Ambode/Kadle beLe vade

Ambode(deep-fried chana dal patties) is a quintessential accompaniment in a traditional iyengar meal for any rice dishes like puLiyogre, mango rice etc.I had been planning to make it for a long time but the thought of deep-frying, had been putting me off ūüėČ With an Ugadi potluck planned, it seemed like the perfect opportunity to make this, ¬†with step by step instructions from mom who makes the best ambode!

As with any Indian dish, this can be made with a lot of variations. I personally like to make it with mint. You can also use cilantro, dill (sappsige soppu) if you like the strong aroma, onions can be added( being a tam-brahm, I consider it a sacrilege to add onions to this dish :D). The trick to making crispy ambode is to not let the chana dal  soak longer, one hour of soak time makes the crispiest ambode!


Ingredients : Serves 8-10

3 cups chana dal. (Soak for an hour)

5-6 red chilies ( Use half bydagi and half guntur)

1 packed cup mint leaves, washed and chopped finely.

1 pinch hing

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

2 table spoons shredded fresh coconut

2 table spoons dry coconut (koppari)

Salt to taste

1 tablespoon ghee (optional but recommended)

3/4 – 1 liter oil for frying

In a blender, finely powder the chilies, fresh and dry coconut. Add turmeric, salt and hing. Next drain the chana dal completely using a sieve and transfer it to the blender. Using the pulse option of the blender, pulse the mixture until the chana dal is coarsely ground. Be sure to not grind to a paste, coarse ground dough adds to the crispiness.

Transfer the contents to a mixing bowl and then add the chopped mint leaves, and ghee. Mix thoroughly.

Make lime size balls out of the dough and keep aside.

When the oil in the frying pan is hot and the stove is on medium heat, take the lime size ball of dough and flatten it out into a patty, ¬†making sure the patty is 1/4″ in thickness. Add about 5-6 patties at a time and fry on both sides till golden brown. ¬†Do not fry them on high heat, this makes the outside get brown while the dough on the inside remains under-cooked.

Serve with a full course of tam-brahm meal ;). It also pairs well with ketchup or mint chutney.

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.

Set Dosa

Set Dosa is a dish that is something very unique to Karnataka. It is never on the menu in restaurants here in the US and so has me craving for this now and then. With the in-laws visiting us, it was the perfect opportunity to learn and savor this recipe of my mother-in-law. Apart from the Mysore masala dosa, this one is a crowd-pleaser, especially because the dosa turns out soft and spongy. The sponginess comes from the use of puffed rice when grinding the dosa batter.

Set dosa tastes best with some coconut chutney and vegetable kurma or sagu. This is one of those guilty pleasures that takes me back to the Darshinis of namma BengaLooru. Without further ado here is an ode to namma BengaLooru.


Ingredients : Serves 4-5, makes around 12-14 dosas.

4 cups rice

1 cup puffed rice/mandakki/kadle puri

1/2 cup urad dal

1/4 cup methi/fenugreek seeds

1/2 cup poha/beaten rice/avalakki

Rinse the rice, urad dal and methi seeds thoroughly and soak them for about 5-6 hours. During the last 2 hours of this process, soak the avalakki and puffed rice.

Grind it to a thick batter with water to a thick pouring consistency. Ferment the batter overnight.

Heat a tava,  and pour a ladle full of batter, do not spread the batter too thin or else you will not get spongy dosas. Spray oil and flip the dosa once it is thoroughly cooked.

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!

Unde huLi/ Nucchina unde/ Steamed lentil dumplings

This is a very traditional dish of Karnataka and a very healthy recipe as it is full of proteins and it is steamed. Unde means dumplings or balls, huLi is the term used for the kadi or the majjigehuLi or the mor Kozambu that accompanies the dish.  There are two variations of  the dumplings. One is the Tam Brahm version with no onion and garlic and the other one has both. The recipe gives both variations. The kadi that is traditionally made with this uses coconut, toor and chana dal. It is the same recipe as mor kozambu minus the vegetables.  But I have an easier no fuss version here!




Ingredients : Serves 3-4

Lentil dumplings

1 and half cup toor dal

1 table-spoon chana dal

1 table-spoon moong dal

4-5 red chillies ( or use 2-3 green chillies )

1/2 ” piece of ginger

2-3 tablespoons of shredded coconut

1 cup finely chopped dil leaves or soppsige soppu ( or use coriander )

Salt to taste

Pinch of asafoetida or ( 1 cup finely chopped onion )

Soak the dals for about 4 hours after washing thoroughly. Grind the coconut and red chillies to a fine paste. To this add the dal and pulse the mixture. The mixture should be coarsely ground. Transfer to a bowl and add the chopped dil or cilantro. At this stage add the hing or the chopped onion. Add salt and mix well. Steam this mixture for about 10-15 minutes. Once the mixture is cooled, shape the mixture into dumplings. Some people prefer to make the dumplings first and then steam it. But sometimes they end up cooking unevenly. I prefer to steam the mixture and then make the dumplings. This is a tip I got from my mom!

Kadi/ Majjige huLi

2 cups thick yogurt

2 tablespoons besan or chickpeas flour

1/2 ” piece of ginger

1 cup chopped coriander

A few sprigs of curry leaves

A pinch of turmeric

A pinch of hing/asafoetida or ( 2 small cloves of garlic )

Salt to taste

Mustard, cumin seeds and oil for seasoning

Beat the yogurt and add the chickpeas flour and bring this to a simmer. Add a cup of water if the consistency is too thick. Grind the garlic, ginger and cilantro to a fine paste and add this to the yogurt. Add turmeric, curry leaves and salt to taste. Let this boil for another 5 minutes.

Temper the mixture with mustard, cumin seeds. If using hing, add the hing to the oil at this point.

Serving suggestion : Add the kadi to a bowl and then add the dumplings to this. This allows the dumplings to absorb the flavour of the kadi and it tastes even better!





Beans, Methi and Besan Palya

String Beans happens to be one of my favorite veggies and there are so many things one can do with it. String beans are quite ubiquitous in Indian cooking and can be added to anything from Sambar, Pulao, Kurmas, Upma to simple palya or stir fry. One of my favorite ways to eat it is the simple palya with anna (rice) and saaru(rasam). That for me is comfort food! This recipe is a slight variation and tastes good with roti. This one’s from my mom’s repertoire of improvisations!

Ingredients : Serves 2-3

1 pound or half kilo of string beans

1 cup of chopped methi leaves

1 teaspoon red chilli powder

2 pinches of hing

A pinch of turmeric

1 teaspoon mustard seeds

2 tablespoons of besan or chickpeas flour

2 tablespoons of oil

Salt to taste

1 teaspoon lime juice

Chop the beans finely, steam it and keep aside. In a pan heat the oil and add the mustard seeds, once it splutters, add turmeric, chilli powder, hing and besan. Fry this for a minute on low flame. Add the methi leaves and fry for 1-2 minutes. Now add the steamed beans and salt and mix well. Fry this for another minute. Add the lime juice and mix well. Enjoy this with roti or chapathi.

Adai Dosa/ Bele Dose/ Savoury multi-grain Indian Crepes

Call it by whatever name, adai dose is one tasty and nutritious breakfasts and easy to make. It doesn’t need to be fermented unlike other dosas.¬† Strangely enough I used to dislike this while growing up.¬† It is now a regular feature in my breakfast repertoire!

Ingredients : Serves 4-5

3/4 cup Toor dal

1 and 1/4 cup rice

1 handful of urad dal

1 handful of chana dal

1/4″ piece of ginger

Pinch of asafoetida/hing

1 cup chopped coriander/cilantro

4-5 dry red chillies

Salt to taste

Wash all the grains thoroughly and¬† let them soak in water for about 3-4 hours. Grind this mixture into smooth batter along with the ginger, red chillies and asafoetida. Let the batter sit for around 4-5 hours or overnight. This doesn’t ferment unlike the regular dosa batter.

Add salt and coriander just before making the dosas and mix well. The consistency of the batter is the same as dosa batter or it should be dropping consistency.

Heat a gridle and pour  about 1 and half ladles of the batter and spread it evenly. Spray oil around the edges. Cover and cook for a minute. Flip the dosa and cook on the other side.

Serve dosas with chutney or chutney power and ghee!

Tangy Badnekaayi Palya/ Baingan Curry/ Kathrikayi PuliSheth Kariyumbh

If the last part of the blog title was a mouthful, thats what the dish is called among Iyengars!

This is one recipe I learnt from my mom’s sister. This recipes uses very simple everyday ingredients. The usual Rasam powder and tamarind that almost all south Indian house holds have stocked up in the pantry is all you need for this recipe. No roasting, no blending, no high calorie peanuts or coconut!

Ingredients: Serves 4
4 long purple or green Baingan ( Indian egg-plant)
2 small potatoes ( optional)
1 tsp rasam powder
A pinch of hing, turmeric powder
1 tsp tamarind paste
Curry leaves 5-6
Mustard seeds and 2 tbsp oil for seasoning
Cut the baingan and potatoes into 1 inch long inches about 1/4 inch thick. Remember to soak the baingan in a bowl of water as you cut them, to prevent them from turning brown.
Heat 2 tbsp oil in a frying pan. Once it is hot, add and let the mustard seeds splutter. Then add the curry leaves, a pinch of hing and turmeric powder. Add the cut vegetables and let them cook till the skin of the baingan is soft and translucent brown.
Then add 1 tsp rasam powder, 1 tsp tamarind paste and salt to taste. Allow these ingredients to blend well with the cooked vegetables for about 5 minutes.
Serve with fresh hot roti. Also tastes great if you want to eat it with rice, remember to add that spoon of aromatic peanut oil when eating with rice though!

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 ūüôā

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.

Bitter Gourd/ Karela/ Hagalakaayi Gojju

Haagalakaayi or bitter gourd is one of my favourite veggies! I really can’t get an apt translation for gojju, tamarind and jaggery paste ¬†doesn’t do justice. ūüôā The haagalakaayi gojju that my mom makes must be the best in the world! I have tried to re-create the recipe here.


3 small bitter gourds

1 1/2 tablespoon rasam powder

1 teaspoon turmeric

2 tablespoons tamarind paste

half a jaggery cube

4-5 curry leaves

2-3 green chillies

1 teaspoon mustard

1 tablespoon of roasted black sesame/till/yellu powder

salt to taste

1 tablespoon oil

Cut the bitter gourd into small pieces. Add salt and turmeric and keep aside for half an hour. This helps to bring out all the bitter juice from the gourd. In a kadai, heat  the oil, add mustard seeds. After they splutter, add green chillies, curry leaves and the gourd.

Saute the mixture till the gourd caramelizes or turns brown. This might take about 10-15 minutes. Once the gourd turns brown, the bitterness reduces. Add the rasam powder, tamarind and jaggery to the kadai. Add some water to adjust it to a sauce like consistency.

Add more salt after tasting. Turn down the heat and let the mixture simmer for 10 minutes. Add the sesame powder and mix well.

Enjoy yummy gojju with steaming hot rice and some peanut oil.