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Thursday, January 24, 2013

Vegetable Saagu

Saagu - A vegetable based side dish from Karnataka for BM#24.

A bowl of bisibelebhath or a plate of poori saagu means heaven to me. I remember whenever my mother used to pack them for my lunch box, my concentration would be zilch towards the classes that day and I would be eagerly waiting for my lunch hour. Especially if it was a poori - saagu day, my breakfast, lunch and snack that day would be just poori - saagu and nothing else.When Valli threw us a challenge of preparing side dishes from different states, the first thing that obviously came to my mind was saagu. However I couldn't perfectly translate my love for the dish into words this time. I therefore kept procrastinating drafting this post since last week as I just didn't know what to write.

I only had two things in my mind that saagu is my most favorite side dish and I salivate even looking at a saagu picture. :) It is not exaggerating when I say many Kannadigas are with me on this point. While aloo bhaji / potato masala happens to be the most popular choice of side dish for pooris through out India, Kannadigas prefer something else. They have their own favorite and yummy vegetable side dish to go with those equally delectable puffy pooris - vegetable saagu or saagu. Like bisibelebhath, saagu also happens to be an iconic dish of Karnataka. Mixed vegetables cooked in a concoction of mild spices result in a delicious, finger licking dish. The ground dalia - spice paste lend the body to the gravy but is not on the watery side. Also the cooked vegetables still should hold their shape. Saagu happens to be the popular restaurant choice to go with pooris, rave idli and set dose.

Ingredients: (4 - 6 generous servings)

For tadka:
1 Tbsp oil
1 tsp chana dal / Bengal gram
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
Few curry leaves

Vegetables used:
3 finely chopped onions
2 - 3 chopped tomatoes
2 peeled and cubed carrots
3 medium sized, peeled and cubed potatoes
1 peeled and cubed chayote
20 - 25 stringed and chopped beans
1/4 cup fresh / frozen peas

To grind:
3 Tbsp dalia / roasted chickpeas / chutney dal
1 tsp poppy seeds
2 one inch cinnamon pieces
Green chillies as per taste
1 tsp coriander seeds
A handful of cilantro leaves
3 - 4 Tbsp shredded fresh coconut

Salt to taste

I usually prepare saagu directly in a small pressure cooker or a pressure pan for the ease and convenience. And so I am going to give that method. However if a pan / wok is preferred to cook, that's fine too.
* Heat oil to the cooker and add chana dal and mustard seeds. When dal starts to turn reddish, add curry leaves, turmeric powder and onion. Saute the onion for a couple of minutes. There is no need to fry the onions until they are done.
* Next add all the other vegetables and a cup of water to the cooker. Cover with the lid and cook up to 2 whistles. The vegetables should be cooked but not turn mushy.
* In the meanwhile, grind finely all the ingredients mentioned under "to grind", adding water.
* Add the ground paste and salt to the cooked vegetables. Add water if needed and cook for about  8 - 10 minutes on medium flame. Turn off the stove.

* I haven't mentioned the quantity of the green chillies used since it depends upon the spiciness of the chillis used and the heat preferred. If you are not sure how spicy the paste is, then add the paste to the veggies in little qunatities and check. In that way, you can keep the spice level under check.
* Quantity of coriander seeds can be increased and cilantro can be completely eliminated from this recipe. Personally I hate the strong flavor of coriander seeds dominating the flavor of saagu and totally eliminate it from the dish and use cilantro instead.



Maha Gadde said...

what lovely and yummy curry.goes well vth bread:)
Love the pictures!!

Nivedhanams Sowmya said...

Perfect with Puri... So yummy!!!
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Priya said...

Love this saagu with hot steaming idlis, such a delicious side dish.

Kalyani said...

poori-saagu as you say, Suma is nostalgic for me too, about Bangalore and all Kannada dishes.. perfectly made there.. I follow the exact recipe as yours !

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Vimitha Anand said...

Would make a great side for chapathis

Nalini's Kitchen said...

Super delicious vegetable saagu,perfect with rotis and pooris..

sushma said...

Nice and yummy. Goes well with anything.

Harini-Jaya Rupanagudi said...

This one sounds very yummy. I love the masala in this.

Padmajha PJ said...

Never made Sagu before,looks delicious...

Chef Mireille said...

looks so creamy and inviting - I am saving all your recipes this week to try - they are all mindblowing!

Rajani S said...

Bookmarking this.

Pavani said...

Simple and delicious sagu. Love it.

Preeti Garg said...

Awesome and healthy meal