Maavina Midi Uppinakayi | Baby Mango Pickle

As soon as the Mango season began in early April, baby green mangoes were making their appearance in mounds in markets everywhere here in Bangalore.

The very sight of baby unripe mangoes just like “baby anything”, is simply irresistible. It must be the size. Miniatures are always so irresistible. Especially tender, baby unripe mangoes which we locals call as Midi Maavinakayi or simply Maavina Midi. Because, they mean one thing. Awesome oil free pickles!

People buy as much as they can to preserve, to consume a little now and more throughout the year until the next season arrives.

Continue reading

Grated Amla (Nellikayi) Murabba

Murabba means sweetened fruit preserve and Amla Murabba is a favorite of many Indians including yours truly. All through the years we lived in the US, quite often I lamented over the unavailability of fresh gooseberries. Frozen ones never really counted for me.

So, when we moved to India almost 9 months back (the reason I have been missing from this space for all this while!), one of the things that I had to catch up on was savoring local produce from the market, to make up for all that I had missed over so many years. Continue reading

How to make Homemade Yogurt + Tips to set it right

homemade yogurt in clay pot

Where should I start about Yogurt?

If I get carried away which I almost always do, I might start on a poetic note. Such as, if yogurt was a flower, I’d imagine it would be magnolia or white rose.

But I am glad it isn’t. Because, hypothetically speaking, if there’s one good reason I can’t be a full time vegan, it has got to be yogurt other than ghee of course.

Really. You know what is indispensable in my kitchen?

Continue reading

Haagalkai Gojju ~ Amma’s recipe

Bitter Gourd in a palate clearing sweet and spicy tamarind gravy – mom’s recipe

Haagalkai Gojju and oil

It was end of the 90’s and the beginning of my hostel days. The very first time that I was on my own, in a place far enough from home and certainly with no access to home food. Home sick I was, like hell. Except, once a month when Amma would come to see me. Religiously, I would look forward to the first week of the month, because I could get to see Amma, spend the special day catching up and end the day co-sleeping, sharing the same hostel bed, chatting away into the wee hours until we fell asleep before she left early the next morning.  Continue reading

Ellu Unde | Black Sesame Seeds Laddoo

Black Sesame seeds and Jaggery Laddoos

If there is a time of the year that I totally miss being in some place, it is got to be now and in Mysore! Wherever I am at this time of the year, golden memories of my Mysore childhood days beckon me. Just a mention of Mysore and my heart goes tender.

The festive fervor in the air, elephants trumpeting away in the palace grounds under the crimson red gulmohar trees, the smell of wet grass and elephant dung, churmuriwallahs along the footpath sides, the dazzling Mysore palace illuminated with its hundred thousand light bulbs and that moment when pigeons fly out into the sky as the lights go on, the regal grandeur of the ten day long celebrations, the tradtional Dasara procession, a most awaited Dasara exhibition and all the evening music kacheris (recitals) or quite simply the anticipation of it all before the season began. Priceless! I never knew those days would be priceless.

Wherever you are, whether you celebrate or not, a symbolic of the victory of good over evil, I Wish you a Happy Navraatri and a festive Dasara!

 

Dressed in pattu langa (traditional long silk skirts), hopping from house to house in the neighborhood, curious to see what’s new in their houses for Dasara Bombe Habba (a traditonal arrangement of dolls) and for “Bombe baagina”, a gift of sweets or savories for us visiting kids was perhaps the most exciting part of the festivities.

The lure of a different sweet or savory snack everyday for all of the ten days in every house visited was hard to resist for any kid of those days. Even if nothing was prepared, we were assured of at least small cubes of dark brown jaggery, never to return empty handed.

Speaking of sweet snacks, Ellu Unde is perhaps the most easily prepared sweet dishes. Two simple ingredients and less than 15 minutes is all it takes to put together these lovely black laddoos.

Yes, it is really as simple as it sounds when I said that. And it fits so well with the season too with fall in the air and winter soon waiting to knock at our doors with her cold, dry hands.

Reason is, per Ayurveda, sesame seeds are a heat generating food and hence good to be part of the cold season diet. Besides, jaggery is the best unrefined sugar with all its minerals not stripped apart. And so, Ellu Unde is considered a nourishing food for young girls at puberty and for women alike. Flax seeds can also be added for increased nutrition without compromising the taste.

Many a fond childhood memories of eating this sweet are ironically also from the Shraddha feast, as I would longingly look forward to snacking on these for days after. Ellu Unde was prepared at my grand dad’s home as one of the “Shraddha” foods, during the annual ritual to pay homage to one’s ancestors.

It is also prepared on Mahahalaya Amavasya, the new moon day on the Hindu calendar before Dasara begins and so I did.

Black sesame seeds are not exotic, but a commonly called for ingredient in many an Iyengar dishes, sweet or savory alike, Puliogre being the most popular.

If you have never tried black sesame seeds, their bold flavor can be a little bit of an acquired taste. One can start with white sesame seeds and progress to the black variety as you get comfortable. Black and white sesame seeds are two different varieties of sesame seed and have slightly different flavors. While the black variety is nuttier with a slight bitter afternote, white ones are milder.

How do you use black sesame seeds in your cooking?

 Ellu Unde Recipe

Printable Recipe

makes about 15 small laddoos

Things you’ll need:

1/4 cup Black sesame seeds

1/4 cup Jaggery (preferably dark brown), crushed

few drops of ghee ~ optional

How it’s done:

Dry roast black sesame seeds on medium heat until they appear plump and begin to crackle. Do not let them smoke or burn or they’ll turn bitter.

Tip roasted sesame seeds and crushed jaggery into a mixer/grinder. I find it works best to crush jaggery in a mortar & pestle or using a rolling pin.

Grind the mixture until it lumps up. If you pinch on it, it should hold shape. Remove onto a plate. Press and roll about one tsp of it at a time between your three fingers to make small laddoos. Add ghee if the mixture feels dry to hold shape.

Store in an airtight container. No need to refrigerate.

Note 

Use Jaggery and black sesame seeds in equal proportions, in case you want to scale the recipe up or down.

If the sesame seeds are old, they may not crackle.

Jaggery is available in most Indian grocery stores or world markets. Sucanat can be used as a good alternative. I wouldn’t use any kind of sugar though.

Ellu Unde is best consumed within a week of preparation or it can begin to taste rancid.


Treat yourself to more :