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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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!

Valor Muthiya Nu Shaak| Hyacinth Bean Stir-Fry With Fenugreek Dumplings

Valor Muthiya Nu Shaak is a classic Gujarati sabzi, a stir-fry made using fresh hyacinth beans and deep-fried fenugreek leaf dumplings. The combination is lip-smackingly delicious and hearty, almost an Undhiyu but not quite. It is something that you must definitely try out if you haven’t already. Let me show you how!

Delicious Valor Muthiya Nu Shaak!

I believe the best way to eat is seasonal and local. However, I find the boundaries between seasonal produce are blurring lately, with most things being available throughout the year. One way to counter this is by shopping from local markets and vendors, looking around for produce that is abundantly available and fresh. I often strike up conversations with the vendors on where a particular vegetable they sell comes from and how they cook it – quite interesting, I tell you!

On a recent veggie shopping expedition, I saw almost all the vendors selling piles of fresh hyacinth beans, and simply had to pick up some. These beans, ‘avarekkai‘ in Tamil, are in season right now. I also bought some beautiful tender fenugreek leaves (methi). This Valor Muthiya Nu Shaak was destined to happen, and it did. 🙂 You should make it too, while hyacinth beans are still in season.

Butternut Squash Poriyal, Red Pumpkin Halwa, Parangikkai Rasavangi, Vatana Ane Tuver Lilva Ni Kachori, Sugarsnap Peas Stir-Fry and Green Peas Masala are some other fall/winter recipes on my blog that you might want to check out.

What is Valor Muthiya Nu Shaak?

As I was saying earlier, this is a traditional Gujarati dish, commonly prepared in households in the winter. It is also typically prepared in Gujarati weddings. It has a sweetish tinge, as is common with several Gujarati dishes, but the other flavours (like spiciness and sourness) are just as balanced. I would say it is a beautiful blend of flavours, this sabzi. It makes for a wonderful accompaniment to rotis, plain parathas and pooris. I think the sabzi would also pair very well with these lovely Sorghum And Spinach Rotis my fellow food blogger Radha has showcased.

This is a semi-dry curry made using flat hyacinth beans, which are called ‘valor‘ in Gujarati. The tender pods are used whole, while the seeds are used in case of the more mature ones. The pods and seeds are stir-fried with a gorgeously aromatic tempering of mustard, asafoetida, sesame seeds and carom seeds (ajwain). A freshly prepared, fragrant mix of grated coconut, crushed green chillies, ginger and finely chopped coriander (called ‘lilo masalo‘ or ‘green masala‘ in Gujarati) goes into the pan next, followed by delicious deep-fried fenugreek dumplings (‘methi muthiya‘ in Gujarati). The combination of these three components is quite the explosion of taste!

How to make Valor Muthiya Nu Shaak

Here is how to go about it. It is a bit of a labour-intensive process, but I can assure you that the end result is completely worth it.

Ingredients (serves 4-6):

For the lilo masalo:

1. 1 cup fresh coconut pieces

2. 2 green chillies

3. A 1-inch piece of ginger

4. About 3/4 cup finely chopped fresh coriander

5. A dash of salt

6. 1/2 tablespoon jaggery powder

7. Juice of 1/2 lemon or to taste

For the methi muthiya:

1. A small bunch of fenugreek (methi) greens, about 3/4 cup when finely chopped

2. 2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander

3. 1 cup gram flour (besan)

4. Salt to taste

5. 3/4 tablespoon jaggery powder

6. Red chilli powder to taste

6. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

7. 2 pinches of asafoetida

8. 3/4 tablespoon sesame seeds

10. 1/2 teaspoon carom (ajwain) seeds

11. Oil for deep-frying

Other ingredients:

1. About 400 grams of hyacinth beans (valor), 3 cups when chopped, including seeds

2. 1 tablespoon oil

3. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

4. 1/2 teaspoon carom (ajwain) seeds

5. 2 generous pinches of asafoetida

6. 1 tablespoon sesame seeds

7. Salt to taste

8. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder

9. 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder

10. 2 teaspoons roasted coriander powder

11. 1/2 teaspoon garam masala

12. Red chilli powder to taste (optional)

13. 1 tablespoon jaggery powder

Method:

We will start by getting the hyacinth beans ready.

Top: Step 3, Bottom: Steps 4 and 5

1. Wash the hyacinth beans well under running water, to remove any traces of dirt from them. Place them in a colander and let all the water drain out.

2. Wipe the hyacinth beans using a thick cotton napkin to dry them. Now, they are ready for prepping.

3. Pinch off the tops and ends from the beans and remove the strings.

4. Use your hands to snap the tender beans into two. You can also use a knife for this purpose.

5. Remove the seeds from the more mature beans.

6. Collect the seeds and prepped hyacinth bean pieces in a bowl. Keep aside. 400 grams of hyacinth beans should give you about 3 cups of seeds and pieces together.

Next, we will prepare the ‘lilo masalo‘ or fresh hara masala that will go into the dish.

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

1. Take the fresh coconut pieces in a small mixer jar. Chop the green chillies roughly and add them in. Peel the ginger, chop roughly and add it in too. Do not add in any water. Pulse the ingredients a few times to make a coarse semi-dry mixture – do not make a fine paste. Transfer this mixture to a mixing bowl.

2. Add in the finely chopped coriander.

3. Add salt to taste and the jaggery powder.

4. Add in the lemon juice.

5. Mix up all the ingredients well. Your lilo masalo is ready. Keep it aside.

Now, we will prepare the fenugreek dumplings or methi muthiya.

Top left and right: Steps 2 and 3, Below top right: Step 4, Bottom right and left: Step 6

1. Wash the fenugreek greens well under running water, to remove any dirt from them. Place in a colander and let all the water drain out.

2. Chop the washed and drained fenugreek greens roughly and transfer to a mixing bowl. Add in the finely chopped coriander too.

3. Add in the gram flour, salt, jaggery powder, red chilli powder, turmeric powder, asafoetida, sesame seeds and carom seeds. Mix all the ingredients well.

4. Add in just enough water to make a batter of dropping consistency. The batter should neither be too watery nor too thick. Set it aside, covered, till needed.

5. Take the oil for deep-frying in a heavy-bottomed pan. Place on high flame. Allow the oil to get nice and hot, then reduce the flame down to medium.

6. Drop a few blobs of the batter into the hot oil. Deep fry on medium flame till golden-brown on the outside, then transfer the dumplings to a plate. Prepare dumplings from all the batter, in a similar manner. Keep aside.

Next, we will prepare the Valor Muthiya Nu Shaak.

Top left, centre and right: Steps 1, 2 and 3, Centre left: Step 3, Centre centre and right: Steps 4 and 5, Bottom left and right: Steps 6 and 7

1. Heat 1 tablespoon of oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the mustard seeds, and allow them to sputter. Add in the carom seeds, asafoetida and sesame seeds. Let these ingredients stay in for a few seconds, without burning.

2. Reduce flame to medium. Add the prepped hyacinth bean pieces and seeds to the pan, along with a little salt. Mix well.

3. Sprinkle a couple of tablespoons of water over the beans. Cover the pan and cook on medium flame for 5-6 minutes or till they are about 60% done. Uncover intermittently and stir, sprinkling a little more water if needed, to prevent burning.

4. At this stage, add in salt to taste, turmeric powder, red chilli powder (if using), garam masala, roasted coriander powder, roasted cumin powder and jaggery powder. Mix well. Cover and cook for 3-4 minutes more or till the hyacinth beans are completely done.

5. Reduce flame to low-medium. Add in the prepared methi muthiya at this stage.

6. Also add in the lilo masalo we prepared earlier. Mix well, but gently, ensuring that the muthiya do not break.

7. Cook for 2 minutes on low-medium flame, then switch off gas. Your Valor Muthiya Nu Shaak is ready. Serve warm, with rotis, pooris or parathas.

Dietary guidelines

This is a completely vegetarian recipe, one that is plant-based too. It can be used by someone following a vegan diet.

This is a no-onion no-garlic recipe as well.

This recipe can easily be made gluten-free. In that case, you would need to skip the asafoetida used in the tempering. Most Indian brands of asafoetida do contain wheat flour to a lesser or greater extent and are, therefore, best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. Also, if you are using store-bought garam masala, do make sure it fits your dietary preferences.

Tips & Tricks

1. I have used the regular green hyacinth beans that are commonly available across India. These are called ‘avarekkai‘ in Tamil, ‘valor‘ in Gujarati. These beans work best in this sabzi. Make sure you use fresh hyacinth beans, especially the ones in season are very flavourful. Alternatively, you may use any variety of flat beans that are easily and locally available to you. I also often use ‘Belt Chikkadikayi‘ in this sabzi, a variety of flat bean that is commonly available in Bangalore – it is thicker and greener than the hyacinth beans I have shown above.

2. Do not skimp on the coriander and coconut used. It might feel like a lot initially, but it turns out just right in the end.

3. Be careful with the salt. We add salt to the lilo masalo as well as while cooking the hyacinth beans. Even the methi muthiya contain salt. Make sure you do not overdo the salt.

4. Adjust the quantity of jaggery powder and green chillies as per personal taste preferences.

5. Taste the sabzi after adding the lilo masalo. If the heat from the chillies is not enough, you can add in a bit of red chilli powder. This is purely optional, though.

6. Use very fresh fenugreek leaves (methi) to make the dumplings (muthiya). This makes a world of difference.

7. Sprinkle just a little water as needed while cooking the hyacinth beans. Do not add too much water, as this sabzi is supposed to be dry.

8. Deep-fry the methi muthiya on a medium flame only. Frying on a high flame might cause the exterior to blacken, while the interior remains raw.

9. Make sure the oil is just the right temperature, while frying the methi muthiya. After it has heated up for a bit, drop a blob of the muthiya batter into the pan. If it sinks to the bottom, the oil needs to be heated some more. If it rises to the top and gets a nice golden-brown colour, the oil is just perfect. If it rises up to the surface too fast and starts smoking or browning immediately, the oil is too hot – take it off the flame for a couple of minutes to cool it down a little.

10. Jaggery is added at different stages in the preparation of this sabzi – in the lilo masalo, in the methi muthiya and then again while cooking the hyacinth beans. Make sure you don’t overdo the jaggery, otherwise the sabzi might end up getting too sweet at the end.

11. Sugar can be used in place of the jaggery powder I have used here.

12. Jaggery powder is nothing but the powdered version of jaggery, available in several departmental stores in Bangalore. I use it because it is super convenient to do so. You may use regular blocks of jaggery instead, too.

13. I make roasted cumin and coriander powder in small batches, store them in air-tight bottles and use as needed. You may use store-bought coriander and cumin powder instead, too.

14. Traditional Gujarati kitchens use a blend of coriander and cumin powder called ‘dhana jeeru‘. Dhana jeeru goes into almost every Gujarati preparation, so it is prepared in bulk, stored carefully, and used as needed. You may use Gujarati dhana jeeru in place of the roasted coriander and cumin powders that I have used here.

12. You may add garlic cloves to the lilo masalo, if you prefer. I make this sabzi both with and without garlic.

13. You can cook the fenugreek dumplings in a paniyaram/appe pan with a little oil, instead of deep-frying them. Since I make this sabzi only occasionally, I do not mind the deep-frying.

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

Sev Tameta Nu Shaak| Sev Tamatar Ki Sabzi

Sev Tameta Nu Shaak is a very simple but extremely flavourful tomato curry. Popular in Gujarat, Rajasthan and a few other parts of India as a side dish for rotis and parathas, this curry is served with a generous topping of sev.

Gujarati Sev Tameta Nu Shaak or Sev Tamatar Ki Sabzi

Sev Tameta Nu Shaak as it is called in Gujarati, Sev Tamatar Ki Sabzi in other parts of the country, is one of the easiest things to prepare, ever. It takes bare minutes to put together. It is one of the simplest Gujarati recipes, I would say – if you are looking for an inroad into the cuisine, this is the dish you should be starting with. Instant Khaman, Gujarati Khatti Meethi Dal, Gujarati Kadhi, Bateta Nu Shaak, Shakkariya Nu Shaak, Kala Chana Nu Rasavalu Shaak and Undhiyu are some other easy Gujarati recipes from my blog that you might want to try out.

This curry has been a part of our family meals forever. It is very often served in the elaborate Gujarati thalis that we would indulge in, growing up in Ahmedabad. We would love the simplicity of this sabzi so much, especially my father who loves tomatoes. Even though I have never been a huge fan of tomatoes, I make an exception for this all-tomato dish. After some conversations with Gujarati friends and neighbours and a few trial and error experiments later, I learnt how to put a delicious Sev Tameta Nu Shaak together. The husband enjoys this curry quite a bit too, and I make it quite often in my Bangalore home as well. In today’s post, I am going to share with you all the way I make Sev Tamatar Ki Sabzi, the Gujju way.

Sev Tameta Nu Shaak – ingredients used

Sev Tameta Nu Shaak consists of a gravy made entirely using tomatoes. Sev or ‘omapodi‘ in Tamil – thin strips of deep-fried salted chickpea flour (besan) – is added to the curry just before serving, as is a garnish of finely chopped fresh coriander. In Gujarat, the gravy is sweetish-sour, the sev soaking in the flavours from it and also providing some crunch to it, the two components beautifully blending to create an utterly delectable whole.

This dish requires very few basic ingredients. It is the sort of curry you turn to when your refrigerator is almost empty, and you don’t have many fresh veggies in stock. There are tomatoes, sev and fresh coriander, of course, along with the use of minimal spices – just some coriander powder, garam masala, red chilli powder and turmeric powder. Jaggery or sugar is used to sweeten the gravy, which is given a tempering of mustard, cumin, carom and asafoetida. The version I have shared here is a no-onion, no-garlic one, too.

How to make Gujarati Sev Tameta Nu Shaak

Here’s how to go about it.

Ingredients (serves 3-4):

1. 5 medium-sized tomatoes

2. 1/2 tablespoon oil

3. 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

4. 1/2 teaspoon carom (ajwain) seeds

5. 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds

6. 2 pinches of asafoetida

7. Salt to taste

8. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder

9. Red chilli powder to taste

10. 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder

11. 1/2 teaspoon garam masala

12. 1 tablespoon jaggery powder or to taste

13. About 1 cup medium thick sev or omapodi

14. 1-1/2 tablespoons finely chopped coriander or as needed

Method:

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

1. Chop 3 of the tomatoes finely. Keep aside.

2. Chop 2 of the tomatoes roughly and transfer them to a mixer jar. Grind to a smooth puree. Keep aside.

3. Heat oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the mustard seeds and allow them to sputter. Add the carom seeds, cumin seeds and asafoetida. Allow these ingredients to stay in for a few seconds, without burning.

4. Reduce flame to medium at this stage and add in the chopped tomatoes. Also add in a little salt and water. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the tomatoes turn mushy. Stir intermittently.

5. Add in the turmeric powder and the tomato puree. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the raw smell of the tomatoes is completely gone. Stir intermittently.

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

6. Now, add in salt and red chilli powder to taste, coriander powder and garam masala. Adjust salt. Mix well.

7. Add jaggery powder and about 3/4 cup of water or as needed to adjust consistency. Mix well.

8. Cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes, then switch off gas.

9. Ladle the gravy into serving bowls. Add a generous amount of sev to each bowl and garnish with finely chopped coriander. The Sev Tameta Nu Shaak is ready to serve – serve it immediately with rotis or parathas.

Tips & Tricks

1. It is best to use ‘farmed’ tomatoes rather than the country (Nati) ones in this dish. Nati tomatoes can make the dish quite sour. However, I use Nati tomatoes only as we like the shaak to be on the sour side.

2. Part of the tomatoes are finely chopped and part of them are pureed, to give body to the Sev Tameta Nu Shaak. You can chop all of them finely if you so prefer – we prefer making the sabzi the way I have outlined above.

3. Since a lot of tomatoes are used in this dish, it is important to use slightly more red chilli powder and jaggery powder to balance out the sourness.

4. Chana masala can be used in place of garam masala. You can even use a combination of both.

5. There is no onion or garlic used in this dish. However, you may add them if you prefer. Finely chop the onion and garlic in that case, and saute them after the tempering is done, before adding in the chopped tomatoes.

6. The Sev Tameta Nu Shaak gets quite thick with time. Keep the gravy quite liquidy so that it reaches the right consistency when you serve it. It is okay to add 3/4 cup to 1 cup of water to the gravy.

7. Add in the sev just before serving. Use medium-thick sev and not the very fine variety, for best results. I have used store-bought sev here, but you can make it at home if you prefer.

8. Do not skimp on the sev or the coriander – use them generously. Use good-quality sev that is fresh and free of any odour.

9. This Sev Tameta Nu Shaak is completely vegetarian and vegan, suited to those following a plant-based diet.

10. If you want to make this dish gluten-free, skip the asafoetida used in the tempering. Most Indian brands of asafoetida contain wheat flour and are, therefore, best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. Also, in that case, do make sure the sev you are using is gluten-free too.

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

Nam Jim| Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce

Nam Jim‘ is Thai for dipping sauce, of which there are many, many versions. There are several types of dipping sauces prepared in Thailand, to go with grilled meat, seafood, chicken, vegetables, hot pot and satay. Though most of these sauces are a mix of hot and sweet, salty and sour, there are variations in the ingredients and techniques used. Today, I am going to share with you all my recipe for a Thai-style dipping sauce – a sweet red chilli sauce.

This Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce is inspired by memories of our holidays in Thailand, what I have learnt of the cuisine by observing and doing. It might not be the most authentic Nam Jim recipe, but I can assure you that it tastes absolutely delicious. This is a sweetish, moderately spicy and sour sauce that goes beautifully with most fried snacks, including samosas, spring rolls, cigars, cheese poppers and pakoras. Try it out, and I’m sure you won’t be disappointed!

Nam Jim, Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce

A note on the ingredients used

Several Thai dipping sauces contain shrimp paste and/or oyster or fish sauce. However, this Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce is completely vegetarian, made using ingredients commonly available here in Bangalore. It is a vegan (plant-based) and gluten-free sauce, too.

I have used moderately spicy red Fresno chillies to make this sauce, along with tomato to give it more body and flavour. Some ginger and garlic go in, too. Sugar has been used to sweeten the sauce, and a mix of tamarind extract and white vinegar to sour it. There is no corn flour or other thickening agent used.

This Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce is not fermented, as many sauces are. It is an instant sauce, one that can be used immediately after preparation, though I believe the flavours intensify after a day or so of the making.

Red Fresno chillies, which I have used to make this sauce

Other sauce and dip recipes on my blog

You might want to take a look at the other recipes for sauces and dips on my blog:

Nam Jim or Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce recipe

Here’s how to go about it.

Ingredients (makes about 1-1/2 cups):

1. A small piece of tamarind

2. 250 grams of red Fresno chillies

3. A 1-inch piece of ginger

4. 6-8 cloves of garlic

5. 1 medium-sized tomato

6. 1 teaspoon oil

7. Salt to taste, about 1/2 teaspoon

8. 1 cup sugar or to taste

9. 1/8 cup white vinegar or to taste

Method:

Top left, centre and right: Steps 1, 2 and 3, Below top right: Step 4, Bottom right: Step 5, Bottom centre and left: Step 6

1. Soak the tamarind in a little boiling water, so as to soften it. Allow it to cool down enough to handle.

2. In the meantime, remove the tops from the Fresno chillies and chop them roughly, including the seeds. Chop the tomato roughly. Peel the ginger and garlic, and chop them up too.

3. When the tamarind has cooled down, squeeze out all the juice from it. Use water as needed to help with the extraction. I had a little less than 1/2 cup of extract.

4. Now, we will start making the Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, and add in the chopped ginger and garlic. Saute for about a minute.

5. Add in the chopped tomato at this stage. Turn the flame down to medium. Saute till the tomatoes turn mushy, 3-4 minutes.

6. Now add in the chopped Fresno chillies and a little salt. Cook on medium flame for 5-6 minutes or till the chillies are almost done.

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

7. Add the tamarind extract to the pan. Cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the raw smell of the tamarind is gone and the chillies are cooked. Considering that the skin of Fresno chillies is quite thick, they might not turn completely soft – just make sure they are not raw. Turn the flame down to low at this stage.

8. Add in the sugar and salt to taste. Mix well. Let the sugar get completely dissolved, which should take about 2 minutes. Switch off gas.

9. Mix in the white vinegar.

10. Allow the mixture to cool down completely, then transfer it to a mixer jar. Grind to a smooth puree. Let it settle for about 10 minutes, then transfer to a clean, dry, air-tight bottle. Keep the Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce refrigerated and use as needed with a clean, dry spoon.

Related event: Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge

This recipe is brought to you in association with the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge, a group of passionate food bloggers that I am part of.

For the Shhh Cooking Secretly Challenge, we participants post every month, based on a pre-determined theme. The participants are paired together, and every pair exchanges two ingredients secretly without the knowledge of the rest of the group. These secret ingredients are used by each participant to create a dish that fits into the theme of the month. A picture of each dish is then shared in the group, and the members try to guess the two secret ingredients that went into it.

The theme for September 2022 was ‘Chutneys and Condiments’, suggested by Preethi of Cakes & Curries. You guys have to check out the gorgeous Onion Jam she has prepared for the theme!

I was paired with Renu, the author of Cook With Renu, for the month. I suggested that Renu make a condiment using ginger and salt, and she came up with a unique recipe for Pickled Nasturtium Seeds – head to her blog to read the detailed proceedure! She assigned to me the secret ingredients of ‘tamarind’ and ‘garlic’, and I used them to make this Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce.

Tips & Tricks

1. You can use any variety of red chillies you prefer – adjust the quantity depending upon how hot they are. If they are too hot, you might want to remove the seeds before using them in the sauce. Adjust the quantities of other ingredients according to the spice level of the red chillies.

2. I prefer using red Fresno chillies (commonly available at Namdhari’s) as they are moderately hot and perfectly suited to our tastebuds. I do not remove the seeds. I do not need to wear gloves, but you might want to.

3. The tomato balances out the heat of the chillies and gives some body to the sauce. I use Nati (country) tomatoes for this purpose. Do not use too many tomatoes, which will make the sauce taste like tomato ketchup.

4. Adjust the quantity of tamarind as per personal taste preferences. Using white vinegar in addition to the tamarind gives the sauce just the right amount of acidity, fragrance and flavour. This also helps to retain the beautiful red colour of the chillies – using too much tamarind might darken the sauce.

5. Regular granulated sugar goes best in this Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce, but you may use jaggery or coconut sugar instead. Adjust as per taste.

6. I prefer grinding the sauce smooth, but you can keep it chunky if you so prefer.

7. You may add some onion and/or lemongrass to give more flavour to the sauce. I typically don’t.

8. When bottled and refrigerated, this Thai Sweet Chilli Sauce stays for up to a month. However, since it is made without any preservatives, it is better used sooner rather than later.

9. You may pass the sauce through a strainer before bottling it, but I prefer not to.

10. You can grind the chillies, ginger, garlic and tomato first and then cook the mixture to a sauce. However, I prefer doing it the way I have outlined above.

11. This sauce turns out quite thick, and does not need any thickening agent like cornflour. If you want to use it as a dipping sauce, take a small quantity in a bowl and dilute it with water as needed.

12. The flavours of this sauce intensify about a day after it is made. So, it is best prepared at least 24 hours before it is supposed to be used.

13. Be very careful while salting the sauce. Ideally, this sauce is supposed to be sweet and moderately spicy, with just a little salt to balance it out. About 1/2 teaspoon of salt in total should be good.

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