Basale Soppu Kodhel – Malabar Spinach Sambhar

With the end of summer, and advent of monsoons we start spotting the Basale or Malabar Spinach in the market. Mom’s dal-based coconut curry is my favourite preparation. Steaming hot rice, fish-fry and this curry is one of the staples at home. We have not been able to get fresh fish these days due to the lockdown as the fish market needs a rickshaw ride and is best avoided. The second best option we settled down was nungel meen or dry fish. The stock of dried shrimp and other dried fishes surface up especially during such ‘crisis’. Oorpel ari da nuppu or red boiled rice and some appala/papad is what brings it all together.

The super long vine of Basale I got from our nearby market

Here are the recipes for my moms basale soppu kodhel and Yetti Podi Chutney (Dry Shrimp Chutney) that I have enjoyed preparing and relishing.

For Basale Kodhel

1 bunch Malabar Spinach Leaves
Stems of Malabar Spinach (Boiled Seperately)
1 cup cooked toor dal

Masala paste
1/2 grated coconut
6 Byadki Chillies
1/2 Lime-size of Tamarind
1/2 tsp haldi

6-8 garlic pods, chopped
1 tsp Rai
1 chopped onion

Grind the masala paste ingredients to a smooth paste
Heat some coconut oil. Add in the rai and let it splutter.
Now add in the garlic and onion and let it soften.
Stir in the masala paste, cooked dal and boiled stems of the Malabar Spinach.
Add a little water and salt. Let it come to a boil.
Lastly put in the all the leaves and let it cook for 2 minutes before turning off the flame

For the Yeti Podi Chutney

1 cup cleaned and roasted dry shimp (Nugel Yetti)

Masala Paste
1/2 a Grated Coconut
5-6 Byadki Dried Red Chillies
1/2 Onion
2-3 pods of Garlic
Lime-size ball of Tamarind
1/2 tsp Haldi

1 tsp rai
1/2 onion

– Clean the shrimp in water.Pat dry. Roast on medium flame till completely dry again.
– Grind the masala paste ingredients to a coarse paste
– Heat coconut oil. Add the rai and let it splutter.
– Now add onions and let it brown.
– Stir in the masala paste and the shrimp.
– Saute for a few minutes. Done.

Chicken Ghee Roast Baos

This lockdown has finally given me the opportunity to revive my food photography and blogging love. I have created a recipe section for this website so I can post both my photography and blogging stories in one place.

Yesterday was a highlight as I created a fusion of two of my favourite foods into one delicious combination. Dad is a guinea pig for my experiments these days. He is a big foodie like me and gives me an honest critique. He loves Eggplant Baos from Fatty Bao. One bite and he said, this is even better!


So now to the recipe.

There are two stages to this recipe. Making the Baos. Preparing the Ghee Roast

For the Baos:

350 gms All-Purpose Flour
200ml warm water
3 tbsp Oil
2 tbsp Milk Powder (or milk)
1 heap Tbsp Sugar
7 gms  Yeast
1 tsp Baking Powder

For the Chicken Ghee Roast

500 gms Boneless Chicken (marinated in yogurt, turmeric and salt for minimum 30 mins)
1/4 cup Ghee (more if you want a richer Ghee Roast)
Curry Leaves
1-2 tbsp Jaggery
Masala Paste:
10-12 Kashmiri Red Chillies
2 tbsp Coriander seeds
1 tbsp Cumin seeds
1 tbsp peppercorns
1/4 tsp peppercorns
1/4 tsp Fennel seeds
4-5 Cloves
6 Garlic pods (3 large)
1 tbsp tamarind (whole/paste)


For the Ghee Roast:

Chicken Ghee Roast
– Heat the ghee and put in the chicken and cook till 60% done. Strain out the chicken pieces and keep aside leaving the cooking liquids behind in the pan.
– While the chicken cooks, dry roast all the masala paste ingredients except the garlic and tamarind.
– Grind the spices along with garlic and tamarind with a little water to a smooth paste.
– Add this masala, salt and jaggery to the liquid remaining in the pan after removing the chicken pieces. Let it cook well and thicken up.
– Now add the semi-cooked chicken pieces, curry leaves and roast away till the chicken is fully cooked. Ghee roast is ready!

For the Baos:

– Activate the yeast in the warm water mixed with sugar for 15 minutes
– Now add in all the remaining ingredients and knead well to form a soft, stretchy dough for 10-15 minutes.
– Coat the dough with oil and let it rest for 1.5 hours to 2 hours.
– Once risen, punch out the gases and knead again.
– Roll out the dough to a 1 cm thickness. Take a cookie cutter and cut out cirlces.
– Place each Bao circle on a small parchment paper. Brush some oil on the top side. This is very crucial for Baos to open.
– Fold in half. Smooth out with a rolling pin. And let them rest again for 30 minutes.
– Take a bamboo steamer or a regular one and steam for 12 mins on high heat and let it rest for 5 minutes before opening the lid.

Assemble Baos

– While still warm, separate the baos gently and fill in the spicy ghee roast.
– Add some fresh salad of your choice as Baos need some crunch to complete the experience.
– Serve immediately.

– Both the Baos and the Ghee roast can be made a day in advance.
– Baos can be steamed for 5 minutes, and ghee roast heated up in a pan.
– Use parchment paper or banana leaves to avoid the baos sticking to the steamer
– Milk powder is better than using milk. This batch was made with milk and came out perfectly though.

Sajjige Rotti with a dash of my spiritual journey


After a super hot and humid October, Mumbai breathed a sigh of relief this morning with a gush of cool breeze into our homes. Early mornings are my favourite time. Hot cup of chai, newspaper and the rising sun. No where in the world does sunrise feel so pure and healing. Guess I am biased ūüôā ¬†The reddish rays of the first 10-15 ¬†minutes encourage you to calm down and rejuvenate. For those who might not know, this year was a beautiful journey of self-discovery. From Vipassana meditation to other healing practices, I explored the world of meditation and yoga. Life has been challenging and I needed to dive deeper. I wish I had started dedicating so much time to it earlier. The contentment and joy is profound. Various meditation camps, various techniques and a number of Gurus or Masters later I have finally started understanding myself a bit better. The journey inwards is not tough to start at any age.

Anyway now to the recipe! This morning as my kitchen was getting these waves of relaxing breeze and filling up with gorgeous winter light, I prepared a few Mangalorean style instant pancakes that hit the spot.


These pancakes are packed with aromatics and a little sweetness from bananas and coconut. If you love south Indian breakfasts, this is a must try.

2 cups fine Semolina (Rava)
1 cup Whole Wheat flour
2 large Bananas chopped
3/4 cup finely chopped Onion
1/2 cup freshly grated Coconut
2 finely chopped Green Chillies
1 inch finely chopped Ginger
1/2 cup Yogurt
Chopped Curry leaves
Chopped Coriander
2 thps Sugar or Jaggery
Salt to taste
Ghee or Oil

Mix all the ingredients except the oil and water. Once combined, start adding half a cup of water at a time making a thick batter. Thicker than American pancake batter.


We love thick Sajjige Rottis at home. You can adjust the water to the consistency and thickness you prefer.  It is important to know semolina are like tiny sponges. They keep absorbing water as you leave the batter aside for longer. Keep checking the consistency.


Pour a ladleful of batter on a medium hot skillet or frying pan. Add some oil or ghee to the sides. Ghee makes them super yummy.  Cover the pan.


Let it brown slowly for around 3-4 minutes. Flip over and let the other side brown as well.  Serve hot. We generally eat these pancakes without any toppings or chutneys.


Mutton Gassi for Mother’s day

Gassis (pronounced as Gussi)¬†are staple in my Mum’s sunday kitchen. She would make us yummy gravies of chicken, mutton (goat meat) and seafood. After a long time I opened the section of our pantry which is¬†arranged¬†with dried red chillies, tamarind, sambhar powder and other bits from her kitchen and my native place – ¬†Mangalore. I don’t tend to cook our traditional fare often. But when I do, I totally enjoy the process.¬†We found some goat meat at our local butcher.¬†So I cooked mutton¬†gassi¬†and served it with some fresh rotis for lunch. It can be replaced with the more commonly available lamb meat here, but the result differs slightly in taste.

Although this goes much better with rice, it is healthier with rotis.
To prepare the curry, you need to make two pastes.
Paste 1) Roast cumin seeds, poppy seeds, coriander seeds, whole black peppercorns, dried red chillis, cloves and cinnamon in a little oil. Add fresh coconut and brown it. Powder this into a slightly dry mixture/paste.
Paste 2) Fry onions, garlic cloves and ginger. Brown the onions. And make a paste of this as well. The two mixtures should resemble like the photograph below.
Once they are ready keep them aside. Take a pressure cooker or a large pot and add some oil. Brown the meat on a high flame to lock in the juices. Add some chopped tomatoes, potatoes, turmeric and salt. Pour some water and let it cook for three whistles or till tender. After all the steam escapes, add the the two pastes into the meat broth. Add some tamarind juice or paste. Mix them all. Check the seasoning. Now let it cook without the lid for another 20 mins on medium heat. The yummy curry is ready!
Top it with some fresh coriander leaves and serve hot.

Happy Mother’s Day mommy. I miss you.



Peppery Tomato Saar

I have been feeling under the weather from a few days. It’s getting really cold and people have been coughing all around me. Have caught the bug now ūüė¶

I left early from from work and was in a mood for a homemade remedy. Mum used to make Kashaayas when we were ill. I make my own version with a saar element to it.

So what is Kashaaya and what is Saar?

Saar (more commonly known as rasam) is a watery broth made with vegetables and/or lentils to eat along with rice. Whereas Kashaayas are homemade remedies made with freshly ground spices. There are tons of them. For coughs & colds, stomach upsets, cramps etc.

This specific one is somewhere between the two. The soothing recipe is yummy, flavorful and comforting. I add lots of crushed peppercorns to make it spicy as fever and colds usually make everything tasteless and bland. The heat of peppercorns warms me up almost instantly

Roasted and ground peppercorns and cumin add flavor and heat

To prepare this, I put around four glasses of water to boil. Added three chopped tomatoes, pinch of turmeric and salt. For the tadka, sautéed some crushed garlic in a little oil and add lots of crushed peppercorns and cumin powder. I dry roasted whole black peppercorns and cumin together and crushed it in the pestle motor before adding to the garlic for more flavor. The pepper is the real star. So be generous. Once the tomatoes cooked completely I added the garlic, pepper and cumin mixture to it.

Typing as I am sipping a mug-full! Make this soup, wrap yourself in blankets, turn on the telly and drink this magic potion.

Coconut Chutney

As promised, here is the recipe of mum’s coconut chutney to accompany steaming Idlis, crispy Dosas, fluffy Uttapams and hot Medu Vadas! Amongst the different chutneys and dips she has prepared, this is definitely the family favourite. In fact, it’s everyone’s favourite. I remember Akki’s friend Hufrish would relish the chutney so much, she almost ate it like a sabzi.
Here is what you need:

To grind:
1/2 cup grated coconut
1 Green chilly
1 flake of garlic
A small piece of ginger
Cherry tomato size Tamarind
Salt to taste

1 tsp oil
1 tsp Mustard seeds
1/4 tsp Urad dal
Few Sprigs of Curry leaves


  • Grind the coconut, green chilly, ginger, garlic, tamarind and salt.
  • In a pan heat the oil. Add Mustard seeds and Urad Dal. When the dal slightly browns and the seeds splutter add curry leaves and immediately mix it in the ground coconut paste.
  • Check for salt and serve.

Moms advice:
Frozen shredded coconut gives equally good results. Desicated coconut needs to be soaked in slightly warm water for 10 mins before grinding.

Nostalgic Idlis

I always remember Sunday mornings at my home in Mumbai. Would wake up to the lovely smell of Idlis steaming away and the gentle whirring of the coconut chutney in the blender. The smell would waft through my bedroom door and the urge to sleep in a wee bit more would go away and I would quickly freshen up and rush to the kitchen to poke my nose around.

Mum would always smile at my eagerness for gulping down one of the hot steamed dumpling straight from the atti(steamer) after dipping it the then  untempered chutney before my ritual cuppa. I have never tasted such amazing Idlis anywhere in the world.

I wonder why it still makes my mouth water as I had eaten the same Idlis every single Sunday of every month of every year till the day I got married. The eager wait for Sunday breakfast would never fade away.

I have tried to make it every Sunday myself but in vain. Someday hopefully I would make it a ritual breakfast.

So here is the recipe for the most lovely Idlis which will be followed by the quintessential recipe of the white coconut chutney that complements it perfectly.

1 cup white Rice
1 1/2 cup of Urad Dal


  • Soak the Urad Dal and Rice separately for around 5-6 hours and grind it with little water to make a thick paste kind of consistency. It should be very smooth and fine paste. If you can feel any dal or ungrounded rice I suggest you put it one last time in the blender to have good results.
  • Once ground cover it and keep it in a warm place to ferment overnight undisturbed. I usually follow my moms style of tying a towel around tightly. As though making the batter feel warm and cozy in its embrace.
  • I usually soak it on Friday night since its cold here. Fermentation time is almost double. If you are in India or elsewhere where there is warm weather you can soak it on Saturday morning and grind it in the evening.
  • In the morning, before you pour the batter into Idli moulds for steaming make sure the batter has double in quantity to get soft fluffy Idlis. I don’t oil the moulds before pouring the batter but if you want you could.
  • Steam it in a cooker or Atti.