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Thursday, November 26, 2020

Roundup of 'A - Z' Karnataka Vegetarian Recipe Series

Here is a collection of 26 vegetarian recipes from the south Indian state of Karnataka that I have been posting these past few months. Starting from January, I have been posting three recipes per month in a fun A - Z series. I posted a recipe for each alphabet and so, it might have not been a true representation of the wide and vivid variety, the local cuisine boasts of. Some of the popular dishes may be missing from this series as I might have already posted them on my blog or I could not incorporate them in this series. Some recipes were chosen for being the only choice for that particular alphabet, a disadvantage while doing A - Z series. 😀Hopefully you enjoy going through / trying these recipes as much as I did. Click on the recipe names to get to the recipe links. 

A for Akki Halbai

C for Congress Kadalekayi

E for Ellu Pajji

G for Girmit

This post is an entry for Blogging Marathon #118 under the theme 'A - Z Karnataka Recipe Series' and check the link to find out what other marathoners are cooking.

Wednesday, November 25, 2020

A - Z Karnataka Vegetarian Recipe Series ~ Z for Zhunka Vadi

It's time for the final post of this 'A - Z' culinary journey through Karnataka, showcasing some of the local vegetarian dishes. The only 'Z' dishes that I could think of were zhunka and zhunka vadi, which are traditionally prepared in North Karnataka and Maharashtra as well. Both dishes are made with chickpea flour and served as a side dish. Zhunka is a thick gravy which is also called as pitla while zhunka vadi is cooked until the chickpea flour mixture thickens enough to be able to cut into squares. 

These protein rich vadi are gluten free, vegan and can be enjoyed both as a side dish or a snack, by shallow frying them if preferred.  This is one of my favorite chickpea flour based snacks and I prefer it as a healthy snack as these are prepared with very little oil. Zhunka vadi and sorghum flour flatbreads are a popular combo in the North Karnataka region.  

This tasty zhunka vadi preparation is not a complex one, all one needs to do is keep stirring until the mixture thickens and leaves the sides of the pan. Using a non stick pan definitely helps in preparing these vadi. I made a smaller portion and it took me around 20 minutes to cook it. Dried red chili powder can be used instead of green chilis, which gives the vadi a orange-brown hue. Taste and adjust the seasonings according to taste as there must be a balance of flavors in the dish.
1/2 cup chickpea flour / gram flour / besan
3/4 cup water
1 tbsp. oil
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
Few curry leaves
2 green chillies or to taste, finely chopped
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
2 pinches of asafoetida
1 big sized onion, finely chopped
Salt (I added a little more than 1 tsp.)
1 tbsp. tamarind puree
1 tbsp. jaggery / sugar
Ingredients for garnishing:
Toasted white sesame seeds
Shredded fresh coconut
Minced cilantro

* Mix chickpea flour and water in a bowl and pass through a sieve to avoid from any lumps forming. Keep it aside.
* Heat oil in a pan, preferably a non stick one and add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When mustard seeds start to splutter and black gram start to change their color, add curry leaves and green chilies. Saute for few seconds.
* Next add turmeric and asafoetida and mix once. Add onion and saute on low flame until it turns translucent.
* Next add salt, tamarind and jaggery to the pan.
* Sauté the mixture for a couple of minutes. 
* Next add chickpea flour slurry to the pan. 
* Stir quickly as the mixture starts to thicken immediately. Start cooking the mixture on medium flame, stirring continuously. 
* Keep continuously stirring, especially at the final stages. The mixture looks like this after about two minutes of cooking. 
* The below one is after five minutes of cooking, with constant stirring.
* It would take about 10 to 12 minutes in total to cook perfectly (after adding the chickpea flour slurry). By the time, the mixture would become a thick, lumpy mass, leaving the sides of the pan.
* Spread the mixture on a greased plate and set it with a spatula. (I made a small portion.)
* Let it sit for a while and then cut it with a knife to square / rhombus shapes.
* Garnish with minced cilantro / coriander leaves, toasted white sesame seeds and shredded coconut.

Tuesday, November 24, 2020

Yogiratna / Valval

Yogiratna is a popular vegetable curry preparation from the Konkani cuisine. This coconut milk based mixed vegetable curry which also goes by the name valval is traditionally reserved for special occasions and festive days. This mildly spicy, delicious curry goes well with rice and is a simple dish to prepare. 

Most of the local variety vegetables on hand were originally used in this preparation as long as they are not the bitter / sour / tough variety. No onion or garlic is used in the recipe. Some of the local vegetables that go in this dish are bread fruit, tender / dried cashews, pumpkin, yam, ash gourd, bottle gourd, ivy gourd, ridge gourd, snake gourd, yard long beans, plantain, the yellow colored cucumber, and sweet potato. I used carrots, beans, potatoes, green peas, butternut squash, ivy gourd, ridge gourd and plantain for my yogiratna / valval. 

Fresh or frozen coconut can be used to prepare coconut milk. If using frozen coconut, thaw it before using. The coconut is ground with water twice to get the first time 'thick' milk and the second time 'thinner milk'. Usually the vegetables are cooked in the thin coconut milk and water mixture in a pot. I made a small portion and pressure cooked them in water. Yogiratna / valval needs to be slightly on a thicker side (and so avoid cooking vegetables in water more than needed or throw away / save the extra water.) Mixed vegetables and coconut milk can be used in an average 1:1 ratio in the recipe. 

1 cup mixed vegetables, chopped *
2 - 3 green chilies, sliced
1/2 cup shredded coconut / 1 cup coconut milk
1 tsp. rice flour / all purpose flour
Salt to taste
Ingredients for seasoning:
1 tsp. ghee
1/2 tsp. mustard seeds
1/2 tsp. cumin seeds
Few curry leaves

* I used carrots, beans, potatoes, green peas, pumpkin, ivy gourd, ridge gourd and plantain.

* Pressure cook the prepared vegetables along with green chilies for one whistle, adding about 1/2 cup of water.
* If preparing coconut milk from scratch, grind the coconut adding about a cup of water. Pass the ground coconut mixture through a sieve and collect the thick milk. Add the coconut residue back to the blender and add about 1/4 cup of water and grind again for few seconds and collect the thin milk. (The milk extracted this time will be thinner than the one extracted the first time.)
* Combine flour and the thin coconut milk in a small cup and mix well. 
* Add the cooked vegetables, the thin coconut milk - flour slurry, and salt to a pan. Cook for 2 or 3 minutes. Add the thick coconut milk and bring the mixture to a boil. Lower the heat once the mixture starts boiling and simmer it for about four to five minutes. Turn off the stove. (I added both the coconut milks at the same time.)
* Heat ghee in a small pan and add mustard seeds and cumin seeds. When mustard seeds start to splutter and cumin seeds turn a shade darker, add curry leaves and turn off the stove. 
* Add this seasoning to the above cooked vegetable mixture and stir well. Serve warm with rice.

So far in my 'A - Z' Karnataka Recipe Series,
Akki Halbai
Biscuit Roti
Congress Kadalekayi
Davanagere Benne Dose

Thursday, November 19, 2020

Pottu Minapappu Garelu / Whole Black Gram Fritters


Garelu, the black gram fritters have an important place in Andhra cuisine and they are a part of menu on festival days and death anniversaries. Pottu minapappu garelu ( whole black gram fritters / sabut urad dal vadas) used to be mandatory on festive days in my grandmothers' homes or for that matter in many Andhra homes until a generation ago. My mother still tries to cram in these fritters as much as possible when there is a special occasion though she uses skinned black gram now. I on the other hand try to stay away as much as possible from fried snacks even though I enjoy them and when I do fry, opt for quicker versions like bajji or pakoda. Kudos to those grandmothers who used to sit and grind the batter manually in stone grinders but I don't have that much patience even though  grinder and mixer are at my disposal.

I like the version made with whole black gram compared to the skinned variety because of the texture and the nostalgia attached to the dish, it reminds me of my grandmothers. However the whole black gram needs more soaking compared to the skinned variety and so these fritters need advance planning. They need a soaking of at least 8 hours. A wet grinder would be more suitable to grind the vada batter compared to a mixer / blender since only a little amount of water should be added while grinding. Vadas can not be shaped if the batter turns out runny.

We keep the batter recipe very basic, by grinding just black gram and salt. Ginger and black pepper can be added as well if desired. I prefer to serve it the way my grandmothers did, either with paramannam / payasam or a spicy chutney like ginger or sesame seeds chutney. I made them recently after ages on my husband's request and served them with vermicelli kheer. Warm and crispy vadas served with sweet, delicious kheer, a delicious combo. 

1 cup whole black gram / sabut urad dal / pottu minapappu
Salt to taste 
2 cups oil to fry 
(Optional ingredients - ginger and black pepper)
* Rinse black gram twice and soak it in sufficient water over night or at least for about 8 hours.
* Drain the water after soaking period and rinse the black gram a few times with water to get rid of the black gram skins as much as possible. (There is no need to rinse away all the skin of the beans. In fact, I prefer to retain most of it.)
* Grind the black gram adding salt into a thick, smooth batter adding a few tbsp. of water if needed, to facilitate grinding. Transfer the batter to a bowl and beat the batter with hand for few seconds.
* Heat oil in a kadai / frying pan. Drop a pinch of ground batter into the oil to check whether the oil is hot enough to fry. The oil is ready for frying if the batter immediately skims to the surface. If it stays at the bottom, heat the oil some more but there is no need to bring the oil to a smoking point.
* Wet your hands and pinch a small portion of batter. Place it on the wet palm of the non dominant hand and pat it into a thick disc. Poke a hole at the center using index finger, if preferred. 
* Gently drop it into the pan, from the sides. Add as many vadas as the pan can hold without crowding the pan.
* Fry them on low flame, flipping in between until they turn golden brown on both sides. Remove them with a slotted spoon, draining as much oil as possible and place them in a paper towel covered plate.
* Repeat the steps with the remaining batter and serve the garelu / vadas warm.