Vendakai Gojju From Karnataka

Srilatha Main Dish, South Indian Leave a Comment

I love Kripal Singh’s Food Lovers TV where he spotlights older, unique, out of the way establishments mostly in Bengaluru. One of these episodes featured The New Modern Hotel (not sure of the name) in Bengaluru, and their homestyle cooking and thaali. Now, if I must choose someone to eat on my behalf, if that ever happens, I would choose Kripal. The way he experiences the food and relates the experience, the way he enjoys it – he is the BEST! The food featured was South Canara cuisine, I think it’s coastal karnataka, satvik food, plenty of coconut, and jaggery, and just everything good! I fell in love with this episode, and the side dish of okra gojju that he used the pooris to dip in. Googled the recipe, and I came up with what I think is the dish featured. From my research, it’s very similar to the pagarkai gojju made with a unique masala paste made of sesame seeds and coconut, in addition to the dals and red chilies. I had to make it immediately. Like the same evening. But I waited to serve it with with the pooris, along with a hodge podge thaali I made up with various leftovers, as I was craving a Woodlands style thaali. Here is the recipe!

Mirch Ka Salan

Srilatha Indian, Main Dish Leave a Comment

A complex dish with an unusual combination of spices, souring agents, and the star vegetable that’s actually a condiment! I have made bhaghare baingan which is very similar, but made with eggplant/brinjal. This year, I am getting a bounty of slim, long green chilies in my garden and was searching online for suitable new recipes, and ran into this. I have never actually had this dish in a restaurant but decided to make it, since we love bhagare baingan.
While looking for recipes, I did some research on the origins of the dish, and came across the fascinating story of how green chilies made their way into India. Hard to believe, but they are not native to India, considering how much every cuisine of India uses them, and how seamlessly integrated they seem, as to make one think they are native to India. Nope, just like tomatoes, they were brought to India by the Portuguese, specifically the famous Vasco da Gama who brought the saplings wrapped in moss as a gift — he picked them up from Spain, Brazil and Africa! In return, he took home the precious black gold, aka pepper!
Read all about how they made their way into Akbar’s and all the kitchens of India in this story:
http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/food-wine/food-story-the-saga-of-mirch-ka-salan/
By the way, I learned that Akbar was a staunch vegetarian! Wonders never cease, and Akbar continues to amaze me. This dish, with the influence of Karnataka, Telengana, and Marathwada cuisines, apparently appealed to Akbar’s “unifying Hindustan” sensitibilites. I love food stories! On to the recipe now.

Khobz, A Moroccan Bread

Srilatha Moroccan Leave a Comment

Khobz is a bread that is a staple in Morocco. We first got introduced to Moroccan cuisine in Indianapolis at a restaurant called El Morocco, and we became addicted to the bread, and the various vegetarian accompaniments – served in multiple courses, starting with the golden warm bread. Alas, the restaurant closed within a few months, much to our disappointment. But it led me on a hunt for Moroccan recipes online, and I believe I may have found the bread. It’s a simple bread, and I have pretty much followed the standard basic recipe, without too much alternations. I made a warm, moderately spicy vegetable soup. The bread is wonderfully porous to mop up the soup. I make the soup fairly liquidy, to dip the bread in.
This is a very basic white bread, and I didn’t experiment with alternate flours, or toppings even though the original recipe in most websites call for sesame seed topping.

Pagarkai Gojju (Bittergourd/Karela Spiced Gravy)

Srilatha Sides, South Indian Leave a Comment

This recipe was taught to me by my husband’s cousin, Indu, who is a fabulous cook. The title “pagarkai gojju” means Bittergourd Gravy. Bitter gourd, or as its sometimes called, bitter melon, is a green vegetable that is very bitter and is used extensively in Indian cuisine. Gojju is a Kannada term for a spiced gravy that typically incorporates sour, pungent, heat, and sweet tastes. Add to it the bitter taste of the gourd, and this dish truly tickles every inch of the palate. The sourness comes from the tamarind, the heat from the red chilies, and the sweet comes from jaggery/gud/vellam/brown sugar or raw, unrefined sugar. This dish is my husband’s favorite and is a real adventure in your mouth. On to the recipe now.