Gongura Thokku| Spicy Andhra-Style Sorrel Leaf Chutney

Gongura thokku, a spicy gongura (sorrel leaf) chutney, is a very popular dish from the state of Andhra Pradesh. It makes for a beautiful accompaniment to piping hot ghee rice, and the husband and I love thulping it down with dosas as well. I learnt the recipe from a friend of my mom’s, who hailed from Andhra Pradesh, and it has been practised and perfected over time. My 92-year-old granny, who was brought up in Bellary alongside Telugu neighbours, approves of it, too.

This gongura thokku recipe is my submission for this month’s Shhhh Cooking Secretly challenge. I was paired with the talented food blogger Amrita Iyer, who blogs at The Food Samaritan. She assigned me my two secret ingredients to prepare a dish from the cuisine of Andhra Pradesh, the theme of the month – gongura and chillies. I was more than happy to use them to prepare this family recipe.

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Here’s how I make the gongura thokku.

Ingredients (makes about 1/2 of a regular jam jar):

For the spice mix:

  1. 7-8 dry red chillies, or as per taste
  2. 1 tablespoon coriander seeds (dhania)
  3. 1 tablespoon toor dal
  4. 1 tablespoon chana dal
  5. 1/2 tablespoon urad dal
  6. 1/2 teaspoon methi (fenugreek) seeds
  7. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  8. 1 tablespoon oil

For the tempering:

  1. 2 tablespoons oil
  2. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  3. 3-4 generous pinches of asafoetida powder (hing)

Other ingredients:

  1. 1 large bunch of gongura aka sorrel leaves
  2. Salt, to taste
  3. 2 tablespoons oil

Method:

  1. First, we will prep the gongura or sorrel leaves. Separate the leaves from the stems and place in a colander. Wash them thoroughly under running water, ensuring that no mud remains. Pat dry using a cotton cloth, as best as you can. You could even leave them wrapped in a cotton cloth for a few minutes, which will help them get dry faster.
  2. Next up, we will saute the prepped gongura leaves. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan. Add a handful of the dried gongura leaves and, stirring constantly, allow them to wilt down. Add another handful of leaves and allow them to, similarly, wilt down. Wilt all the leaves in this manner. Keep stirring, to ensure that the leaves do not stick to the bottom of the pan. Transfer to a plate, and allow to cool down entirely.
  3. Let us then get the spice mix ready. For this, heat 1 tablespoon oil in a pan. Reduce the flame, and add in the dry red chillies, coriander seeds, chana dal, urad dal, toor dal and fenugreek seeds. Fry till the ingredients emit a gorgeous fragrance, taking care not to burn them. Transfer onto a plate and allow to cool completely. When the ingredients have entirely cooled down, mix in the turmeric powder. Keep aside.
  4. Take the cooled-down spice ingredients in a mixer, and pulse just for a second. Now, add in the wilted gongura leaves, and mix well. Crush coarsely.
  5. Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, and add in the mustard seeds. Allow them to splutter. Add in the asafoetida, and let it stay in for a couple of seconds. Add the ground gongura-spice paste, along with salt to taste. Cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes, or till you get a thick paste.
  6. Let the chutney cool down completely, and then transfer it to a clean, dry, air-tight bottle. Keep refrigerated when not in use. Use only a clean, dry spoon to remove the chutney. Stored this way, the chutney stays good for up to 10 days.
  7. Serve with piping hot ghee rice or dosas.

Notes:

  1. 1 large bunch of gongura should give you about 1 large serving bowl full of leaves.
  2. Finely chopped garlic and/or onion can be added to the tempering, too. I usually avoid that. Curry leaves can be added as well.
  3. I have seen people using a whole lot more oil than I have used here. I try and restrict the quantity of oil I use, so I feel comfortable consuming the chutney.
  4. Increase or decrease the quantity of dry red chillies you use, depending upon how hot you want the chutney to be.
  5. You can prep the gongura leaves and leave them out to dry in the sun for a day (if you get ample sunlight where you stay, that is!). You can then proceed to make the chutney the next day. In fact, this is exactly how this pickle is made traditionally.
  6. You can even use a mortar and pestle to crush the spices and the gongura leaves, instead of a mixer. I use the mixer, for speed and ease.
  7. Make sure you pat dry as much of the moisture off the gongura leaves as you can. The shelf life of the chutney will decrease if there are traces of moisture on the leaves.
  8. A dash of jaggery can also be added to the chutney, if you’d prefer it. I usually skip this step.
  9. Remember that the spices and gongura need to be just coarsely ground. Don’t make a fine paste in the mixer.

Do you like this recipe? I hope you will try it out and that you will like it as much as we do. Don’t forget to share your feedback with me!

 

 

 

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Dangar Pachadi| A Forgotten Urad Daal Raita From Tamilnadu

This month’s theme for the Shhhh Cooking Secretly Facebook group is ‘Chutneys’. All the participating bloggers were challenged to whip up a chutney that makes use of the two secret ingredients their partner assigns them with.

I have been paired with Kriti Singhal Agrawal, the talented blogger who writes at Krispy Kadhai, this month. She assigned me ‘curd’ and ‘any fresh herb’ as my secret ingredients. I decided to make Dangar Pachadi, a long-lost heirloom recipe from Tamilnadu, that uses curd, roasted urad daal, coriander (the fresh herb!) and, sometimes, curry leaves. Well, technically, this is a raita and not a chutney, but then, anything ground and mixed into curd will inevitably become a raita, right? So, I decided to let that be.

Like I was saying earlier, dangar pachadi is a traditional recipe from Tamilnadu, particularly the Tanjore region, which has been lost somewhere in the chaos of modern life. There is another variation of this raita too that used to be prepared back in the olden days – a version that used roasted urad flour instead of urad daal – called dangarma (colloquial for ‘dangar maavu‘) pachadi. ‘Dangar maavu‘ here refers to ‘urad flour’.

This pachadi has a very interesting history associated with it. Apparently, there was once a section of Brahmins from Maharashtra residing in the South Indian district of Tanjore, called the Tanjore Marathis. It is these Tanjore Marathis who are believed to have invented the dangar pachadi.  ‘Dangar‘ is the Marathi word for ‘the dough used to make papads‘, i.e. urad daal flour. A variation of this recipe was popular among traditional households in Maharashtra as well.

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Dangar pachadi, or a traditional Tamilnadu roasted urad daal raita

Dangar pachadi is something that my mother has grown up eating frequently, a dish I’ve heard her talk about often, but something I haven’t had too many times. I have never tried making it before. Amma was more than happy to teach me how to make this raita, for this challenge, and that is how this post happened. The raita turned out delectable, the smell of roasted urad daal in it heavenly. I served the dangar pachadi with Gujarati-style bajri-methi na thepla, and I am pretty sure it would go wonderfully well with any kind of parathas or as a side dish for rotis. Traditionally, this raita would be served with rice-based dishes.

Now, let’s learn how to make this beautiful raita, shall we?

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

  1. 1 cup curd
  2. Salt, to taste
  3. 2 tablespoons urad daal
  4. 1 tablespoon oil
  5. 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  6. 2 green chillies, slit length-wise
  7. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  8. A few stalks of fresh coriander leaves, finely chopped

Method:

  1. Dry roast the urad daal in a pan, on medium flame, till it emits a lovely fragrance. Transfer to a plate and keep aside to let it cool down completely.
  2. In the meantime, whisk the curd well. Add salt to taste.
  3. Add the finely chopped coriander leaves to the curd.
  4. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, and add the mustard seeds. Let them splutter. Turn down the flame to medium. Now, add the asafoetida and split green chillies. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds, and then add to the curd mix.
  5. When the roasted urad daal has completely cooled down, use a mixer to pulse it to a coarse powder. Add this powder to the curd mix.
  6. Mix everything well, ensuring that all the ingredients are thoroughly incorporated together.
  7. Serve with parathas, rotis or any rice preparation.

Notes:

  1. I used home-made curd that wasn’t too thick. If you are using very thick, store-bought curd, use about 3/4 cup and 1/4 cup of water.
  2. Increase the quantity of urad daal, if you think you’d like it that way.
  3. Make sure you roast the urad daal lightly, till it emits a good fragrance. Take care to ensure that it doesn’t burn.
  4. Increase the quantity of green chillies, if you would like the raita to be slightly more spicier.
  5. You need to just coarsely crush the roasted urad daal, and not make a fine powder.
  6. Curry leaves can be added to the raita, too, but I skipped them.
  7. If you aren’t planning on using the dangar pachadi immediately, you should refrigerate it until use so that it doesn’t turn too sour.

You like? I hope you will try this dish out too, and that you will love it just as much as we did!

Chawal Ke Pakode| Leftover Rice Fritters

Recently, for a cooking group that I am part of – called Shhhhh Cooking Secretly Challenge – I recreated a dish that my mother would make often as I was growing up – Chawal Ke Pakode or fritters using leftover rice. She would make these fritters whenever there was extra cooked rice left over, and they would get gobbled up in minutes. In fact, apart from the rice, she would add any leftover dry curry, upma or vermicelli too. 🙂 Best way to use up leftovers, I say.

For the Challenge, I was paired up with another food blogger, who writes at Shobha’s Food Mazaa, who assigned me two ingredients – mixed vegetables and flour. I had to use these ingredients to create something fried, which was the group’s theme for this month. I decided to make this dish I have grown up eating.

Following in my mother’s footsteps, I made the chawal ke pakode with leftover cooked rice, vegetable upma, grated cheese, cauliflower and onion curry. Unlike Amma, though, I added in some taste-makers – amchoor, sugar and garam masala. They made for a beautiful snack on a rainy day and, as always, got eaten within minutes of the making.

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Chawal ke pakode aka leftover rice fritters, my way!

Here is how I made the fritters.

Ingredients (makes about 15 pieces):

  1. About 3/4 cup cooked rice
  2. About 1/2 cup vegetable rava upma
  3. About 1/2 cup cauliflower and onion curry (dry)
  4. 1 small onion, chopped finely
  5. 1 small carrot, peeled and finely grated
  6. 1 cube of processed cheese, finely grated
  7. 3 tablespoons besan (gram flour)
  8. Salt, as per taste
  9. Red chilli powder, as per taste
  10. 3-4 tablespoons sugar, or as per taste
  11. 1-1/2 tablespoon garam masala, or as per taste
  12. About 10 stalks of fresh coriander leaves, chopped finely
  13. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  14. 2 tablespoons amchoor powder, or to taste
  15. 2 pinches of asafoetida powder (hing)
  16. Oil, for deep frying

Method:

  1. Take the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, and set it to heat on a high flame.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, mix together all the ingredients except the oil. Mix well, ensuring that all the ingredients are well combined together. You should get a mixture that you can easily shape into balls, without everything crumbling apart. There is, usually, no need to add water.
  3. Make lemon-sized balls out of the mixture, and keep them ready.
  4. When the oil is nice and hot, reduce the flame to medium. Deep fry the balls in the hot oil, a couple at a time, turning sides, till they are well browned on all sides.
  5. Serve piping hot, with chutney of your choice, tomato sauce and/or kasundi.

Notes:

  1. Personally, I think the sugar adds a nice taste to the chawal ke pakode. Feel free to reduce the quantity of sugar or skip it altogether, if it doesn’t sound like a great addition to you.
  2. Basically, any dry leftovers from your kitchen can go into the making of these fritters. I made another batch of these using leftover cooked rice, potato curry, carrot salad, and lemon rice. Those tasted yummylicious, too.
  3. Increase or decrease the quantity of gram flour that you use, depending upon the consistency of your fritter batter. Add just enough to make a mixture that easily shapes into balls, without coming apart in your hands.
  4. You could add any other veggies from your refrigerator to these fritters too.
  5. My mother would pick out the chillies from the leftover upma before making these fritters, and so did I too. Leave them in, if you are okay with them.
  6. Amma would add just salt, red chilli powder and a hint of garam masala, but I went ahead and added some amchoor and sugar too. Take your pick, as far as the spices are concerned. Chana masala or pavbhaji masala instead of garam masala would be a nice touch too, I think.
  7. I used Amul processed cheese.

Did you like this idea of using up leftovers from your kitchen? How do you make use of leftover rice and curries? Tell me; I’m all ears!