Momo Achar| Peanut Chutney For Momos

The husband was in Sikkim earlier this year on an official get-together, and he told me endless stories about the place on his return. He loved the Sikkimese momos especially, the many varieties that are available. I was intrigued by his descriptions of the yellow chutney served alongside momos by the streetside in Sikkim, Momo Achaar in local parlance. In Bangalore, we only get a spicy red chutney with momos, so this was new and interesting.

So, this yellow Momo Achaar was what I decided to make when Sikkimese cuisine was chosen as the theme for the Shhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge this month. The Sikkimese follow a mostly non-vegetarian diet, with simple food made using minimal ingredients. That said, the food is hearty and delicious, several locally grown spices, herbs, greens and vegetables featuring in the dishes.

Coming back to the Momo Achaar, I made it using this recipe from Healthy Recipe Home as the base, with a few little changes here and there. Peanuts are the major ingredient in this chutney, which tastes absolutely delightful. I kept it mildly spicy with a hint of sourness, and it went beautifully with not just the momos I prepared, but also with rotis, parathas, dosas and idlis. You have to try this out, if you haven’t already! The husband loved it to bits and said it tasted exactly like the chutney he had had in Sikkim, I’m happy to report.

Luckily, the two secret ingredients my partner Aruna gave me for the Shhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge – garlic and peanuts – were just right for me to make this chutney. On that note, you must check out Aruna’s blog, Vasu’s Veg Kitchen, a treasure trove of well-explained recipes from around the globe. Look at the beautiful dish that Aruna made using the two secret ingredients I assigned her!

Now, let me take you through the way I prepared the Momo Achaar. I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #292. The co-host this week is Ai @ Ai Made It For You.

Ingredients (makes about 2 cups):

  1. 1/3 cup sesame seeds
  2. 1 cup peanuts
  3. 1/2 tablespoon oil
  4. 2 dry red chillies
  5. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  6. A small onion
  7. 5-6 garlic cloves
  8. 6 medium-sized tomatoes
  9. 2 green chillies
  10. Salt to taste
  11. 2 tablespoons chopped coriander
  12. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  13. 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  14. Juice of 2 lemons or to taste
  15. 1 tablespoon honey or to taste (optional)


1. Peel the ginger and chop roughly. Peel the garlic cloves. Peel off the skin of the onion and chop roughly. Chop the green chillies and tomato roughly, too. Keep aside.

2. Dry roast the peanuts and sesame seeds together, on medium flame, till they start turning brown and crunchy. Take care to ensure that they do not burn. Transfer to a plate. Keep aside.

3. In the same pan, add in the oil. Then, add the chopped ginger and onion, garlic cloves and the dry red chillies. Saute on medium flame till the onion starts to brown, 2-3 minutes.

4. Add the chopped tomatoes and green chillies to the pan too. Cook on medium flame till the tomatoes turn mushy, 2-3 minutes. Switch off gas and allow all the cooked ingredients to cool down fully.

5. When all the cooked ingredients have entirely cooled down, transfer to a mixer jar. Add in salt to taste, turmeric powder, roasted cumin powder, chopped coriander, lemon juice to taste and a little water. Grind everything together to a smooth paste.

6. Mix in honey to taste, if using.

7. Allow the chutney to cool down fully before transferring it to a clean, dry, air-tight container. Store refrigerated when not in use.


1. I have used country (Nati) tomatoes here, for the beautiful flavour and tartness they impart. If these are not available, you may use the ‘farm’ variety of tomatoes.

2. I have used dry Bydagi red chillies here, for the lovely colour they give to the dish, without adding too much spiciness.

3. Adjust the quantity of dry red chillies and green chillies you use, depending upon how spicy you want the chutney to be. The above quantities yield a medium-spicy chutney.

4. Adjust the quantity of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the chutney you prefer.

5. Using the honey is purely optional.

6. White vinegar can be used in place of the lemon juice in this momo chutney. I have used lemon juice here.

7. This chutney stays well for up to a week when refrigerated and used hygienically.

8. Make sure all the cooked ingredients have completely cooled down, before grinding them.

9. I didn’t remove the skins from the peanuts before grinding.

10. You may reduce the quantity of peanuts you use, depending upon personal taste preferences.

11. Traditional Sikkimese recipes suggest the use of soyabeans, the local Timur peppers and green Dalle chillies in this Momo Chutney. Each of these ingredients adds a special flavour and fragrance to the chutney. I didn’t have any of these, so I have omitted the soyabeans and Timur completely and used ordinary green chillies in place of the Dalle.

Did you like this recipe? Please do tell me in your comments!


Beetroot Halwa

Do you like beetroot? At home, we are big fans of various things made from the root vegetable – beetroot poriyal, raita, pulav, cutlets and the like. The smell of raw beetroot puts us off, but we are happy with most things made with it when cooked through. Beetroot Halwa is another dish made from the veggie that we are utterly thrilled to lick clean.

Beetroot Halwa might not be as well known as halwa made using carrots or milk, but is just as delicious. The beetroot lends the halwa a gorgeous colour and taste, the ghee, milk, raisins and cashewnuts going in making the dish all the more irresistible. This is a fairly simple sweet treat to make too! Move over poriyal and raita, Beetroot Halwa is here!

Beetroots are known for being rich in various nutrients, but I’m not sure how many of these are preserved when the vegetable is made into a halwa. That said, this is a thing we love indulging in occasionally – read: when we have a couple of beetroots lying around in the refrigerator and aren’t in the mood to cook the usual stuff with them. 🙂

Beetroots already have good natural sugar content and, hence, you may cut down a bit on the amount of sugar you use in this halwa. Considering the huge sweet tooth that all of us in my family possess, the 3/4 cup of sugar I’ve used here for 2 cups of beetroot is just perfect for us. Many like adding khoya (mawa) and/or condensed milk to Beetroot Halwa, but I usually skip those.

Today, I share with you all the recipe for Beetroot Halwa, the way it is made in our family. The theme for this week’s Foodie Monday Blog Hop is #UltaPulta – using an ingredient that is traditionally used in savoury dishes to make something sweet, and vice versa. When the Kalyani of Sizzling Tastebuds suggested the theme, I immediately realised our Beetroot Halwa would be a perfect fit. So, here we go!

I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #290. The co-host this week is Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 2 cups grated beetroot
  2. 1 cup milk
  3. 2 tablespoons + 2 tablespoons of ghee
  4. 3/4 cup sugar or as per taste
  5. 2 pinches of cardamom powder or as per taste
  6. 10-12 cashewnuts
  7. 1 tablespoon raisins


1. Heat 2 tablespoons ghee in a heavy pan. Add in the grated beetroot. Cook on medium flame till the beetroot gets slightly tender, 2-3 minutes.

2. Add the milk to the pan. Cook on medium flame till the mixture gets thicker and all the liquid in the pan almost dries up. This takes 12-15 minutes. You will need to stir intermittently to ensure that the mixture does not stick to the bottom of the pan.

3. Add the sugar to the pan. Continue to cook on medium flame till the mixture thickens a bit more and the sugar is well integrated into the halwa. Switch off gas when the halwa is still a bit runny – it thickens upon cooling.

4. Mix the cardamom powder well into the halwa.

5. Chop up the cashewnuts roughly. Now, heat the remaining 2 tablespoons of ghee in a small pan. Add in the chopped cashewnuts and raisins, and lower the flame to medium. Let the raisins plump up and the cashewnuts brown, ensuring that the ingredients do not burn. Pour this ghee-cashew-raisins mixture atop the beetroot halwa. Mix well. The beetroot halwa is ready to serve – hot, warm, at room temperature or chilled, as per your preference.


1. For best results, grate the beetroot medium thick. Grating it finely will cause it to, sort of, dissolve while cooking.

2. Make sure you use good-quality full-fat milk to make the Beetroot Halwa.

Did you like the recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Weekend Getaway To Pearl Valley, Near Anekal

We are trying to make the most of the beautiful, beautiful weather in Bangalore lately. Of late, weekends see us on heading out on long drives, exploring places, seeing the city we live in with new eyes. One of my cousins has moved from the US of A, and we are – sort of – helping him get acquainted with Bangalore. Suits me just fine! So, that’s how we came to be checking out this place called Pearl Valley one gorgeous rainy weekend.

And we’ve arrived at Pearl Valley!

Located about 40 km from Bangalore, Pearl Valley needs just about an hour’s time to drive down. The roads are in great condition, and the ride is smooth. You pass through some narrow roads and little villages en route, all of it made extra charming by the pretty weather. Google Maps is a great guide to take you to this little known picnic spot, just 5 km or so away from Anekal district.

The little lake that greets you upon your arrival at Pearl Valley

There’s not much to do at Pearl Valley, whose original name is Muthyala Maduvu. It is, however, a nice spot for a relaxed half-day picnic in natural surroundings, I would say. This is a green valley situated in the midst of mountains, and a trek through the valley will bring you to the star attraction – a waterfall. I’ll hasten to tell you that the waterfall isn’t much to look at (definitely not in the league of Jog Falls or Shivanasamudra), and the trek doesn’t really involve very rugged terrain or an extremely tough trail. That said, it’s still a scenic place to visit, especially in the monsoons, a quiet sojourn away from the chaos of city life. My 4-1/2-year-old did a fairly decent job of the trek, as did the other two little ones in our family. I’d say this is a nice place for beginner trekkers or for children to get a feel of trekking or walking amidst wilderness.

Look at that green, green valley!

A hotel run by the Karnataka Tourism Development Corporation (KTDC) – Mayura Nisarga – is the only sort of commercialisation you will find at Pearl Valley. Mayura Nisarga is, actually, a bar-cum-hotel serving vegetarian and non-vegetarian food. The hotel premises are where you park your vehicle and take a loo break, before heading down to the waterfall in the valley. Beware – monkeys run amok at this spot and are known for snatching food and drinks from the hands of unsuspecting tourists!

Up to monkey business!

The trekking trail here is still under construction. You’ll find proper steps along part of the way, while the rest is just finding your foothold amidst worn rocks and bushes and mud. There are no signboards or restrooms once you begin the trek, descending into the valley. No monkeys inside the valley, thankfully!

Down, down, down we went that steep flight of stairs!

One little girl had her first ‘trek’ experience amidst narrow trails!

The views en route are pretty, albeit nothing extraordinary. I especially loved the rustic temple we passed en route. If you need to take a break, rocks and grassy land are all you have to sit on.

Captured on camera en route

This temple had me charmed!

The waterfall you reach after the trek is, really, just a little trickle. Don’t go for the waterfall – go with family and friends to make memories along the way.

The little waterfall at Pearl Valley

Notes for travellers:

1. The villagers of Muthyala Maduvu charge an entry fee of INR 30 per vehicle. Apart from this, there’s a small parking fee to be paid for using the premises of Mayura Nisarga.

2. The food and beverages at Mayura Nisarga are pretty sad – speaking from personal experience. It wouldn’t be a bad idea to carry a lunch hamper from home. It would be best to leave the hamper in your vehicle – thanks to the monkeys – and wait till you reach a safe spot somewhere nearby, to eat.

3. The trek can be a bit much for the aged and infirm. Children above 4 can head in, I’d say, provided they are able to walk independently. It’s about a 45-minute walk in all.

4. Like I was saying earlier, there’s not much of development or vigilance inside the valley. We spotted bunches of people ducking under bushes with bottles of alcohol, and a few couples trying to get close. That said, there were quite a few families trekking the day we visited too. There’s really no one to keep an eye on the place, a sad fact.

5. Carry a backpack with water bottles, umbrellas and/or rain coats, and a few snacks while you trek. Comfortable attire for trekking is highly recommended.

6. The valley is not the cleanest of places. Be prepared to see several plastic bags and bottles, juice cartons, snack covers, alcohol bottles and the likes strewn all over.

7. There’s nothing much to do or explore in the immediate surroundings. Plan your visit accordingly.

8. Mayura Nisarga offers some good views of the valley, which you might want to check out.

9. The valley was quite green and pretty when we visited, probably because we visited in the peak of monsoon. We had good weather too, as we trekked. I doubt either of this would be the case, if you visit in the non-rainy months.

10. We didn’t come across any flora or fauna of interest, in the course of our trek.

11. Pearl Valley is open from 7 am to 7 pm every day.


I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #290. The co-host this week is Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau.

Khara Bath| Karnataka Special Rava Upma

In several Old Bangalore-style eateries, popularly called Darshinis, you will find a very different type of rava upma on the ‘tiffin’ menu. This version of upma, a popular breakfast dish in several parts of Karnataka, is reddish-yellow in colour, tasting slightly tangy and spicy and very different from the regular, white sooji upma we are typically used to. The unique colour and taste of this upma comes from the Vangi Bath (Karnataka-style brinjal rice) powder that is added to it. I absolutely adore this variation of rava upma, called Khara Bath in local parlance. I present to you today the recipe for Bangalore-style Khara Bath, the way I learnt to make it years ago from an aunt of mine.

You can use either fine sooji (aka rava or semolina) or the thicker Bansi rava to make Khara Bath. The key to getting this dish right is in the roasting of the semolina. It needs to be roasted perfectly, until it emits a lovely fragrance, taking care to ensure that it doesn’t burn. Using good-quality Vangi Bath powder is a must too, and I swear by the one by Sanketi Adukale. I’ve been using spice mixes from the brand for quite some time now, and love how fresh, fragrant and authentic they are, free of artificial additives and preservatives.

You can choose to add a lot of veggies to your Khara Bath, or keep it simple by using only tomatoes and onion. I prefer the latter, personally, but it tastes lovely either way! This dish often finds a place on our dining table, considering it makes for a hearty meal that can be whipped up in a matter of minutes.

I’m sharing our family recipe for Khara Bath for the week’s Foodie Monday Blog Hop. The theme this week is #ThindiYenu, which is Kannada for ‘What’s for tiffin?’. The members of the group are, today, showcasing breakfast recipes from the state of Karnataka, for the theme. It was Aruna of Vasu’s Veg Kitchen who suggested the theme, a talented cook whose blog is full of detailed recipes from all over India.

I’m also sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #290. The co-host this week is Mollie @ Frugal Hausfrau.

Now, without further ado, let me outline the Khara Bath recipe. This is a completely plant-based, vegan dish.

Ingredients (serves 4):

  1. 1-1/2 cups fine sooji (semolina or rava)
  2. 4-1/2 cups water
  3. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  4. 1 large onion
  5. 1 large tomato
  6. About 1/4 cup shelled green peas
  7. 2 green chillies
  8. 2 sprigs fresh curry leaves
  9. 1 tablespoon oil
  10. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  11. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  12. Salt to taste
  13. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  14. 5-6 teaspoons Vangi Bath powder
  15. Red chilli powder to taste (optional)
  16. Juice of 1 lemon or to taste
  17. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander


1. Take the sooji in a thick pan and place it on high flame. Once the pan heats up, reduce flame to medium. Dry roast the sooji till it begins to emit a lovely fragrance, taking care not to burn it. This takes 3-4 minutes, by which time the sooji will start to brown slightly. Switch off gas at this stage and transfer the roasted sooji to a plate. Keep aside.

2. Chop the onion and tomato finely. Peel the ginger and chop it very finely. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Keep aside.

3. Heat the oil in the same pan we used before. Add in the mustard seeds, and let them pop. Now, add in the asafoetida, slit green chillies and curry leaves. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

4. Add the chopped onions and ginger to the pan, along with the shelled green peas. Add in a little salt. Saute on medium flame till the onions start turning brown and the peas are mostly cooked, about 2 minutes.

5. Add in the tomatoes. Saute on medium flame till the tomatoes shrink , 1-2 minutes.

6. Now, keeping the flame medium, add in the water. Add in salt and turmeric powder, and mix well. Keep on medium flame till the water starts boiling.

7. At this stage, add in the lemon juice, Vangi Bath powder and red chilli powder (if using). Mix well.

8. Still keeping the flame medium, add the roasted sooji to the pan, little by little. Keep stirring constantly, to prevent the formation of lumps.

9. Cook on medium flame till the mixture thickens, the water dries up, and the sooji is cooked through. This should take 2-3 minutes. Stir constantly to avoid sticking to the bottom of the pan.

10. When almost done, mix in the finely chopped fresh coriander. Switch off gas when the Khara Bath is done. Serve hot, with chutney of your choice.


1. Adjust the quantity of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the Khara Bath you require. Here I have used 3 cups of water per cup of rava. In traditional Old Bangalore eateries, you will find this Khara Bath quite runny in texture, almost like a liquid-y khichdi.

2. I have used store-bought Vangi Bath powder from Sanketi Adukale. You can make your own Vangi Bath powder at home as well.

3. If the heat from the green chillies and the Vangi Bath powder is enough, you can skip the red chilli powder entirely.

4. You can skip the lemon juice entirely, but I personally prefer adding it in because I love the slight tartness it adds to the Khara Bath. Alternatively, you could use more tomatoes in the preparation.

5. I prefer using the more tart Nati (country) tomatoes in the Khara Bath, as opposed to the ‘farm’ variety.

6. A simple coconut chutney is the best accompaniment to this Khara Bath.

7. Bisi Bele Bath powder can be used in place of Vangi Bath powder, in the above recipe.

8. A little fresh grated coconut can be added to the Khara Bath too. It adds a lovely flavour to the dish. I haven’t, here.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Inji Oorugai| Oil Free Instant Ginger Pickle

The markets in Bangalore are flooded with baby ginger these days. You know, those very tender knobs of ginger that are almost white, with a pinkish tinge to them? The sort of ginger that doesn’t even need peeling – you can scrape off the little skin on it using just your fingers. Cutting them up is a delight – with none of the tough fibre that mature ginger possesses, your knife glides straight through it, making slicing and fine-chopping oh-so-easy. That’s the sort of ginger that’s just perfect for the purpose of pickling, I say.

Today, I share with you the recipe for Inji Oorugai, a simple instant pickle I make using this baby ginger. This is a no-fuss pickle that needs the bare minimum of ingredients, time and effort to make. It’s a no-oil version too. And yet, it’s an absolute delight to eat, converting a bowl of curd rice into a blissful treat. It wouldn’t be wrong to call this a guilt-free pickle, one that all of us at home adore.

Like I was saying earlier, this Inji Oorugai is best made using tender ginger when in season. The lack of fibre in young ginger, as opposed to mature ginger, makes all the difference. The pickle can be eaten just as soon as it is made but, in my opinion, it tastes best after about two days of soaking. Stored in the refrigerator and used hygienically, it stays well for up to a month.

This Inji Oorugai is similar to the Sushi Ginger or pickled ginger that is served along with sushi in Japanese restaurants. However, Sushi Ginger uses vinegar and sugar as opposed to the lemon juice and jaggery powder used in this pickle. It’s a good digestive, this pickle, a good thing to resort to when your system feels overloaded and you are in need of a detox. It’s just the remedy for minor monsoon-related digestive ailments too.

Let’s now check out how to make this Instant Ginger Pickle. I’m sharing this recipe with Fiesta Friday #289.

Ingredients (makes about 3/4 cup):

  1. About 150 grams tender ginger
  2. 1/2 tablespoon salt or to taste
  3. Juice of 2 lemons
  4. 2 tablespoons jaggery powder or to taste


1. Peel the ginger. Chop into thin slices. Transfer to a bowl.

2. Add in salt to taste, jaggery powder and lemon juice. Mix well.

3. Set aside, covered and undisturbed, for a day. Stir intermittently to ensure that all the pieces of ginger are evenly coated with the juice.

4. After a day, transfer the pickle to a clean, dry, air-tight bottle and store refrigerated. Shake before use.


1. Use very fresh, tender ginger for best results. Mature ginger is not very well suited for making this pickle.

2. Adjust the quantity of salt, jaggery and lemon as per personal taste preferences.

3. You may skip the jaggery if you so prefer, but I wouldn’t personally recommend that. The jaggery adds a beautiful touch to the pickle, and helps a great deal in cutting down the spiciness of the ginger.

4. You can add green chillies to this Instant Ginger Pickle, too. I don’t use them, since the ginger is spicy already.

5. It takes 2-3 days for the lemon juice, salt and jaggery to soak through the ginger and cut down its spiciness. Then, this pickle becomes absolutely finger-lickingly delicious.

6. Store the pickle refrigerated, when not in use. Remove only using a clean, dry spoon.

7. This Instant Ginger Pickle can be served as a side with rotis, rice or thali meals. It can also be used in wraps, rolls, etc.

Do try out this Instant Ginger Pickle recipe this season, and let me know how you liked it!