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Friday, March 7, 2014

An Indian Thaali From Karnataka



There is absolutely no way that I'll be able to remember or pronounce the names of the stuff I made today :-) And I really really hope that I titled everything correctly! 

I wanted to make a special vegetarian meal for a few buddies. I decided that south Indian would be the best way to go.... south Karnataka to be exact. I normally love making idlis, sambar and dosas quite often. But today I was more adventurous!

My opinion is that most foods are prepared simple and tempered with spices afterwards. I learned that rice is better. The preferred flavor is sour. Sambar can be eaten every single day! And most common spices are mustard seeds, Hing powder, turmeric powder, Byadagi and Guntur chillies, urad and channa dal, tamarind, fresh coconut and curry leaves. What I ended up making for my friends is my interpretation of food from that region. I had lots of help in learning the techniques from various brilliantly written blogs.

www.nisargakarnataka.com
www.kannadacuisine.com
www.sumscuisine.blogspot.com
www.chefandherkitchen.com
Wikipedia and Google translate :-)

Note: Serving suggestions are made on the fact that there are so many sides in this meal.

 
First row (L to R): Massoppu, Mavin Kai Gojju, Hurlikayi Palya, Banna Sautekayi Palya
Middle row (L to R): Hasi Menasinakai Bhajji, Alugadde Bhajji, Hesaru Bele Kosambari
Last row (L to R):Nellikayi Thokku, Menthe Soppu Chatni, Verkadalai Chatni, Byadagi Chatni


Top row (L to R): Chaas (plain, dill, pepper), Dharwad Peda
Middle row (L to R): Puliyogare, Tovve with Ragi Mudde on skewers and homemade butter (Benne)
Last row (L to R): Steamed basmati rice, Sambar

Main Course

Puliyogare (Tamarind flavored rice)


I love this! Basically puliyogare is made by combining already cooked rice with a tamarind based paste. The paste or a powdered form of it can be bought from a store. Using a mix is definitely easier but I like a challenge and made this from scratch about a week ago at my good friend Sharika's place :-) It was a LOT of paste... probably enough to make rice for a dozen large hungry people. I froze the extra and used just a tiny amount for us today - An elf and a couple of hungry but smallish people.

(makes 2 cups of paste)
(cook time 30 mins) 
Ingredients

Urad dal 1/4 cup 
Channa dal 1/4 cup
Sesame seeds 1/3 cup
Fenugreek seeds 2 Tbs
Cumin seeds 2 Tbs
Mustard seeds 1 Tbs
Coriander 1 Tbs
Hing powder 1/2 tsp
Whole peppercorns 1 Tbs
Guntur chillies 10 or so
Jaggery (liquified)  About 2 Tbs
Curry leaves a small handful
Tamarind pulp 16 oz
(I like using a concentrate called Nuac Me Chua by a company called Po Kwon. I think its from Thailand. Locals... you can get it easily from Mayuri)
Ghee 2-3 Tbs

Method
  1. The first step is to make the Pulikachal. This is the paste to which rice is mixed later and the finished dish is called Puliyogare. Ok... so to make the paste you will first need to roast the two dals in a frying pan on medium heat. Use a little bit of ghee for this.
  2. Once the dals are slightly browned take out 1/3 of them and keep aside in a separate bowl.... we are gonna use these later. 
  3. Add the rest of the ingredients (minus the tamarind paste) into the frying pan and continue to toast the spices for another 5 minutes. You might need to add some more ghee at this point.
  4. Allow this to cool down a bit and then grind it all up to make a semi coarse powder. Keep this aside for later use.
  5. Remember the roasted dals that you saved earlier in step 2? Add those in a large sauce pan. Add tamarind pulp to this and boil gently for 15 mins on low heat. Stir every now and again to prevent burning.
  6. After the tamarind has thickened a bit you can now add the powdered spices to it. Mix well and cook for another 10 minutes on low heat. Done!
  1. Now in order to make puliyogare you will need to heat up some ghee in a large wok.
  2. Add some curry leaves, dried chillies, raw peanuts and mustard seeds and let them cook for a minute.
  3. At this point you can add some tamarind paste (Pulikachal) into the wok. Use the back of your spatula to help break it up a bit and then add cooked rice into it. Mix well. Cover and let it sit for about 20-30 minutes on low heat. This helps incorporate the flavors fully into the rice grains. You can also mix in some freshly grated coconut to this.
NOTE: I prefer using rice from the fridge that has been cooked earlier and is cold. The grains stay intact when you mix the tamarind sauce into it. Freshly cooked rice is soft and breaks easily and thus creates a mashed up look.



Sambar (A mixed vegetable stew)


Hearty stuff... Love it :-)
Sambar is eaten in all parts of India and is primarily made with various mixed vegetables cooked into a soupy stew with a special spice powder addded to it. It may or may not have lentils in it depending on the region or your mood. When I cook sambar I usually use a store bought spice mix.  However today I made the spice powder me-self. Kinda proud of it :-)

(makes about 6 Tbs)
Ingredients (For the spice mix)

Urad dal 2 Tbs
Channa dal 2 Tbs
Whole peppercorns 1/2 Tbs
Corainder 2/3 Tbs
Some Bydagi chillies 5-6 (this is what gives the spice mix a red color)
A few Guntur chillies 2-3
Fresh tamarind pulp about 1" diameter (when rolled up in a tightly in a ball)
Jaggery 1 Tbs
Bay leaf 1 Large
Curry leaves 3-4
Some ghee
(The following 2 ingredients are optional and are not traditionally used. I added those to increase the sourness, add some sweetness and to create another dimension to the flavor)
*Amchur pieces 3 (2"inch pieces)
*Anardana 2 Tbs

Method
  1. Roast all the ingredients on a frying pan with some ghee. Use low heat and stir occasionly to ensure even browning.
  2. Let this cool down a bit.
  3. Grind to make a coarse powder.
Ingredients (For the stew)
(serves 4)
(cook time 15 mins)

Fresh okra 1/3 cup
Tomato  1/3 cup
Daikon radish 1/3 cup
Eggplant 1/3 cup
Onion 2 Tbs
Spice mix to taste (I used 2 1/2Tbs)
Salt
Ghee



Method
  1. Heat up some ghee and start to soften the onions.
  2. After about 3-5 minutes stir in the cut vegetables. You can cut them any way you like as long as they are about equal in size.
  3. Add the reserved mango water (or just plain water) about 2 cups should be plenty.
  4. Mix in the spice powder in amounts you like.
  5. Season with salt.
  6. Cover. Let this boil for 15-20 minutes. Done!


Tovve (Lentil curry)


A very simple lentil curry. Normally you would add some tamarind to it but since I cooked it in the water saved from boiling raw mangoes I felt that there was no need for extra sourness. I used masoor dal (orange in color) and washed moong dal (yellow in color)

(serves 4)
(cook time 25 minutes)
Ingredients

Masoor dal 3 Tbs
Washed moong dal 3 Tbs
Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
Salt

For Tempering:
Ghee 2-3 Tbs
Hing powder 1/4 tsp
Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves 2-3 (broken)

Method
  1. Boil the lentils in 2 cups of water (I used water reserved from boiling the raw mangoes)
  2. Continue to boil until lentils are cooked - about 20 - 25 minutes.
  3. Add turmeric and season with salt.
  4. Temper with ingredients listed above. Done.


Ragi Mudde (A dumpling made of finger millet flour)

Frankly I didn't know how I would feel about this when I started making it. Turned out quite nice! I was pleasantly surprised. Very delish with the Sambar and Tovve! Great alternative for rice and flat breads.

(makes 8 1 1/2" diameter balls)
(cook time 10 minutes)
Ingredients

Salt
Water 1 cup
Finger millet flour 1/2 cup  
(When I went to the store - Mayuri - to get this all I saw were large bags of the flour. I needed only a little bit, I wasn't even sure if I would like it! So I got something labeled Ragi Rava Dosa - it had some channa dal and mustard seeds in it and was in a small bag.)
Method
  1. Boil the water in a sauce pan. 
  2. Add salt.
  3. Add the flour.
  4. Stir until the mixture becomes thick.
  5. Continue stirring rigorously. The mixture will begin to turn into a soft dough.
  6. Cover and steam for 5 minutes on low heat.
  7. Once cooked take it out on a flat surface. Knead it a little bit.  Rub some ghee on your hands and then form into round balls. Done!



Side Dishes

Hurlikayi Palya (A dry curry made with green beans) 


Hundreds of ways you can cook this up. I made this fairly simple with green beans, tomatoes and fresh lime juice.

(serves 4)
(cook time 15 mins)
Ingredients

Green beans 1 1/2 cup - Cut into 1 1/2" lengths
Tomato 1 large - Cut into thick slices
Fresh key lime juice 2-3 Tbs
Salt

For tempering:
Ghee 1 Tbs
Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Cumin 1/2 tsp
Hing powder a pinch which is about 1/16th tsp 
Fenugreek seeds 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves 1-2 broken into pieces
Dried Baydagi chilli 1 broken into pieces

Method
  1. Steam the green beans until they become tender.
  2. Grill the tomatoes slices in a non stick fry pan with a few drops of ghee
  3. Then add the green beans into the same frying pan and stir fried gently for 2-3 minutes. 
  4. Add the lime juice and mix well. Season with salt and take out the cooked vegetables and set them aside in a serving bowl.  Keep warm.
  5. When ready to serve heat up some more ghee in a small sauce pan and add the spices to it. Once the spices are sputtering and bouncing pour this mixture over the cooked vegetables. Done.
 

Banna Sautekayi Palya (Dry curry made with dosakai cucumber)


A very quick, easy and uncomplicated preparation.

(serves 4) 
(cook time 15 mins) 
Ingredients

Dosakai cucumber 1 cup (I left the peel on. Remove seeds and chop into 1/2 chunks)
Onion 1/2 cup (sliced thin)
Garlic 1/2 tsp (minced)
Ghee 1 Tbs
Salt

For tempering:
Ghee 1/2 Tbs
Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Fenugreek seeds  1/4 tsp
Urad dal 1 tsp

Method
  1. Heat up some ghee in a fry pan and start to cook the onions.
  2. When the onions are soft add the garlic and cut up cucumbers to the pan.
  3. Season with salt and add a splash of water to create steam.
  4. Turn the heat to medium and cook covered until the cucumbers become soft and the onions are browned.
  5. Temper with the spices listed above.


Massoppu (Sauteed leafy greens)

You can use lots of different types of greens for this. Following is how I made it.
(serves 4)
(cook time 15 mins)  
Ingredients

Cooked toor dal about 1/2 cup
Spinach leaves 4 cups
Mustard greens 2 cups
Fenugreek leaves 1 cup
Mint 1/4 cup
Onion 2/3 cup (sliced thin)
Garlic 1 Tbs (minced)
Green chillies  1 Tbs (minced)
Ghee 1-2 Tbs
Salt

For tempering:
Ghee 1/2 Tbs
Sesame seeds 1/2 tsp



Method
  1. Heat up the ghee in a wide frying pan and start to brown the onions.
  2. Once the onions are light brown add the cooked lentils, garlic and green chillies. Continue to cook over medium high heat for a minute or so.
  3. Add all the greens into the frying pan. This may seem like a lot but the leaves will begin to lose volume in under a minute.
  4. Transfer everything into a blender once all the leaves have welted down. Blend until a smooth paste is formed.
  5. Return this paste into the frying pan season with salt and continue to cook for another 5-6 minutes on medium high heat.
  6. Temper with sesame seeds towards the end. Done.

Mavin kai(serves 4)(cook time 15 mins)

Mavin Kai Gojju (Raw mango curry)


(serves 4)
(cook time 15 mins) 
Ingredients
 
Raw mango 1 Large (skin removed, chopped up into bite sized chunks)Ginger 1/2 Tbs (minced)
Garlic 1/2 Tbs (minced_
Green chillies 1 Tbs (minced)
Onion 1/3 cup (sliced thin)
Yogurt 1/3 cup
Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
Ghee 1-2 Tbs
Salt

For tempering:
Ghee 1-2 Tbs
Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Hing 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves 2-3 (broken)
Coconut flakes 1 tsp

Method
  1. Boil the mangoes until they become soft. About 6-8 minutes (SAVE THE WATER - I used it to make tovve)
  2. Take out the cooked mangoes and keep aside for later use.
  3. Heat up some ghee in a frying pan.
  4. Cook the onions until they become very dark brown.
  5. Add the turmeric, ginger, garlic and green chillies cook for another 30 seconds or so.
  6. Take out this mixture and blend with some yogurt.
  7. Pour the yogurt mixture back into the frying pan... add the boiled mangoes to this.
  8. Cook covered for 10 minutes on medium heat. Stir once or twice.
  9. Temper with spices listed above. Done.

Hasi Menasinakai Bhajji (Batter fried green chillies)
Alugadde Bhajji (Batter fried potato slices) 


Bhajjis are typically any type of vegetable dipped in batter and then deep fried. I chose to make stuffed chillies and plain potato bhajjis today. You can definitely make the chilli bhajjis plain too without the filling, just dip the peppers in batter and fry away. But I wanted this meal to be extra special and decided to make a semi-dry garlicky stuffing consisting primarily of dried nuts and fruits.

(serves 4 people)
(prep time 20 mins)
(cook time 5-8 mins)
Ingredients (For the filling)

Serrano peppers 6-8 large (For mild bajjis use jalapenos or use banana peppers for even milder ones)
Raw almonds 1 1/2 Tbs (chopped very fine)
Raw cashews 1 1/2 Tbs (chopped very fine)
Toasted peanuts 1 1/2 Tbs (chopped very fine) - and by toasted I mean you start with raw peanuts and brown them in a frying pan with a drop or two of oil.
Dried unsweetened coconut flakes 2-3 Tbs
Dried unsweetened prunes 1 Tbs (chopped very fine)
(I used prunes because I prefer the slight sour taste it has, you can use raisins or dates or even some brown sugar instead) 
White onion about 1/4 cup (sliced thinly)Fresh garlic 2/3 Tbs (minced very fine) 
Ghee (clarified butter) 2 Tbs
Sesame seeds 3/4 Tbs
Black cumin seeds 1/3 Tbs
Salt 1/2 tsp

Batter

Besan (chickpea flour) 1/2 cup
Rice flour 2 rounded Tbs
Freshly ground pepper 1/3 tsp
Hing powder (asafoetida) 1/3 tsp
Salt 1/2 tsp
Baking soda 1/3 tsp 
Fresh key lime juice 3 Tbs
Soda water enough to make a smooth batter
(I feel that using soda water - or beer - makes crispier crusts. You can of course use plain water here)

 Method
  1. Whisk together all the ingredients listed under batter in a large bowl and keep aside for later use.
  2. Heat the fat in a large non stick pan. Start by frying the onions on medium high heat until they turn a light golden color and then throw in the minced garlic and continue to cook for another minute or so.
  3. Turn off the heat and mix in all the other ingredients - the nuts,  the coconut, the prunes and the spices everything - combine well and leave aside to cool down for easy handling later.
  4. You start by making pockets in the pepper so that the stuffing can go in. Simply make a lengthwise slit on one side of the pepper. It should in the center and make sure that the top and bottom of the pepper remain intact.
  5. Scrape out whatever seeds you easily can with the back of a spoon or use the point of your knife.
  6. Place the stuffing in the pocket you just created.
  7. Dip the stuffed chillies in the batter, shake off excess and then deep fry for 5-8 mins or until golden brown all over. I prefer the crusts to be very thin and just barely there so I dip lightly. Done.
Method for the potato Bhajji 
  1. Slice the potato into thin slices about 1/8" thick. I used red potatoes and left the skin on.
  2. Wash the slices in cold water and pat dry.
  3. Dip individual slices in the same batter. You don't have to but I thinned out the batter a little by adding a few tablespoons of water for this one because I wanted a thinner crust.
  4. Shake off extra batter and deep fry on medium high heat until golden brown. Done. 


Hesaru Bele Kosambari (Mung sprout salad)


A very common, no frills and easy to put together salad. The base is sprouted mung beans and freshly grated coconut. To this you can add chopped cucumbers, carrots, sweet corn, bell peppers, squash or any other veggie you have handy in whatever ratios you like. Once you have all the fresh ingredients in bowl you top it all off with spices, herbs and lentils heated up in oil - this is called tempering - the most common choices are hing powder, black mustard seeds, cumin, curry leaves, green chillies, urad dal and channa dal. I decided not to temper the salad simply because I wanted to have something fresh tasting and light on the platter.

(serves 4 people)
(prep time 15 mins - sprouting the beans will take maybe 2 days)
Ingredients

Sprouted mung beans 2/3 cup
Carrots 1/3 cup (julienned )
Daikon radish 1/3cup (julienned)
Fresh grated coconut 1/2 cup
Juice of 1 large fresh key lime

For tempering: (I chose not to temper the salad)
Ghee 1 Tbs
Urad dal 1/2 Tbs
Fresh curry leaves 1-2 (torn into halves)
Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Hing powder 1/4 tsp



Method
  1. Mix all the chopped vegetables in a large bowl.
  2. Heat up the ghee in a frying pan first add the urad dal stir and cook for a minute and  then add everything else and cook on high heat for another minute or two.
  3. Pour it over the salad.

Chutneys 

Nellikayi Thokku (Indian Gooseberry Chutney)


It's a fact - no Indian feast is complete without some sort of chutney on the menu. A friend of mine had recently introduced me to the Indian gooseberry (Amla in Hindi) and the many health benefits linked with the tiny green fruit :-) She would make it very simply by boiling them in water with some garlic slices, green chillies, salt and a little bit of ghee. I have made it her way several times but today something different and a tiny bit more elaborate.

(makes close to 2/3 cup)
(time 15 mins)
Ingredients

Indian gooseberries 12 oz - I got them from Mayuri. The package contained 11 large to medium sized fruit.
Ghee 2 Tbs
Urad dal 1 tsp
Channa dal 1 tsp
Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
Chilli powder 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds 1/3 tsp
Dried chillies 1-2 ( I used Guntur chillies)
Salt to taste

Method
  1. Boil the gooseberries in water until they become soft... about 10 mins or so. They will break up into wedges. At this point take out the stones and keep aside. (SAVE THE WATER - I used it to make sambar)
  2. Heat some ghee in a small cooking pot.
  3. Stir fry the lentils on medium heat until they become light brown. Add the dried chillies and the spices. Cook for another minute.
  4. Now add the boiled gooseberries into the pot and stir. Done.


Verkadalai Chatni (Peanut chutney)


(makes 2/3 cup)
(prep time 10 minutes)
Ingredients

Raw peanuts 1/2 cup
Fresh shredded coconut 1/4 cup
Yogurt 1/4 cup
Dried red chillies 1-2 medium sized
Fresh tamarind pulp about 1/2" diameter (when rolled up in a tightly in a ball)
Hing powder 1/3 tsp
Water 1/3 cup
Salt

For tempering:
Ghee 1 Tbs
Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves 2-3 (torn up)
Dried red chillies 1 large (torn up)

Method
  1. Toast the peanuts in a frying pan. Use a few drops of ghee.
  2.  Blend evrything together until a smooth paste is formed.
  3. Temper with the ingredients listed towards the end. Done.

Menthe Soppu Chatni (Mint chutney) 
A very common condiment. This is how I normally make it. I wouldn't necessarily call it south Indian style. You can use just mint for this but I had some cilantro lying around so I combined the two. This freezes well. I usually place the extra in ice cube trays, cover with saran and freeze it for later use. You can also add this chutney to yogurt and make a quick raita.



(makes about 2/3 cup)
(prep time 10 minutes)
Ingredients 

Mint leaves 1 1/2 cup
Ciliantro 1 cup 
Green chillies 1-2 medium sized
Garlic cloves 2-3 large sized
Onion 2-3 Tbs (chopped)
A good splash of apple cider vinegar

Macadamia oil 1 Tbs (or some other mild oil)
Water 2-3 Tbs (depends how thick or thin you want this chutney to be)
Salt

Method
  1. Put everything in a blender and blend away until smooth. You might need to stop and scrape of the sides every once in a while. Done.
Byadagi Chatni (Byadagi chilli chutney) 

I had the good fortune to sample something similar to this at someone's house. Fell in love at first bite! That particular chutney was made by someone's mom and brought from India. Those people were nice enough to give their entire stash to me (close to a cup and a half)... which I shamelessly took and then finished in less than two days :-)
I tried to replicate that here. I think mine came close but the one I had earlier was better.... maybe one of these days I'll ask for a recipe :-) 

(makes 1/4 cup) 
(prep time 10 mins + 2 hours soaking)
Ingredients
 
Dried Byadagi chillies 10-12
Dried Guntur chillies 3-4 
Jaggery 1 1/2 Tbs 
Garlic 1/2 Tbs (minced)
Ghee 1 1/2 Tbs
Method
  1.  Soak the dried chillies in 2 cups of water for a few hours. I soaked them for 2 1/2 hours.
  2. Once the chillies become soft..... take them out of the water and gently squeeze out the extra liquid. Chop them up halves.
  3. Now place them in a blender along with the jaggery and garlic.
  4. Heat some ghee in frying pan and transfer the mixture from the blender into the pan.
  5. Cook for 5-8 minutes. Done.

 Drinks


Chaas (Buttermilk lassi)

I had a pint of heavy cream and I churned it to make butter. The liquid that is left behind it called buttermilk. I had 1/4 cup of fresh butter and 3/4 cup of buttermilk. To make the lassi I blended the buttermilk with a few tablespoons of full fat yogurt, diluted it with 1 1/2 cups of cold water and seasoned it with some salt. I like it salt without anything else in it. For the sake of variation here I flavored one with dill leaves and other with pepper and left the first one plain.





Desserts

Dharwad Peda (Dessert made from milk solids)


(time: over an hour)
(makes: 6 1 1/2" pedas)
Adapted from: http://tastetherecipes.blogspot.com/2010/10/dharwadi-pedhakandi-pedha.html

I made a small variation to the recipe above. Instead of ricotta cheese I opted for frozen Nanak khoya which I got from an Indian grocery store here. I simply grated the khoya and started to brown it in a non stick pan.

The khoya goes in crumbly and then turns into lumps like scrambled eggs. I had to break the lumps down with a potato masher several  times. Eventualy when it turned dark brown I added sugar and cardamom powder. Then I put the mixture into the blender and added 4 Tbs of heavy cream to get it into dough form.

After that I simply formed them into shape and rolled them in sugar. However easy the process is....  it took forever to get it to the right color and took constant stirring and smashing to avoid lumps and burns. See some picture that I have attached in different stages of browning.

I am not making this again...... unless I love you and you ask me very very very nicely :-)

I used 4-5 cardamom pods ground up to a powder
3/4 cup of sugar
1/4 cup of heavy cream
And one 12 oz brick of the frozen khoya.
Some extra sugar to roll the finished product in.












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