South Indian recipes
Avarekalu or lilva or hyacinth or field beans is popularly used in cuisine of Karnataka. There are many dishes you can prepare with avarekalu and many reasons to love it!
For those who do not find this ‘bean’ very exciting I urge you to still go ahead and pick it up. Try out this gashi which is a family recipe. The avarekalu is simmered in freshly grated coconut masala. The marriage of avarekalu with minimum spices and some tamarind for that tang makes it a very comforting dish.
The gashi tastes good with either rice or chapathis or even with raagi mudde.
Life seems to be passing by too quickly and hence it is more important to live in the present and spend time with your loved ones, doing things you enjoy. And also you need to hurry up and get a batch of avarekalu before the season comes to an end!
And if we do not make time to do our favourite things, you will never get around to do them in the near future as well. Time will pass you by and your life would just turn robotic.
- 1 cup avarekalu (field/ hyacint beans)
- 1 potato
- 1 onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- few curry leaves
- 3 tbsp coriander leaves
- 1/2 coconut
- 1" ginger
- 2-4 cloves garlic
- 1" cinnamon
- 4 cloves
- 1 large tomato
- 1 large onion
- 3-6 dry red chilli (or 1 tsp red chilli powder)
- 1/4 tsp turmeric powder
- Wash avarekalu. Peel and cube potato. Slice/ chop onions. Peel and chop garlic.
- In a pressure cooker heat oil. Add onion, garlic and curry leaves. Fry till onions are translucent.
- Add paste and fry till raw smell goes.
- Add avarekalu, potato, coriander leaves, salt, water as required. Close and cook up to 1 whistle.
- Serve hot with rice, akki rotti, dosa, chapathis, ragi mudde.
- 1. You can add a small piece tamarind when grinding paste.
- 2. You could first fry the paste ingredients (except coconut) in 2 tsp oil till aromatic. Last add coconut and switch off flame. Cool and grind.
- 3. You could cook avarekalu separately and then mix with seasonings and masala and simmer.
- 4. For thickness you can add 2 tbsp avarekalu when you grind paste.
- 5. You could also add 2 tsp coriander seeds and 1/2 tsp cumin seeds for paste.
The monsoon season reminds me of school days. Of carefree days when the day`s strategy was to attend classes, play, eat, some more play, homework and more play! The rains were perhaps the best. We found delight in getting drenched in the rains. The rain drops caressing our cheeks felt like pure joy. All the sorrows were forgotten as we splashed about in the puddles. We all played and read with a spirit of togetherness. The future then seemed good and bright, even without a clear view. Life was full of happiness and bliss.
She longed to be set free. To fly away to a distant place where the sun always shone down on earth. Where the steady golden rays of the sun penetrated into all places and drove away the darkness. Where even rains did not chase away the sunlight but would fill the sky with rainbow. Flowers bloomed all through the year. To a place where she was in a harmonious relationship with nature. It fed her body & soul. She would taste food of elemental beauty.
The place would be filled by melodious music from the chirping of the birds and flowing river. The music would captivate her soul and fill her mind with positivity. And this would trigger the hidden joy inside her to break free and engulf her permanently.
All chains that tied her and kept her from her freedom would melt away, never to return.
She would be deliriously happy, forever.
“In the depth of winter I finally learned there was in me an INVINCIBLE summer.”
The night was cold and seemed to drag on endlessly. The moon had curled up and hidden itself in the darkness of the sky. The cold winter creeping in showed no mercy on her. As she lay on her bed, staring out into the star-less sky, she could envision days ahead filled only with more darkness and frigidness from the harsh winter. Oh, where had the summer gone? When would spring come alive once again to fill her world with sweet scented roses? The night seemed to hold no promise of better days. The cold winds blowing in through the window held no signs of hope and compassion. The howling wind seemed to mock at her, laugh at the state she was in. She got up and shut the window to keep out the hopelessness of that night.
They say small towns are devoid of thrilling events. Like my native place. The place were I spent many a vacations in. Here the time stands still. The nights are dark and peaceful with the silence broken only by the fireflies. A blanket of calmness covers the whole town. It was a place we ran too whenever we craved to calm then frenzied mind. I am talking about my ancestors village. It is a village untouched by noise, pollution and all the characteristics of a modern town. It is a village of simple living, unity and hospitality. To me it is a prosperous. It is a place rich in humanity, love for neighbors, fresh air, cool breeze, plentiful of shade under the big trees. Flower blooms merrily The golden sunlight fills the entire village with warmth during the day and the with silvery light during the night. Sunrise and sunset are an everyday sight, something that is not visible in big cities.
Festivals are a time to attend poojas, meet the family and have good food. By good food I mean authentic, traditional recipes that have been handed down from many prior generations. Most of such dishes call for long and tedious processes. Yet, that does not stop many homes from preparing them all with great enthusiasm.
The land of spices and aromas always fascinated me. The natives of the place are considered as ‘master chefs’. The region is well known for its architecture and temples too. The 18th century mansions comprise a spacious rooms and courtyards. They are embellished with imported marble, crystals, exquisite mirrors and teak that give it a magnificent look. The temples were built as per vaastu shaastra and by Tamil dynasties like Cholas.
I can`t wait to visit the land of food paradise – Chettinad, a region of Sivaganga district of Tamil Nadu! Traditional, this small community have been traders and bankers by profession. The natives of this plave are known as Chettiars. So much has been told about their mouthwatering and addictive cuisine. With vast varieties of spices that go into making their delicacies, it is no doubt that its ‘flavor‘ is spread far and wide. The rich spices give a magical spin on the dishes that make them so addictive. The cuisine is one of the spiciest in India. Popular dishes of the Chettinad region are kara kulambu (South Indian sambhar), paal paniyaram, vellai paniyaram, kuzhi paniyaram, kozhakattai, seeyam. Gravies and stir fries are generally had with rice or rice based dishes like dosa, appam, idiyappam, adai and idlis.
With all the popularity given to the cuisine, I was eager to taste their delicacies. But a visit to the place was no where close to sight. So I had to manage with the existing situation. Why not try one of their specialties on Prathi Ruchi kitchen? I did a bit of browsing to get familiar with the basic of the cuisine – the basic spices and techniques. Spices commonly used are marati moggu (dried flower pods), saunf (fennel), dagad phool (stone flower), cinnamon, cloves and of course red chillies. And lots and lots of chillies! Then there is black pepper. Chettinad cuisine is incomplete without pepper. Tamarind is what gives the sour element to most of their dishes. Lentils are used in plenty. Pickles in brine with fruits and vegetables are again a specialty of this region. The base for all their food is meals need to be healthy but economical at the same time.
Then I picked a dish which tempted me right from its name – Chettinad Urulai. Urulai is nothing but potatoes. Stir fried potatoes coated with aromatic spices. Serve them as a side with rice and sambhar or as a starter too. Either ways they taste finger licking good.
- 1/2 kg baby potatoes (aloo) OR 4 medium sized potatoes
- 3 tsp ghee
- 3 tsp oil
- 2-4 curry leaves
- 1 medium onion
- 1/2" 3-4 cloves garlic
- 1 tsp red chilli powder or 2 to 3 whole dry red chillies
- 1 tsp coriander (dhania) powder
- 1/2 tsp cumin (jeera) powder
- 1/2 tsp turmeric (haldi) powder
- 1 tsp tamarind (imli) paste
- 1/2 tsp peppercorns
- 1/2 to 3/4 tsp fennel (saunf) seeds
- 4 curry leaves
- fried curry leaves and green chillies
- lime wedges
- Peel and cube potatoes. If using baby potatoes, peel and halve them. Prick with fork. Immerse them in water to avoid discolouration. Drain before adding the paste.
- Grind together ingredients under 'masala paste' to a thick paste, adding little water only if needed.
- In a mixing bowl put the masala paste, potatoes (drained), 1 tsp oil. Mix and let marinate for 1 to 2 hours or even overnight.
- In a pressure pan put the marinated potato mixture, little water (about 1/4 cup). Pressure cook upto 2 whistles or till cooked but still firm.
- In a wide pan put ghee, curry leaves, contents of the cooker. Cook over low flame till evenly roasted. In between shake pan gently to stir but not to break the potatoes.
- Serve as a side dish with rice meals or as a starter.
- You can substitute tamarind with 2 tbsp curd (slightly sour).
- If you do not have much time to marinate, you can marinate for upto 15 mins too.
- Adjust chilli powder/ dry red chilli as per spice level desired.
Time and time again salads crop up in our everyday menu. They are either welcomed or looked down upon. Most of times its the later. They are assumed to be without the ‘taste’ element. But in fact salads can be quite the opposite. They need not be coated with creamy dressing for them to be appealing. A simple blend of ingredients topped with South Indian tempering can make a really delicious salad. I am talking about the dish from Udupi Brahmin cuisine – Kosambri.
Sometimes the things you want most are unreachable. It may be the simplest of things or the most complicated ones. It may be minute or humongous. But you want it, badly. You chase after it. You almost reach it. But it slips through your fingers. The harder you try to hold on to it, the further it goes. Frustration creeps in. You become surrounded by vast emptiness.
You are a traveler, trying to reach your destination. You travel for days and months and years together. The criticisms and roadblocks along the way are like stones on the path that hurt your feet or like the blazing sun that drains you of your spirit and vigor. The scorching heat can get unbearable. Like a thirsty traveler, with no water you still continue to travel. You choose different paths along way, hoping it leads you to your goal. But it is still elusive. Along the way you even lose hope of ever finding the right route. You may not be able to see the path, but that does not mean its not there. It is just covered with barriers that need to be demolished. You either give up or you run harder as one last attempt to reaching it. And after all the sprinting, running and chasing, its yours!
The day to commemorate the birth of Lord Krishna, the eighth avatar of Lord Vishnu is almost here. And many homes will have already begun intense preparations to celebrate this Hindu festival.