Steamed Savory Oats Patties with Yogurt Sauce (Oats Nucchina Unde)

Would you believe me if I told you that you guys are always on my mind? Really!! Summer was extremely busy and I just haven’t gotten back on track with a more diciplined routine yet. I must say though that I’ve lined up a ton of interesting recipes to share with you.  I’m always thinking of HolyKhao readers and all the posts I should have made but haven’t. I know the saying ‘Actions speak louder than words’, but in my case, I implore you to put that aside and apply “It’s the thought that counts‘ :)).

Lakshmi Puja in early September & last week’s Ganesha Chaturthi heralded the start of festival season for Hindus and more celebrations like Halloween, Thanksgiving & Christmas in the USA. Unfortunately, for me, this means the start of carb overload. After finally accepting that my husband and I can’t have diets like we did when we were younger, but being reluctant to give up taste, I’m working on tweaking traditional recipes to make them a little healthier. Of course, every time it’s a success, I’ll be sharing it here :))

Nuchina Unde

Nucchina Unde is a traditional Karnataka food that is made by steaming seasoned dal, and can be eaten plain, with chutney or a yogurt curry. My aunt had mentioned that her friend had made this version with oats, but I was skeptical. Since she swore that it was delicious, I figured I’d give it a try. Let me just say that I was not disappointed! The patties tasted almost like the authentic dal ones, and were easier to make as it requires no soaking. I’ve made it thrice for recipe testing, and it has been a great breakfast and tea time snack, and my 11-year old has wolfed down quite a few.  I grew up eating these plain with a generous dollop of homemade ghee, and it was only after I got married that I learnt that typically, nucchina unde is served with a yogurt & vegetable curry called Majjige Huli or Paladya. My version here is quick, no-cook, flavor-filled and small enough for this batch.

Nuchina Unde

Oats Nucchina Unde

Steamed Savory Oats Patties with Yogurt Sauce

(Makes 12-14)

  • 1 cup rolled oats (toast lightly & cool)
  • 1 Tbsp all purpose flour / maida
  • 1 Tbsp rice flour
  • 1/2 – 1 cup finely chopped dill
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • 1/4 bunch cilantro
  • 4-5 red or green chillies (I like the taste of red, but it does make your mix darker in color)
  • 1/2 inch ginger
  • 1/2 cup coconut
  • 1/2 tsp salt ( or to taste)
  • 1 tsp lemon juice
  1. Coarsely pulse the oats in a blender / food processor jar. It should not be fine, and it’s okay to have some whole oat flakes.
  2. Add the maida & rice flour and mix well. Set aside.
  3. Blend the curry leaves, cilantro, chillies, ginger & coconut in a small blender jar, adding  just 2-3 Tbsp of water. (save jar for blending sauce ingredients.)
  4. Add the masala, dill, salt & lime juice to the oats and gently mix well.
  5. Set aside for 15 minutes to soak up the moisture and flavors.
  6. Take rounded tablespoons full of oats mixture and gently roll into 2-inch logs (Do not press too hard or the patties will be very dense).
  7. Place on a greased steamer plate / idli stand and steam for 13-15 minutes.
  8. Serve hot or at room temperature. (I have reheated them in the microwave with no loss of taste or texture.)

Nuchina Unde

Yogurt Sauce

(Makes about 1 cup)

  • 1/4 cup fresh grated coconut
  • 1/2 inch ginger
  • 2-3 green chillies
  • 5-6 sprigs cilantro
  • 2 Tbsp roasted channa dal (daliya) – this keeps the sauce from separating
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds (sasive) – optional but it give the sauce a wonderful flavor
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup yogurt (or around 1/2 – 2/3 cup buttermilk)
  1. Make a fine paste of the coconut, ginger, cilantro, chillies, channa, mustard seeds and a few teaspoons of yogurt in a small blender jar.
  2. Add the rest of the yogurt and give it a quick blend to incorporate everything.
  3. Remove to a serving bowl and add salt.

For Seasoning

  • 1 tsp oil
  • 1/2 tsp black mustard seeds (this is necessary for seasoning)
  • pinch of asafetida (hing)
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  1. Heat a small pan on medium flame and add oil.
  2. Add the mustard seeds and cover till it stops sputtering.
  3. Add the hing & curry leaves and cover partially, shaking the pan to crisp the curry leaves.
  4. Remove from heat and pour over the sauce.

Dasara (Navratri) celebrations in Mysore, Karnataka

Dasara / Dussehra / Navratri Wishes To All Of You

Navratri or “nine-nights” festival is celebrated in India in late September-early October to honor the many reincarnations of Goddess Durga. In South India, prayers are also offered to Goddess Lakshmi (the goddess of wealth) and Goddess Saraswathi (the goddess of learning).  Symbolic of the victory of good over evil, it is celebrated differently across India. While the Durga Puja of West Bengal, and the Garba dance of Gujarat are very popular and well known, I wanted to share the details of the spectacular celebrations that go on in the southern city of Mysore, Karnataka. It is called DASARA in Kannada, the regional language.

Durga_Mahishasura-mardini,_the_slayer_of_the_buffalo_demon,_GermanyGoddess Chamundi kills evil Mahishasura (Pic: Wikimedia Commons)

Originating in 1610 during the rule of the Wodeyar family, Karnataka will be celebrating Dasara for the 403rd year in 2014. Considered “Nada Habba” or state festival, Dasara (from sanskrit dosha-hara, meaning “defeat of ill-fate”) is also celebrated for nine days and culminates with Vijaya Dashmi “victorious 10th day”. Parades, exhibitions, royal durbar (audience with the king), music, dance, wrestling, prayers, competitions and many more events mark this grand celebration in Mysore. The word Mysore is derived from “Mahishur” or “Mahishasurana Ooru” – meaning ‘the town of Mahishasura’ in Kannada. Mahishasura was a half man-half buffalo demon who prayed to the Gods with such devotion that they allowed him to ask for a boon. When his request for immortality was turned down, he asked that no man would be able to kill him, and – betting that no women would be strong enough to defeat him – that if he had to die, it would be at the hands of a woman. The gods granted him his wish, and Mahishasura, thinking that he was unbeatable, began harassing the people of the world, and even the Gods. Finally, unable to tolerate this tyrant, Lords Brahma (the creator), Vishnu (the preserver) and Shiva (the destroyer), along with the other gods channeled their divine energy to create Chamundi (an incarnation of Durga) – a fearless and fiery fighter with thousand arms – each carrying the weapon of a different god, and riding a lion. After a brutal battle, the Goddess was finally able to slay Mahishasura on a hilltop, and good triumphed over evil. The people and the Gods then celebrated this victory for 10 days, calling it Dasara.Mahisasur_Statue_at_Chamundi_Hills

Statue of Mahishasura on top of Chamundi Hills in Mysore, Karnataka (Pic: Wikimedia Commons)

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Chamundeshwari Temple on top of Chamundi Hills (Pic: Wikimedia Commons)

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During Dasara, the Mysore Palace is illuminated with 100,000 light bulbs for 10-days. (Pic: Wikimedia Commons)

An important tradition of Dasara / Navratri in Karnataka is Bombe Habba or ‘the display of dolls’. According to legend, when the Gods gave all their powers to Chamundi to go fight Mahishasura, they became powerless and stood still like statues. Once the demon was defeated, people commemorated the actions of the Gods by praying to them in the form of dolls. Many houses display the dolls through Dasara on odd-numbered tiered steps built specifically for this purpose. The most important dolls are the Pattada Gombe which symbolise the King and the Queen. They are always made of dark wood, simply designed and decorated with cloth or paper. On the display steps, Gods are placed high, then saints, kings & queens, next any depictions of festivals & celebrations, and finally, portrayals of everyday life. Women invite each other to come over each evening for prayers and aarti, and having the best dolly display is a matter of pride.

elaborate-golu

(Pic: http://housedelic.com/tag/dasara/)

While the first few days of Dasara are a little low key, Saraswathi Pooja is celebrated on the 7th/8th day. Goddess Saraswathi is the Goddess of knowledge & arts. It is customary to place books and musical/art related supplies by her idol and pray for her blessings in mastering those skills.

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(Above) The Late Maharaja Srikanta Datta Narasimharaja Wadiyar performing Saraswathi Pooja.  (Pic: The Hindu)

On Vijayadashmi, the 10th day celebration, the main attraction is the Jamboo Savari (Elephant Parade). One of the many brightly decorated royal elephants is mounted with a 750-kilogram gold mantapa (altar) carrying the idol of Goddess Chamundeshwari. After the King & Queen offer their prayers at the palace, the colorful and loud parade moves through the city.

Jumbo_sawari_best

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(Pic: http://gujaratirecipesallinone.blogspot.com/2010/10/colours-of-karnataka.html)

Tens of thousands of people line the streets and buildings to watch these regal elephants, horses, camels, musicians, members of the armed services, dancers, acrobats, school children and more march & perform along the way. I have spent many years as a young girl sitting on the sidewalk with relatives, waiting with bated breath for the procession to go by, and can’t wait for a time when I will be able to do it again.

DUSHERA_NEW_1 DSC_0325 dashara13

 Above, performers of traditional art forms of Karnataka participate in the procession. Below, the current Maharani Pramoda Devi of Mysore (center, in pink) and her family watch the festivities from a palace balcony.

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(Pic: http://gujaratirecipesallinone.blogspot.com/2010/10/colours-of-karnataka.html)

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(Pic: http://creative.sulekha.com/mysore-dasara-pageantry-deity-and-piety_609945_blog)

The procession ends at Banni Mantapa Grounds – the site of the sacred Banni tree. Legend has it that Arjuna retrieved his weapons that he had hidden in a hole in this Banni tree before being banished to exile for 14 years. The Pandavas then defeated the Kauravas in the Kurukshetra battle, and returned victorious on Vijayadashmi. Hence, the festival of Ayudha Puja (worshipping of weapons) is celebrated on the 9th day. Current day interpretation has made the festival one where all vehicles and tools are cleaned, decorated, and prayed to for safe and productive usage. Limes are placed under each wheel of the vehicles as sacrifice, and we drive/ride over it till it is squashed. It is not uncommon for businesses to shut down their computers and machinery so that they can be cleaned and prayed to. I remember washing and decorating my bicycle with flowers and balloons when I was a little girl and being so proud of my handiwork.

festivals-ayuda

(Pic: http://www.sangamprojects.com/pictures/festivals/ayudha-puja)

It is unfortunate that on December 10, 2013, Mysore Maharaja Srikanta Datta Narasimharaja Wadiyar passed away at the age of 60. For the first time in hundreds of years, Dasara festivities will be held without a king.

Parsi Eggplant Pickles

Parsi Eggplant Pickle

 

The name Parsi means “Persian”  or “from Persia”. Parsis are followers of the Iranian prophet Zoroaster, and followed Zoroastrianism – the dominant religion of the Iranian region in the 8th century. They emigrated to India around the 8th – 10th century to avoid religious persecution from Muslim invaders, settling primarily along India’s western coast city of Bombay (now called as Mumbai). The Parsi community also flourished in Bangalore (Karnataka) and in Karachi (Pakistan). They eventually made a name for themselves not only as prominent officials in the British East India Company, but also as savvy businessmen, prolific artists, and charitable givers. Legend has it that when the first Parsis landed in India, the King of Gujrat was reluctant to allow them to stay, saying that he was concerned about his already overpopulated kingdom. The leader of the Parsi group requested for a bowl of milk and sugar, and when presented it, stirred the sugar into the milk, saying they (Parsis) would only make what was already in place sweeter.

Parsi cuisine is a blend of aromatic rice, lentils, meat, potatoes, and vegetables. It blends middle-Eastern style of cooking with the spices of India. Some of their famous dishes include Dhansak (a blend of several varieties of lentils, vegetables and meat cubes), Sali Murghi (chicken with matchstick potatoes), and Patra ni Macchi (banana-leaf wrapped fish). And, which Indian does not know about Faluda?!?! A tall glass of this summertime treat is filled with tapioca, vermicelli, ice cream, jello and cold rose syrup. Yum!!

I came across this eggplant pickle recipe on hungry tigress a few months ago, and made a half-batch. Though it looks like a long list of ingredients and elaborate method, it is actually easy to  make. It tastes great with chapati, any rice dish, and even as a sandwich/pita filling. Let me know what you think if you make it. I would love to hear back.

 

Parsi Eggplant Pickle

(adapted from hungry tigress)

(Makes about 8 cups = approx. 2 spaghetti sauce jars full)

  • 1 cup oil
  • 1 tsp fenugreek seeds (methi)
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds (jeera)
  • 2 tsp fennel seeds (saunf)
  • 6 large garlic cloves (thinly sliced)
  • 2-inch ginger (minced)
  • 1/2 cup fresh green chillies (slit)
  • 2 Tbsp chili powder (or to taste)
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 2 1/2 lbs eggplant of choice
  • 1 cup white wine vinegar
  • 1/3 cup brown sugar (OR) jaggery
  • 1 1/2 – 2 Tbsp salt ( or to taste)

1) Wash and dry the eggplants. Cube into 1-inch pieces, leaving the skin intact.

2) Measure out all the other ingredients and have them ready.

3) In a wide cooking pot, heat the oil on medium high till very hot, but not smoking.

4) Slightly reduce the heat, and drop in the fenugreek, cumin and fennel seeds one after the other. Let them sizzle for about 30 seconds, but make sure they stay light golden brown, not dark brown.

5) Next, add the ginger & garlic and saute till light golden.

6) Turn up the heat again for a few seconds, and then add the slit green chillies. Hold a plate between you & the bowl so the popping chilies do not splatter onto your face. Let the chilies sizzle till they turn whitish-gray.

7) Add the chili powder & turmeric and saute till aromatic, about 20 seconds.

8) Drop in the eggplant, vinegar & sugar; mix well and bring it to a boil on high.

9) Reduce the heat and simmer for about 30-45 minutes (uncovered).

10) As with any Indian pickle, cook till the oil floats on top, signaling that the pickles are done.

11) Cool and bottle***. Can be refrigerated up to a year, if oil^^^ covers the top of the eggplants.

*** Make sure that the glass bottles and lids you use are completely clean and completely dry***.

^^^ If you don’t plan on keeping this for long, you could probably reduce the oil by a third and still have a delicious condiment. Please leave me a comment and let me if you do try it. Thanks.^^^