Wednesday, 31 August 2016





     1)    Processed, finely chopped tender bamboo (for processing information, please refer to my tender bamboo in Konkani cuisine article) – 300 gm.

     2)    Peeled jackfruit seeds – 125 gm.
     3)    Grated coconut – 150 gm.
     4)    Dry Kashmiri chilies – 18 gm.
     5)    Coriander seeds – 15 gm.
     6)    Urud dal (split black gram lentils) – 10 gm.
     7)    Seedless tamarind – 15 gm.
     8)    Coconut oil – 1 tablespoon (15 ml.)
     9)    Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
     10)    Salt – 12 gm.
     11)    Water – 600 ml.

To prepare:

          Chop the jackfruit seeds to fine pieces and set aside. Set a skillet or small pan on low heat. Pour in half the oil (7.5 ml.) and tip in the urud dal. Stir till the urud dal turns a light brown in colour. Now tip in the coriander seeds and stir for 30 seconds. Throw in the chilies, stir for 30 more seconds and switch off the heat. Transfer the contents to your food processor. Add the grated coconut, the tamarind and 250 ml. of water. Grind to rough paste.

To cook:

          Set a wide cast iron wok (to cook kirla sukké the tasty, healthy, traditional way) or a non-stick wok on high heat. Pour in the remaining (7.5 ml.) coconut oil and throw in the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds are about to finish popping, tip in the chopped jackfruit seeds, the tender bamboo pieces and the remaining water (350 ml.). Throw in the salt.

Once it comes to a boil, lower the heat and cover with a cloche or lid. Let the bamboo cook slowly for 15 minutes while stirring occasionally. Now tip in the ground coconut paste and turn up the heat. Mix well and stir frequently until the water evaporates, leaving the delicious, semi-thick kirla sukké. Switch off the heat. Serve hot as a side dish to steaming hot rice or chappatis.


Sunday, 28 August 2016




          The monsoon season is a time when nature blankets the earth green with tender leaves and herbs of all sorts. It leaves one in a dilemma as to what ingredient, so freely bestowed by nature, to choose to make a delicious dish to adorn one’s table, to bring a smile to the face of the eater – to fill oneself not merely with food, but with contentment.

Today, I choose the ubiquitous taro leaf, to prepare a curry enjoyed for untold generations by the Konkani people. ‘Gantiyé ghashi’ or 'ghantiya ghashi' in Konkani means ‘a curry of knots’. Do cook and enjoy!


     1)    Colocasia Esculenta / Taro tender leaves (Taal ela / Chembe ela in Malayalam, Tera pan / Alva pan in Konkani) – 200 gm. (see note)


     2)    Grated coconut – 135 gm.
     3)    Chickpeas (preferably small green or brown skinned) – 100 gm.


     4)    Peeled jackfruit seeds – 65 gm.

Fresh jackfruit seeds (not peeled)

     5)    Hog plums (Ambado in Konkani, Ambazhanga in Malayalam) – 6 Nos. OR Chopped raw mango – 65 gm.
     6)    Salted tender bamboo chunks (for more information, see my article, tender bamboo in Konkani cuisine) – 85 gm.

     7)    Dry Kashmiri chilies – 15 gm.
     8)    Water – 1 litre
     9)    Salt – 8 gm. (1½ teaspoons)
     10)    Coconut oil – 1 tablespoon
     11)    Mustard seeds – 4 gm. (1 teaspoon)
     12)    Curry leaves – 1 sprig

To prepare:

          Soak the chickpeas and the salted bamboo chunks in water, separately overnight. Rinse and drain the taro leaves. Use a small sharp knife to cut away the protruding veins from the underside of each leaf. Roll each leaf into a tight cylinder and bring the ends together to tie a simple knot. Set aside.


Cut each jackfruit seed lengthwise into halves and set aside. Wash and drain the soaked chickpeas.

To cook:

          Put the chickpeas into a pressure cooker together with 500 ml. of water. Set on high heat. As soon as you hear the first whistle, turn down the heat and let cook for 5 minutes. Switch off the heat and allow the cooker to cool naturally.

          Meanwhile, wash and drain the soaked bamboo chunks. Chop them to smaller chunks of around ½ inch to 1 inch (1 cm. to 3 cm.) size and set aside. Put the grated coconut and the dry chilies into a food processor. Pour in 250 ml. of water and grind to superfine paste.

Once the cooker is cool enough to open, pour the contents of the cooker into a suitable curry vessel. Tip in the cut jackfruit seeds, the taro leaf knots, the hog plums (or the chopped mango pieces) and the tender bamboo chunks. Set the curry vessel on high heat.

As soon as it comes to a boil, turn down the heat and cover partially with a lid. Stir occasionally so that the curry does not burn at the base. After 10 minutes of cooking, check the knots to see if they are well cooked. They should be soft as butter when done.

Now tip in the ground paste as well as the salt. Turn up the heat and stir. Taste and add more salt if necessary (this depends upon the residual salt in the soaked salted tender bamboo pieces). As the ghashi starts boiling again, switch off the heat.

Set a skillet or small pan on low heat. Pour in the oil and throw in the mustard seeds. As soon as the seeds are about to finish spluttering, pull the curry leaves off their sprig and put them in. Switch off the heat, stir once and pour the contents into the curry vessel.

Your delicious gantiye ghashi is ready. Let the curry rest for an hour. Serve hot with a pile of steaming hot rice and fried papads or odis (vadagams).



     1)    Pluck just one most tender leaf from each taro plant, around 200 gm. in all. This is because the more mature leaves may cause itching in the mouth even after cooking. After deveining, you need around 135 gm. of leaves to tie the knots.

     2)    Mature, sour hog plums accentuate the original traditional taste of gantiye ghashi. I have used a raw mango here as an effective substitute as hog plums were not readily available.

     3)    Generally, the wild taro leaves (Tera pan in Konkani, Velachappe or Taal ela in Malayalam) are used for gantiye ghashi. However, the leaves of the larger variety of taro (Alva pan in Konkani, Pal chembe in Malayalam) can also be used. Just tear the deveined leaves to smaller pieces when you roll them to tie the knots.

Saturday, 27 August 2016




Ingredients for the filling:

     1)    Peeled and washed cassava – 500 gm.
     2)    Onion – 100 gm.
     3)    Peeled garlic cloves – 3 gm.
     4)    Hot green chilies – 8 gm.
     5)    Kashmiri chili powder – 5 gm.
     6)    Garam masala powder – 3 gm.
     7)    Cooking oil – 2 teaspoons
     8)    Curry leaves – 2 sprigs.
     9)    Powdered salt – 6 gm.

Ingredients for the tempura:

     1)    Maida (white wheat flour) – 200 gm.
     2)    Salt – 4 gm.
     3)    Water – 225 ml.
     4)    Cooking oil – to deep fry

To make the filling:

          Chop the cassava roughly to large chunks and transfer to a pressure cooker. Tip in the turmeric powder and pour in enough water to immerse the cassava fully. Close the lid and set on high heat. As soon as the cooker blows the first whistle, lower the heat and let cook for 10 minutes. Switch off the heat and let the cooker cool naturally.

          Meanwhile, peel and chop the onion to fine pieces. Chop the garlic and the chilies to superfine bits and set aside. Check to see if the cooker has cooled down enough for the steam to subside naturally. If so, open the lid and drain off the water.

Put the cooked cassava chunks into a mixing bowl and mash nicely with the bottom of a stainless steel glass. Pick off fibres if any.

Set a wide pan or vessel on high heat. Pour in the cooking oil (2 teaspoons) and tip in the chopped onions, the green chilies and the garlic. Pull the curry leaves off their sprigs and throw them in. Stir well for 3 minutes.

Now tip in the garam masala, the powdered salt and the Kashmir chili powder. Stir twice or thrice and tip in the mashed cassava. Lower the heat and stir till all the ingredients mix thoroughly. Switch off the heat and leave aside to cool.

To make the tempura:

In the meantime, put the flour (maida) in a mixing bowl. Tip in the salt and pour in the water. Mix or blend well till all the lumps are dissolved and set aside.

To deep-fry:

Check to see if the filling is cool enough to touch. If it is, make small balls (you can make gooseberry sized ones or even lemon sized ones as you like) of uniform size.

Set a wok or frying pan on high heat. Pour in the cooking oil. As soon as the oil is hot (it should not smoke), put 5 or 10 balls into the batter. Roll each ball to coat it fully and slip it carefully into the hot oil. Take care not to overcrowd the wok or frying pan.

After a couple of minutes, start turning them carefully. Fry for 4 to 5 minutes till the tempura feels a bit crisp as you turn the bondas. Lift them out, drain off the excess oil and continue the process till all the bondas are fried. Your delicious, spicy-hot kappa bondas are ready to serve. Enjoy hot.

Kappa Bonda with Ekpanni Chutney

Try with ekpanni chutney if you like to spoil yourself or just enjoy a bite of kappa vada pav (open up a pav, put a dollop of ekpanni chutney, top up with a kappa bonda and close the pav) followed by a little bite of coconut chili fries or hinga mirsange. Repeat till you nearly bite off your fingers!

Bon appétit!!!





          Asiatic Pennywort or Centella Asiatica is a perennial herbaceous plant that grows in damp soils. It multiplies fast by way of runners, rooting and producing plants in a chain-like fashion, particularly during the rainy season.

Known as Ekpanni in Konkani, Muthil, Kudavan, Kudangal in Malayalam, Vallarai in Tamil, Jal Brahmi in Marathi and Mandook Parni in Hindi, this herb has been used since time immemorial in Asiatic cuisine as it is believed that it improves memory, stimulates hair growth, retains youth, helps have a wrinkle-free skin and builds strong bones and teeth.

          However, care should be taken to see that only plants growing in pure soils are collected for cooking. This is due to the fact that this wonder plant has the ability to absorb pollutants such as pesticides, weedicides, chemical fertilizers or heavy metals from the soil. You can easily grow your own pennywort plants outdoors in your garden or in pots or trays organically in warm climes or in a greenhouse as they are frost tender.

          The Konkani people traditionally make Ekpanni chutney as a delicious side dish to idlis, dosas, chappatis and vadas. You can make delicious Ekpanni chutney sandwiches or just enjoy Ekpanni chutney with mushroom samosas or with kappa bonda.

Ekpanni Chutney with Kappa Bonda


     1)    Ekpanni (Asiatic pennywort / Jal Brahmi / Mandook Parni / Gotu Kola / Muthil / Kudavan / Kudangal / Vallarai / Centella Asiatica) leaves – 20 gm.

 Freshly plucked Ekpanni leaves

     2)    Grated coconut – 140 gm.
     3)    Hot green chilies – 10 gm.
     4)    Salt – 5 gm. (1 teaspoon)
     5)    Lime / lemon juice – 10 ml. (2 teaspoons)
     6)    Water – 70 ml.

To make:

          Wash and drain the Ekpanni leaves. Put the grated coconut, the hot green chilies, the salt and the water into a food processor and grind to superfine paste. Add the leaves and the lime juice and grind for 10 more seconds. Transfer your delicious Ekpanni chutney to a serving bowl and enjoy!


          You can use more lime / lemon juice if you wish, reducing the water proportionately.

Thursday, 25 August 2016




          My father had one of the finest sets of gourmet taste buds for ‘pamper’ food. So did one of his widowed elder sisters, Susheela (whom we called Chuchakka). He would ask her, “Chucha, let’s have some dhaadu today” or “Let’s have some appala guli with lunch”. Chuchakka would be only too glad to oblige.

It was a sight to see my father smear a raw Mirsange Appolu (chili papad) with coconut oil and burrow his fingers in hot rice to hide it for softening; before he took a bite. The very sight would bring saliva to one’s mouth. Dhaadu, a dish which I haven’t seen anyone else make, would make me run to the table. I would grab a small plate, fill it with a little heap of dhaadu, make a depression in the middle with my finger, pour in coconut oil, mix it up and relish the finger-biting dish.


The memory of this wonderful snack, which I so enjoyed nearly three decades ago awakened today. Then and there, I decided to recreate the dish to share this recipe with you. While licking dhaadu soaked in coconut oil, the first thing you note is that you can feel only the blandness of ragi as it touches your tongue. As you roll it in your mouth for 5 to 10 seconds, the electrifying taste just explodes pleasantly on your palate and you feel like smiling.

Dhaadu comes from the Konkani word, ‘dhaddaché’, meaning ‘to pound’. In the recipe, I have taken the liberty of using mild, dry Kashmiri chilies in place of dry hot red chilies and of using a food processor to powder the roasted ingredients with excellent results. However, I would advise extreme chili lovers to go in for dry hot red chilies and to pound the mixture using mortar and pestle the way our older generations did in their time. While buying ragi (finger millet), take care to get clean, stoneless, first quality produce.


     1)    Ragi / finger millet / eleusine coracana (Nanchano in Konkani and Muthari in Malayalam) – 200 gm.
     2)    Dry Kashmiri chilies – 20 gm.
     3)    Salt – 6 gm. (1 teaspoon)
     4)    Asafoetida powder – 1 gm. (¼ teaspoon)

To make:

          Wash and drain the ragi. Put all the ingredients into a non-stick pan (if you use a cast-iron wok, you will need to pour in a couple of teaspoons of coconut oil).

Set the pan on high heat and stir continuously. Once the mixture heats up, turn down the heat and stir frequently. Let the mixture roast slowly for 10 minutes. Now switch off the heat. As soon as the ingredients are cool enough, transfer to a dry food processor and grind to fine powder. Your delicious dhaadu is ready.


          Take up a plate with a tablespoonful of fresh grated coconut. Tip in a couple of teaspoonfuls of dhaadu. Mix nicely with your fingers. Taste and add more dhaadu to suit your palate.



     1)    If you are a chili lover like I am, just omit the grated coconut. Pour in some coconut oil, mix up and enjoy. You will lick your fingers for sure.

     2)    Mix dhaadu in coconut oil and use it as a dipping chutney for idlis, appos and dosas in place of mulakapodi or tambali puddi. Make dhaadu spicier with more chili and salt when taking as a dipping chutney for an idli lunch parcel.

Tuesday, 23 August 2016




          For centuries, the people of Kerala and cassava (or kappa as it is called in Malayalam) have been conjoined as inseparably as body and soul. Ever since the Portuguese introduced cassava in India nearly 4 centuries ago, the farmers of Kerala have come to consider it as the poor man’s bread and have developed a staunch liking for this delicious root.

The Christian community in particular, accepted this food crop so wholeheartedly that the first settlers in the hill districts of Wayanad and Idukki as well as the foothills of most other districts subsisted almost entirely on cassava grown on land cleared of forests.

Even today, many families are happy to enjoy cassava in place of rice or wheat 4 to 5 times a day, having it with mulake / mulaku chammandi, meen mulakittathe, wheat curries, bone marrow biriyani or as sardine cassava. From the poor man’s kitchen, cassava has now earned its place with royal splendour upon the dining tables in 5 star hotels. Cassava is called kappa, mara kizhangu, poola and kolli kizhangu in Malayalam and badi kanange in Konkani. In Wayanad district, tens of delicious varieties of cassava are cultivated, the tastiest of them being Aambakkadan.

My children love cassava and often ask me to make dishes like kozhikkal, kizhangu pori, cassava sticklets, kappa with mulake chammandi, chendan (boiled pieces) kappa with losune gojju, cassava upma, kappa bonda or cassava bhaji. Here is a fine recipe for kappa with mulake chammandi. Do cook and enjoy!

Ingredients for the kappa:

     1)    Peeled, washed and roughly chopped cassava cubes (see note) – 1300 gm.
     2)    Water – 1500 ml.
     3)    Salt – 15 gm. (3 teaspoons)
     4)    Turmeric powder – 3 gm. (½ teaspoon)
     5)    Hot green chilies – 10 gm.
     6)    Dry hot red chilies – 2 gm.
     7)    Mustard seeds – 5 gm. (1 teaspoon)
     8)    Coconut oil – 1 tablespoon
     9)    Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
     10)    Grated coconut – 100 gm.
     11)    Coconut water – 75 ml.

Ingredients for the mulake chammandi:

     1)    Hot green chilies or pigeon eye chilies (kandari mulake) – 20 gm.
     2)    Dry hot red chilies – 2 gm.
     3)    Peeled garlic cloves – 10 gm.
     4)    Vinegar / tamarind juice / garcinia cambogia (kudampuli) juice – 50 ml.
     5)    Salt – 10 gm. (2 teaspoons)


To make the mulake chammandi:

          Chop both the chilies and the garlic cloves to fine bits and put them in a tiny serving bowl. Tip in the salt, pour in the vinegar, mix well. Your simple, mouthwatering mulake chammandi is ready.

To cook the kappa:

          Put the cassava cubes, the water, the salt and the turmeric powder into a vessel and set on high heat. Once it comes to a boil, turn down the heat and cover partially with a lid. Stir occasionally and let the cassava cook for 15 minutes. Press upon a cube with the edge of a sharp ladle or a knife to see if it is cooked. The cube should slice easily. If not, continue to cook for a few more minutes (cooking times may vary slightly for different cultivars grown in different soils).

          Switch off the heat and drain off the broth. It is important to drain off all the water as it gets rid of the sap of the cassava as well as any soil borne pollutants, rendering it quite safe to eat (see note). Now pour in the coconut water and set aside.

          Chop the hot green chilies as well as the dry hot red chilies to fine bits. Pull the curry leaves off their sprig and set aside. Set a skillet or small pan on low heat. Pour in the coconut oil and throw in the mustard seeds.

          As soon as the mustard seeds are about to finish popping, throw in the curry leaves and the chili bits. Stir once, switch off the heat and empty the contents into the kappa.

          Turn on the heat and stir the kappa well for a minute. Tip in the grated coconut and stir nicely. Switch off the heat. Enjoy your delicious kappa hot with mulake chammandi. I am sure you will love this dish.

Bon appétit!


     1)    While chopping the cassava tubers, be sure to remove the thick, hard, long fibre that runs through the centre as well as the hard, bony end where the cassava connects to the stem of the plant. 2 kg. of freshly dug cassava will give you over 1300 gm. of clean, usable portions.

     2)    Raw cassava is poisonous. So it is always best eaten well cooked. Rats and bandicoots consume large quantities of raw cassava without ill effects as they are wise enough to eat charcoal to nullify the toxic sap. This technique, however, is definitely not for us humans!

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