finally mix in the roasted cashew nuts.

Relish the delicious and flavoursome Tondekai Bath/ Ivy Gourd Rice with a bowl of cool mixed vegetable Raita and a crunchy Papad.

Monday, April 9, 2018

Semia Bakalabath - Curd Vermicelli

Eating curds mixed with rice is always the last course in a South Indian meal without which a meal is never complete. In my school days my siblings and I had our meal consisting of dal, rice,vegetable and curd at 9.30 A.M. before we left for school. During lunch break at 1.30 in the afternoon we had Curd Rice from our steel tiffin carriers with or without pickles. Eating Curd Rice in the afternoon for 'rendaam velai'  meaning second time was mandatory even on holidays, especially during Summer. Curd Rice was and is a cool and soothing any time comfort food for children and adults alike. The simple mixture of curd and rice is dressed up with different garnishes and seasonings for special occasions.The garnishes vary from fruits like grapes and pomegranate to cool vegetables like cucumber, carrots and even raw mangoes along with chopped coriander leaves. The seasoning comprises of mustard seeds, black gram dal, chana dal, green chillies, red chillies, ginger, asafoetida, curry leaves, raisins, cumin seeds and cashew nuts in different permutations and combinations. The 'dressed up' curd rice thus transformed is popularly known as Bakalabath (pronounced Bakaalabaath) in Karnataka. Bakalabath has a special place in buffets at restaurants and at dinners in wedding receptions. Bakalabath with different flavours and textures can be prepared by replacing rice with other ingredients like Broken Wheat, Vermicelli, Sago, Millets, Beaten rice or Quinoa.
Here is an easy and tasty recipe of Semia Bakalabath  using Vermicelli.

Vermicelli/Semia - 1 cup
Thick curds/ yogurt - 3 cups
Salt - 1/4 tsp
Grated carrot - 1/4 cup
Finely minced cucumber - 1/4 cup
Chopped coriander leaves - 1 tbsp
Ghee  - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 pinch
Split black gram dal - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - 1/2 a pinch
Cashew nuts - as many as you wish
Chopped green chilly - 1
Curry leaves - a few
1. Dry roast Vermicelli/ Semia till it turns reddish in colour.  Ready to use roasted Vermicelli can also be used. 

2. Cook the roasted Vermicelli/Semia in 1 1/2 cups of water till done.
3. Thoroughly cool the cooked Vermicelli/Semia and fluff it up using a fork.

4. Mix in salt, grated carrot, minced cucumber and chopped coriander leaves.

5. Gently combine curds and the prepared Vermicelli/Semia taking care not to mash it up.
6. Heat ghee in a seasoning ladle and add mustard seeds.
7. When the mustard seeds splutter add the split black gram dal.
8. When the dal turns into a light brown colour add the cashew nuts and fry till it turns golden in colour.
9. Add asafoetida followed by green chillies and curry leaves.
10. Pour the seasoning over the Semia Bakalabath (Curd Vermicelli) and chill.

Relish the flavoursome, cool and tasty Semia Bakalabath at any meal time.

Wednesday, March 28, 2018

Puliambazha Panagam/Hunase Hannina Panaka - Tamarindade

It is customary to make, distribute and relish Panagams/Panakas while celebrating feasts like Ugadi, Ramanavami and Tamizh Varushapirappu which always fall during the Summer months.The traditional thirst quenchers act as ORS (Oral Re hydration Solutions) and prevent dehydration while helping one to beat the sweltering heat.  Home made Panagams/Panakas are refreshing drinks with lots of health benefits without any side effects. Various types of Panagams/Panakas are prepared using different ingredients, the most common being the Indian lemonade prepared out of lime and jaggery.
Puliambazha Panagam / Hunase Hannina Panaka is a  sweet and tangy thirst quencher prepared using Tamarind and Jaggery. Both Tamarind and Jaggery are rich sources of iron and help in  Rakta Vridhi, meaning: improves the red blood cell count.This drink detoxes the system, purifies blood and is also beneficial for digestive health. Tamarindade is an easy to make healthy drink to stand up to the heat of Summer the healthy way.

Tamarind - 1 lemon size ball
Jaggery - 1 orange size ball
Fresh ginger (peeled and crushed) - 1 tbsp
Powdered cardamom - 1 pinch
Salt - 1/4 tsp
1. Boil tamarind and jaggery in 2 glasses ( 1/2 liter) of water.

2. Boil till the jaggery melts completely emanating a pleasant aroma.
3. Cool the tamarind - jaggery water and filter it.

4. Add 2 more glasses of water to make one liter of Panagam/Panaka.
5. Mix in the crushed ginger and cardamom powder.

Chill the Puliambazha Panagam / Hunase Hannina Panaka / Tamarindade and relish the sweet sour drink sip by sip.

Saturday, March 10, 2018

Paruppu Urundai Kuzhambu - Lentil Dumplings In Tamarind Sauce

Paruppu Urundai Kuzhambu is a welcome change from the dal dense sambars and koottus routinely prepared in South Indian households. The spice and tang tickles the taste buds and enlivens a dull appetite. Paruppu Urundai Kuzhambu with steaming hot rice and a roasted Papad for the side is the most welcome food after a long trip away from home.
Split pigeon peas/ Tur dal - 1/2 cup
Bengal gram dal - 1/2 cup
Split black gram dal - 1/4 cup
Red chillies - 3
Salt - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Grated carrot - 1/2 cup
Chopped coriander leaves - 1/4 cup
1. Wash and soak the three dals and red chillies together for 40 minutes  till they become soft.
2. Drain the dals and grind coarsely without adding water. 
3. Mix carrot gratings, chopped coriander leaves, salt and asafoetida with the ground dal.

4. Take out a scoop of the prepared dal and shape it into a dumpling without applying too much pressure. This will help the dumpling to stay soft.
5. Use up the entire mixture to make more dumplings and steam them for 15 minutes. Keep them aside.

Tamarind - 1 lime size ball
Sambar powder - 2 tsps
Salt - 2 tsps
Jaggery - a marble size piece
Rice flour - 2 tsps for thickening
Sesame Oil - 2 tbsps
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Fenugreek seeds - 1/2 tsp
Bengal gram dal - 1tsp
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Broken red chillies - 2
Curry leaves - a few
1. Soak tamarind in warm water and extract the juice to make two glasses.
2. Add sambar powder, salt and jaggery.
3. Heat oil in a kadai and splutter mustard seeds.
4. Add fenugreek seeds followed by Bengal gram dal.
5. When the dal turns golden in colour add broken red chillies, asafoetida and curry leaves.
6. Pour the tamarind juice mixture into the seasoning.
7. Cook till the Kuzhambu emanates a very pleasant aroma.
8. Mix little water with rice flour to make a paste and stir in the paste.

9. When the kuzhambu thickens decrease flame gently and add the Paruppu Urundais.

10. Simmer for two minutes and switch off flame.

Enjoy the flavoursome Paruppu Urundai Kuzhambu with hot rice topped with a liberal spoon of fresh ghee which adds a heavenly aroma to the food.

Sunday, March 4, 2018

Balekayi Palya with Peel - Raw Banana Curry with Peel Intact

Cooking with peels has been in practice in South Indian homes since ancient times. Peels of ridge gourd, chow chow, cucumber and bottle gourd are used in making delicious chutneys to this day. A tangy gojju prepared out of orange peels is an all time favourite. Raw Banana Peels cooked into a delicious curry is known as Balekayi Sippe Palya in Kannada, Vazhaikkai Tol Curry in Tamil and Kaya Tholi Thoran in Malayalam. In Andhra a chutney known as Aratikaya Thokka Pachadi is prepared using raw banana peels. Vegetable peels are rich in vitamins, minerals and fiber. Simple dishes prepared using them are delicious and nutritious at the same time
Here is a recipe for Raw Banana Curry with the peel and nutrients intact. Since we are cooking the bananas with their peel, select the ones that have a bright green skin without blemishes. Raw bananas kept immersed in water will keep fresh until four or five days, though changing the water every day is necessary.

Raw bananas - 3
Sambar Powder - 1 tbsp
Salt - 1 tbsp
Sesame oil - 2 tbsps
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Split Black gram dal - 1 tsp
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
1. Wash the bananas thoroughly, slice off the ends, chop them into cubes along with the peel and immerse them in water.

2. Heat oil in a kadai and season with mustard seeds, split black gram dal and asafoetida.
3. When the mustard seeds splutter and the dal turns golden in colour, squeeze out the chopped banana cubes from the water and add them to the seasoning.
4. Add sambar powder and salt.

5. Stir well and close with a lid.

6. Allow the curry to cook on low flame stirring now and then.

7. Switch off flame when the curry is done.

Enjoy the soft and delicious Balekayi Palya with Peel with your meal.

Friday, February 23, 2018

Aranellikka Ooruga / Kirunellikayi Uppinakayee - Star Gooseberry Pickle

I brought back a bag of Aranellikka / Kirunellikayi with me on my return trip from my native place. My mind went back to my childhood days as I ran my fingers over an old scar on my forehead. Those were the days when we siblings went foraging in our garden for the lovely fruits, berries and all that was edible in our sprawling garden. My vivacious kid brother who was only five years old then was a bundle of mischief. The impatient brat knew that a mere shake of the slender tree trunk would bring down a shower of Star Gooseberries. But to show off his expertise in stone pelting he picked up one and aimed at the tree to bring down the luscious berries that instant. But unluckily the stone landed on my forehead and what followed was a big hullabaloo! It was quite a task to 'save' my dear brother from my mother's spanks as I carried him and ran all over the garden!


Aranellikka/Kirunellikayee/Star Gooseberries - 2 glasses (lotas)
Sesame oil - 1 cup
Chilly powder - 2 tbsps
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Salt - 2 tbsps
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Asafoetida - 1 pinch
Fenugreek powder(dry roasted and powdered) 1/2 tsp
1. Remove the Aranellikka/Kirunellikayi from the stalk.
2. Wash them, spread them out on a cloth and dry them thoroughly.
3. Heat one tablespoon of oil in a kadai, add the Aranellikka/Kirunellikayi and stir in the salt.

4. The berries will release a lot of water as they get cooked.

5. Gently stir and cook till half of the water evaporates and switch off flame.
6. Heap chilly powder and turmeric powder on top of the sauteed berries.

7. Heat the remaining oil in a seasoning ladle and splutter the mustard seeds, add asafoetida and pour the seasoning all over the spice powders.
8. Add the dry roasted and powdered fenugreek powder and stir well.

9. Allow the flavoursome Aranellikka Ooruga/Kirunellikayi Uppinakayee to cool down completely.

10. Store the Star Gooseberry Pickle in a clean dry jar.
Relish the Aranellikka Ooruga/Kirunellikayi Uppinakayee with curd rice. My grand daughter loves to pop a pickled Aranellikka/Kirunellikayi into her mouth now and then!