Tuesday, 27 September 2016




          I can never forget the taste and texture of the yummy kharkhari bakris my mother would make in the morning for us hungry kids. Often, the aroma of roasting bakris wafting from the kitchen would bring us scrambling to the dining table together with our father, where we would sit dipping hot pieces of fresh bhakris in curd chili chutneys or in salted dry chili chutneys, munching, our faces shining in joy. This high protein, balanced carb dish is a must-be-eaten breakfast for all food lovers, so delicious and healthy. Do cook and enjoy!

Ingredients (for a dozen bakris):

     1)    Urud (whole or split black gram with skin) – 200 gm.


     2)    Raw rice – 200 gm.
     3)    Grated coconut – 100 gm.
     4)    Cumin seeds – 2 gm. (⅓ teaspoon)
     5)    Pepper corns – 2 gm. (½ teaspoon)
     6)    Salt – 7 gm. (1½ teaspoons)
     7)    Water – 400 ml.
     8)    Cooking oil – to grease the pan

To prepare:

          Soak the black gram and the rice together in water for an hour. Wash well, drain and grind to coarse paste, after mixing in the rest of the ingredients except the cooking oil (though traditionally kharkhari bhakri batter is ground in old fashioned granite wet grinders for unmatched taste and texture, I have used the food processor for ease). Grind to paste in 2 or 3 batches, taking care to keep the batter a bit coarse for texture. Transfer to a vessel and mix up the batter thoroughly.

To make:

Set a thick cast-iron pan on high heat. As soon as the pan is hot, pour in a teaspoonful of cooking oil and spread it over the pan. Now tip in a ladleful (150 ml.) of batter at the center. Use the bottom of the ladle to spread the batter to a semi-thick, round bakri. Cover with a cloche and lower the heat.

Wait for 5 minutes before opening the cloche. Dribble a teaspoonful of cooking oil over the bakri and flip it over. Let the bakri roast for 5 more minutes. Serve hot with curd chili chutney or with coconut chutney or with ekpanni chutney or with any Konkani pickle.

Kharkhari Bakri with Curd Chili Chutney

Bon appétit!




     1)    Grated coconut – 100 gm.
     2)    Dry Kashmiri chilies – 3 gm.
     3)    Tamarind – 3 gm.
     4)    Salt – 5 gm. (1 teaspoon)
     5)    Drinking water – 250 ml. (1 cup)
     6)    Coconut oil – 15 ml. (1 tablespoon)
     7)    Mustard seeds – 2 gm. (½ teaspoon)
     8)    Dry curd chilies – 10 gm.

     9)    Asafoetida powder – 1 gm. (¼ teaspoon)
     10)    Curry leaves – 1 sprig

To make:

          Put the grated coconut, the dry Kashmiri chilies, the tamarind, the salt and the drinking water into your food processor and grind to superfine paste. Transfer to a serving bowl.

Set a skillet or small pan on low heat. Pour in the oil and tip in the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds are about to finish popping, tip in the curd chilies. Stir continuously till the chilies turn a uniform dark brown. Now tip in the asafoetida powder. Quickly pull the curry leaves off their sprig and throw them in. Stir just twice or thrice and switch off the heat. Pour the contents over the chutney in the serving bowl. Mix well and serve with hot kharkhari bakris, dosas, machkats, uthappams or idlis. As you eat, remember to crumble a curd chili into the chutney. Tuck in and enjoy!

Curd Chili Chutney with Kharkhari Bakri

Bon appétit!

Saturday, 24 September 2016




          In the wild, bamboo clumps burst into bloom once in a dozen years or a few decades. Once a clump starts the flowering process, it spreads like a chain reaction across the whole forest, often culminating in the drying up of all the bamboo clumps, but not before they leave us with their wonderful gift of bamboo rice.

          This grain, the size of rice grains, but having the colour and texture of wheat is perhaps the hardest of cereals and is believed to possess medicinal properties which can boost health and induce rejuvenation. The blooms soon fade to give way to tons of bamboo rice, a tiny fraction of which germinates to bring forth new bamboo colonies.

Much of the grain is devoured by rodents and other forest critters, a good portion washed away by the rains and a small part collected by the tribal population. The ground beneath the clumps is swept clean and the ripe, dry grains strewn therein are swept together daily. The grit and chaff are removed and the grain brought to the market where it fetches a good price.

My mother used to make mulayari payasam at home when I was quite young. Neither my brothers, nor I would care to touch it for the grains were so hard to chew even after hours of cooking. It was decades later that I came to know of the technique of making superbly delicious mulayari payasam.

Last year, one of my husband’s friends had come here, wishing to visit the famous Tirunelli temple. The millenniums old temple nestles on top of a hill with the breathtaking view of the majestic, forest-clad Western Ghats (Brahmagiri and Nilgiri mountains) where an ancient stone aqueduct brings fresh, cool mountain water into the temple.

My husband took his friend to the temple. Behind the temple is a hotel and a curio shop run by the son of the temple priest. There, they had a couple of glasses of mulayari payasam. The payasam turned out to be delicious and my husband purchased a packet of fresh bamboo rice.

The shop owner was kind enough to share with him the technique of making this wonderful payasam. I soon made mulayari payasam at home and from my husband’s expression as he sipped it, I saw that the payasam had indeed far exceeded his expectations. Since then, I have cooked mulayari payasam several times, making subtle adjustments here and there, the result each time improving upon the previous one.

I joyously share with you my finest recipe for this gem among payasams. Do cook and enjoy!

Ingredients (to make 1.5 litres of payasam):

     1)    Bamboo rice (cleaned, washed and sun-dried) – 200 gm. (see note)


     2)    Grated coconut – 645 gm. (from two large coconuts)
     3)    Coconut kernel – 15 gm.
     4)    Cashew nuts – 10 gm.
     5)    Kismis (sultanas or seedless raisins) – 10 gm.
     6)    Jaggery (unrefined cane sugar) – 350 gm.
     7)    Cardamom pods – 6 Nos.
     8)    Ghee – 2 teaspoons
     9)    Water – 1525 ml.

To prepare:

          Put all the bamboo rice into the dry-grind jar of your food processor. Grind it on low speed (the first notch) for 4 seconds. Stir and repeat twice more (a total of 12 seconds). Take care not to exceed the time as you need plenty of broken rice for getting the right texture (see picture).

          Put the grated coconut into a food processor. Measure out and set aside 1500 ml. of water. Grind the coconut to fine paste in 2 or 3 batches using as much of the measured water as may be necessary. Pour the paste into a stainless sieve set atop a fitting vessel. Squeeze out the thick coconut milk and set aside.

          Soak the pomace (coconut solids) once or twice more in the remaining water, knead well, sieve out the thin coconut milk and set aside separately.

Put the broken bamboo rice together with the thin coconut milk into a pressure cooker. Set on high heat. As soon as you hear the first whistle, lower the heat and cook slowly for 5 minutes. Now switch off the heat. By the time the cooker depressurizes normally, the bamboo rice should cook to perfection.

In the meantime, put the jaggery together with 25 ml. of water into a pan. Set it on low heat. Stir occasionally till the jaggery melts fully. Sieve and set aside.

Peel the cardamom pods and crush the seeds to powder. Chop the kismis and the cashew nuts separately to fine bits and set aside. Chop the coconut kernel too likewise and set aside.

Put the contents of the pressure cooker together with the melted jaggery into your payasam vessel (use a thick bottomed vessel or pan if possible). Set on high heat and stir frequently. As soon as it comes to a boil, turn down the heat and let cook for 5 minutes so that the bamboo rice sweetens as it absorbs the jaggery.

          Now turn up the heat and pour in the thick coconut milk. Stir continuously as you do not want the payasam to burn at the base. As soon as it starts boiling nicely, tip in the cardamom powder and switch off the heat.

          Set a skillet or small pan on low heat. Pour in the ghee and tip in the coconut bits. Stir continuously till the coconut turns a light brown in colour. Now throw in the cashew bits and stir till the cashew turns the same colour. Tip in the kismis bits, stir once and switch off the heat.

Pour the sizzling contents into the payasam, stir and cover with a lid. Your supremely delicious mulayari payasam is now ready to enjoy. Serve hot.

As you drink the payasam and munch on the delicious bamboo grains, the fried coconut pieces and the cashew bits, you are in heaven!

Bon appétit!


          Peanut lovers try garnishing mulayari payasam with a handful of skinned, fried peanuts (ground nuts) and enjoy!


          Please do not confuse original reddish brown bamboo rice with the green (paddy grown white rice soaked in bamboo juice and dried) rice sold in markets under the false name of bamboo rice.

Wednesday, 21 September 2016




          In my childhood, mother used to make this mouthwatering dish. No matter how much she made, it was never enough for all of us. It would just disappear in minutes! Ventiye upkari is so soft, it melts like butter in the mouth.

          Its sweet natural taste makes it impossible to stop once you spoon in the first mouthful. So easy to cook, it is a must be enjoyed dish, a plate you would crave to have every day!

Ingredients (for 2 servings):

     1)    Peeled vènti (the stem of the tender-most leaf of the taro plant (Colocasia Esculenta) / tarno alva dentu  or vènti in Konkani, palchèmbindé ilam thandu in Malayalam) – 500 gm. (see note)

     2)    Dry hot red chilies – 2 gm.
     3)    Coconut oil – 15 ml. (1 tablespoon)
     4)    Mustard seeds – ½ teaspoon
     5)    Salt – 5 gm.

To cook:

          Wash and drain the peeled venti. Chop the stems roughly to pieces of around 1 cm. (½ inch) size.

          Set a wide cast-iron wok on high heat. Pour in the coconut oil and throw in the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds are about to finish crackling, break each chili roughly to 2 or 3 pieces and drop them in. Stir once and chuck in the chopped venti. Tip in the salt, stir and cover with a cloche or lid.

A minute later, lift up the cloche and stir. Cover again and lower the heat. Stir occasionally and keep covered so that the steam melts the venti like butter. The taro stem pieces which had hitherto filled the wok are reduced to a fraction of the volume in 10 minutes’ time. Switch off the heat.

Your delicious ventiye upkari is now ready to serve. Enjoy this nectar-like treat hot as a side dish to rice or just slurp up a bowlful by itself!

Bon appétit!


          It is important that only the newest leaf stem is collected a little above where it joins the base. The tender leaf can be used to make delicious patrodo or umna patrodo. The stem can be peeled easily with a potato peeler. The tender stem cooks beautifully, is sweet and does not itch at all. The more mature stems are not used since they are fibrous and may itch in the mouth owing to the presence of calcium oxalate.

Saturday, 17 September 2016




          Masala dosas are created in several ways and varied tastes all over South India. Yet, all of them invariably bring forth that unique, mouthwatering aroma and that addictively enticing look which charms your nostalgic memories and makes you want to enjoy them forevermore. My dear children, who seem to have inherited my father’s gourmet palate, often pester me to make for them tummyfuls of my tastiest masala dosas. I happily share with you one of my finest masala dosa recipes. Do cook and enjoy!

Ingredients for the dosa batter:

     1)    Aged raw rice (see note) – 875 gm.
     2)    Parboiled Ponni rice – 125 gm.
     3)    Fenugreek seeds – 5 gm. (1 teaspoon)
     4)    Urud dal (split black gram lentils) – 250 gm.
     5)    Salt – 10 gm. (2 teaspoons)

Ingredients for the masala (filling):

     1)    Peeled potatoes – 750 gm.
     2)    Peeled beetroot – 250 gm.
     3)    Peeled carrot – 100 gm.
     4)    Stemless hot green chilies – 20 gm.
     5)    Peeled ginger – 7 gm.
     6)    Peeled onion – 150 gm.
     7)    Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
     8)    Cooking oil – 15 ml. (1 tablespoon)
     9)    Mustard seeds – 5 gm. (1 teaspoon)
     10)    Urud dal (split black gram lentils) – 10 gm. (2 teaspoons)
     11)    Garam masala powder – 2 gm. (½ teaspoon)
     12)    Kashmiri chili powder – 10 gm. (2 teaspoons)
     13)    Salt – 10 gm (2 teaspoons)
     14)    Water – 250 ml.
     15)    Coriander leaves of one plant (optional)

Ingredient for roasting the dosa:

     1)    Cooking oil to grease the pan (for cast-iron pan) or to sprinkle over the dosa as it starts to crisp (for non-stick pan) – 7.5 ml. (1 ½ teaspoons for each dosa)

To prepare the batter (make the batter today for masala dosas tomorrow):

          Soak the rice (both) and the fenugreek seeds together in water for 5 to 8 hours. Soak the urud dal (250 gm.) separately likewise.

          Rinse and drain the urud dal. Transfer to a wet grinder (for best results) and grind to superfine fluffy paste, adding water from time to time (when you feel the paste is getting too thick for the grinder). Take out the paste and put it in a large vessel (a 10 litre vessel would be ideal as you do not want the batter to overflow when it rises).

          Now rinse the soaked rice and the fenugreek in water, drain and transfer to the wet grinder. Grind likewise to superfine paste (The paste should not be too thick or too watery – if thick, the wet grinder will suffer, if watery, the dosa will. Dosa batter is just a shade thinner than cake batter).

          Transfer the paste to the same vessel. Cover with a lid and leave to rise overnight. Rinse the wet grinder with a little water and save the wash in a separate vessel.

          After resting overnight, the batter would have risen quite well. Take a look at the vessel in which you kept the milky water from washing the grinder. Gently tilt the vessel and drain off the clear water. Add the paste at the bottom to the dosa batter. Tip in the salt. Stir thoroughly, since the heavier rice paste tends to sink to the bottom. Set aside.

To make the masala:

          Dice the potatoes, the beetroot and the carrot roughly to chunks and put them in a pressure cooker. Pour in a cup (250 ml.) of water, put on the lid and set on high heat. As soon as you hear the first whistle, lower the heat and let cook for 10 minutes. Switch off the heat and let the cooker cool naturally (this provides enough time for the vegetables to cook to perfection).

          Meanwhile, chop the onion to superfine pieces and set aside. Chop the green chilies and the ginger together to superfine pieces and set aside. Pull the curry leaves off their sprigs and set aside.

          Check to see if the cooker is cool enough to open the lid (the steam should have subsided fully). If yes, transfer the contents to a mixing bowl and mash the vegetables with the bottom of a stainless steel glass. It is good to leave some small chunks for texture.

          Set a large cast-iron wok (for better taste) or frying pan on high heat. Pour in the cooking oil (15 ml.) and tip in the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds are about to finish spluttering, tip in the urud dal (10 gm.) and lower the heat. Stir till they turn a light brown in colour.

Throw in the chopped green chilies, the ginger and the curry leaves. Stir for a minute and tip in the powdered salt, the garam masala powder and the Kashmiri chili powder. Stir once. Now put in the mashed vegetables, turn up the heat and stir to mix thoroughly. As soon as the masala is hot, switch off the heat (if you are using coriander leaves to make the masala more aromatic, chop or break, add and stir once more).

To make the masala dosa:

          Set a flat cast-iron pan or a non-stick pan on high heat. Use a ladle (which can hold 150 ml. of batter) to stir the batter thoroughly. If you are using a cast-iron pan, grease it with 1½ teaspoons (7.5 ml.) of cooking oil as soon as it is hot. If you are using a non-stick pan, greasing has to be avoided since the batter will refuse to stick to the pan to form the dosa.

          Pour a ladleful of batter in the center of the pan. Put the bottom of the ladle at the center and softly spread the batter in continuous, ever-widening circles till you get a perfect round dosa.

Cover with a cloche and lower the heat. A minute later, lift off the cloche. If you are using a non-stick wok, just sprinkle 1½ teaspoons (7.5 ml.) of cooking oil over the dosa. Let the dosa roast slowly. Soon, you can see golden spots appearing here and there on the dosa. Use a spoon to spread some masala in a line across the length of the dosa. Use a flat showel headed trowel or spatula to fold either side of the dosa over the masala.

          Lift up the masala dosa and serve hot with green curry leaf chutney or coconut chutney or ekpanni chutney or with tomato chutney and sambar or okra sambar. Eat crispy hot masala dosas, dipping pieces in sambar and different chutneys one after the other as my kids do!

Masala dosa with Kappa bonda and Ekpanni chutney



          New rice from freshly harvested paddy is a translucent white in appearance and tends to be too sticky or gooey for the dosa. So it would be better to buy aged raw rice which is opaque and slightly cream in colour to get the perfect dosa. B.T. rice (Bombay Terminus rice) gives excellent results.




          Curry leaves and coconuts have been used in Indian cuisine since time immemorial. The curry leaf, known as Karbava pallo in Konkani, Kadi patta in Hindi and Karivèpila in Malayalam, comes from the Curry Tree – Murraya Koenigii, a beautiful evergreen dwarf tree with pinnate leaves that grows well in warm climates. It can also be grown successfully on sunny balconies in cities.

          The aromatic leaves are rich in carbohydrates, fibre, calcium, phosphorus, magnesium, copper, iron and in vitamins A, B, C and E. Curry leaf is believed to keep one’s heart and liver healthy, boost one’s immunity and revitalize one’s hair and skin.

It is widely used in Ayurvedic medicine in the treatment of infections, diabetes, cancer and liver ailments. Curry leaves combine incredibly well with coconut and fried black gram lentils to give you a fantastic chutney – a great side dish for rotis, chappatis, idlis, dosas, appos, masala dosas, machkats and uthappams.


     1)    Grated coconut – 125 gm.
     2)    Pulled tender curry leaves – 5 gm. (for grinding)
     3)    Hot green chilies – 8 gm.
     4)    Dry hot red chilies – 2 gm.
     5)    Tender curry leaves – 1 sprig (for tempering)
     6)    Coconut oil – 10 ml. (2 teaspoons)
     7)    Mustard seeds – 3 gm. (½ teaspoon)
     8)    Urud dal (split black gram lentils) – 5 gm. (1 teaspoon)
     9)    Powdered salt – 7 gm. (1½ teaspoons)
     10)    Lemon juice – 10 ml. (2 teaspoons)

To make:

          Put the grated coconut and the green chilies into your food processor. Grind to rough paste (without adding any water). Tip in the curry leaves (except 1 sprig), the lemon juice and the salt. Grind for a minute more and transfer to a bowl.

Set a skillet or small pan on low heat. Pour in the oil and tip in the mustard seeds. As soon as the mustard seeds are about to finish crackling, throw in the urud dal. Stir till the urud dal turns a light brown in colour. Pull the curry leaves off their sprig and throw them in. Stir once and switch off the heat. Tip the contents of the skillet over the chutney and mix well. Your delicious green curry leaf chutney is now ready to serve.

Green coconut chutney and Tomato chutney with Masala Dosa


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