Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Cucumber Salad | Southekai kosambari : A South Indian Cucumber Salad

After I started my Project365 blog, I feel I started neglecting my first baby. It's been a while since I posted anything here. Sorry guys!

Today's recipe is a very easy & yet tasty salad recipe that uses minimal ingredients. It's known as kosambari in Kannada. We generally add soaked lentils along with the cucumber to make this salad. Since, our family doesn't prefer the lentils, I skipped them & just made it with  cucumber. Do try this simple & healthy salad.

Preparation Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 1 min
Serves: 2-3

Tender cucumber: 2 nos
Salt: As needed

For the tempering:
Oil: 1-2 tsp
Mustard seeds: 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves: 2-3 nos, torn
Green chilli: 1 no, slit
Asafoetida/hing: a pinch

For the garnish:
Grated coconut: 1 tbsp, fresh or frozen
Lemon juice: 1 tsp

Wash the cucumber thoroughly & slice off the ends of the cucumber. Peel the skin & chop it very fine.
If the cucumber is not tender, discard the seeds.

Prepare the tempering in a small wok. Add oil. When oil is hot, throw in the mustard seeds. When mustard seeds crackle, add the curry leaves & green chilli. When curry leaves wilt, turn off the heat & add the hing/asafoetida.

Pour this tempering over the cucumber.

Add the salt, grated coconut, lemon juice & mix well.

Serve it immediately.

As the cucumber oozes out a lot of water, it is advisable to make this salad just before serving. You could chop the cucumber in advance (if needed!). But add the salt, tempering & the garnish just before serving!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Upsaaru Recipe | Three-in-one dill leaves recipe: A Mandya/Mysore Speciality

.........a very elaborate recipe made easy using step-by-step pictorial.

Upsaaru & Mudde is a staple food of farmers of Karnataka, especially Mysore/Mandya region. Though my mom used to make mudde very frequently, I did not know about upsaru until I moved to Mandya. I tried masoppu & upsaru for the first time at Mandya. My mom used to make something similar to upsaaru. She called it bassaru, meaning basida saru . The literal meaning of basida saaru is "drained water" or "vegetable stock rasam/soup".

Preparation Time: 30 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
Serves: 3-4

Sabsige soppu: 2 cups (finely chopped)
Pigeon peas | Toor dal: 3/4 cup
Green gram | Green moong | Hesaru kalu: 2-3tbsp
Turmerice powder: 1/4 tsp
Salt: As needed

For chutney or khara or hasi khara:
Coriander leaves: 2 cups
Green chillies: 15-20, yes we want the chutney to be very spicy!!
Tamarind: small marble sized
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp
Pepper Corns: 6-8 nos
Garlic: 1 lobe (12-14 pods)
Salt:According to taste
Cooked dal + dill leaves: About 1-2 tbsp

For palya or poriyal or side dish:
Onion: 2 nos (finely chopped)
Oil: 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds: 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves: 6-8 nos, torn
Salt: As needed

Important:The khara/chutney has to be made "spicy" as the other things are relatively bland & less spicy!!!
It is important to cook the dal completely & yet keep the dals firm & seperate. You do not want a mushy dal or mashed dal for this recipe.
If you cannot find dill leaves, use greens like spinach,  or amaranth leaves.
Other legumes like black eyed peas could be used too.
If you want the palya/stir fry spicy, add some green chillies to the tempering. I do not add as we don't like it spicy!
The palya tastes good with rotis too.
The above mentioned ingredients are eye balled. Use this as a reference to create yours.
The shelf life of the chutney is about couple of days (refrigerated!)
My friend Kannada Cuisine has a similar recipe named sapneeru. Do visit her space for the recipe.

Wash the toor dal & green gram in the running water thoroughly. Add about 4-5 cups of water to the dal & boil the dal in a broad sauce pan. Add the turmeric too.
When dal is 1/2 done add sapsige soppu, salt & cook until dals are cooked & yet firm. Keep adding water if you find the dal very thick. You might need another couple of cups of water.

Drain the water using a colander & save the drained water. We will make a rasam/saru using the drained water.

For the palya/stir-fry:

Add oil to a broad sauce pan. Once the oil is hot, throw in the mustard & cumin seeds. When seeds crackle, add the curry leaves. When leaves wilt, throw in the finely chopped onions & saute till the onions turn translucent.
When the onions are cooked, add the dal + dill leaves mixture(reserve about 2-3 tbsp for the chutney) to the sauce pan. Add some salt & give it a mix. Turn off the heat & your palya/stir fry is ready.

For the khara/chutney:

Soak tamarind in about 2tbsp hot water for 5 mins. Squeeze out the pulp & discard the fiber from the tamarind.
Grill a lobe of garlic along with the skin of the garlic on the stove top or in the oven. I grill it directly on the stove. It will be messy, but that's perfectly alright. When garlic is grilled, move it away & allow it to cool.
When garlic is cooled, peel the skin of the garlic & throw it in the food processor. Add the washed coriander leaves, green chillies, tamarind extract, cumin seeds, salt, pepper corns to the food processor jar. Add couple of tablespoons of water (if needed) & grind a smooth paste out of it. Add about 2-3 tbsp of dill leaves + dal mixture to the paste & pulse again. Scoop out the chutney in a separate bowl.

For the rasam/kattu/saaru:
Add about a tbsp of khara/chutney prepared to the drained water (stocking) & mix. Adjust the salt (if needed) & boil it. Rasam/saaru is ready.

How to serve: 
Add a portion of rice or mudde (ragi balls) to a plate. Pour in about 1/4 cup of saaru, serve few tablespoons of palya/stir fry at the side along with a tsp or more of chutney. The idea of this upsaaru is to have a very spicy khara/chutney & adjust the spice level of the rasam according to each & every one's preference.

Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Gobi Manchurian | Cauliflower manchurian : With step by step pictures!

Because of the terrible weather & wind chills, we are under house arrest. Hubby was working from home & my son is enjoying his extended holiday. Hope the weather gets better soon. To keep myself going & motivated, I am having a cooking marathon. Despite our diet, I cooked many unhealthy dishes. Good thing is that I made most of them during lunch & our dinner's are very simple even now.

Back to the recipe. Gobi Manchurian is a Indo-Chinese dish & a street food of India. Gobi manchurian can be served as a appetizer(dry version) or made like a gravy to go with Fried rice or other rice varieties. This post is a dry version & is served as a appetizer.

Preparation Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
Serves: 3-4

For the manchurian:
Gobi | Cauliflower : 1 small cauliflower (about 25-30 florets)
Corn starch: 1/4 cup
AP flour/Maida: 1/2 cup
Pepper powder: 1 tsp
Water: As needed (I used 1 cup + 2 tbsp)
Salt: As needed
Oil: For deep frying

For the manchurian sauce:
Corn starch: 1 tbsp
Water: 1/2 cup
Tomato ketchup: 2 tbsp
Red chilli sauce or sriracha: 2 tsp
Soya sauce: 2 tbsp
Vinegar: 1 tsp
Oil: 1 tbsp
Garlic: 1 tbsp, finely chopped
Finely chopped cabbage: 1/4 cup
Finely chopped onion: 1/4 cup
Bell peppers: 1/4 cup
Finely chopped green chillies: 1 tsp, more or less (I used 1/2 tsp of green chilli paste)
Salt: As needed (Be extra careful as all the sauces contain salt & in fact I do not add any extra salt)

For the garnish:
Spring onion greens: 2 tbsp, finely chopped

Wash the cauliflower florets & keep it aside.

Mix the corn starch, maida, pepper powder, salt in a medium bowl.

Add few tablespoons of water at a time & make a smooth batter. Whisk the batter well & ensure no lumps. Batter should be little thinner than the pakora batter or pancake batter. We want the batter to coat the cauliflower florets lightly.

Heat oil in a broad pan or kadai or deep fryer. When oil is hot, dip the cauliflower florets in the batter & deep fry the florets until lightly golden. Each batch takes about 3-5 mins.
Drain the deep fried cauliflower florets & place them on a paper towel.

For the Manchurian sauce:
Add the corn starch, water, tomato ketchup, red chilli sauce, soya sauce, vinegar to a small bowl & whisk well. Let the sauce mixture sit for 3-5 mins.
Heat oil in a wok. When oil is hot, add the finely chopped garlic & toss till garlic is golden brown. Follow garlic by onions & cabbage. Toss on high heat until the cabbage & onions are translucent, cooked & yet crunchy. It might take about 3-4 mins

Add the bell peppers, finely chopped green chillies & toss again.

Add the sauce mixture to the wok. Keep mixing until the sauce becomes thick.

Throw in the deep fried cauliflower florets & toss. Let the sauce coat the cauliflower florets.
Turn off the heat.

Garnish it with onion greens (I did not have them handy, so skipped adding!) & serve it immediately.


  • You should mix the sauce & the florets just before serving. The manchurian does not stay crisp if you soak it for a long time.
  • If you plan to make it for a party, prepare the sauce & deep fry the florets in advance. Heat the sauce & toss in the florets just before serving.
  • Other manchurian ideas. Instead of cauliflower, you could use mushroom, cabbage, baby corn or paneer (Indian cottage cheese).

Friday, January 3, 2014

Bele saaru | Toor dal rasam | Pigeon peas Soup: Karnataka Recipes

Wishing all my readers a very happy 2014!

Let me update you guys about our weight loss. As promised to myself, I did not cook any deep fried dishes for the month of December. We did eat junk food once a while at parties, but tried to avoid it as much as possible. We limited our intake of cakes & other desserts too. Without any exercise & eating healthy, we both could reduce about 4+ pounds. We are happy with the results & would plan to continue doing it.

Back to the recipe.I have spoken a lot about my in-law's side cooking & I have learnt a lot from them. However, there are many classic recipes from my mom's side that I miss terribly. This bele saaru is one of them. I'm making this rasam frequently these days. Looks like it is time I visit my mom's place :)

This is how my mom prepares bele saaru or rasam.

(I served rasam with rosematta rice & zucchini palya/stirfry)

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
Serves: 3-4

Toor dal | Pigeon peas | Thogari bele: 1/2 cup
Tomatoes: 2 nos, medium sized
Grated coconut: 2 tsp, fresh or frozen
Coriander leaves: 2 tbsp, finely chopped
Rasam powder/saarina pudi: 2 tsp, refer notes
Tamarind paste: 1/2 tsp (refer notes)
Jaggery/Brown sugar/bella: 1 tsp
Salt: As needed
Asafoetida: a big pinch
Turmeric powder: a big pinch

For the tempering:
Ghee/Clarified butter/Cooking oil: 2 tsp
Mustard seeds: 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves: 3-4 nos, torn
Asafoetida: a pinch
Wash the pigeon peas, cut the tomato in half.
Add about 1.5 cups of water to the washed pigeon peas. Throw in the cut tomato to the pigeon peas. Add the turmeric to it & pressure cook the pigeon peas & tomatoes for 3-4 whistles. Let the cooker cool.

Once the pressure is released from the cooker, take out the cooked peas.

Mash the tomatoes & pigeon peas thoroughly. (refer notes)
Pour the mashed dal to a sauce pan. Adjust the consistency (Add about a cup or more of water!). Add the rasam powder, salt, tamarind paste, brown sugar, asafoetida, coriander leaves & coconut to the mashed dal. Boil it on medium heat for 15 mins.

Remove from the heat.
Heat ghee/oil in a small pan. When ghee is hot, throw in the mustard seeds. When seeds splatter, add the curry leaves. When leaves wilt, turn off the heat & add the asafoetida. Pour the tempering over the prepared saaru/rasam & cover the rasam with a lid immediately. Let it sit for 5 mins. The tempering will infuse a nice flavor to the rasam.
Serve the rasam/saaru hot with steamed rice & fritters (or some vegetable side dish like palya).

  • If the tomatoes are sour, you might need less tamarind paste. Adjust the tamarind paste accordingly.
  • If you do not like the skin of the tomatoes in the rasam, you could mash the tomatoes separately & strain them.
  • You could use store bought rasam powder. MTR rasam powder works best!

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