Gongura Adugula Pappu

My gongura love has many avatars. One that frequently appears on Mahanandi is amma’s beloved gongura pappu. Today’s gongura avatar is from my mother-in-law’s kitchen, a Nandyala standard and Vijay’s all-time favorite. It’s a simple mélange of familiar toor dal and fresh gongura, does not use lot of ingredients, but relies on slow cooking for a rich and satisfying flavor. The key for this recipe is toor dal should not be overcooked, and it should hold its shape. Back in the old days, the dal is placed on the bottom, topped with gongura and simmered in earthen-ware pots on firebricks. Bottom is adugu in Telugu, so the name “adugula pappu“. This pride of Nandyala is an artisan food. I feel fortunate to prepare it at home with garden-fresh gongura and share it today on Mahanandi.

Garden Fresh Gongura
Garden-fresh Gongura

Gongura Adugula Pappu
(for 2 or 4, for 2 to 1 meal)

Ingredients:

    Fresh gongura leaves, coarsely chopped, about 6 cups, tightly packed
    1/2 cup, toor dal (kandi pappu)
    1 medium sized, red onion or shallot, chopped to chunks, about a cup
    6 to 8 green chilli, Indian or Thai variety, about 3-inch length each, finely chopped
    1/4 teaspoon, turmeric
    1/2 teaspoon salt or to taste

    For Hing Tadka:
    2 tablespoons, peanut oil
    10 to 12, fresh curry leaves
    1/2 teaspoon each – chana dal and urad dal
    Pinch each – cumin and mustard seeds
    1/8 teaspoon, hing (inguva)

Method:
1. Soak toor dal in two cups of water for one hour. Drain.

2. In a large pot, heat a tablespoon of peanut oil over medium heat. Add the onion and green chilli. Saute until soft and translucent, about five minutes. Add the gongura leaves. Saute the leaves until they collapse.

3. Add the soaked toor dal to gongura. Sprinkle turmeric and salt. Mix well with a whisk or sturdy spoon. Cover, reduce the heat to low and simmer until the toor dal is tender for about 15 to 20 minutes. Moisture from fresh gongura is enough to cook the toor dal to tender, and adding extra water is not necessary. But if there is a need, add little. The key for this recipe is toor dal should not be overcooked, and it should hold its shape.

4. Do the hing tadka. In a small pot, heat peanut oil. When oil is hot, add curry leaves, chana dal, urad dal, cumin and mustard seeds, one after another, and toast to fragrance. When mustard seeds start to pop, add hing. Stir for couple of seconds. Add the gongura-toor dal mix to this hing tadka. Gently mix well.

5. Serve gongura adugula pappu hot with rice and some ghee for a taste of tradition.

Gongura Adugula Pappu with Rice and Masala Vada
Gongura Adugula Pappu with Masuri Rice and Masala Vada ~ Meal on a Summer Day

Summer Fruit Harvest ~ Fresh Figs (Medi Pandlu)

Ripe Fig

Ripe Figs (Medi Pandlu) from My Garden

Fresh, Ripe Figs

We planted a small fig plant (Celeste) last March. It survived the unseasonably snowy winter last year and has grown into a healthy looking bush with plenty of branches. Thanks to the pleasant spring season we had this year.

The branches are filled with fruit now and I see at least 40 to 50 figs in various stages of development. They started to ripen since June last week. Everyday I would see 6 to 7 ripe figs for the past one week. I leave one or two ripe fruits for the birds, and pluck the remaining for us.

We are eating them raw right away, because these luscious ripe figs are tasty, delicate and juicy. They have soft skin that splits with ripeness emitting a fruity aroma and sweet honey like nectar. I had the pleasure of eating fresh figs at my grandparents home in Nandikotkur when I was little. But never thought it would be possible here. This happy occasion reminds me of our Yogi Vemana Padyalu recitals of childhood.


మేడి పండు చూడ మేలిమైయుండు
పొట్ట విప్పి చూడ పురుగులుండు
పిరికివాని మదిని బింకమీలాగురా
విశ్వదాభిరామ వినుర వేమ.


Vemana Padyalu by Precious Babygirl Naina.

Home as a Hobby ~ Lily Bouquet

Peruvian lilies (Alstroemeria)
Floral Expressions with Peruvian lilies (Alstroemeria)

Peruvian lilies or Lilies of Inca are pretty flowers. They are inexpensive here in Houston, and I buy them sometimes. I like how they instantly bring spring sunshine like warmth to the home.

Happy, flower filled July 4th weekend!

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Special Book Sale

Wanted: Food writers for Indiaphile website.

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My deepest condolences to Dr.Sinha’s family. May God bless him and his family during this time and always.

Mango~Carrot Pulihora

No people have been more appreciative of the culinary possibilities of rice than the people from India. Biryani, bhats, pongal and pulao are some of the many well known rice preparations. Then there is Pulihora.

Pulihora is a celebration of the south-Indian penchant for rather sour flavors. In pulihora, the rice says no to baser onion, garlic and garam masala, and gets bridal. The aromatic, individually cooked rice grains are adorned with turmeric tadka in attractive yellow -the traditional symbol of joy and happiness, and absorbed in sourly sweet agents from nature. This flavorful dish is a must have on south Indian festival days and special occasions. There are several variations of pulihora depending on the sour agent. Common and crowd favorites are pulihoras prepared with grated unripe mango, tamarind pulp and lemon juice.

Today’s recipe is inspired by mango pulihora. I added little bit of carrot for sweet touch. Mango and carrot with rice, it was a delicious levels of flavor. This is the mango season. Just the right time for pulihora.

Grated Unripe Mango
Grated, Unripe Mango

Mango-Carrot Pulihora
(for 2 to 4, for 2 to 1 meal)

Recipe:
2 cups sona masuri or basmati rice
1 firm, unripe mango
1 small carrot
Wash the rice in water, then soak in 4 cups of water for at least 15 minutes.
Lightly peel the skins of mango and carrot. Grate with a grater or in a food processor. We need about two cups of grated unripe mango and a cup of grated carrot.

For Turmeric Tadka:
2 tablespoons, peanut oil
1 tablespoon, chana dal and urad dal
1 tablespoon, finely chopped green chilli
1 sprig of fresh curry leaves (10 to 12 curry leaves)
2 tablespoons, roasted, unsalted shelled peanuts (or cashews)
1/4 teaspoon, turmeric
Pinch each – cumin seeds, mustard seeds and hing

1. In a large, heavy pan, add the rice and the water it soaked in. On medium heat, cook until the rice is tender but still firm, stirring occasionally to prevent sticking.

2. In a large, heavy wide pan, heat peanut oil over medium heat. When oil is hot, add one after another, from big to small, the ingredients listed in turmeric tadka in that order. Constantly stirring toast them to red and to fragrance. When you see mustard seeds pop, then add the mango and carrot gratings to the skillet. Sprinkle half teaspoon of salt or to taste. Stir and saute for about five minutes on medium-low heat. This is done to remove the mango and carrot rawness.

3. Add mango-carrot mixture to cooked rice. Gently mix well. Serve warm. Sour and sweet, mango-carrot pulihora makes a tasty one-dish meal.

Mango-Carrot Pulihora
Mango~Carrot Pulihora ~ Meal on a Rainy Day

Dahi Mirchi with Pequin Peppers

One good thing about Houston’s radiant weather is I could do my culinary sun salutations with ease.

Here is a traditional Bharath culinary sun salutation with Mexican pequin peppers. I bought a small pequin pepper plant last year from FBMG. It survived the snowy winter and now thriving with fresh growth and abundant fruit. A general rule of thumb with mirchis is the smaller the mirchi, the hotter it tends to be. It’s no exception for pequin peppers. The itty-bitty pequin peppers pack a punch both fresh and sun-dried as dahi mirchi. I started adding them to tadka that we season the daals and curries. Salty, sour and hot, dahi pequin peppers are a real treat.

This age-old Bharath technique of preserving the chillies in dahi is easy. The process needs some patience and lots of sunshine. Here is the photo pictorial.


Fully Mature Pequin Pepper on 5 Rupee Coin


Add a cup of pequin peppers to a cup of dahi (Indian Yogurt). Mix a tablespoon of salt. Keep uncovered for three days on the kitchen countertop. Stir once a day. Dahi acts like preserving agent here.


Drain the dahi and reserve the pequin peppers. Spread them on a cloth and sun dry under hot afternoon sun until they are completely dry. Takes about 2 to 3 days depending on the sunshine.


Salty, Sour and Spicy ~ Sun-dried Dahi Pequin Peppers


Sun-dried Dahi Pequin Peppers ~ Toasted in Tadka

From Yesteryears:
More about Dahi Mirchi (Majjiga Mirapa)
Dahi Mirchi with Cayenne

Bean Sprouts with Bell Peppers

“Keeping your body healthy is an expression of gratitude to the whole cosmos: the plants, the clouds, everything.” An old proverb says. Here is a hope that this north Indian kadi inspired recipe will contribute to the cause. Garden fresh green bell peppers are cooked with moong bean sprouts in dahi sauce. The cooling dahi sauce provides an interesting and characteristically North-Indian contrast to somewhat earthy bell peppers. This nutritious and easy to prepare recipe can be served as a main course accompanied with rice or roti.

Bell Pepper Stuffed with Moong Bean Sprouts

Bean Sprouts with Bell Peppers
(for 2 to 4 for 2 to 1 meal)

    Recipe:
    2 cups moong bean sprouts
    4 bell peppers, remove the end&seeds and chop to chunks, 2 cups
    1 semi ripe tomato, finely chopped, 1/2 cup
    1 small onion or shallot, finely chopped, 1/2 cup
    1 cup, dahi (Indian yogurt)
    1 tablespoon besan (gram flour, chickpea flour)
    1/2 teaspoon each – salt, red chilli powder and garam masala powder
    1/4 teaspoon – turmeric
    1/4 cup, finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves for garnish

    for Kasuri methi Tadka:
    1 tablespoon peanut oil
    1 tablespoon kasuri methi
    pinch each- cumin and methi seeds

1. In a large skillet, heat peanut oil. When oil is hot, add and toast kasuri methi, cumin and methi seeds in that order to fragrance.

2. Add onion, tomato, bell pepper one after another and saute until softened, about ten minutes.

3. Add moong sprouts and salt, chilli, garam masala powder and turmeric. Pour about half cup of water. Mix well. Cover the skillet and steam-saute until the moong sprouts are soft and tender.

4. In a cup, take dahi and add besan flour. Mix them well without any lumps.

5. Reduce the heat to low. Stir a little of this dahi-besan mix into the subji, then gradually add the entire mixture. Simmer on low heat for about two minutes. Turn off the heat. Garnish with cilantro leaves. Serve warm.

Bean Sprouts with Bell Peppers
Bean Sprouts with Bell Peppers ~ For Meal Today

Houston Finds: Seema Chintakaaya (Camachile Fruits)

Seema Chintakaaya
Seema Chintakaaya
(Koduka Puli, Jungle Jilebi, Bilayati Imli, Pithecellobium Dulce, Camachile, Makhaamthet)

I found these dried seema chintakaayalu at Canino Farmers Market, Houston. Here they are sold under the name Camachile fruits, shelled from the pods and partially dried.

In Nandyala, India, they were my childhood delicacy and we used to eat them fresh. They are readily available from trees lining the village fields and roads and on sale at the roadside stalls and public markets. The fresh, green pods ripen to pinkish red pods and that signals snack time not only for humans, but also for monkeys, parrots, and other creatures. The mature pods have whitish-pink flesh around shiny brown seeds and the soft flesh taste sweet and tart. We love this nutritious, nature’s snack and it’s a delight to find them here in Houston again after over a decade.

Pudina Potatoes

One other vegetable I brought from weekends Canino farmer’s market trip was baby red potatoes. They were so tiny, round and fresh, I just couldn’t resist their cute appeal. Half of them went into a weekend special meal Dum Aloo. With the remaining ones, I prepared pudina potatoes for today’s meal. This new recipe is inspired by village style methi aloo. The combination of pudina and potato might sound odd, but wait until you try it. Pudina’s strong herbal flavor lends a charming personality to potatoes making pudina potatoes a pleasure to serve and have.

Homegrown Pudina (Mint)
Homegrown Pudina (Spearmint)

Pudina Potatoes
(for 2 to 4 for 2 to 1 meal)

Potatoes: Place 10 tiny red potatoes in a large pot or pressure cooker. Add enough water to cover by at least half inch. Bring to boil and cook the potatoes to tender. Drain. Cool and peel the skin. Set aside.

Pudina: While potatoes are cooking, take a fistful of fresh pudina leaves. Wash and take them in a mixer or mortar. Add 2 to 3 fresh green chillies, a tablespoon of fresh grated coconut and a pinch of salt. Blend them to coarse paste without adding water.

Pudina Potatoes:

    In a large, cast-iron skillet over medium heat, heat a tablespoon of peanut oil. Add a pinch each-cumin and mustard seeds and saute to fragrance. Add a cup of thinly sliced onions and fry to golden.
    Add the potatoes. Sprinkle the pudina paste, quarter teaspoon of turmeric and half teaspoon of salt over the top and mix well. Cook on medium heat for about five minutes, stirring occasionally.
    Serve hot.

Pudina Potatoes makes a tasty side dish to rice, roti or pasta with dal, dahi or subji combination.

Pudina Potato (Minty Aloo)
Pudina Potatoes ~ for Meal Today

Nimma Uragaaya of Nandyala

Last weekend, we went to Houston’s wholesale produce market called Canino Farmer’s Market for mangoes. In the market, limes were also available abundant. Key limes were 30 for a dollar and Persian limes were 20 for a dollar. I bought 60 key limes and 20 Persian limes for a total of 4 dollars.

Key limes are small sized, Indian type limes with relatively thin skin, so they are great for pickle base. Persian limes are seedless and full of juice, good for pickle juice. I made same kind of preserve last year with key lime and Persian lime combination and it was wonderful, both size and juicewise for nimma uragaaya.

The pickle I have remaining from last year lasts for just another few weeks. Now the weather is right, ingredients are right and it would take at least two months for key lime’s eye-crossing bitter-sourness to mingle with other ingredients and mellow. I know now, why our folks craved making these pickles year after year, every year. They are comfort food, particularly during cold, winter months. What also attracts me more is the texture, the color and the aroma. The whole process is addictive and enthralling.

Key Limes for Nimma Uragaaya

Nimma Uragaaya:
For detail recipe directions – click here.

Prepare with fresh ingredients, add enough salt and keep the pickle making area and vessels dry and moisture free. Follow these pickle precautions for successful tradition of nimma uragaaya.

    60 keylimes – wash, dry with a towel and sun-dry for an hour. Then, cut into quarters.
    20 persian limes – Wash and wipe off the moisture. Cut and squeeze juice. We need at least 3 to 4 cups of limejuice. The more juice we add to uragaaya, the tastier the uragaaya will be.
    cups, iodine-free salt or sea salt
    1 cup, red chilli powder
    1/8 cup, methi seeds – roast to red in an iron skillet on low heat. Cool and then powder to fine.
    Pickle Popu: Heat two tablespoons of peanut oil. When oil it hot, add quarter teaspoon of hing. Toast for couple of seconds to fragrance. Turn off the heat. Keep aside to cool to room temperature.

1. Pour salt, red chilli powder and methi seed powder over key lime pieces. Mix well with your clean, dry hand or big wooden spoon.

2. Pour lime juice and pickle popu over keylime pickle. Mix well. Spoon into a ceramic or glass jar. Keep the jar loosely covered with a non-corrosive lid. Place the jar on the kitchen countertop where air circulates freely. Mix once a day with a dry, wooden spoon, for a week.

3. Cover loosely and leave the pickle undisturbed for a month. With time, the skin softens and nimma uragaaya achieves a special mellow sourness with echoes of ancient world.

Nimma Uragaaya will keep for several months to a year without refrigeration.

Nimma Uragaaya
Nimma Uragaaya Worship with Salt, Chilli Powder and Methi Powder

Nimma Uragaaya
Nimma Uragaaya ~ Comfort Food for Winter Time

Summer Fruit Harvest ~ Kharbuja

Kharbuja (Cantaloupe)
Kharbuja on the Vine

Kharbuja (Cantaloupe)
Ripe Kharbuja with Sweet Scent, Freshly Plucked from the Kharbuja Vines

Kharbuja (Cantaloupe)
Summer Sunday Treat ~ Kharbuja with Icecream

Weekend Kittaya

Kittaya

Kittaya Days of Summer

Adorable Kittaya, Our Cat

Brinjal Cilantro (Vankaya Kottimera Kura)

An authentic Andhra dish to be eaten with Sona Masuri rice or sorghum roti, this superb recipe came with high recommendation from Lakshmi chinnamma. She has been following my vegetable harvest updates and when she saw the fresh and familiar brinjals, she highly recommended I cook this recipe and I did. What a joy it was to rediscover the forgotten taste. Chinnamma, you are my muse, thank you.

Brinjal and Cilantro

Brinjal Cilantro (Vankaya Kottimera Kura)
(for one or two meals for four to two)

    8 palm-length, fresh and firm pinkish mauve colored brinjals
    2 cups, finely chopped fresh cilantro leaves
    4 green chilli, Indian or Thai variety, finely chopped
    1 tablespoon, grated fresh ginger
    1/4 teaspoon, turmeric
    1/2 teaspoon, salt or to taste

    For tadka: 1 tablespoon, peanut oil and
    from masala dabba: tadka ingredients (cumin, mustard seeds and few fresh curry leaves)

Brinjal: Fill a bowl to half with water. Add a teaspoon of salt and mix.
Remove the ends and cut the brinjals lengthwise thinly and then crosswise to about one-inch length pieces. Drop the pieces into salted water. This old-Bharath technique is to prevent brinjal bitter-browning.

Cilantro: Take cilantro leaves, chillies and ginger in a mixer or mortar. Add a pinch of salt and blend them to coarse paste. (Or, if you prefer, skip this step and add the three ingredients as they are.)

Brinjal-Cilantro: Place a wide skillet on stove-top and heat. Add oil and when oil is hot, add and toast curry leaves, a pinch each – cumin and mustard seeds to fragrance. Add brinjal pieces. Sprinkle turmeric and salt. Cover the skillet partially and cook the brinjal pieces to soft on medium heat. Add the cilantro paste at the end. Stir-fry for few minutes until the home is filled with wonderful cilantro scent.

Serve Vankaya Kottimera Kura warm with rice or roti and dal or dahi. Soft brinjal pieces with rich, jari like cilantro accent taste spicily silk. Imagine an edible Dharmavaram silk. This could be it.

Vankaya Kottimera Kura (Brinjal-Cilantro Curry)
Vankaya Kottimera Kura ~ For Meal Today

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