Ellu Bella | and an easy recipe for the leftovers

A festive trail mix of roasted peanuts and sesame seeds, dried coconut and diced jaggery

Ellu Bella

Year after year on the 14th of January or sometimes 15th, like in many Kannadiga homes, the tradition is, whether or not we eat anything else, there is always one thing fixed on the festive menu – Ellu Bella (pronounced yelloo-bella) (sesame seeds – jaggery).

It is not much of a recipe at all but just a medley of simple ingredients as anyone can see it. What makes it special however is that, it is never made for eating alone but, in spite of the tedious work involved it is always prepared in quantities large enough to be shared with as many people as one possibly can.

Or at least, that is how it used to be.

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Maangai Thokku

Oil-Cooked Green Mango Chutney

[Maahn gaaee, toh koo] (Tamil)

There’s one thing I certainly look forward to Indian summers for and it is not the scorching sun. You guessed it right, summer to me is synonymous with mangoes. Raw or ripe any size or shape I just love them.
It’s not summer, neither spring here, I know. But that did not stop me from craving for some.
Mango is a seasonal fruit and when one has a craving, one has no choice but to wait for April or sometimes May to savour the unique taste of the king of fruits back home.

You know, I have been prejudiced in the past about Mexican mangoes (confession!!). Come on, anyone who has grown up with the taste of Indian Mangoes will almost involuntarily patronize nothing other than Indian. Ironically, when I was hit with this intense craving for my mom’s Maangai Thokku that day, I wasn’t in a position to discriminate.
Good for me, because when I found some raw mexican mangoes in the nearby grocery store, to my surprise, I was happier than I thought I would ever be. And without much delay the next day, Mango Thokku came alive in my very own kitchen. Sometimes, we have to give it to our cravings for helping us get past such food prejudices! And my verdict ~ mexican mangoes are not bad at all, agreed they are not as sour when raw or as sweet when ripe, but I made my peace with that.
All is well that ends well, for good reason!

Mango chutney has been made famous internationally thanks to numerous Indian restaurants and passionate chefs. But this one I am talking about is seldom part of the restaurant scene.
Thokku is neither a chutney nor a pickle, it is half-way in between. It is homestyle, mostly derived out of a simple need to savour the seasonal fruit past its season with a little help from oil as the basic preservative.
Not the best of analogies may be, but consider it to be somewhat like a pesto, except cooked (without the nuts and cheese of course). See, I did add the disclaimer.
And for the taste, I can bet on those mexican mangoes if you find this chutney anything less than finger licking good!

Maangai Thokku Recipe

Printable Recipe

Things you’ll need:
for grinding
  • 1 large green mango - raw and taut, wash & pat dried, skinned, stone removed and diced
  • 5-6 green chillies
  • a scant 1/4 tsp fenugreek/methi seeds
  • salt
for tempering
  • 1/4 cup peanut oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1/4 tsp hing/asafoetida
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
How it’s done:
  • In a blender grind the raw mango chunks, green chillies, methi seeds and salt to a smooth paste without adding water.
  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a kadai/wok over high heat. When the oil is hot enough but not smoking, add mustard seeds (add a mustard seed to check if the oil is hot, should splutter immediately). When the mustard seeds start spluttering, reduce heat to medium and add hing/asafoetida, turmeric immediately followed by the mango paste and stir to mix well.
  • Cook the mango paste well adding a tbsp of oil at a time stirring intermittently until all the oil has been incorporated and the mango chutney comes together as one lump leaving all sides of the kadai. And you’ll also notice the sizzling noise almost dies down.
Storage
  • Because it is oil cooked, when properly done this chutney stores well for up to a couple of weeks at room temperature and longer when refrigerated. Just make sure of an oil layer at the top to prevent contact with moisture.
  • Store in a non-reactive glass container with an air tight lid. If the lid is metalic, add a cling wrap as a barrier between the jar and the lid to prevent the lid from corroding.
Serving Suggestion While it tastes heavenly when mixed with hot rice and ghee/oil, it tastes equally good as an accompaniment for Dosa, Idli, Chapati, on sandwiches, you name it.
Note Use fresh ingredients and completely dry utensils and spoons. Avoid Aluminium, brass or cast iron utensils as they react with the acid in the mango. Stainless steel utensils work best to cook this.

Peas & Carrots – Maangai Thokku Rice

Printable Recipe
Here’s a simple recipe for a one pot meal with Mango Tokku and vegetables, that we adore.


Things you’ll need:
  • 1/2 cup raw rice, cooked, grainy soft & fluffy
  • 1/2 cup peas, thawed
  • 1 carrot, peeled and finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated Kobri/desiccated coconut
  • 1-1/2 tbsp Mango Tokku
  • salt
for tempering
  • 2-3 tsp peanut oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp urad dal / black gram
  • 1 tsp chana dal / bengal gram
  • 2-3 green chillies torn in half
  • dash of hing/asafoetida
  • 1/4 tsp turmeric
  • 8-10 curry leaves
How it’s done:
  • Place oil in a medium kadai/saucepan over high heat for tempering. When the  oil is hot enough and shimmering but not smoking, add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start spluttering, reduce heat to medium and add hing, chana dal, urad dal, torn chillies, curry leaves in that order and sauté until the lentils turn golden brown and green chillies show white spots.
  • Add turmeric followed by chopped carrots and peas, sauté for a bit and let cook covered until the carrots are soft and can be cut with a spoon. Sprinkle salt, grated Kobri and mix well and simmer for a few minutes.
  • Switch off the stove. Spread the rice on this veggie mixture, add mango thokku and mix well to combine. Adjust salt if needed.

Other veggies that go well Green bell pepper chopped, Broccoli stem peeled and finely chopped, sweet corn
Other variants
  • Mix with puffed rice (puri/murmura) along with fried peanuts and curry leaves for a spicy snack.
  • Add to bring zest to a regular potatoes and peas curry

I am very happy to send this Maangai Tokku recipe to JFI – Re-Run – Mango event (Feb 1st to Feb 28th) hosted by Satya of My Innovative Kitchen originally started by Indira of Mahanandi

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Menthi Pudina Pachadi

Fenugreek and Mint Chutney

[puh cha di ~ Telugu; may thih  ~ Hindi]

I hate to confess. In my newfound fervor for blogging, here’s the scene behind the closed doors – the laundry basket brimming with soiled clothes waiting to be picked up for a wash, washed clothes given the silent treatment inside the dryer, living room screaming to be re-claimed from my toddler’s toys scattered all over and I dare say anything further than this, lest I start to feel a panic attack. They have a way of making me sluggish, I’d rather say overwhelmingly so. Not so funnily enough, instead of attending to the chores left to be deliberately forgotten, all I want to do is blog more and cook less today.
When the clock struck 11:oo subtly reminding me of the upcoming lunch hour, I wanted to wash my hands off with just a one dish wonder. Well, my toddler has to eat, so rice has to go in the cooker. How about just a little something with rice then?
Skimming through the refrigerator, I found a bunch of methi leaves promising me that perfect escape from kitchen slavery. It reminded me of the flavorful chutney my mother-in-law had made long back and how I had licked it off my plate. Quick to realize that I ran short of methi leaves, I picked up a small bunch of mint leaves as well and made this recipe. The outcome surprised me, as mint and fenugreek aromas did not wage a war. Instead, they were sitting hand in hand in perfect harmony giving a well-balanced sublime flavor, that kept me asking for more. The nuttiness of the peanuts and the silent sweetness of the jaggery lifted my soul as they sank into the depths of my gut.
Don’t wait until your laundry fills up to try it. It is a perfect accompaniment for Dosa, Idli, Chapati or simply steamed rice (as shown here).
Things you’ll need:
  • 1 small bunch of Fresh Methi / Fenugreek leaves
  • 1 small bunch of mint / pudina leaves (an addition to the original recipe)
  • 1/4 cup Peanuts roasted
  • marble sized Tamarind
  • marble sized Jaggery
  • 3-4 dried Red chillies
For tempering:
  • 2 tsp peanut oil
  • 1 tsp Mustard seeds
  • a pinch of Hing / Asafoetida

How it’s done:
  • Peanuts are easily roasted, heated in the microwave for about 2 mins in 30 sec intervals. Just remember to check in between. Or they can be dry roasted the regular way on a kadai or skillet.
  • In a kadai or small skillet, temper mustard and hing in 1 tsp hot oil. With a spoon, scoop out only the spluttered mustard and hing and keep aside.
  • Add the remaining oil to the kadai / skillet. When hot, add in the red chillies and tamarind and sauté until the red chillies are brown. Do not burn the tamarind. Scoop them out and keep aside.
  • In the same skillet, sauté the methi and mint leaves until all of the sizzling stops. They can be sautéed separately as well. Spread them out on a plate and let cool.
  • In a blender, grind all the ingredients except the tempering, together with salt,  jaggery and some water to a smooth paste. Add water just enough to let the blades move. Too much water tends to ruin the flavor, not only the consistency.
  • Remove into a bowl, garnish with the tempering and serve.

{Just washed fenugreek leaves}

{Roasted Ingredients}

{Menthi koora Pachadi ready for tasting}
Tip:
If methi and mint leaves are not sautéed well enough, the chutney can turn out bitter.