Friday, June 27, 2008

Dondakai Ulli Kharam - Andhra Food Series and Juggling Life

As usual, I am running somewhere else and have to be in another place too while I am desperately trying to update my blog and put in a new post. I always wonder if it such a struggle for everyone. Trying to juggle so many balls and keep them all up in the air at one time. I guess this is something all working women face. Every time I discuss this with my girlfriends, we come to the conclusion that it is because we are middle aged ( much as I hate saying the dreaded words "middle age", the expression just has to be used now). I think this age brings with it many additional responsibilities. Parents are getting older, kids are reaching adolescence and needless to say, are acting up, we ourselves are going through many changes and don't have the energy to cope like earlier. And to add to it, when you are working, the work-life balance gets totally unbalanced.
But anyway, despite feeling really overwhelmed sometimes, I still find time for my blog, for my friends, so life is all good after all. I guess, accepting life as it comes and keeping all those balls juggling high up there and finally everything just works out and falls into place...

Enough of serious talk. (I find my blog is getting pretty serious in the last few posts and that will soon change, I promise.)

Now for the Dondakai Ulli Kharam...

Dondakai is AKA Tindli, Tindora, Kovakai, Ivy Gourd
It is a very commonly used vegetable in Andhra. I find it a vegetable which either excites someone or induces a feeling of absolute disgust in some folk. My husband is one who will not touch it. Not even a teeny weeny bit to taste. On the other hand I simply love it. The taste of eating this along with hot rice, ghee and mudda pappu is simply awesome. It is simple enough to make and is not at all time consuming. The original method of cooking calls for everything to be fried in sufficient quantities of oil, but now for reasons of health, I steam the Dondakai and then fry it for a bit in the oil. This cuts down the oil consumption by more than a thrid and the decrease in taste is fully justified by the health aspect.

Now for the recipe

1/2 kg Dondakai cut lengthwise into quarters
2 onions
4 red chillies
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
5 curry leaves
2 tablespoons Oil

Steam the cut dondakai along with salt.

Grind together the onions and red chillies till it is a coarse paste.

Heat oil and fry the mustard seeds till they crackle and then add the curry leaves. Now add the steamed dondakai and onion paste and keep frying on medium heat till it turns brown.

A little more salt may need to be added.

Serve hot along with hot rice, ghee and mudda pappu ( boiled toor dal- staple of all the Andhra people). Delicious.


Sunday, June 15, 2008

Kanda Bachali - Andhra Food Series

This is an ongoing series that I am attempting to do. Put all the recipes on Andhra food ( at least all the ones I know and also the ones I would like to learn) in one place. I think a food blog should be a store house of all your favourite recipes and those of your family in addition to expressing personal views and being your personal space on the World Wide Web.

Writing is a hard thing to do. The creative juices do not always flow readily from either the brain or the fingers. I sit in front of the keyboard hoping that magically the words will simply flow out. But I guess perseverence is the key. Keep at it and it will happen. This is one of those occasions that I have everything ready - the recipe, the photo but no write up.What do I do now? Head straight into the recipe or make a pretence of writing a bit more? I think not. I shall put you out of your misery and move straight on to Kanda Bachali for now and let the creative juices flow for the next post.

Kanda Bachali is a very typical Andhra preparation. Kanda ( in Telugu) is Yam aka Sena Kazhangu in Tamil ( I hope I am right with the spelling) and Suran in Hindi.

Bachali is a type of spinach with thick leaves. It is also known as Basella in English and Basalai Keerai in Tamil. There are two types of leaves. One with small round shiny leaves and purple berries. The other is a little longer leaves. I am not too sure of the different varieties of this particular spinach or their names.

Image from

The taste of Kanda Bachali is a very acquired one. It has a little bit of a bitter taste from the mustard paste and a little tang from the tamarind. The chillis give the right amount of spice to the dish.

Now for the recipe..

1/2 kilo Yam peeled, diced and boiled with a little salt.
2 cups Bachali washed well and chopped finely
2 table spoons Tamarind juice
1 teaspoon Mustard
2 Red Chillies
1/4 tea spoon Hing ( Asafoetida)
Salt to taste
1 teaspoon Chana dal
1 teaspoon Urad dal
3 tablespoons Oil
2 Green Chillies chopped finely
1 tablespoon Curry Leaves
Handful Coriander Leaves
1 inch piece Ginger chopped finely
Grind the mustard, hing, red chillies, salt and turmeric into a fine paste.
Heat the oil. Add the chana dal and urad dal and fry till browned.
Add the green chillies, curry leaves, ginger, and the spinach. Fry for 10 minutes.
Add the boiled yam and tamarind juice. Leave for 10 minutes on low flame. After removing fom fire add the mustard paste and coriander leaves.
Serve hot with rice and melted ghee.

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Yippee!! Finally An Award and Tinda Masala

Hey, Finally got my very first blogging award. It was so exciting and even more so because it came from someone I had not met till then in the "blogosphere". It just goes to show there are real people out there reading my blog and it is simply a wonderful feeling. When I saw a message in my inbox from Rashmi, I thought it was just another comment. Just another comment???? No way. As she put it so sweetly, there was a small something ( a token of appreciation, she said) for me in her blog. I still did not think it was an award. Gently tiptoed my way into her really excellent blog and was so pleasantly surprised. I cannot tell you how excited I got. You must know the feeling. It has been a while ( a really long, long while ago) since I have been at school and the feeling is akin to winning a race on Sports day when you thought you would come in last. It really made my day. Many of you are really active in the blogging word and have got many many awards. The sidebar with all the awards usually is longer than the main blog ( Oh yes, I have noticed and to be really honest I have been pretty green with envy). But this one from Rashmi was so unexpected, it made up for all those times of envy.

Now as usual, everything in life comes with strings attached. So does my award. The "rules" of this award started by Roopa are that we must a) name four of my favourite desserts and b) pass this award to four other bloggers whose blogs I find Yummy.

As for a) it is not going to be hard thing because desserts are my absolute favorite food course. I am extremely partial to Indian sweets. I think what most people find is that Indian sweets are too sweet but I think thats what does it for me. That excessive sweet taste that sends me straight into a high. but part b) thats going to be hard. Choosing just four blogs among all the wonderful ones out there.... that is indeed a hard task. Let me try anyway.

Favorite desserts:
1) Kulfi ( I crave for this at all times, every single day)
2) Kulfi ( Now you know how much I love it that it features as number 1 and number 2 on my list.
3) Jalebis ( Hot little delicious swirlies that add inches to the waistline within minutes)
4) Rasagullas ( Simple and absoluely the best. Chewier the better)

Now for the four bloggers whose blogs I find "Yummy"

1) Coffee's The Spice Cafe

4) Sailu's Sailusfood

They have featured at many a meal at our dining table and have all added a lot of variety to the food at home. I have thoroughly enjoyed reading their blogs, drooled over their wonderful pictures and honestly do find their blogs truly "Yummy". May their blogs live long!!!!!

Now for the Tinda Masala Recipe...

First about Tindas:

The tinda, also called Indian round gourd or apple gourd or Indian Baby Pumpkin, is a squash cucurbit grown for its immature fruit , a vegetable especially popular in south Asia.
The plant is, as with all cucurbits, a prolific vine, and is grown as an annual. The fruit is approximately spherical, and 5–8 cm in diameter. The seeds may also be roasted and eaten.
This unique squash-like gourd is native to India, very popular in Indian and Pakistani cooking with curry and many gourmet dishes. Green colored, apple sized fruits are flattish round in shape and 50-60 grams in weight. Plants are vigorous, productive and begin to bear fruits in 70 days after planting.
Can be confused with Tendli or Kundru due to similar sounding name from different language / region. Tinda in Punjabi or most North Indian Languages is "Indian Baby Pumpkin".

Source : Wikipedia


1/2 kilo Tinda peeled , deseeded and chopped into 1 inch bits
2 Onions chopped finely
2 Tomatoes diced finely
1 tablespoon ginger garlic and green chilli paste
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1/2 teaspoon chilli powder
1/2 teaspoon jeera powder (Cumin)
1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
1/2 teaspoon amchoor powder ( dried mango powder)
salt to taste
1 tablespoon Oil
1 teaspoon Jeera (Cumin)
1 teaspoon coriander leaves for the garnish
Heat Oil. When medium hot, add jeera and fry till it sizzles and turns golden.
Add the onions and fry till translucent. Now add the ginger garlic green chilli paste and fry till it starts turning brownish.
Add all the dry powders including salt and fry for a couple of minutes. When well mixed, add the tomatoes and cook the whole thing till it turns mushy.
Add the tinda and cover and cook till tindas are totally done.
Garnish with the coriander.
Serve hot with chapatis, phulkas or rice.

Monday, June 2, 2008

Helping Hands and Andhra Food Series : Dosakai Pachadi

We have been going through a harrowing time lately as we had a personal problem and as a result of which, we had to spend a large amount of time in Rajamundry ( a small town in Andhra Pradesh). Now, tho Rajamundry is supposed to be officially home to my dad's side of the family, we have never stayed there for any length of time. My only recollection of the place was short day visits to see family. This time round, however, we had to be there for nearly 3 weeks. It was a visit fraught with tension and worry. But you know the saying, an angel is always around when you need one. There was this family who extended such a helping hand, opened up their house and hearts to us. They were so hospitable and they made it appear that nothing was trouble for them. They were there when we needed them the most. To top it all, we had not met them earlier and this was the first time we were meeting all of them. Even so, we never ever felt like they were strangers. They made us immediately feel like one of the family. I just do not have the right words to thank them and don't think I ever will. Words cannot really express the deep sense of gratitude that I have inside me. It was wonderful to see how people can just step up to lend a helping hand and this has made me more determined than ever that I will always extend a hand when I can in for people in their time of need. Most people do not vocalise what they really want for fear of looking like they are trying to bum off you or that they are encroaching on your personal space. When someone extends a hand like this without even a question asked, it makes such a difference. All I can say is a big "Thank You" from the bottom of my heart.

Now that the serious stuff has been said, the icing on the cake was the food in their house. The taste of the food in their home was quite something else. They had their own cows, so the taste of the milk, ghee and the curd.. oh, the curd was something else altogether. Fully loaded with a layer of thick cream on top.. yummy. And the vegetables, the dals, the pachadis that R made tasted really divine. With all the worries I had, one would have thought I would lose weight but oh no, not me. I was happily tucking in at each meal and never did I once worry about mundane things like weight.
In the memory of all those lovely meals that we ate at her home, I am going to be doing a series of posts on typical Andhra food. She has promised to give me a few recipes and I am definitely going to hold her to her promise and will post them here in turn.

One of the most popular food courses in Telugu food has to be Pachadi ( this is comparable to the thovaigals that the Tamilians eat). Every meal has one pachadi at least which is mixed with hot rice and ghee and relished. I have already posted Usirikai Pachadi earlier but this time round I found nice dosakais in the vegetable shop and promptly decided to make Dosakai Pachadi which is an Andhra favourite. It is a little tangy and has a nice bittery/pungent taste from the mustard seed paste.

Now for the ingredients...

I medium size Dosakai diced into small bits
2 Red chillies
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 pinch Hing ( asafoetida)
1/4 teaspoon Turmeric powder
1 small lemon sized ball of tamarind soaked in a 2 tablespoons of water
a lemon sized bit of jaggery
1 green chilli
1 tablespoon of chopped coriander leaves
salt to taste
1 teaspoon oil

Heat oil. Add mustard seeds and the red chillies.
Grind to a coarse paste along with the turmeric, hing, salt, jaggery, tamarind, green chilli and coriander leaves.
Add the dosakai and just pulse once or twice.
Serve with hot rice and ghee...