Avarekalu Khara Bath| Karnataka Style Avarekai Uppittu

Avarekalu Khara Bath is a speciality from the state of Karnataka. It refers to a unique type of upma (‘uppittu‘ in Kannada), made with semolina (sooji/rava) and fresh hyacinth beans (‘avarekai‘ or ‘avarekalu‘ locally). It tastes absolutely delicious, very different from the usual rava upma that we are used to.

Let me show you, in today’s post, how to make Avarekalu Khara Bath or Avarekai Uppittu, Karnataka style. Do try out the recipe while avarekalu are still in season – I’m pretty sure you will love it!

Look at that colour!

About the avarekalu

Avarekalu‘ or ‘avarekai‘ is a dearly beloved seasonal produce in the state of Karnataka. These names refer to fresh hyacinth beans, usually in season between October and February.

These beans are easily available in the local markets in season, both whole and shelled. The beans are typically removed from the pods, soaked in water for a few hours, and the outer covering is gently removed and discarded. Only the inner part of the beans are used, as shown in the picture below. It is a labour-intensive process, but one that is painstakingly followed. You can buy the beans pre-prepped like this, from vegetable stores and markets, too. Alternatively, you can buy the whole pods, shell and prep them yourself.

These avarekalu beans are used in households and restaurants across Karnataka in a wide variety of dishes. From rasam (‘saaru‘ in local parlance), idli and dosa to kodbele (a fried snack), vada, jalebis and even ice cream, these beans are extensively used. Bangalore even has an ‘Avarekai Parishe‘ (hyacinth bean food festival) every winter – can you now understand the extent to which these beans are loved by the locals here? 🙂

One of my favourite ways to use these fresh hyacinth beans is in Avarekalu Khara Bath, a version of rava upma, like I was saying earlier. They lend their beautiful buttery taste to the upma, making it a dish to cherish!

Other ingredients

Apart from the avarekalu beans, semolina is the other major ingredient used in this upma. You may add any vegetables of your choice, but I prefer keeping this dish really simple, using only tomatoes and onions.

The defining feature of Avarekalu Khara Bath is the addition of vangi bath (brinjal rice) powder, which gives it a gorgeous aroma and taste. A dash of jaggery or sugar goes in too, as well as some lemon juice, to give the upma its characteristic mildly sweet-sour taste.

Avarekalu Khara Bath is most commonly served garnished with freshly grated coconut and finely chopped coriander, both of which elevate its flavour quotient by several notches.

How to make Avarekalu Khara Bath or Avarekai Uppittu

Here is how to go about it.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

1. 1 heaped cup shelled fresh hyacinth beans (avarekalu)

2. 1 cup fine semolina (rava)

3. 1 tablespoon ghee

4. 1 medium-sized onion

5. 1 medium-sized tomato

6. 3 green chillies

7. 1 tablespoon oil

8. 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds

9. 2 pinches of asafoetida

10. A sprig of fresh curry leaves

11. Salt to taste

12. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

13. 1 tablespoon jaggery powder

14. 1 tablespoon bisi bele bath powder (See the ‘Tips & Tricks’ section)

15. Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste

16. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

To garnish (optional):

1. Finely chopped fresh coriander, as needed

2. Grated fresh coconut, as needed

Method:

Left top and bottom: Steps 1 and 2, Top right and below: Step 3, Bottom right: Step 4

1. Take the fresh hyacinth beans in a wide vessel. Add in about 1/4 cup water. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for 2 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.

2. Peel the onion and chop finely. Chop the tomato finely. Chop the green chillies into large pieces. Keep the curry leaves handy.

3. Heat the ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan. Then, turn down the flame to medium and add in the rava. Roast on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the rava attains the consistency of wet sand, begins to turn brown, and give out a beautiful aroma. Transfer this roasted rava to a plate and allow it to cool down completely.

4. When the pressure from the cooker has gone down fully, get the cooked hyacinth beans out. Keep them ready.

Top left and right: Steps 5 and 6, Centre left and right: Steps 7 and 8, Bottom left and right: Steps 9 and 10

5. Heat the oil in the same pan we used earlier. Add in the mustard seeds and allow them to sputter. Then, add in the asafoetida and curry leaves. Allow them to stay in for a few seconds.

6. Add in the chopped onion. Turn the flame down to medium. Saute on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the onions are cooked. Stir intermittently.

7. Add in the chopped tomatoes at this stage, along with a little salt and water. Also add in the chopped green chillies. Cook on medium flame till the tomatoes are soft, 2-3 minutes. Stir intermittently.

8. Add in the cooked hyacinth beans now, along with any residual water. Continue to keep the flame at medium. Cook for a minute.

9. Now, add 3 cups of water to the pan, along with salt to taste and turmeric powder.

10. Add in the jaggery powder. Mix well. Turn up the flame to high.

Top left, centre and right: Steps 11, 12 and 13, Bottom left: Step 14, Bottom centre and right: Step 15

11. Let the water come to a rolling boil.

12. At this stage, reduce flame to medium. Add in the bisi bele bath powder and mix well.

13. Constantly stirring with one hand, add in the roasted rava to the pan. Make sure no lumps are formed. Continue to keep the flame at medium.

14. Cook on medium flame for about 5 minutes or till most of the water is absorbed and the rava is cooked through. When it is still a little runny and not completely dry, switch off gas – it will thicken upon cooling.

15. Now, add in the lemon juice and finely chopped coriander. Mix well. Your Avarekalu Khara Bath is ready. Transfer to serving bowls/plates. Serve hot, garnished with finely chopped coriander and grated coconut (if using).

Tips & Tricks

1. I prefer using the fine variety of semolina (also called Bombay rava) to make this khara bath, as opposed to the thicker variety (Bansi rava). In case you are using Bansi rava, do remember that it might take longer to cook than fine rava.

2. It is important to roast the rava before making the khara bath. Roasting it in ghee gives the upma a nice aroma and flavour, so do not miss this step. Even if you are using pre-roasted rava, like I do sometimes, it is good to roast it in ghee once more.

3. Take care to ensure that the rava does not burn while roasting.

4. Use a heavy-bottomed pan to make the Avarekalu Khara Bath, for best results.

5. You may add more or less hyacinth beans as per personal taste preferences. I usually buy them pre-prepped from the local markets.

6. I would not recommend skipping the jaggery powder. It is an integral component of the Khara Bath in Karnataka.

7. Adjust salt as per personal taste preferences. Taste the water after adding salt to it – it should taste slightly salty; the salt adjusts itself once the rava is added in.

8. I use Sanketi Adukale’s bisi bele bath powder, as I love its fragrance and freshness. You can make your own at home, too. Make sure you are using bisi bele bath powder and not instant bisi bele bath mix. Adjust the quantity as per personal taste preferences. You may use vangi bath (brinjal rice) powder in place of the bisi bele bath powder I have used here. Here is a recipe for khara bath made with vangi bath powder, minus the avarekalu.

9. Adjust the quantity of bisi bele bath powder as per personal taste. The brand that I use is spicy enough, so I do not add any red chilli powder. You may use red chilli powder to taste if you prefer. Adjust the quantity of green chillies accordingly.

10. Do not overcook the fresh avarekalu beans. 2 whistles in the pressure cooker works perfectly for us.

11. Adjust the quantity of water you use depending upon how dry or moist you want the upma to be.

12. This recipe is vegetarian, but not vegan (plant-based) due to the use of ghee. It is also not gluten-free because it uses rava and asafoetida, both of which usually contain wheat.

13. You may also add in other veggies like beans, carrot and green peas. I prefer using only onion and tomato in this khara bath, along with the fresh hyacinth beans.

14. You can add some urad dal and chana dal as well as finely chopped ginger to the tempering. I typically don’t.

15. You may cover the pan while the khara bath is cooking, to ensure that the rava cooks well and evenly. I usually don’t because I find the fine rava cooks well over medium heat even when uncovered.

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

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Carrot Soup With Coconut Milk

If you are looking for ways to include more carrots in your diet, you should definitely consider this Carrot Soup. Made with coconut milk, it is creamy, hearty and satisfying without being overwhelmingly heavy. And, yes, it does taste absolutely delicious!

Let me share with you all the way I prepare this Carrot Soup With Coconut Milk.

Carrot Soup With Coconut Milk – isn’t that colour simply gorgeous?!

Other soup recipes on the blog

Bangalore is turning chilly these days, providing us the perfect foil to gorge on soups of different kinds. You might want to take a look at some of our favourite soup recipes on the blog.

What goes into this Carrot Soup?

The major ingredient used in this soup is, of course, carrots. I have used the orange-coloured carrots that are popularly called ‘Ooty carrots’ in South India. I have also used some onion and garlic to add more flavour to the soup.

Coconut milk has been used to make the soup more hearty and more delicious. I have used store-bought thick coconut milk here, but you can also make your own at home.

I have used freshly crushed black pepper and dried Italian herbs to season it. I have added in some jaggery, not a common ingredient in soup, because I love the way it rounds off the other flavours beautifully.

How to make Carrot Soup With Coconut Milk

This soup is very simple to put together. Once you have the ingredients ready, the soup can be prepared in about 20 minutes.

Here is how to go about it.

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

1. 1 small onion

2. 4-5 cloves of garlic

3. 4 medium-sized Ooty carrots, about 1-1/2 cups when chopped

4. 1 teaspoon oil

5. Salt to taste

6. Coarsely crushed black pepper to taste

7. 1/2 tablespoon jaggery or to taste

8. About 3/4 cup of thick coconut milk or to taste

9. A dash of dried Italian herbs

For garnish:

1. Coriander sprigs, as needed (optional)

2. Carrot slices cut into flowers, as needed (optional)

Method:

Top left: Step 1, Top right and below: Steps 2 and 3, Bottom right: Step 4, Bottom left: Step 5

1. First, prep the vegetables we will need to make the soup. Peel the onion, carrot, ginger and garlic cloves. Chop all the veggies finely.

2. Heat oil in a pan and add in the ginger and garlic. Reduce flame to medium and saute for about a minute.

3. Add in the chopped onion at this stage. Saute on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the onion starts turning brown.

4. At this stage, add in the chopped carrots, along with a little salt and water. Mix well.

5. Cook on medium flame for 6-7 minutes or till the carrots are done. Stir intermittently, sprinkling a little more water if needed. Cook till all the water evaporates and the vegetables are slightly burnt – this brings out a beautiful flavour. However, take care not to burn the veggies too much. Switch off gas when done and allow to cool down completely.

Top left, centre and right: Steps 6, 7 and 8, Below top right: Step 9, Bottom right, centre and left: Steps 10, 11 and 12

6. When completely cool, transfer all the cooked vegetables to a mixer jar. Add about 1/2 cup of water. Grind everything together to a smooth paste.

7. Transfer the ground paste to the same pan we used earlier. Place on high flame. Add about 1-1/2 cups of water or as needed to adjust the consistency of the soup.

8. Add salt to taste and the jaggery powder. Mix well.

9. Add in the coarsely crushed black pepper. Mix well. Let the mixture come to a boil, then reduce flame to medium.

10. Add in the coconut milk at this stage. Mix well.

11. Let the mixture simmer for 3-4 minutes, then switch off gas.

12. Mix in the dried Italian herbs. Your Carrot Soup With Coconut Milk is ready. Pour into  bowls and serve hot.

Dietary guidelines

This soup is completely vegetarian and vegan. It can be consumed by people following a vegan (plant-based) diet.

It is a gluten-free soup as well.

Related event: The Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge

I am sharing this recipe in association with the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge, a group of passionate food bloggers that I am part of.

The members of the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every month. The group members are divided into pairs, and each pair exchanges two ingredients secretly, unknown to the rest of the participants. These secret ingredients are then used by each pair to prepare a dish that fits into the theme for the month. Once each participant is ready with their dish, the other group members try to guess the ingredients that have gone into them.

In the month of October, it was my turn to suggest the theme. I chose for the group to make soups, considering winter is setting in in most parts of India. My partner for the month was Anu, who blogs at Ente Thattukada. She prepared this lovely Broccoli Zucchini Soup using the two secret ingredients (‘pepper’ and ‘onion’) I suggested she work with. In turn, she assigned me the ingredients ‘garlic’ and ‘coconut milk’, both of which I used to make this Carrot Soup.

Tips & Tricks

1. I have used the orange carrots that are commonly called ‘Ooty carrots’. You can use any variety of carrots you prefer.

2. I have used store-bought coconut milk here. You can make your own at home, too.

3. You may skip the jaggery if you don’t prefer using it. Sugar may be used instead, too.

4. Adjust the quantity of pepper as per personal taste preferences. You may use white pepper instead of the black pepper I have used here.

5. Adjust the quantity of water you use depending upon how thick you want the soup to be.

6. For best results, use very fresh and tender carrots, especially when in season.

7. You may add a dollop of cream to the soup once it’s done. I haven’t used any here.

8. You can use boiled and cooled milk instead of the coconut milk I have used here.

9. A dash of lemon juice can be added to the soup once it is done cooking. Here, I have not used any.

10. Cook the garlic, onion and carrots till slightly burnt and caramelised, as this brings out the flavours of the veggies best. However, do take care to ensure that the vegetables do not get overly burnt.

11. You can oven-roast the veggies instead of cooking them in a pan, the way I have done here.

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