Vani’s Musings

Archive for the ‘Food’ Category

During one of my people-observation phases, I came across a peculiar habit of persons around me. It sort of showcases the culture of the people, and how in a single question, there is a wealth of concern about your well-being and contentment.


It goes like this. Each morning, as I enter the office premises, I am greeted by colleagues and sub-staff who usually ask me the same question each day, “Thindi Aaytha?”  Meaning “Did you have breakfast?” And it’s not just for me; each person is singularly asked the same question. I was intrigued about this, and it was just not breakfast, but any mealtime.

In the beginning, I felt that all these people were obsessed with food. After a while, I realized that it was their way of asking if the person they were speaking to was happy, and everything was alright in his/her world. The equation goes something like this; a hungry person usually looks like he’s upset, whereas, food signifies contentment. If a person has had food, he’s generally happy and considering that we work in a very stressful environment and tend to absorb others’ stress too, it becomes essential for each of us to be content.


Most stop at the “had your breakfast?” question and are happy receiving a nod. Yet others, who are now close, go on to ask what I had for breakfast. They wait for an answer from me and generally supply information about their own food. Initially I was unprepared for these sorts of questions because I felt they had nothing to do with what I ate; Nowadays, I’m used to it and don’t get ruffled up when people do ask me this.


Usually no comments are passed when one mentions stuff like Idlis or Dosas or Pongal, but mention “Uppittu” and you can see myriad expressions on people’s faces.

Usually a mention of “Uppittu” leads to comments like “Oh! Concrete!” “Oil Bath”! “Stupid”! etc. And usually Uppittu is the most often repeated breakfast item in most of the houses, basically because it is filling and easy to prepare.

Uppittu has many forms, like Neeru-Uppittu, Uduru-Uppittu etc, and can be prepared in different ways, without vegetables, with just onions, with or without vegetables, giving it a different name like “Khaara Bhaat”.

Uppittu’s cousins, the Avalakki Uppittu and Shaavige Uppittu do not get the same criticism as Uppittu does, but are not as popular with the masses either, though they also enjoy a prominent place on the breakfast table.

Uppittu, though a mass delicacy, enjoys an important place on the South Indian Table, as it is served as an evening snack at many weddings, and is the breakfast item at many small family occasions too.

In spite of everything, Uppittu still gets a wrinkled nose when mentioned. I have seen very few who actually relish Uppittu. And to pass derogatory remarks, many of my male colleagues feel their mothers / wives are being lazy and so serve them Uppittu for breakfast.


Since I do not associate any positive or negative feeling towards Uppittu, I’d like to know; Does Uppittu deserve all the bad credit it unfortunately gets? Is it so bad to eat or serve Uppittu? Answers? Anyone?




It was a lazy Sunday afternoon, Dad was out on work that emerged all of a sudden, cousins out to fulfill some social obligations and mom’s the only company I had.

Since I felt jaded being home all day, I felt the need to go out and take a long walk to clear out the cobwebs of the brain and get prepared for what is going to be a hectic week ahead.


As we are in Malleswaram, it’s easy to persuade mom to go out with me, since we both love walking down 8th Cross and window-shopping, making a mental list of things that we feel we need, but never really get around to buying.


So off we went, on a long walk from 11th Cross to 3rd Cross in Malleswaram.


The Walk made us hungry and we decided to head for a snack at one of the sundry eat-outs of the area. We have visited the usual haunts like Janatha, CTR, Asha Food Camp and New Krishna Bhavan umpteen times, we decided to head towards Halli Mane, another famous eatery in the area, one that we were visiting for the first time, in spite of having lived in and loafed around Malleswaram for so long.


Now here is where I would caution people not to expect much, going by the name, which literally means a village house. We had expected some rural food items that we wouldn’t usually see on our plates each day, but were thoroughly disappointed to see that the menu consisted of the usual Dosa-Idli fare, to mention nothing about the large array of North Indian items on the menu. Are the traditional village homes in Karnataka serving Vegetable Kadaai and Chana Bhatura to their visitors? Beats me.


The only additions were Akki Roti and Ragi Roti, which are now served in most of the Darshinis lining the city.


Mom ordered a Rava Idli and I had an Onion Dosa, both being nothing different from the same items served across other hotels in the area.


What I didn’t understand was the hype associated with the place…. and there were people eating there simply because the name meant something.


I wonder how these restaurants are rated…. are there journalists who actually sample the fare and then write about it? Or there are other ways to get your name promoted?


I don’t know. I felt that the customer must be the judge of whether or not an eatery is good, and the best publicity is by word of mouth, because it is the taste that ultimately lingers in the mind.







This is one of my Ajji’s recipes for yummy kodbaLe…it’s Friday, and I am hungry and waiting for lunchtime as I am writing this.


Rice flour (slightly coarse, gives more crispy touch)
Red chili powder
Jeera (cumin seeds)
Hing (asafetida)
Grated coconut
Dried & crushed curry leaves
White sesame seeds
Salt to taste
Oil to fry

There is no fixed proportion for the ingredients….if you decide to make half a Kilo of KodubaLe, for 500 gms of rice flour, salt and chili powder depend purely on taste….also asafetida must be just a pinch…too much of it is really really bad….the other ingredients are about a handful together.


Mix the rice flour, red chili powder, salt, butter and all the above ingredients in the dry form.
Knead with hand to ensure that butter gets uniformly mixed in the dry flour.

At this stage some people prefer to put 1 or 2 red chilies in hot oil, take out after 1 minute, cool, powder by hand and mix with the dry flour.
This gives a traditional flavor to KODUBALE. Frying procedure: The proper method is not to mix water to the flour all at once, but to sprinkle, enough to make a handful of wet dough at a time, finish that and proceed again.
So, mix water to a portion of the dough (preferably at the center), mix it to a semi-wet paste (not as wet as a chapatti/bread dough).
Take a lemon-sized ball and start rolling on a cutting board.

The consistency should be sufficient to roll, but not too wet/soggy.
If the water is less, the rolled rod breaks. If this happens, add a little water (coconut water if you have).

Remember, do not put too much pressure on the semi-wet dough, but gently roll to form a smooth natural rod, rolling sideways to get an even thickness of about the small finger on your hand.When the rolled rod becomes 4 inches long, slowly turn around the ends, join them to form a circle (like a bangle). The correct consistency is that at the points of bending, small cracks may appear, but the roll will not break.

Carefully hold it at the circumference and slide it along the Pan-edge into hot oil.
Use medium flame to heat the Pan (BaNale).
 Put in 5 to 6 Kodubale at a time and deep fry slowly till brown.
Use the back of stainless steel spoon or a wooden rod to lift them thro’ the center hole.
To test consistency, break one after cooling; it must be crispy with crumbs at the center.

If the butter is too much, the KODUBALE breaks into pieces after getting into the hot oil.

Mix every thing with water and roll and fry. I bet you know what to do after this!

If the water is too much, the KODUBALE becomes smooth and soft. Lack of butter makes it pretty hard, which, many people do like.

Adjust your proportion, Khara (chili powder) etc by tasting one, thenproceed with the further batches. It can be kept in bottles for 15 days to a month and eaten at tea time or any time….. 

KodubaLe brings back memories of my grandmother…. she was an awesome cook and made amazing KodubaLe…. that too on a traditional “iddilu ole”…this is again another great memory of Summer Holidays…. 

Summer is here, bringing with it oppressive heat, oodles of sweat, sudden thunderstorms…………. and mangoes. An Annual treat, mango is aptly named the king of fruits. There are, I guess, very few who wouldn’t love mangoes.

 I, for one, am particularly partial to the Benisha, or Bengenapalli variety.  

 A Mango Tree, like the coconut tree has many uses. Its fruits are consumed, so are raw mangoes. It goes without saying that no Hindu religious event is complete without the “Thoran” and “Kalash”, both of which are conspicuous by the presence of mango leaves. The wood from the tree is used for furniture, therefore earning the very apt name of “Kalpavriksha”. 

The sight of juicy, yellow-gold mangoes is definitely a sight for sore eyes. And the aroma! No amount of words can describe that heavenly aroma of mangoes…I love visiting the Mango market every year. 

Here is a small list of mango varieties grown in India.  

States -Varieties 

Ø      Andhra Pradesh: Bengenapalli, Bangalora,Cherukurasam, Himayuddin, Suvarnarekha

Ø      Bihar: Bombai, Langra, Fazri, Himsagar, Kishen Bhog, Sukul, Bathua

Ø      Goa: Fernandin, Mankurad, Alphonso

Ø      Gujarat: Alphonso, Kesar, Rajapuri, Vanraj

Ø      Haryana: Dashehari, Langra, Bombay Green

Ø      Karnataka: Alphonso, Bangalora, Mulgoa, Neelum, Pairi

Ø      Kerala: Mundappa, Olour, Pairi

Ø      Madhya Pradesh:  Alphonso, Bombai, Langra and mostly seedling types

Ø      Maharashtra: Alphonso, Kesar, Mankurad, Mulgoa, Pairi

Ø      Orissa: Baneshan, Langra, Neelum, Suvarnarekha and mostly seedling types

Ø      Punjab: Dashehari, Langra, Chausa

Ø      Tamil Nadu: Banganpalli, Bangalora, Neelum, Rumani, Mulgoa

Ø      Uttar Pradesh: Bombay Green, Dashehari, Fajri, Langra, Safeda Lucknow, Chausa

Ø      West Bengal: Bombai, Himsagar, Kishan Bhog, Langra   

Mango season is also synonymous with pickles, my Ajji makes different varieties of mango pickles to be stored for the whole year, and most important among Ajji’s pickles is the Avakkayi, a foodie’s delight.  Nothing short of pure bliss to mix hot rice and ghee and Avakkayi or Thokku…. but one must be careful about the amount of pickle mixed, as it is potent enough to sent tongues on fire and if caught unawares, one might need a fire brigade to cool the burning tongue. 

In the Seaside districts and Malnad Region, another variety of Pickles is common, and that is the Maavina Midi Pickles, which is prepared by soaking the small raw variety in salt water and enough red chilly powder.  

 Mango season also means less usage of tamarind in the kitchen. After the raw mango is used for preparations like Mango Rice or Mango Dal or Thokku, the kernel is retained and added to the Rasam to impart sourness to the dish. Apart from this, raw mangoes are also dried and powdered to make “Aamchoor” which is used for the same purpose.  

Each region has developed its own taste of savoring mangoes. Some like it cut into pieces, some like the juicy variety. Poori-Aamras is a very famous combo in Maharashtra, just like eating a juicy mango with curd rice in many parts of Karnataka.  For Six months, Mango becomes a part of our lives, so much so, that the usage of other fruits simply next to nil. Even in our temples following the Chaaturmaasa Vratha, almost all the fruits other than mangoes are not used in the mango season. 

The Mango will rule the palate for another six months and then vanish into oblivion, bringing us to wait again for summer for a taste of this blissful fruit.     

 Fello blogger Shruthi has written a post on her comfort food, Saaru-Anna, becos of which I am reminded of my own preference for Udupi Saaru.

Here is a simple recipe for one of my favorite foods, Saaru.  Saaru derived from “Saara” in Kannada, means essence or extract. It is called so, because when Dal is cooked, the thin watery layer on top is skimmed off for the Saaru, while the thick remainder is used in other preparations like Sambar.  

There are several types of Saaru; Lemon Saaru, Garlic Saaru, Pudi Saaru, GoDD Saaru and Sappe Saaru etc. The best Saaru I have tasted has been at Udupi, at the Krishna Matha. They serve a different variety of Saaru at the beginning of the meal.

To write about the food in Krishna Matha would be like writing a mega serial.  At this juncture, I would like to share the recipe of the Saaru alone.  


Ø       Togari BeLe (Thuvar Dal)  – ½ Cup

Ø       Green Chillies – 4-5 (Depends on how spicy you want the Saaru to be) Slit lengthwise

Ø       Coriander leaves – for Garnish

Ø       Curry Leaves – For Garnish

Ø       Salt – To Taste

Ø       Ghee – for Oggarne

 Ø       Mustard Seeds – 2 Tsps

Ø       Jeera – 1 Tsp

Ø       Asafoetida – A Pinch

Ø       Tomato – 1 chopped into small pieces (optional)

Ø       Jaggery – A small Pea-Sized amount (optional)


 Ø       Pressure Cook Togari BeLe with more water than usual, it must be watery.

Ø       Mash the Dal well boil.

Ø       Add the salt and green chillies and tomatoes

Ø       Allow boiling till the tomatoes are cooked. Add jaggery (Optional).

Ø       Saaru is almost ready, add the coriander and curry leaves.

Ø       Temper with Ghee, Mustard Seeds, Jeera and Asafoetida.

 Some people like to add a dash of lemon juice and a small pea-sized bit of jaggery to enhance the taste.  

It is served in Udupi sans the tomatoes, lemon juice and jaggery. For an authentic taste, eliminate the above three. If you want an enhanced taste, add the three ingredients and see the difference. 

This dish tastes best with steaming hot rice and ghee. Love to have it as an appetizing drink too.

Readers, please try this at home and also tell me about your favorite versions of this dish.