Thursday, April 30, 2009

Sabsige Soppu Pulao (Dill leaves Pulao)

It took me awhile to digest the fact that Dill leaves are native of Mediterranean region, South Russia, Scandinavia & not India. I have seen my mother, aunties cooking dill leaves since my childhood. I was assuming dill leaves to be our very own ;)

Dill leaves are consumed in abundance during the post pregnancy period. Dill is a soothing medicine that improves the functioning of the stomach. Not only that, my granny used to mention about numerous health benefits of dill leaves. Few of them as stated by her:

1. Helps in lactation
2. Prevents constipation (most common problem during first phase of post delivery)
3. Improves secretion & discharge of urine
4. Excellent source of iron & calcium.
5. Prevents bone loss. For more information: read this & this

Aren’t these sufficient for one to indulge in this leafy vegetable? Our grand moms and moms are indeed treasure houses of knowledge.

Recently when I cooked biryani, I ended up with a big jug of unused savory water. I wanted to use the water & found that I had dill leaves & frozen avarekayi (surti papdi) in my refrigerator. Hence, started experimenting with the available ingredients & the final result made me happy. Mild spiced rice with strong fragrance of dill leaves was loved by everyone at home. My husband was happy that he did not find cinnamon pieces & star anise in his plate :)

Basmati Rice: 2 cups
Dill leaves: 1 bunch (around 100-120 gms)
Avarekayi: ½ cup (I took very tender ones)
Savory Water: 4 cups
Yogurt/Curd: 3 tbsp
Onion: 1 thinly sliced
Ginger paste: ½ tsp
Green Chilli: 2 chopped
Pulao Masala: ½ tsp (I used MTR pulao masala, just for the flavor)
Salt: According to taste
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
Dry coconut: 2 tbsp (optional)
Lemon juice: 1tsp (optional, one can relish with a raitha by skipping this)
1 tbsp butter
1 tsp oil

  • Wash the basmati rice thoroughly & soak it for 20mins.
  • Wash the dill leaves & chop them finely. Keep it aside.
  • In a broad pan, heat oil + butter. When hot, add cumin seeds followed by ginger paste. Saute for 10secs. Add onion & sauté till raw smell of onion disappears (no need to fry till brown). Add avrekayi & sauté again.
  • Add green chilli, soaked basmati rice & sauté for 20-30secs. Add savory water, salt to it & cover the lid. Cook the rice on a medium flame.
  • When rice is 3/4th cooked, add dill leaves, pulao masala, dry coconut, curd & mix it gently. Now start cooking this on a low flame for 10-15 mins or until rice is nicely cooked (grains should be separate).
  • Cool the rice for 10 mins, add lemon juice, mix gently & serve it with a raitha of your choice.

PS: If the avarekayi/surti papdi is not tender, boil it before adding.

Monday, April 27, 2009

Seemebadane Palya (Chayote Squash Palya)

Let me bring out the difference between palya & gojju. Palya is the dry or sooka sabzi, something similar to stir fry. After entering the blog world, I got to know palya(Kannada term) is known as thoran in Malayalam. Gojju (Kannada term) is something similar to ‘vegetables in gravy’ or in general known as “Curry”.

Usually for any palya recipe, the tempering is done followed by stir frying the vegetables in water or oil until the vegetables are soft. But my mom never prepares palya this way. She always boils the vegetable in pressure cooker (may be 1 or 2 whistles depending on the vegetable she is cooking) & then adds tempering to it. During my initial cooking days, I used to fight with her for stir-frying the vegetables in oil or water for more taste, but she always smiled & refused to do so. I never understood why she was oblivious about my proposal. Even she failed to convince me, partially due to my ignorance about intricacies of cooking.

After many years, I have understood the importance of boiling the vegetables. For those who don't know: Stir-frying the vegetables spoils the nutrient levels of the vegetables & steaming or boiling the vegetables holds most of the nutrients. Hence, it is advisable to boil the vegetables whenever possible. I need not say that, I have started following my mother now :)

Seemebadane/Chayote Squash: 2 medium sized or 500 gms
Oil: 1 tsp
Mustard Seeds: ½ tsp
Urad dal: 1tsp
Channa dal: 1 tsp (optional, our family prefers this)
Curry leaves: 4 chopped or whole
Green chillies: 2 chopped
Cliantro/Coriander leaves: 1 tbsp finely chopped
Grated coconut: 2tbsp (optional)
Salt: according to taste
Lemon juice: ½ tsp (optional)


  • Peel the skin; discard the seed of chayote squash. Cut them into 1/2inch cubes & pressure cook for 1-2 whistles. (Add around 1/4th cup water while cooking the vegetable). Allow it to cool for a while.
  • In a broad pan, heat oil. When oil is hot, add mustard seeds followed by urad & channa dal. Fry till the dal turns golden brown. Add curry leaves, cilantro, green chillies & sauté for 10secs.
  • Add the cooked vegetable to the pan (discard excess water), salt & cook on low flame for 2-3 minutes.
  • Turn off the flame; add coconut, lemon juice. Mix well & serve it as a side dish for rice, roti or dosa.


  • Do not add more water while boiling the vegetable as it has to be discarded for fry sabzi like this.
  • On a second note, by chance if you add more water, do not throw the water, store the water & use it while preparing sambar. The chayote squash boiled water can safely be used while preparing sambar as it doesn't smell pungent like cabbage or radish.
  • Have you tried frying the cilantro/coriander leaves in oil along with curry leaves? Try it out; the aroma of fried cilantro is just too good to resist.

Blog Events:

This along with Tomato-Onion Gojju goes to "WYF : Side dish" hosted by EC

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Ragi ambli (Finger Millet Drink) : Amazing Summer Cooler

We always forget our very own, healthy thirst quenchers & get carried away by canned drinks or preserved juices. One such "not so popular, packed with umpteen health benefits" drink of Karnataka is ambli. Ragi ambli (Finger millet drink) is a wonderful drink that not only helps beat the temperature, but also gives a cooling effect to the body. My granny always used to say “Ragi ambli amrutha samana” (English: Ragi ambli is equivalent to amruth). This is also a staple drink for farmers during summer.

Me, not being an ardent fan of milkshake is currently relishing this drink 3 times a day on a weekend. Aint'I crazy? Yes, indeed, because I feel no cold drink can beat the health benefits of this drink & I always find this as the best drink ever. My hubby doesn't like it, but that isn't stopping me from preparing & drinking ambli ;)

1 tbsp ragi flour/finger millet flour
2 tbsp warm water
2 cups water
1 cup buttermilk/skimmed yogurt
Salt according to taste
½ tsp cumin seeds powder
¼ tsp fenugreek seeds powder (optional)
A pinch of asafoetida
Finely chopped curry leaves (optional)

  • Bring the water to boil. Meantime, mix the ragi flour with the warm water. Ensure no lumps are formed.
  • When water starts boiling, add salt, ragi mixture to it & keep stirring to ensure no lumps.
  • Allow the water to boil again in a medium flame for 2-3 minutes.
  • Remove from flame & allow the ambli (porridge) to completely cool (to room temperature).
  • Mix butter milk, jeera powder, fenugreek powder, and asafoetida, curry leaves to the porridge prepared.
  • Mix well & enjoy the cool drink.

Blog Events:

  • I would like to send this to “ Village Special Recipes“ of Shama. I have seen this prepared by my grandmom, mom, aunties & I remember my great grand mom relishing it the most. All of them belonged to a village that was few kilometers away from Chikmagalur, Karntaka, India. My father becomes nostalgic as he has a lot of memories associated with this drink. My grand father was " Shanbhogru" (Village Accountant) & our family was the only Brahmin family in that village. So, we were given loads of respect. My grandparents had 12 children & only one cow to satify their dairy needs. Being a very orthodox family, my granny would not get milk from others & as a result my father used to walk for 5-6 miles everyday to a nearby village to get milk from another brahmin family. As my father says, life was very tough those days & my atthe (father's sisters) were the only girls studying in the school. I used to visit the village once in a bluemoon as nobody was staying there. My father also recalls the difficulty in getting vegetables & also proudly says he used to eat atleast a dozen mangoes/day during the mango season. My grandfather passed away even before my father got married & my grandmom was with us since then & she also passed away couple of years before.
  • Goes to “Refreshing Drinks” of Chandrabhaga
  • Comfort Food for Illness” of recipecenterforall
  • Also to Deesha for "South Indian Cuisine"

Tuesday, April 21, 2009

Onion Rawa Dosa (Onion Semolina Dosa) & Strawberry Lassi: Double Treat

My discussion with my hubby’s aunt (R aunti) goes endless. We talk about weather conditions to lifestyle to cosmetics to children to home remedies to…., what not. We both are complete chatterbox material. I speak to her as if I know her from ages & so does she. These days, she asks me more about the latest recipes I have tried. She also gives some tips on cooking vegetables like radish, Malabar spinach etc. She is an excellent chef & I admire her for the eagerness to try new dishes. I always call her “Annapoorneshwari”, she can create magic in minutes. Not only that, you visit her home any time of the day, she prepares something yummilicious & treats you very well. I always wish, she could have been blessed with a daughter to graciously take over her recipes. But, her sons, on the contrary, have never ventured into kitchen!! She gives such accurate measurements that one can blindly follow without even thinking twice. One such tried & tested recipe that she passed me very long back is this onion rawa dosa. She gave such exact measurements that I have never tried to experiment with other measurements till now. It always turns out good.

Here are the ingredients given by her.
Chiroti Rawa or Fine rawa: 2 cups
All purpose flour: 1/2 cup
Rice flour: 3/4th cup
Grated coconut: 3-4 tbsp
Pepper powder: ½ tsp
Sour curd/yogurt: ½ cup
Water: For mixing
Finely chopped onion: 1 medium sized
Salt: According to taste
Sugar: ½ tsp
Other ingredients:
Oil : ½ - 1 tsp oil for each dosa.

  • Mix all the above mentioned ingredients (except salt & sugar) well. Ensure no lumps are formed.
  • Slowly add water to this mixture & keep stirring until the batter becomes a little thinner than the normal dosa batter.
  • Keep the batter aside for 30minutes. Add salt, sugar just before preparing dosas. Mix well.
  • Pour the batter onto the hot dosa pan & spread the batter immediately in circular motion to get thinner dosa. Cook on low to medium flame on one side only without covering the pan with a lid.
  • Remove the dosa from pan, serve it with a chutney of your choice. I served the dosa with mint chutney.

  • Small rawa gets cooked very fast making the batter to stick to the pan. Hence, it is important to make the batter thinner than the normal dosa batter for easy spreading of dosa.
  • Always cook the rawa dosa on slow flame for crispier dosa.
  • Addition of sugar to batter gives a nice golden brown color to the dosa.

Strawberry Lassi
I tried strawberry lassi recipe from foodieshope. It was lip smacking. Thanks a lot for the wonderful recipe Ashakka.

Strawberry: 8-10nos (I used fresh strawberry)
Yogurt/Curd: 2 cups (home made yogurt)
Milk: 1 cup
Sugar: 4-6 tbsp
Ice cubes: 2-4

Blend all the above mentioned ingredients, it should become like a thick milkshake. Cool it for an hour & serve it.
Donot over-chill it or on the contrary it should not be at room temperature too. Cool strawberry lassi tastes great ;)

Friday, April 17, 2009

Tomato-Onion Gojju: Simplicity at its best

My maid manages to cook dinner for us most of the weekdays. During her cooking sessions, she reminded me to buy a pack of chilli powder. We went to a nearby local market & bought a packet of chilli powder & started using it. She used the same chilli powder for 2-3days. I entered the kitchen few days after that & decided to prepare "Palakura Pappu"(Andra Style Spinach Dal). I poured 1/2tsp of chilli powder to the dish & my maid interrupted saying, the mirchi powder is not very spicy & suggested me to add some more. I then tasted the chilli powder a little & found that it was nowhere near to red chilli powder. I hardly could feel any spice in that, but noticed that the red color of the powder was giving a feel that, the powder is very good. I asked my maid to throw that powder immediately & decided not to buy any powders from the local markets here. The dal prepared also tasted bad & hubby started saying, ninna aduge eega modalina level nalli illa" (Your cooking is not up to the mark these days).

Next day evening was roti & tomato-onion gojju at our home. I had asked my maid to throw the red chilli powder & started staring at my ceiling for red chilli powder. Eureka.., I immediately recalled preserving some chilli flakes packets during our usual pizza sessions. I decided to use the chilli flakes available with me for tomato onion gojju. Here is what I felt after eating: “Tomatoes were melting while onions were crunchy. The chilli flakes, sugar gave a nice flavor, taste to the tangy gojju & the channa dal tempering took this dish to a different level altogether.”

Tomatoes: 4 medium sized
Onions: 2 medium sized
Green Peas: 1/4th cup boiled or frozen(optional)
Oil: 1tbsp
Mustard Seeds: ½ tsp
Channa dal: 1.5 tbsp
Urad dal: ½ tsp (optional)
Curry leaves: 4-6
Chilli flakes: 1 tsp ( we like it less spicy )
Salt: according to taste
Sugar: 1tsp
Coriander leaves: 1 tbsp (for garnishing)

  • Chop the tomatoes into ½ inch pieces. Thin slice the onions & keep aside
  • Heat a pan, add oil to the pan. When oil is hot, add mustard seeds, follow it by urad & channa dal. Fry till dals turn golden brown. Add curry leaves.
  • Add the onions & fry for a while (no need to fry till it turns golden brown, fry till the raw smell of onion vanishes). Add boiled green peas & saute again.
  • Add the chopped tomatoes & cook it for 3-4 minutes. Now add, sugar, salt, chilli flakes & cook on a medium flame for 5-7 more minutes.
  • Switch off the flame, garnish it with coriander leaves.
  • Gojju is ready to be served with dosa, idli, roti or rice.

Do not mash the tomatoes or over cook them. The tomato pieces needs to maintain its shape & yet become soft.

Blog Events:
This recipe goes to 'FIC: Red & Green' hosted by easyntastyrecipes & to Sunshinemom of TongueTicklers for starting such a wonderful event.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

Shavige Payasa (Vermicelli Kheer)

We visited a beautiful island during this long weekend & we enjoyed each & every minute spent there. My son was happy to the fullest because we allowed him to play in the beach three times a day. That was an awesome trip. Now we are just recovering from the jet lag !!!

Today is Souramana Ugadi (New Year) & my in-laws celebrate this as new year (Mostly all Kannadigas follow Chandramana Ugadi, only few people from Karnataka follow Souramana Ugadi). I had big plans for the new year. But, my son is having little fever and I am bit concerned about him.He is recovering fast but I am not in a mood to celebrate :(

Anyways, you can not control everything that is happening with you and my mom has taught me that, whatever be the situation, you should never forget to celebrate festivals at home. Me, keeping all those in mind decided to prepare something simple to celebrate the festival. The first thing that came to my mind when I think of very simple sweet dish was "Shavige Payasa". Hence, prepared the same.

Here is the photo & recipe for you.

Vermicelli/Shavige (MTR or Bambino would do) : 1 cup
Milk : 3 cups
Sugar : 3/4 cup
Cardamom Powder : 1/4 tsp
Cashew nuts : 1 tbsp
Raisins : 1tbsp
Ghee : 1tbsp
Saffron strands : 4-6 strands

  • Add 1 tsp of ghee to a pan & roast the vermicelli until it turns golden brown.
  • Heat milk in a pot, when milk starts boiling add the roasted vermicelli & sugar. Cook the vermicelli until it becomes soft. Switch off the flame. Add cardamom powder & saffron strands.
  • Meantime, fry the cashew nuts & raisins in the remaining ghee.
  • Pour the fried dry fruits (along with ghee) to the prepared kheer.
  • Serve the kheer hot, warm or cold.

PS :
Kheer starts to thicken as it starts getting warm & becomes very thick at room temperature. So, add sugar dissolved milk, stir well & then serve. Alternatively, one could keep the steaming hot kheer in refrigerator to avoid thickening of kheer.

Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Kashi Halwa (Winter melon halwa)

We normally go for shopping with our 30 months naughty Junior, who keeps pulling everything while passing by. Intelligent hubby makes me hold my son & he continues with the shopping. My son helps his father, pick the tomatoes, capsicum & other vegetables :p

Me: Buy phuay leng (Chinese Spinach), coriander leaves, carrot, winter melon....
Hubby: Hold on...recession time, try to avoid unnecessary items ;) Also, cook for the family & not for blog or blog events ;)
Me: do you think I just prepare it for the event, take pictures & throw the food prepared?? Don't we all enjoy eating the same food??

Him: Okay okay...this time, I will buy that big winter melon , prepare halwa for me.

Me: OK..done !!.

...and so it goes.

As I have mentioned before, my hubby is crazy for sweets. He does not mind skipping a meal & relishing on sweets. He finally bought a winter melon weighing almost 3kilos & I prepared halwa with 2.5kilos for two of us at home :D It took me around 1.5 hours to prepare the halwa. This is again a very time consuming dish, but you will forget the efforts put to prepare this as soon as you take a bite. Halwa just melts inside & our taste buds dance out of joy.
I enjoyed preparing this thoroughly, hubby enjoyed eating & hope you also would enjoy reading it.

3 cups grated winter melon/kumbalakayi
1.5 cups sugar or a little more (adjust according to taste)
1 tbsp cashew nuts
1 tsp raisins
½ tsp cardamom powder
4-6 strands of saffron (optional)
3 tbsp ghee/clarified butter


  • Peel the skin of the winter melon, discard the skin & the seeds. Grate the melon & squeeze out water from the grated melon. Try to squeeze as much water as possible.
  • Take a broad pan, add 1 tsp ghee. Fry the grated melon for a minute or until raw smell disappears. Scoop out the melon & pressure cook for 2-3 whistles (don’t add milk or water while pressure cooking). Allow it to cool.
  • Take a thick bottomed pan, add the cooked melon along with water (it releases tremendous water when pressure cooked, don’t discard that water). Keep the flame on medium, & start stirring until all the water is absorbed (it might take 15 mins or so).
  • Mix sugar now & you would see water appear again in the pan :) Keep stirring once a while until water is absorbed (20 mins or so)
  • When most of the water is absorbed, add 1tbsp ghee, cardamom powder & start stirring rigorously until it forms a single mass like shown below.
  • The grated winter melon would plump up now & starts looking like a small grain.Turn off the flame & allow it to cool. Meantime, fry the cashew nuts & raisins in the remaining ghee & pour this to the prepared halwa. Add saffron strands & mix well.
  • Serve the halwa hot, warm or cold.

This is also known as kumbalakayi halwa, dumroot. I love to eat this halwa with vanilla ice-cream. Simply divine !!!!

Friday, April 3, 2009

Hyderabadi Biryani

Couple of months before, after our tired grocery shopping, we landed in a Vegetarian Indian Restaurant. I saw Hyderabadi Veg Biryani in their menu. My taste buds started to tickle seeing the biryani in the menu card. I went ahead ordering without thinking twice. I got a kadai(bowl) full of rice that neither looked nor tasted like a biryani.
I started explaining to my hubby the exact biryani preparation & I also started guessing what these guys would have done. My hubby crossed his brows & said the “biryani" served was still good. I immediately made up my mind to prepare the biryani & make him taste the real "biryani". I never tried to cook Hyderabadi Biryani even though I had the recipe from my aunt. Without a second thought, I started looking for my word document that contained the recipe & cooked it the very next day. It was straight from heaven. Inspired by Hyderabadi Biryani, I tried another version of Biryani too. No doubt, both were the “best one pot meal” I have cooked till date. One of the guests at home appreciated me by saying they were better than what they had in restaurants & got the recipe from me ;)
Before noting the ingredients, here is my piece of advice to you. Never try to prepare biryani in a jiffy; it needs your time, love & patience. But believe me.., all the efforts would be really worth & well appreciated...


For savory water:
3 inch cinnamon
5-6 cardamom
6-8 clove
1tbsp pepper
2 star anise
2 bayleaves
1 tsp fennel seeds
6 cups water

For sweet water:
½ cup milk
1 tsp saffron strands
1 tsp rosewater
1/2tsp cardamom powder

For rice:
3 cups basmati rice
5 cups savory water
1tsp ghee
1 bay leaf
Salt according to taste

For vegetable layering:
½ cup green peas + sweet corn
1 cup mixed vegetables (I used potato, cauliflower, carrots, beans)
½ cup savory water
½ cup yogurt/curd
½ bunch pudina/mint leaves (finely chopped)
1tsp biryani powder (I used store bought biryani powder)
1 tsp chilli powder
2tbsp milk cream (optional)
1 tsp ginger garlic paste
Salt according to taste
1tbsp butter/ghee/oil

For garnishing:
1 tbsp cashewnuts fried in ghee
1tbsp raisins fried in ghee
½ bunch pudina/mint leaves
1 onion sliced & fried in ghee till brown (onions should be crisp)
1/4th cup savory water
1/4th cup sweet water
2tbsp yogurt/curd
1tsp biryani powder (optional)


For savory water:
Add all the ingredients mentioned in “for savory water” to a large pan & boil it for 20 mins on medium flame. Allow it to cool completely & retain only the clear water. Discard the spices.

For sweet water:

Add cardamom powder to the milk & boil it. Allow it to cool. When milk becomes warm, add saffron strands & rose water. Mix well & keep aside.

Add rice, ghee, bay leaf, savory water & salt to a pot & cook it on a medium flame until rice is 3/4th cooked (it takes around 15-18minutes). Allow the rice to cool. If water seems to be more in the pot, do not hesitate to drain it. The rice shouldn’t become sticky. Add 2tbsp of sweet water to the cooked rice. Once cool, spread out the rice to ensure each grain is seperate

For vegetable layering:
Add savor water to the vegetables, peas, corn & pressure cook for 1 whistle only. Add ghee to a broad pan, when oil is hot add ginger garlic paste. Add finely chopped mint leaves & fry for 10secs. Add yogurt, milk cream, chilli powder, biryani powder, salt & boil it for a minute or two. Add the half cooked vegetables to the yogurt mixture & cook it on a slow flame for 5-7minutes.

Layering the Biryani:

Take a thick bottomed pot; spread 1/3rd of cooked rice first. On top of that, spread ½ of the vegetable gravy prepared equally. Sprinkle 1/3rd of the fried cashewnuts, raisins, mint leaves, onion, 1tbsp savory water, 1tbsp sweet water & curd.
Cover this with another layer of rice, followed by remaining vegetable gravy, garnishing items. The top most layer must be rice. Sprinkle the biryani powder(optional), 1 tbsp curd, cashewnuts, raisins, onions & cover it with a aluminum foil. One could use a tight lid too.
Heat the tawa/dosa pan on a high flame. Place this pot on top of the tawa & reduce the flame. Cook this on tawa for 10mins on medium flame. Remove the lid just before serving.
Serve it with raitha & get applauded.

Blog Events:

Biryani along with mavinakayi chitranna goes to COT-Flavored Rice hosted by Kadumanga

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