AvarekaaLu palya/usli

Avarekai is apparently known as flat beans(I had to google for it!) in English and more popularly known as Surati Papdi in Indian stores in the US. Avarekai always evokes memories of my grandpa and also the erstwhile winters of Bangalore. If you are wondering why I chose the word erstwhile winters, it is a topic for another blog post :). Grandpa loved any dish made out of avarekaaLu! He would bring 2-3 kgs of avarekai from the market and leave it out in the open during the cool winter nights. This would make the avarekaaLu have more “sogadu”. To loosely translate the term into english, it means having a nice fragrance and an oily sheen to the beans. Then came the laborious process of shell the avarkaaLu. Next step was to separate the tender ones which would be used for making akki rotti. The big ones would be used to make saaru, upma etc.

Seeing as the love for avarekaaLu has been passed on through the next generations, I love using them in all kinds of dishes. Once such dish that I learnt from mother-in-law is the avarekai palya or usli. This pairs beautifully with plain akki rotti, puri or if you are little health freak like me, it goes well with chapatis too. I have to make do with the frozen variety here in the US though!


Ingredients: Serves 3-4

1 bag of frozen avarekaaLu or fresh beans from about 1.5 kgs of avarekaai

1 medium bunch methi leaves, chopped (optional but recommended)

2 teaspoons jeera powder

2 teaspoon mustard seeds

2-3 green chillies

1-2 cloves garlic

1 inch ginger

Onion 1 small chopped

Coconut 1/2 cup

Cilantro 1/2 cup chopped

Oil – 2-3 tablespoons

Salt to taste

Grind 1 tsp of jeera, 1 tsp mustard garlic, ginger, green chilli, coconut and cilantro to a fine paste with little water.
In a pressure cooker, heat oil, add mustard and jeera seeds and wait till the mustard splutters. Next add onion and saute.  Add the paste and saute for a minute. Add methi leaves and saute. Next add avarkaaLu, salt and little water if needed. Pressure cook for 3 whistles. Serve with plain akki rotti, puri or chapati.

Corn- Pomegranate Kosambari

Kosambari is a super healthy South Indian side dish that usually uses a raw vegetable (such as cucumber/carrot) and a lentil (moong or chana daal) as it’s main ingredients. It is that crunchy and perfect balance of salt, sour and spice often coming from lemon juice and slit green chillies. Try this unconventional version without the lentil, but with plenty of colored vegetables ( loaded with the much hyped about anti-oxidants), corn for the crunch, pepper for the spice, raw mango for the sour and yes, to a add a twist, pomegranate kernels for sweet! The secret to the whole recipe is chopping all the veggies as tiny and uniform as you can. Considering how healthy and tasty it is, you won’t guilt yourself going for the seconds on this one.

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Red, yellow and orange peppers – Finely evenly chopped to corn kernel size

Corn- 1 cup ( Thaw the frozen corn for an hour)

Pomegranate kernels – 1 cup

Raw mango – ½ cup finely chopped

Cilantro, shredded coconut , mustard seeds and oil for garnishing ( optional)

Salt to taste

Fresh ground pepper powder ½ tbsp.

Toss in all the diced veggies, pomegranate seeds, corn and cilantro in a mixing bowl. Splutter ½ tbsp of mustard seeds in ½ tbsp. of oil, Add salt, pepper powder and additional fresh lemon juice if needed. Enjoy your full week’s worth of antioxidants!!


Green apple pickle


Green apple pickle

Ever crave for instant mango pickle, but realize it is not the season for raw mangoes?? Here’s one recipe that you can use as a substitute for raw mango pickle and can be made instantaneously since green apples are ubiquitous throughout the year. They taste almost as good as raw mango. This comes very close in taste to “dhedeer uppinkai” that we all love at South Indian weddings.


Green apple- cut into 1” thin pieces

1 tbsp each of mustard powder, methi (fenugreek)powder, turmeric powder, red chilli powder

Fresh squeezed lemon juice from 1-2 medium sized lemons

Oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds and pinch of hing ( asafoetida) for tempering

Salt to taste.

Cut the green apple into 1”pieces. Add all the above ingredients except salt and let it stand overnight in the refrigerator. Few hours before you are ready to serve, temper with mustard seeds in oil and add salt and lemon juice per taste. If you need extra spice, fine chop some green chillies and add them into the oil when you temper the mustard seeds. You can stock up the excess, refrigerate it and use it for upto 1 week.


Grilled bellas with Sriracha…aah!!

Grilled bellas with Sriracha…aah!!!

If you tired of seeing fried appetizers at every party ( like me☺)here’s a healthy one to kick start your next party.

Good part about this recipe is, you can use your imagination to create any kind of filling that goes into the mushrooms.

Even better part is this recipe takes the best hot sauce in the world, Sriracha! Just load it up with cheese and the savoury Sriracha sauce and all is golden!.

Ingredients: ( Serves 6-8)

Portobello mushrooms about 4

Topping#1: Tofu (extra firm) 1 block, Spinach 1 cup ,Seasoning ( Italian herb or any generic seasoning)

Topping #2: 1 cup Roasted red peppers, 1 cup chopped onions, toasted pine nuts and handful cilantro

Sriracha hot sauce ( any hot sauce will do, but no sauce tickles your taste buds like this one!!)

Mozzarella cheese 1 cup

Oilve oil spray


Wash the mushrooms, trim the stem and scoop out the undersurface clean with a spoon. In a pan, sautee the tofu, spinach with the seasoning and salt added. Then, gently fill in the tofu and spinach into the mushroom till the cleaned out brown bed is covered.

Instead you can also lightly sautee finely chopped red bell peppers and onions and load them into the mushroom. You can sprinkle some toasted pine nuts and cilantro too.

If you are feeling lazy (like I was the first time I made them) you can just spray olive oil and then add dollops of sauce directly from the bottle onto the loaded mushroom. If you are in a more energetic mood ( like I was when made them for the second time), using a basting brush to coat a mix of olive oil and hot sauce onto neatly halved mushrooms. Finally top the mushrooms with cheese, generously.

If you are in a hurry, you can directly bake them in the oven at 350 deg for about 30 min. If you happen to have sometime on hand, the better way is to wrap them real tight in plastic wrap and refrigerate for about 4 hrs prior to baking. The latter method is better as the toppings have more time to soak in the oil and sauce, adding more flavor. Add a dash of extra Sriracha sauce on the side while serving.

Tip: If your mushrooms leave out a lot of water like mine did, gently soak up the excess water using the ever faithful super absorbent Bounty tissue!















BaaLekaayi palya/Raw Plantain stir fry

Raw plantain is a cousin to the everyday banana and used often in south Indian households. They are mostly used for making banana chips but other popular dishes include this palya and baLekaayi bajji. Without further ado, here is the recipe for baaLekayi palya. This pairs well as a side dish with rasam and rice.


Ingredients : Serves 2-3

Raw plantains – 4 small, diced into 1″ pieces

3 tablespoons oil

1 tablespoon rasam powder

1/2 tablespoon tamarind extract

1 sprig curry leaves

1/2 teaspoon mustard

1/2 teaspoon chana dal

1/2 teaspoon urad dal

A pinch of turmeric

Coconut 2 tablespoons (optional)

Heat the oil in frying pan and add mustard. Once the mustard seeds splutter, add chana dal and urad dal and fry till golden brown. Next add rasam powder, turmeric, curry leaves and the plantain and cover it and let it cook on low heat for about 10-15 mins.

The plantains need a little more oil then other vegetables because they tend to stick to the pan because of their high starch content. So if you feel the plantain is sticking to the sides of the pan, add a drizzle of oil.

Once the plantain pieces are cooked, add the tamarind pulp and toss gently. Once cooked, they tend to break if mixed vigorously.

Garnish with grated coconut and serve with rice and rasam.

Go green!

Go Green!

Green Chana ( chickpea)- Green mango chutney ( Hasi Kadalekai-Mavinakai chutney)Image

This is an easy to make,  irresistible “green “ recipe  to make the next time you have fresh raw green mangoes and fresh tender green chickpeas on hand. Chickpea and it’s tender green version are a great source of protein to add to any veggie diet.  Add to that the tangy taste of fresh raw mango, you have a winning combination.

Growing up, I remember going to the local market and bringing home small shrubs sprouting fresh green chana  and how over casual conversations, we would shell them from the pods and eat them for a great evening snack. This is recipe we learned from my mom’s older sister and is well worth keeping.


1 cup shelled green tender chickpeas

1 cup small raw mango cubes

4-5 strings of Cilantroe

½ cup grated coconut

3 slit green chillies

1” fresh ginger

String of curry leaves, pinch of hing, Mustard seeds,  urad dal and chana dal and oil for seasoning

Salt to taste


Method: Season the mustard seeds, urad dal and chana dal till the dal is golden brown. Then add the grated coconut, fresh ginger pieces and the green mango pieces. In a blender, add the shelled chickpeas and cilantroe. Grind all the ingredients into a coarse paste. Add salt to taste. Tastes great to dip with any appetizer!


Pineapple Gojju

Pineapple gojju brings memories of “baaLe yele oota” or food served on a banana leaf. It is features very commonly on the menu during weddings or other functions in a typical kannada household. I bought a big pineapple and didnt know how to finish it. I had been wanting to try it for quite sometime now and this was a perfect opportunity. Dont skimp on the coconut while making this recipe, that is what gives it that yummy taste!


Ingredients : Serves 4

Pineapple : half, cut into chunks

Dried coconut (koppari) : 1/4 cup

Red Chillies : 4-5

Curry leaves : 1 sprig

Poppy seeds/ gasagase : 1 tablespoon

Urad dal : 3 tablespoons

Hing : 1 pinch

Turmeric : 1 pinch

Oil : 3 table spoons

Mustard seeds : 1 teaspoon

Heat a few drops of oil in a saute pan and add the urad dal, chillies, hing, coconut and poppy seeds. Roast them till the urad dal turns golden brown. Grind all the mixture with water into a smooth paste .


Heat the oil in a kadai and add mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add the pineapple pieces and add about 1/2 cup of hot water. Let the pineapple chunks cook for a couple of minutes.  Add the paste and let this simmer for a few minutes. Add salt and taste it. Depending on the sweetness/tartness of the pineapple add a few spoons of jaggery powder and tamarind pulp to adjust the taste.


Enjoy with steaming hot rice and some peanut oil!

Green tomato chutney

Green tomatoes are very hard to find most times and whenever I find them, I never miss an opportunity to make this chutney. If you are wondering what green tomatoes, they are just regular tomatoes which are unripe.

This goes very well with dosas, chapathi and can be used like salsa as well!



3-4 green tomatoes

Green chillies 4-5

Curry leaves 1 spring

Cilantro 1 cup

Jaggery 1 small cube

Garlic 2-3 cloves

Salt to taste

Oil 1 tablespoon

Cut the green tomatoes into big pieces. Heat the oil in a pan and add the green tomatoes, curry leaves and garlic. Cook them until the tomatoes slightly change color and become soft. To this add, jaggery and let it cool.

Add cilantro and salt and blend everything together.


15 minute Palak Paneer


Another quick all time favorite recipe…..it always amazes me how some restaurants load up this recipe with spices and grease and take away from the comfort food feeling!

This recipe here uses very few simple ingredients and no butter or cream what so ever! And it’s a great way to feed your kids the healthy goodness of spinach and Paneer.

Ingredients: Serves 4

Spinach coarsely chopped 1 bag

Paneer ( Cottage cheese) 20 small cubes ( You can make Paneer at home or buy pre cut cubes from the store)

Green Chillies – 3

Garlic 1″

Ginger 1″

Garam Masala 1 tsp

Tomato – 1 large chopped

Milk 2% – 8 oz

Cilantroe – For garnishing

Fennel seeds and 1 tsp oil – For seasoning

Salt to taste

In a frying pan, heat 1 tsp oil and allow the fennel seeds to splutter. Then add the chopped onions, crushed ginger and garlic and saute till the onions turn golden brown. Then add the chopped green chillies and tomatoes. Fry till the oil starts to separate out from the tomato. Then add the garam masala and the chopped spinach. Transfer this into a blender and grind using 2% milk, making sure the consistency of the paste does not become too watery.

Add salt to taste and toss in the Paneer cubes. Garnish with cilantroe. Set aside for about 30 mins so the Paneer soaks in the spices from the paste. Serve with rotis.

Tip: If you are using frozen Paneer, thaw it ahead of time for about an hour or so. This will avoid boiling the Paneer with the spinach, which will end up leaving the Paneer fragmented and crumbly.

5 minute Peanut Chutney

This is a less than 5 minute yummy chutney recipe, best for those days when you are tired, hungry and need a quick fix side to go with dosa, idli or rotis. Or serve it with your favorite Imagesnack too!

Ingredients: Serves 4

Salted roasted peanuts – 1 1/2 cup

Red chillies 3-4

Tamarind paste 1/2 tsp

For the seasoning:

Curry leaves 1 string

Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp

Urad dal 1/2 tsp

Hing – A pinch


Salt to taste

Grind the peanuts,1/2 the string of curry leaves and red chillies into a smooth paste at dripping consistency using water in a blender.

Then add the tamarind paste and salt.

Season with mustard seeds, urad dal, hing and the remaining curry leaves.

Your chutney is ready in a jiffy!