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.

Fresh shelled, soaked and prepped hyacinth beans, avarekalu in Kannada

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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