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.

Tomato-Corn Pulao

Packing lunch for office is always a challenging task. We prefer to eat rice for lunch and rotis for dinner. The usual rice and sambar becomes boring sometimes and i make pulao to break the monotony.  As usual I prefer recipes which are easy and simple to make. I finished making this tomato and corn pulao in 15-20 minutes today.

Ingredients : Serves 2

1 cup long grain basmati rice

2 cups water

1 small onion diced

1 clove of garlic

1″ ginger piece

2 ripe tomatoes

1 cup frozen/ fresh corn

1″ cinnamon stick

3-4 cloves

1 teaspoon cumin seeds/ jeera

2 green chilies

2-3 scallions/ spring onions for garnish

2 tablespoons of oil

Salt to taste

Into a blender, add the tomatoes, green chillies, ginger, garlic and spices.  Puree this mixture without adding water. Heat oil in a pressure cooker.  Add the onions and saute till translucent. Now add the tomato puree and corn.Wash the rice thoroughly and add it to the pressure cooker. Boil the two cups of water separately or you can just use hot tap water.and add it the cooker. Add salt and cover the cooker.  Turn off the heat on the cooker after 2-3 whistles. Garnish with chopped scallions.

If you don’t have a pressure cooker, simply cook the rice in your usual way. Use a frying pan to follow the same procedure. Add the cooked rice in the end and mix well.

Serve hot with any raita of your choice.

Eggplant / Badnekaayi Yengaai palya/ Bharwan Baingan

Put a plate of Badnekaayi engaai palya with akki rotti and i am right up there in heaven. Piping hot akki rotti and the melt in your mouth badnekaayi palya with the nutty flavour of peanuts and a hint of coconut, I cannot begin to describe how amazing the taste is.

This recipe is my MIL’s signature dish. Having never eaten this before marriage, i instantly fell in love with this combo. It soon became the favorite dish on my side of the family. This is the same dish that they serve in North Karnataka restaurants with joLada rotti. But much more healthy as it has a lot more vegetables and is pressure cooked instead of being shallow fried.

The usual method of making this recipe is to cut egg plants down in the middle and fill the masala inside it and shallow fry it until it cooks. Can you imagine the amount of oil used for  an everyday dish like this one ?! That is the reason i love this version of the dish. And it is faster too. I finished cooking this dish start to finish in 30 minutes.

Ingredients : Serves 4

4 small egg plants/baingan quartered without cutting all the way through

2-3 small onions or 1 large onion, quartered.

1 green bell pepper/capsicum cut into strips.

1 potato cut into 1 inch cubes

1/2 bottle gourd or 5-6 tondekaayi/ tindora

2 tablespoons oil

For the masala

2 tablespoons peanuts

2 tablespoons roasted Bengal gram dal or hurigadle.

1 heaped tablespoon rasam powder

1 teaspoon niger seeds or uccheLLu

1 tablespoon tamarind pulp

1/2 cup of coriander

1-2 tablespoons of shredded coconut

Salt to taste

1 cup of hot of water

Cut the vegetables into chunks. The bigger the chunk the tastier the dish turns out 🙂

Heat oil directly in the pressure cooker, add all the vegetables. Saute them for 5 minutes. Meanwhile, add all the ingredients for the masala and grin to a fine paste adding a little water.  Pour this paste into the pressure cooker. Add hot water.  Cover the pressure cooker and turn off the heat after 3 whistles of the cooker. Serve hot with akki rotti or joLada rotti.

If niger seeds are not available, white sesame seeds or till can be used as a substitute. You can also use red, yellow or orange bell peppers. Make sure you increase the quantity of rasam powder as the colored bell peppers tend to render the dish sweet.  You can also add baby corn to the dish.