Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Tomato Saar with Ginger (Alle Tomato Saaru)

In my household, using Ginger/ Alle as an herb for Saaru is unheard of. Saaru is a soupy broth of herbs and condiments, couples well with rice and constitutes as a light and soothing lunch and dinner. Having said that, one cannot undermine the importance of Ginger and its curative properties in Indian food. This recipe is from my Ma's collection, sourced from Kannada magazine - Taranga. Interestingly, this one is a favorite among our household. The flavour of this Saaru has a very soothing effect, hence holds good for kids as well as elderly and senior citizens in the family. I added a stash of red lentils which needed to be used and it added a good texture to the Saaru.

My Ammama - maternal granny, is an octogenarian, a true matriarch of our family, hale-o-hearty woman, however cannot eat boiled or cooked rice and needs a good mash of food before she can eat. She is on dentures, hates to wear them, rebukes them as artificial aid and like a true Konkani, loves her dose of Dalithoi, Upkari and Patrode. Funnily, she enjoys spicy and savoury food and dislikes bland food. If she dislikes what is made for lunch or dinner, she will grab a bite and stop right there. She will pompously declare that the food is no good. She jokes around by saying - Don't give me patient food when I am ok. We all oblige with laughter! Ma makes Alle Tomato Saaru for her on many occasions and she enjoys her lunch with a satiated calmness which only my Ma and Pachi's can read and comprehend. She eats a little bit and then declares with a grin that this food makes her soul happy. I like this recipe for the tenderness and nostalgic memories built around it.

~ Alle Tomato Saaru ~
Preparation time: 5 minutes

Cooking time: 1o-15 minutes

Source: Original recipe from Kannada magazine - Taranga

Tomato (ripe, chopped and pureed) - 2 cups
Red Lentils (washed and drained) [optional] - 1/2 cup
Ginger (grated) - 1 tbsp
Garlic (grated) - 1 tbsp
Onion (finely chopped) - 3 tbsp
Coriander powder - 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder - 1/3 tsp
Green Chilli (split lengthwise) - 1

For Seasoning -
Red Chillies (split into two) - 1
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - 3-4

Rinse the tomatoes and puree them in a blender. Bring this to a boil along with grated ginger and garlic. Adjust salt, add green chilli and chopped onions when semi-cooked. Add 1/2 cup of hot water if desired. Add washed red lentils at this stage. After it comes to a rolling boil, simmer with the lid on for 5-8 minutes. Once done and lentils are cooked, add coriander powder and give a good stir and turn off the flame. In a separate frying pan, heat few spoons of oil/ghee, season with mustard seeds and once they begin to pop add curry leaves and red chillies. Pour this seasoning on the Saaru and cover with a lid. Serve hot with cooked white or parboiled rice.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Snake Gourd Side Dish (Poddaley Upkari/ Padwal chi Bhaaji)

Fall is one of my favorite season primarily because we find the freshest of Gourds in various sizes and shapes, brightest greens and the crisp air makes me reach out to the warm food and slurpy hot soups cooking on the stove. A good bowl of Poddaley Upkari, is comforting and nurturing. As guilty as charged, this was one dish I despised as a kid and today I crave for this super delicious Upkari. The Snake Gourd is known as Poddaley in Konkani, Padwalkaayi in Kannada and Padwal in Marathi/ Kokani.

I know many who still detest this motley vegetable. :) In my home, my Mom had certain rules which we had to obey, one of them being following table manners and guest visit manners. It meant that while we had guests at home and while we visited our friends and family for breakfast/ lunches/ dinners we graciously respect what is served on our plate and never fuss around and most importantly behave in theory and practice. If we disliked something, we were told to take a tiny portion and not offend our guests. If we crossed our boundaries, when we reached home, we got to hear the music for days together!

Since I hated eating this vegetable, she always told me to take one tablespoon of any dish in my plate which I never liked; but I stealthily obeyed and obliged out of love, even if I hated it at that point. Later as I grew up, I began craving for the same vegetable in question. Strange how taste buds evolve and your palate changes over a period of time! Many a times, I used to force Mom to buy the Gourd so that she would use the seeds to make Poddaley Biye Sanna Pole, which taste yummy! The golden rule of one tablespoon lingers in my mind even to this date and I follow it even for the dishes that I dislike.

~ Poddaley Upkari ~
Preparation time: 5 minutes
Cooking time: 15 minutes

Snake Gourd/ Padwal/ Poddaley (chopped) - 1 and 1/2 cup

For Seasoning -
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - 3-5
Green Chillies (slit lengthwise) - 1

For Garnish - grated coconut (fresh or frozen) [optional] - 2 tbsp

Rinse the Gourd and scrape off the outer dark skin with a knife. Once done, extract the seeds and keep aside. Chop the remaining gourd into tiny pieces and keep aside. Heat a deep dish pan with a few spoons of oil, season with mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add green chillies and give a good stir. Lower the flame and add the chopped vegetables. Add 1/2 cup of hot water, adjust salt as per taste and cover with lid on. Bring to a rolling boil and simmer on low flame for 8-10 minutes. Once water evaporates and the vegetable is completely cooked, turn off the flame and garnish with grated coconut. Serve warm as a side dish.