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Saturday, January 18, 2020

Mysore Rasam / Mysore Tomato Saaru

A rasam is a regular feature in our home though I haven't posted a recipe yet since I never seem to capture a decent picture of it. All the good things settle at the bottom and all one get to see is some orange - brownish water with some wilted cilantro floating over. Even the mustard seeds and curry leaves refuse to stay on the surface as one can notice. Chaaru / Rasam / Saaru, with various regional names is a south Indian lentil based watery broth served at almost at the end of a meal. It is served after sambhar, another lentil and vegetable based course and  just before one eats rice and curd / yogurt. Tomatoes are an usual addition to it. This flavorful and spicy broth is to aid the digestion and is usually eaten with rice. One can even drink the flavorful broth as it is. In our Andhra homes, we eat rice and rasam along with some cooked lentils seasoned just with salt called muddha pappu, even though the rasam is made with lentils. 

Rasam is an integral part of the menu whenever we are eating rice  in our home, along with a curry and lentil preparation, A chutney / pickle and yogurt tag along obviously. Yesterday, I had made a meal somewhat resembling Karnataka cuisine with badanekayi - avarekaalu huli aka eggplant - field beans sambhar, bottle gourd curry and decided to include Mysore rasam instead of my regular version. I make my own rasam powder which happens to be my grandmother's recipe and prepare a first class rasam. I have noticed that MTR's rasam powder is also fabulous though my son says he loves my version more. I guess I should feel flattered. There are several rasam recipes one can try though I mostly keep rotating the common tomato and lemon versions. 

One of my close friend's mother was from Mysore and I have eaten her food several times. And I couldn't remember now whether her rasam tasted any different though I could vividly recall the huli aka sambhar. It is mostly because my mother never made / makes a sambhar to this day in our home and I had a strong dislike towards sambhar powder then. I could have called my friend but I checked a few cooking blogs from Kannadigas to see how differently the rasam powder is made from my usual version. I realized there were two extra ingredients than mine, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Also I had seen online, some Mysore saaru versions with the addition of coconut. I can relate to the coconut part though since Kannadigas have a habit of throwing shredded fresh coconut in anything and everything. However the addition of coconut here is optional. 2 or 3 tbsp. fresh, shredded coconut can be toasted and ground along with the ingredients while making rasam powder and added to the rasam.

Preparing saaru podi / rasam powder:
1 tsp. coriander seeds
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
1/4 tsp. black pepper
A pinch of mustard seeds
A pinch of fenugreek seeds
1 or 2 red chillies
4 to 5 curry leaves
(A little asafoetida can be added as well though I skipped it.)

* Add all the ingredients to a pan and toast on low flame until the coriander seeds turn a shade darker. (I don't add oil to toast the ingredients usually and skipped it. A tsp. of oil can be heated and red chillies, curry leaves and asafoetida can be toasted in it.)
* Let the ingredients come to room temperature and grind them together finely. 

Ingredients for saaru:
1 gooseberry sized tamarind 
1/4 cup toor dal / lentils
1 big tomato
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
1 tsp. rasam powder or to taste (recipe above)
Salt to taste
1/2 tsp. jaggery
2 tbsp. minced cilantro leaves  
Ingredients for tempering:
1 tsp. ghee / oil
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
Few curry leaves
A pinch of asafoetida

* Soak tamarind in hot water. 
* Rinse toor dal twice with water and drain. Pressure cook the toor dal adding a little over than 1/2 cup water, turmeric and tomato until dal is cooked. When the valve pressure is gone, mash the dal with the back of the ladle. Mash the tomato finely and discard the skin.
* Squeeze the tamarind and collect the pulp, discarding the residue.
* Heat ghee or oil in a pot. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds to the pot. When mustard seeds start to splutter, add curry leaves and asafoetida. Then add the mashed dal, mashed tomato, rasam powder, salt, jaggery, tamarind to taste and cilantro. Add a cup of water or a little more and stir well. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. 
* Bring the rasam to a rolling boil and turn off the stove immediately.
* Serve with rice.

Friday, January 17, 2020

Shenga Hindi / Uttara Karnataka Kadalebeeja Chutney Pudi

Shenga hindi is one of the classic and signature condiments of the North Karnataka cuisine. The word hindi is not pronounced as the language 'Hindi', the second syllable 'di' is pronounced as the letter 'd'. It is prepared along the similar lines as the Maharashtrian dry peanut chutney with slight variations. No surprises there considering that the two regions are neighbors and recipes commonly spill over borders in India. The same recipe is used to make other versions of pudis from the region replacing peanuts with flax seeds, roasted gram or niger seeds. The spicy and flavorful powder can perk up any Indian meal. Red chillies are not used here as in the case of south Indian condiment podi / pudi which is a norm. Red chili powder is added and the quantity can be adjusted according to one's taste and my version is spicier, as per my husband's liking. I used less garlic but usually more cloves are added. This quantity can be increased to taste as well.

This is a very easy recipe that needs only toasting peanuts. Toasting peanuts at home on stove top is very easy. One needs to toast them on slow flame, constantly stirring without burning them. The skins on some peanuts may look like charred but it is fine as long as they are not burnt. They can be toasted in an oven too. One can use store bought peanuts as well to use in this recipe instead which makes the job easier and quicker.
I usually keep at least a cup of toasted peanuts handy. I add peanuts to a glass pie pan and microwave them in short intervals until they turn crispy. This way, I don't need to babysit them as we do when toasting in a pan on stove-top. Each time, I turn on the microwave for only 2 minutes so that they don't burn and I don't need to stir in between. If using low wattage microwaves, one can increase the toasting times to 3 minute intervals. I let them cool down, stir them once and again turn on for a couple of minutes whenever I remember them or happen to pass near the microwave. If one is in a hurry, give a short break and then toast, stirring every minute or so. The goal is to turn the peanuts crisp and crunchy not burn them.  

1 cup peanuts
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
Red chili powder to taste (I used about 1.5 tsp. very spicy powder)
Salt to taste
1 small sprig of curry leaves
4 garlic cloves 
1/4 tsp. sugar (I don't use any.)

* Toast peanuts on slow flame in a thick bottomed pan, stirring frequently. Toast until they turn crunchy. Pop a toasted peanut into your mouth and see if any rawness is still present, If so, continue to toast until the peanuts are crispy. Don't be in a hurry and toast the peanuts on high flame. They will not be toasted properly and the peanuts may burn. Transfer them onto a plate and let them come to room temperature.
* Add cumin seeds to the pan and toast them for few seconds and turn off the stove. Or once the stove is turned off, just add the cumin to the hot pan. The heat would be enough to toast them.
* Peeling the skins of peanut is completely optional in this recipe. If you prefer to do so, rub the peanuts between your palms and the skins will easily come off.  
* Add all the ingredients to a dry mixie / blender jar and grind them as fine as you can. One may need to stir the contents with a spoon in between grinding since the ground peanuts may stick to the bottom of the jar. (Mine is not as grainy as it looks in the pictures.)
* Transfer the contents to a dry and airtight jar. If the powder appears warm to touch because if the blender heat, let it come to room temperature before storing. 

Sunday, January 12, 2020

Makhana Kheer / Makhane Ki Kheer

Phool makhana or the puffed lotus seeds are commonly used in some of the regions of India and Bihar is one of those states. This makhane ki kheer is commonly prepared during 'Makara Sankranti' in Bihar and obviously Jharkhand. This kheer was supposed to be a part of 'Indian Sweets and Snacks' that I posted during the September mega marathon. I resisted publishing it as I prepared a small portion of it and wasn't happy with the images. However I decided now to post it anyway since it perfectly fits the 'Festival Foods' theme this week.
The puffed lotus seeds is one of those ingredients that sound exotic and are healthy but got nothing to offer in the flavor department. They are basically bland on their own with a popcorn like texture. They can be toasted and spiced and eaten like a guilt free savory snack, can be used in curry recipes or to make this delicious kheer aka the Indian pudding. This kheer is simple, easy and quick to prepare. Toasted phool makhana can be finely chopped and added to the kheer if one prefers bite size bits in their kheer. Or 2/3rd portion of the makhana can be ground and added to the kheer to make it thicker. Addition of khoya is another yummy option to add body to the otherwise liquidy kheer. I saved a handful of makhana and powdered the rest to add it to the kheer. I also reduced the milk quantity by 1/3 portion by slowing heating it on low flame.   

Ingredients: (Yield 1.5 cups)
1 cup phool makhana / foxnuts / puffed lotus seeds
2 cups milk
Sugar to taste (I used about 8 Stevia packets.)
1/4 tsp. ground cardamom 
1 tbsp. raisins
1 tbsp. slivered almonds
1 tbsp. pistachios

* Heat milk in a pan preferably a non stick one on low flame, stirring occasionally to avoid scorching at the bottom. If planning to reduce the milk and thicken it, boil it longer. 
* Meanwhile, toast makhana on slow flame until they become crunchy. One will be able to crush it with fingers. Save a few and grind the remaining makhana finely.

* If not thickening milk then one can add the ground makhana to milk as soon as it comes to a boil. Also add sugar and the makhana that were not ground. 

* Cook on low flame stirring occasionally until the phool makhana softens about, about 7 to 8 minutes.
* Add cardamom, raisins and nuts and cook for a minute more. Turn off the stove and serve warm or chilled. The kheer slightly thickens after cooling.

Saturday, January 11, 2020

Flax Seeds - Sesame Seeds Laddu

My mother had given me a few laddu recipes to try a while ago. The tempting protein laddus I posted a few months earlier was one of them. These healthy flax seed laddus are one more from the bunch that are simple and easy to prepare. The original recipe was called flax seed laddu as it used equal quantities of flax and sesame seeds. I have increased sesame seeds quantity when I made these laddus. Also the recipe had about 1/4 tsp. of ground cinnamon which I omitted favoring cardamom. 

Sesame seeds play an important role in some of the regions during Sankranthi festival. These laddus make a great choice if one needs to make a dish using sesame seeds. Or if one has some leftover 'ellu-bella' mix, transform it to some nutritious laddus which everyone can enjoy. These quick fix laddus can also make an opt choice for a 'mithai' platter or when one needs to make more sweets for festivals like Diwali and such.  

1/4 cup flax seeds
3/4 cup sesame seeds
1 cup dates (More than 24 pitted dates)
1 /4  tsp. ground cardamom

* Toast sesame seeds on medium flame until they start to lightly brown, continuously stirring all the while. Don't let them burn.

 * Toast flax seeds until they start to crackle and fly around. It takes about a minute or less to toast them.

* Let the toasted seeds cool down.

Finely grind the toasted flax seeds in a blender and transfer it a bowl. (I saved a few seeds without grinding and added to laddus which I don't recommend.) Next finely grind the sesame seeds as well and add it to the bowl. 
* Lightly pulse the dates in a food processor or a blender until they appear coarsely ground. Next add the ground sesame and flax seeds, cardamom and cinnamon if using and run the food processor on pulse mode until the mixture comes together.  

* Transfer the contents to a bowl and shape into laddus. 

Friday, January 10, 2020

'Kodo Millet' Paramannam / Arikala Paramannam

After last week's A - Z Karnataka Recipes theme, I am moving onto the theme of festival recipes this week keeping in mind the upcoming Sankranthi festival. Somehow savory and sweet pongal versions and paramannam kind of dishes have become synonymous in the southern parts of India with this harvest festival. However my mother was mentioning recently in one of our chats that she doesn't remember a single Sankranthi festival meal where her mother had prepared a pongali / paramannam. Her mother would prepare ariselu / athirasam or boondi laddu. Of course, ariselu, a traditional sweet dish uses the harvested rice and would have made perfect sense for the season if one didn't mind the extra labor involved in pounding the rice and the deep frying part. My mother has somehow moved the dish to the Diwali category since it is prepared commonly during then in Bangalore area and also times it during our visits to India since it happens to be my husband's favorite sweet dish. 

My mother is also content preparing a sweet pongal dish like this albeit a traditional version using rice on Sankranthis. My version today uses kodo millet which tastes utterly delicious, almost similar to rice and comes handy if avoiding rice. The recipe can be easily doubled and the preparation is quite simple and easy one. If you have any other millet handy like proso, barnyard, foxtail or little millet, they can be substituted for kodo millet here. Even quinoa, cracked wheat can be used. Or stick to rice, the original version. A little dal is always added while making rice based sweet dishes for auspicious occasions since the plain rice versions are made during death anniversaries. The color of the dish depends upon the color of the jaggery being used in the recipe. No need to fret or run to store in case if one doesn't have jaggery on hand. It can be easily replaced by sugar. Actually I enjoy the sugar and the coconut combination in the traditional rice version more. And coming to edible camphor, a tiny pinch is all that matters for that divine taste which resembles the temple prasadms. A tad more would result in an overbearing flavor. Ghee can be used as generously as one would wish. And finally don't skip the coconut if possible since it enhances the flavor of the dish. 

1/4 cup kodo millet
1 tbsp. split yellow gram / Bengal gram (Moong dal or Chana dal) 
3/4 cup milk
1/4 cup grated fresh coconut
1/2 cup powdered jaggery
1/8 tsp. ground cardamom
A pinch of edible camphor
1 to 2 tbsp. ghee
1 tbsp. raisins
1 tbsp. cashews

1. Rinse kodo millet and dal with water and drain. Pressure cook kodo millet and dal adding 1/2 cup milk for 3 whistles. Add a small spoon to the millet container while cooking to prevent milk from boiling over. (It can be cooked directly in a pot as well on medium flame and the liquid quantity may need to be adjusted as needed (usually more). Milk can be replaced with water in this step to avoid the milk from boiling over while cooking. Keep stirring to avoid millet sticking to the bottom of the pan while cooking or use a non stick pot to make the job easier.)  

2. Heat ghee in a small pan and add raisins and cashews. Toast them until cashews turn golden brown and raisins turn plump.
3. Transfer the toasted raisins and cashews with a slotted spoon on to a plate. To the same ghee, add the cooked millet, coconut, jaggery, and cardamom.

4. Mix well and add the remaining milk. Stir well. Cook on medium flame stirring intermittently until the mixture starts to bubble. Simmer on low heat for about 3 - 4 minutes until all the jaggery melts and incorporates into the mixture. Finally add edible camphor if being used and turn off the stove. Add the toasted cashews and raisins as well. Stir well and serve warm. It tastes good even when cold. Leftovers can be refrigerated and warmed before serving.  

Some points to be noted:
1. I directly added jaggery to the millet mixture since it was clean. In case the jaggery appears not clean, melt it separately in a small pan adding small amount of water and filter the solution. There is no need to add too much water since we don't need the paramannam to be very diluted.
2. Sometimes the milk may split when added to jaggery directly and cooked. It has not happened to me but in case if you suspect that to happen and to be on a safer side, the addition of milk can be omitted in step 4. Instead, the milk can be boiled and cooled separately and added to the mixture after turning off the stove.

Sunday, January 5, 2020

A - Z Karnataka Vegetarian Recipes ~ C for Congress Kadalekaayi / Congress Kadlekai

So far in the series,
A - Akki Halbai
B - Biscuit Rotti

I have been planning to do this A- Z Karnataka vegetarian recipe series for quite a while now and had somehow fixated on 'chow chow bhath' for my 'C' recipe. Believe it or not, I haven't posted khara bhath or kesari bhath recipes so far on my blog for that reason. However when I started to make a list for this series, somehow I thought of including recipes unique to the region as far as possible and chose this congress kadale kayi instead.

Congress kadale kaayi or kadle kai is the quintessential Bangalore snack, prepared by toasting peanuts and seasoning with spices. Kadale kayi or colloquially kadlekai (cud-lay-ka-e) means peanuts in Kannada. It is a quick and easy recipe and one can fix up this snack in less than five minutes if one already have toasted peanuts handy. It is commonly sold in Iyengar bakeries, small condiment stores and even in those push carts that appear in the evenings. One might even notice the chaatwaalas / street food vendors carry them to top the regional street treats like girmit, tomato slice chaat, nippattu masala chaat and others.

The Srinivasa Brahmin's bakery located in Gandhi bazaar, Bangalore is credited to have created this spicy snack in 1956. (BTW, that's the location where I used to got to college. I couldn't stop myself from mentioning it. Love the area. 👍) It was to boost their sales when there was a ration on all purpose flour / maida which they needed for their regular fare of bread, buns and rusk. 

The Indian National congress party is the grand old political party of India. One may ask why the name of an Indian political party associated with this snack. One of the common stories points to the Congress party split in 1969. In a parody, these kadlekai meaning peanuts came to be called Congress kadlekai since they are always split before seasoning. 
Peanuts in this case need no deep frying as in the case of chickpea flour / besan coated masala peanuts and so can be called a guilt free snack compared to other deep fried snacks. Care should be taken to toast the peanuts well until crisp and do not burn them. One can always adjust the seasonings to their preference. Even 1/4 tsp. of ground sugar can be added as well to the peanuts at the end if preferred but I didn't add. They can be enjoyed as a snack or can be used in chaat items.

1 cup - 240 ml
1 cup peanuts / ground nuts/ kadale kayi beeja
2 tsp. oil
1 small sprig of curry leaves
1/4 tsp. red chili powder (I added a little more. The quantity can be adjusted as needed.)
1/4 tsp. pepper powder
A big pinch of turmeric powder
1 pinch of  asafoetida powder
Salt to taste

* In a thick bottomed pan, fry peanuts on low medium flame until light brown, continuously stirring. When done properly, the peanut must be crisp when tasted. I always fry the peanuts in a microwave until they turn crisp when tasted. This is easier and quicker than the pan fry method. I usually give a break every couple of minutes until they are done. 
* Let them cool down. Take a handful of peanuts and rub them between your palms. The skins will slip away. A little bit of skin here and there is fine. Repeat the process with the remaining peanuts until deskinned and halve them.  

* Heat oil in a pan on low flame and add the curry leaves. Fry them until crisp. Next add chili powder, pepper powder, turmeric and asafoetida to the pan and give a quick stir. Be quick since the spice powders may burn. 
* Immediately add the halved peanuts and salt. If preferred, 1/4 tsp. ground sugar can be added too. 
* Stir the peanuts until well coated with the spices. Fry for about a minute on low flame and turn off the stove.

Remove the pan from the stove and let it cool a bit. When it is cool enough to handle, crush the curry leaves well with the hand.
* Let cool and store them in an airtight container. They can be enjoyed as a evening / time pass snack or in chaat items.

 'C' tidbits from a Kannadiga kitchen:

There are not many ingredients that start with the 'C' sound in a Kannadiga kitchen barring a few like the chiroti rave and chamacha (meaning spoon). 'Chiroti rave', pronounced chi (as in chin)-row-tee and ra-way is an indispensable ingredient in the preparation of the famous sweet dish 'chiroti' from the state. Rave means semolina and the variety used in the chiroti preparation is fine semolina and so, the fine semolina goes by the name chiroti rave in the state. How important is chiroti for a Kannadiga, you ask. Important enough to be 'the dessert' of a wedding feast of everyone and anyone, including mine. Chiroti rave is also used in holige / poli preparation unlike other states' versions where all purpose flour or wheat flour is used for the outer covering of the festive sweet flat bread.

Cluster beans are called chowli kayi in some regions while cheenikayi is pumpkin, chepekayi (pronounced chay-pay-kaa-e) is the guava fruit and chakotha is the pomelo fruit. Devanahalli, where Bangalore international airport is located is synonymous with the pomelo fruit.

'C' Dishes:
The variety of delicious and popular 'C' food compensates for the lack of the ingredients, I should say. I have listed below a few I can recall. 

* Chakkuli / Chakli - A deep fried savory snack
* Chattambade -  Masala vada, a spicy fried snack made with Bengal gram called so in some of the coastal areas 
* Chigli unde - Sesame seed laddus (balls)
* Chikkinunnde - Traditional deep fried balls with a sweet stuffing
* Chiroti - A layered and puffy dessert that looks like a poori. Eaten with a genrous serving of sugar and almond milk / milk.
* Chow Chow bhath - A combination of savory and sweet semolina puddings called khara bhath and kesari bhath served together
* Chuda / Chivda - A beaten rice flakes based snack made through out the state, a must in North Karnataka homes with evening cuppa. most of the days
* Chutney pudi - A dry spicy condiment 
* Churumuri - A quick and light snack made with puffed rice
* Churmundo - A Konkani style wheat laddu
* Chane gashi - A  Konkani chickpea based curry 

And a few from Kodava kitchen:
*  Chekke kuru pajji - Jackfruit seed chutney
* Chekke pappada - Jackfruit wafers
* Chikklunde - A unique kind of laddus made with puffed rice 
* Chouthe mor pajji - Cucumber and curd relish
* Chouthe pachadi - Cucumber chutney

Saturday, January 4, 2020

A - Z Karnataka Cuisine ~ B for Biscuit Rotti

We are travelling to Mangalore - Udupi region for today's 'B' dish of Karnataka, the biscuit roti or the biscuit rotti. These are neither biscuits nor rotis. A biscuit rotti is a delicious, crispy snack that is puffed up like a poori. It is stuffed with an interesting filling of a spicy semolina mix and usually served as an evening snack. It resembles a stuffed poori or a kachori but without all the fuss. There is no need for an elaborate preparation of stuffing here as in case of kachoris and so, it cuts down the time of preparation of these rotti / roti drastically. Besides, they are perfectly good to be served on their own. No side dishes required.

This recipe uses the staple ingredients found in most of the south Indian kitchens. Biscuit rotis are made with a flour and semolina outer layer and stuffed with a spicy and flavorful semolina filling which takes about five minutes to prepare. They are then deep fried until golden brown and crisp. This rotti would be a great tasty and spicy alternative to those who are used to partaking biscuits or namkeen during the evening chai / coffee. They are very crisp on the day they are made and remain on a crispier side even on 2nd or 3rd day if they are stored in an airtight container. In case if there are any left overs even after that, I have noticed that they loose crispness. Addition of about 1/2 to 3/4 cup coconut to the filling is common. They may not be stored for longer if fresh coconut is used. If not finishing the rottis on the same day, using dried coconut would be a better option. I haven't used any coconut but the filling was still yum.

Yield: About 7 rotis
Ingredients for the outer layer:
3/4 cup all purpose flour / maida
2 tbsp. fine semolina / chiroti rave
1/4 tsp. salt
2 tbsp. hot oil

Ingredients for filling:
2 tsp. oil
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. skinned and split black gram / urad dal
1 sprig of curry leaves
A pinch of asafoetida powder (optional)
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
3/4 cup fine semolina / chiroti rave
1/2 to 3/4 tsp. sugar (I used a pinch.)
Salt to taste
Chili powder to taste 

Other ingredients:
Oil for deep frying

* Combine flour, semolina and salt in a mixing bowl. Add hot oil and mix carefully. Next add water in small increments to the mix and form a soft, pliable dough. (I think I added about 5 to 6 tbsp. of water.) The final dough should be not too firm or sticky. Cover the dough bowl with a lid and allow it to rest for at least 30 minutes. (I was busy with other things and left it to rest for about 3 hours.)

* Heat 2 or 3 tsp. of oil in a pan. (Just hot is enough, don't bring it to smoking point.) Add mustard seeds, urad dal / black gram to the hot oil and toast it until black gram start to turn reddish and mustard seeds sputter. Add curry leaves, turmeric and asafoetida and stir. Next add semolina and toast on low medium flame until you start to notice the aroma. It may take around 3 - 4 minutes and make sure not to burn it. (One can do it on medium / high flame too but need to take care not to burn and continuously stir.) Next add salt, chili powder and sugar to the pan and mix well. Turn off the stove and let the stuffing come to room temperature. (One can taste and adjust the seasonings too.)
* Knead the dough for few seconds and divide it into about 7 or 8 balls. Work with one ball at a time and keep the rest covered. Pat the ball into a disc.

* Roll the disc into a thin circle of about 2.5 to 3 inches diameter. Dust the work surface with small amount of flour if needed while rolling it. Place about 2 tbsp. of the stuffing at the center leaving the edges. (Take care to divide the stuffing mixture equally among the dough balls.) 
* Lift one edge of the dough circle and start pleating. 
* Bring the edges together at the center and join them, taking care not to spill the filling and the filling not come in contact with the edges. If you see any tiny gap, cover it with dough by imitating the pinching action. The point is not to spill the filling while rolling or frying.
* Gently pat it into a disc shape with fingers, making sure that the stuffing is encased in the dough covering without a chance of spilling from anywhere.
* Dust the working surface with flour again if needed. Gently roll the disc into about 2.5 to 3 inches diameter circle. I rolled them thicker but one can a little thinner than mine. One can keep all the rottis rolled and ready to fry or do the rolling and frying simultaneously. 
* Heat about a cup of oil in a frying pan on medium heat. When a small pinch of dough is put into the oil, it must immediately swim to the surface  meaning the oil is at the right temperature to fry. If the dough sinks to the bottom of the pan then the oil needs some more heating. There is no need to bring the oil to a smoking point. 
* Add a rolled disc to the frying pan. When it puffs up flip. Fry until it turns golden brown both sides, flipping intermittently.
* Remove the fried rotti with a slotted spoon, draining as much oil as possible and transfer them to a plate covered with paper towel. 
* Repeat the process of frying with the remaining rottis. Adjust the temperature as needed as you proceed with frying. 
* Enjoy them warm. Store any leftovers in an airtight container at room temperature.
Now coming to some of the ingredients and recipes that start with "B' sound in Kannada. Vegetables and sometimes fruits either in raw or ripe forms are used to make palya (curry), huli/ saaru / gojju (gravies with / without lentils), pachadi (chutney / raita) preparations. If a recipe is going to use any of the following 'B' ingredient as the star component, then chances are more for the recipe name starting with that B ingredient as well. If one uses badanekayi / aka eggplant and prepare a curry then it will be called badanekayi palya and so on. I have not included these common preparations in my list.

Fruits / Herbs / Vegetables:
Baale dindu - Banana stem
Baale hannu - Banana
Baale Kaayi - Plantain
Badanekayi (ba-dha-nay-kaa-e) - Eggplant / Brinjal
Batani - Peas
Bellulli - Garlic
Bendekayi (ben-day-kaa-e) - Okra / Ladies finger
Boodu kumabalakai - Ash gourd
Brahmi - Pennywort 

Badami - Almond
Balaka - Sun dried chillies
Baragu - Proso millet
Bele is Dal / Pulse / Legume
Bella / Bellada paaka - Jaggery / Jaggery syrup
Benne - Butter
Bhattha - Paddy
Bili jola - Sorghum / Jowar

Baanale - Indian style wok

Dishes: (Some names are in Konkani.)
* Badami Poori - A sweet dish
* Badami Haalu - Almond based beverage
* Balehannina rasayana (Version 1) - A sweet side dish made with banana, coconut milk and jaggery
* Badanekayi ennegayi - A famous North Karnataka style eggplant preparation 
* Balekayi dose - Savory plantain pancakes
* Balekai kodilu - Plantain sambhar
* Bassaru - One of the popular gravy accompaniments to ragi muddhe aka finger millet ball in the southern areas of Karnataka like Bangalore, Mysore and other regions. It is prepared with the watery stock that one gets after draining the cooked lentils and hence the name. 
* Batate thoy - A thin potato gravy / rasam
* Belagavi kunda - A popular sweet dish from Belgaum district
* Bella kapi - Black coffee sweetened with palm jaggery
* Bella Methe Dose - Manglorean jaggery - fenugreek seed pancakes
* Bendekayi gojju - A okra gravy native to the state which is a melange of perfectly balanced flavors. A Gojju is made with only a certain variety of vegetables and bendekayi is one of the popular ones.
* Bhakri - Flat breads
* Bibbe sagle - Tender cashew nut curry 
* Bili holige - Holige is a sweet, stuffed flat bread but this is an usual one where it is neither sweet nor spicy like the parathas. 
* Biscuit ambade - Udupi style urad dal bondas aka fried fritters made with a batter of skinned black gram.
* Bisibele bhath - A spicy medley of rice, lentils and vegetables
* Bole - Mangalorean coconut - jaggery based cake
* Bonda soup - Bondas / Fluffy fritters served in a thin lentil based broth

Friday, January 3, 2020

Celebrating Blog's 13th Anniversary with Akki Haalubai / Akki Halbai

Wish you all a joyous new year ! Hopefully the new year will usher in health and happiness to everyone around us and my readers. I am back after a brief hiatus which was very much needed from a personal point of view. In the meanwhile, my blog completed 13 years this past month when I was away. A blog which was supposed to be an online recipe diary has somewhat turned into a hobby and habit of mine in the process. Also this turned out to be a pursuit that has lasted longer without me losing attention along the way. A big hug for those who follow and appreciate my posts and for people in my life who share and inspire to continue this blog. 

And now to the main event of this week. I am planning to do a vegetarian recipe series on Karnataka cuisine starting this month. Karnataka is one of the states in southern India where I grew up and is dear to me. The format would be in an alphabetical order, that is A to Z style though the alphabets in the local languages are different. I am going to post 3 recipes on the first week of each month. There are going to be 3 recipes this week that start with letters A, B and C. The next three recipes with names starting with D, E and F are going to be posted in February and so on. I am starting the series with a sweet recipe, also to celebrate my blog's milestone. 

Today's post is the first in the series featuring letter 'A'.  The first alphabet in the local language in the state of Karnataka or for that matter in most of the Indian languages sounds like 'au'. The words starting with that sound typically fall under 'A' recipes of Karnataka though I am not making a comprehensive list here. I am just noting down some of the common Kannada culinary terms, Kannada being the widely spoken and official language of the state. We will start with the basics like aduge, aduge mane (au-do-gay  ma-nay), and aduge bhatta which respectively mean cooking, the kitchen and the cook who cooks / caters for a group. In everyday usage, aduge becomes 'adige (ah-d-gay) most of the times. A also stands for the two staple and indispensable ingredients of the region, akki and anna. While Akki (pronounced uck-e) means the rice grain, anna (un-na) is the cooked version of rice. Coarsely ground rice is akki tari (tha-ri), finely ground version would be akki hittu and akki shavige is rice noodles. While avalakki is the beaten rice flakes, arka is kodo millet and aralu would be the popped grain. There are plenty of breakfast dishes made with avalakki / beaten rice flakes.

Aloo gadde would be the ubiquitous potato while amtekai is the hog plum. Ananas would be pineapple while arishina is ground turmeric which is an integral part of an Indian spice box. The roots (kombu) and leaves (ele) are used in cooking. Alasande is the black eyed peas while the most important beans of all for the region or at least for us, the Bangaloreans would be the fresh hyacinth beans called avarekalu. Anabe, the mushroom is not part of a traditional, vegetarian kitchen.

A also stands for a tasty snack aambode, the popular south Indian masala vada sans onions. Appe huli is the famous green mango rasam from the coastal and Malenadu regions. A ton of dishes are made with avarekayi aka hyacinth beans whose names obviously start with avarekayi. Similar in the case of akki aka rice. The famous one has to be the rotti, the flat breads that are mainly prepared in three different ways. Today's sweet is also made with rice and hence the name akki halbai.

The first one in the series is going to be a sweet recipe of the old era kind where grand mothers used to whip up a treat for the eagerly waiting grand kids. The kids of those times who didn't have a zillion number of calorie laden, ultra-processed snack options would have definitely found halbai alluring. It is a traditional dish from Karnataka and also called as manni in the coastal areas of the state, if I am not wrong. It doesn't need any fancy ingredients and uses the basic staples of a south Indian kitchen as many other traditional delicacies do. Kids of the present may or may not appreciate this old world 'sihi' (sweet) before the allure of the modern desserts but I certainly has a weakness for it. The ground batter of rice, coconut and jaggery is cooked until thickened, cut into bite shaped pieces and served. Don't be fooled by the burfi shaped halbai, It is basically a dish with a soft and literally 'melt in mouth' kind of consistency as that of a halwa. Haalu means milk in Kannada.

It is a festival dish, mostly made on Nagara panchami day though it can be made on other occasions too. Halbai can be prepared with wheat and ragi too instead of rice. I have noticed there are versions with fine semolina and even beaten rice flakes (Chiroti rave and avalakki). Halbai making actually doesn't need any other skills than stirring. However this is a recipe where one cannot ignore the proportions of the ingredients mentioned. The dish would end up being a disaster if one eyeballs the measurements as many Indians do with most of the dishes. The ratio of rice and water is always 1:3 in this recipe. The trick is to cook until the mixture is no longer sticky. 

The process appears tedious to many, especially during the first half part of the cooking as lumps start forming if not constantly stirred. I would recommend a non stick pan for this recipe. The whole cooking process took me about 20 minutes and I paid constant attention only for the first ten minutes. I was also preparing a small quantity and so the process didn't bother me at all. Besides I was trying a recipe that had been on my mind for more than two decades. I never got a chance to try this rice version though my mother and I have tried wheat and ragi versions before. I am not sure if it is an acquired taste but it is delicious for people like me who has a sweet tooth, especially biased towards traditional south Indian 'rice' based sweets. 

Cooking time: About 20 minutes
Yield: 8 - 9 pieces
1/4 cup rice
1/4 cup fresh / frozen shredded coconut (I used 2 tbsp. more)
1/4 cup + 2 tbsp. jaggery
3/4 cup water (divided)
2 cardamom pods
1 tbsp. ghee (divided)
Cashews to garnish
Prep work:
1. Soak rice in water for about 3 hours. Drain the water after the soaking period and rinse with water twice and drain the water completely.
2. If using frozen coconut, thaw by heating it in the microwave for 20 to 30 seconds.
3. Finely grind the cardamom seeds.
4. Grease a small rectangular or a circular plate with ghee. Choose a plate with some depth.

1. Finely grind the soaked (and drained) rice and coconut adding 1/4 cup water. 

Add jaggery next and grind until it is incorporated into the batter. Grinding jaggery is optional. Jaggery can be added to the pan later too while the rice - coconut mixture is cooking. (See notes if the jaggery being used is not clean.)
2. Add the ground mixture and 1/2 cup of water to a pan, preferably a nonstick one to make the stirring job easier. Start cooking on low flame, stirring constantly. Add jaggery now if it was not added to rice and coconut while grinding. 

3. The mixture needs constant attention at the early stage as it turns easily lumpy if not stirred continuously. 
4. The mixture looks like this after about 10 minutes of cooking. Add cardamom and a tsp. of ghee and keep cooking on low medium heat, stirring continuously. 

5. The mixture looks like this after 15 minutes of cooking. 

6. Add one more tsp. of ghee and keep cooking on low medium heat, stirring continuously.

7. After 3 - 4 minutes, the mixture should start coming together and leave edges of the pan, forming a single mass like halwa. Add the remaining ghee and stir well to combine.

7. Turn off the stove when the mixture doesn't stick when touched with wet fingers. It means that halbai is ready. 

8. Transfer the mixture to the greased plate, level it with the back of a spatula, Cut into square or diamond shapes when it is slightly warm and garnish with cashews if desired and serve. (I forgot to take pictures for this step.)

In case if the jaggery being used is not clean then skip adding it to the ground rice - coconut mixture. Add it to a separate pan along with 1/2 cup water and heat until the jaggery melts. Turn off the stove and filter the jaggery water to remove any impurities present. Add the filtered jaggery solution in the step 1 and omit the addition of water in step 2. The total water used in the recipe should not exceed 3/4 cup for this measurement.