Thursday, 7 January 2016

Vangi Bhat / Aubergine Rice With Bendekai / Okra Raita ~ Udupi Cuisine


Those frequent trips to Udupi Restaurants holding on to daddy's finger, comes flooding in my mind as I am told that the first Blog Hop theme of 2016 is South Canara cuisine. Picture of a tiny head bobbling from side to side, a pony tail held in place with a pink rubber band with a few pink and blue plastic butterflies adorning it in gaps flashes by. Happiness was abound those days and smiles galore especially on these unplanned trips to my favourite Dosa restaurant, as I would remember these overcrowded indigenous joints with their bright red chairs and unceasing chatters. Perching myself on a chair I would happily hear daddy ordering Masala Dosa and as the order would be relayed to the open counter a few steps from us, I would with the biggest possible smile turn towards the large hissing griddle which puffed up smoke furiously as the man behind it sprinkled it with water with a swift movement of his fingers. The next thing I knew would be the clank clank of his spatula as he would get the Dosa ready, place the filling, fold the dosa and place it on the plate having a few cavities which would be filled with smoking sambar and colourful chutneys. I still can feel the thrill as I would break a piece from the dosa, dip it in the sambar then the chutney and savour it. That was my understanding of Udupi cuisine for a very long time.

A few years ago my friend from engineering college Parineeta Shetty took me to her home to experience Udupi cuisine in its totality. I was completely taken up by the spicy whiff that greeted me as I entered her home kitchen. Spluttering mustard seeds, sizzling bright red chillies and fragrant curry leaves, loads of grated coconut, tangy tamarind paste and so much more was all that was happening in there. I was introduced to the numerous glass jars filled with bright red, light brown etc. coloured powders which they call pudis. Sniffing into the pudi jars you get a mix of pungent, fiery and very aromatic powders. These powders form a very integral part of Udupi cooking.

Upudi Cuisine comprises of Anna (Rice, which are served with variant flavorings and infused with different condiments), Beles( the piping hot bowls of lentil soups served along with the rice), Gojjus ( Vegetables lapped up in sweetened or Tangy but mostly spicy gravy, which are used to elevate the taste buds to pleasurable heights), Palyas (Vegetables mostly steamed and tempered with chillies, mustard seeds and curry leaves, husked split bengal gram and black gram and garnished with a generous sprinkle of shredded coconut ), Raitas(Yogurt Dips), Kosambaris (Salads which generally have a crunchy tempering ), Chutneys and Pickles. Desserts are a huge variety which is dominated by the Payasas (Puddings), Halwas and Sihi Thindi (Confections). Not to forget their world famous Tiffin (Snacks) which includes their immensely popular Masala Dosa and many other types of Dosas with numerous chutneys, Idlis, Vadas(Patties), Bondas (Batter fried fritters), Uppittu (Savoury Semolina) just to mention a few.

In one line Udupi Cuisine is a very rich cuisine with loads of goodness and freshness from the wholesome ingredients used. I tried to bring a very small bit from the mammoth repertoire of this decadent cuisine to you here. However if you want to know more, do get your hands on this wonderful Book "THE UDUPI KITCHEN BY MALATI SRINIVASAN & GEETA RAO " available on Amazon.com or maybe visit Udupi itself.


Udupi the place from which this cuisine originates is blessed by Nature. Flanked on one side by mountains and the other by the Arabian sea, Upudi enjoys a very extended coastline and is a wonderful place for scuba divers. With the world famous Krishna temple and the eight mathas or hindu monasteries, this culture rich city is a sumptuous treat for both tourists and pilgrims alike. It's a food lovers paradise too as I was told that the people of Udupi take their cooking very seriously and food is the biggest binder in Udupi. The food doesn't include fish, meat or poultry or even onion and garlic. The ancient glamour of Udupi is still very well preserved and it does give a deep insight into the rich culture and tradition which abound in this all important town of Karnataka.

The Dish I bring to you in this Post is Vangi Bhat or Aubergine Rice which I have served with Bendekai /Okra Raita. In this post there are three recipes :
1) Vangi Bhat Pudi / Aubergine Rice Powder which is the most important ingredient in Vangi Bhat.
2) Vangi Bhat / Spicy Rice With Aubergine
3) Bendekai Raita /  Crisp Fried Okara in a Yogurt Dip
This is because to make Vangi Bhat the most important ingredient is the Pudi and Vangi Bhat is served with a Raita. I prepared an Okra Raita to complement and balance the spicy Aubergine Rice.

The Vangi Bhat Pudi can be made in advance and can be stored for a month or more in an airtight container. So let's get cooking right away. There is no need to refrigerate.

We will first make Vangi Bhat Pudi / Aubergine Rice Powder. All the three recipes have been made following the recipes in the Book "The Udupi Kitchen By Malati Srinivasan And Geetha Rao".

VANGI BHAT PUDI/AUBERGINE RICE POWDER RECIPE :

MAKES : 500 gms / 4 Cups of powder
CUISINE : UDUPI /INDIAN
TYPE : MASALA/ SPICE MIX
TIME : 10 MINUTES PREPARATION + 15 MINUTES COOKING TIME

INGREDIENTS :

1) 2 1/2 Cups Dried Red Chillies ( Generally Red Byadige Chillies are used. These are grown in Karnataka are known for the rich red colour they impart to the food. These are also milder than their counterparts. If you cannot get this use Dried Kashmiri Red Chillies instead)

2) 1 1/2 Cups (100 gms approx.)  Grated/finely shredded Coconut ( You can also use Desiccated Coconut ) 

3) 1/4 Cup (50 gms approx) skinned split Bengal Gram/Chana Dal

4) 1/4 Cup (60 Gms approx) skinned Black Gram /Urad Dal

5) 5 X 1 inch Cinnamon sticks

6) 1 tsp cloves

7) 1/4 Cup (4 Tbsp) Coriander Seeds

8) 1/2 Tsp Asafoetida / Hing Powder

9) 1/2 Tbsp Oil


PICTORIAL STEP BY STEP PROCEDURE:

1) In a non-stick or thick bottom pan on low heat dry roast the grated coconut, for 2-3 minutes till all the moisture in it evaporates. Keep stirring constantly so that the coconut does not burn and the heat is evenly distributed to help evaporate the moisture. This step is for those using fresh grated coconut. Keep the dry grated coconut aside in a bowl ready to use.
TIP : A little browning of the grated coconut is okay but not too much as it will change the taste of your powder.


2) In a pan dry roast the skinned split bengal gram for 10 minutes till it is fragrant taking care not to burn it. Keep aside to cool.

Simultaneously in another pan dry roast the skinned black gram for 6 minutes carefully and not burn it. Keep aside to cool.

In one of these pans add oil, when hot add asafoetida powder followed by the red chillies, cumin seeds, cinnamon sticks, cloves. Tear the chillies as it will be easier to fry them. Fry taking care not to burn the ingredients till they release a nutty and fragrant aroma. Remove from the flame and cool.


3) Grind the roasted chana dal and urad dal separately to a fine powder. Transfer to a plate. Next grind the fried chillies, cloves, cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds to a fine powder and transfer to a plate.
Finally in the largest jar of your food processor or grinder mix all the powders along with coconut and grind them all again to one smooth powder. If your food processor/mixer Jar doesn't hold the entire powdered ingredients, you can do it in batches, adding coconut to the previously powdered ingredients.

Once done, cool and then store in an airtight container. Do not refrigerate. This Pudi remains unspolied for a month and sometimes more. It tastes delicious if sprinkled over Spicy Aubergine fry or Stir Fried Veggies or to flavour any rice.


VANGI BHAT/AUBERGINE RICE RECIPE :

SERVES : 4
CUISINE : UDUPI/INDIAN
TYPE : RICE DISH / MAIN COURSE
TIME : 30 MINUTES PREPARATION + 15 MINUTES COOKING

INGREDIENTS :

1) 500 Gms Long tender green Aubergines/ Baingan ( If you cannot get the green ones, use the purple coloured aubergines )

2) 1 Cup( 200 Gms Approx) Long Grain Basmati Rice

3) 1/4 Tsp Turmeric Powder

4) 4 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp  Vangi Bhat /Aubergine Rice Powder

5) 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice

6) 2 Tbsp Grated Dried Coconut

7) 2 Tbsp Oil

8) Salt to taste

FOR THE TEMPERING :

1) 1/4 Cup halved Cashew Nuts

2) 1/2 Tsp Mustard Seeds

3) 1 Tbsp Skinned split Bengal Gram /Chana Dal

4) 1 Tbsp Skinned Black Gram /Urad Dal

5) 1/4 Tsp Asafoetida

6) 20 Curry Leaves

7) 2 Tbsp Oil

8 ) 2 Tbsp Ghee/ Clarified Butter

PICTORIAL STEP BY STEP PROCEDURE :

1) Wash the rice in a colander under running water thoroughly. Drain the water and keep aside.

In a thick bottom pan heat enough water to cover the rice totally. Once the water boils add the rice. Cook the rice until done. do not over cook the rice. 

Once done drain the water through a metal sieve and spread the rice on a plate so that each grain of rice remains separate from the other.
NOTE : Alternately you can cook the rice as per the instructions on the rice packet or in your rice cooker.


2) Wash the aubergines nicely. Cut them lengthwise into two equal halves first and the cut each half into 1 1/2 inch pieces totally. Keep the chopped aubergines soaked in water until you are ready to cook them.

Heat 2 Tbsp Oil in a wok. Drain the water from the aubergines completely. Add turmeric, salt and smear each piece of turmeric with the salt and turmeric mix. Now carefully add the aubergines to the hot oil. Cook covered till the aubergines become soft but not mushy.

Next add in 4 Tbsp of Aubergine Rice Powder to the Aubergines in the wok and mix nicely. 

Now add the cooked Rice and mix everything in your wok together.


3) Once each grain of rice has been properly coated with the Vangi Bhat Pudi,  Add salt and mix well again.

Remove the wok from the flame and add the lemon juice and mix.

Take a pan, add the 2 Tbsp oil + 2 Tbsp Clarified Butter and heat. once hot fry the curry leaves, take them out of the oil and spread them over the rice. 

In the same oil add mustard seeds and allow it to splutter. Add asafoetida, the lentils and fry them till golden. remove the pan from the heat and keep aside.


4) Fry the halved cashew nuts and keep aside.
NOTE : You may fry the cashew nuts in the same oil ghee mix in step 3 after frying the curry leaves.

Now add the fried lentils, mustard seeds and asafoetida tempering to the rice and mix.

Next add 1 tbsp of Aubergine Rice powder, Dried grated coconut and mix. Finally add the fried cashew nut halves and serve hot with a Raita/Yogurt Dip of your choice. Usually Vangi Bhat is served with a cucumber raita, but I served an okra raita with it. I was totally surprised by the way the crunchy okra raita complemented the Spicy Aubergine Rice.


BENDEKAI RAITA/ CRUNCHY OKRA YOGURT DIP RECIPE :

SERVES : 4
CUISINE : UDUPI/INDIAN
TYPE : DIP/ RAITA
TIME : 10 MINUTES PREPARATION + 15 MINUTES COOKING

INGREDIENTS :

1) 1 Cup of 1/4 inch sliced Okra/ Bhindi

2) 1 Cup ( 250 Gms ) Yogurt/Dahi/Curd

3) 1/2 Tsp Sugar

4) 1 Tbsp Fresh chopped coriander leaves

5) 1 Tbsp grated fresh coconut

6) Salt to taste 

FOR THE TEMPERING :

1) 2 Tbsp Oil

2) 1/2 Tsp Mustard Seeds

3) 2 Whole Red Dried Chillies

PICTORIAL STEP BY STEP PROCEDURE :

Wash the okra before cutting them thoroughly and then dry them totally using a clean kitchen towel. By this you can avoid the okra slime. Now cut the okra into 1/4 th inch pieces and keep aside.

In a pan heat oil, add mustard seeds, dry red chillies and let the mustard seeds crackle and the red chilles sizzle. Next add the okra, salt and fry on medium heat them without covering till crunchy.

In a large mixing bowl add the yogurt. Whisk it to make it smooth. Add the tempering along with the crunchy okras. Add sugar, salt, grated coconut and coriander and mix everything well. Check for seasoning and add salt if required. Serve this crunchy okra raita as the perfect combination with your Aubergine rice. The subtle yogurt dip totally balances the spice of the Aubergine rice making for truly delicious spoonfuls.


VANGI BHAT PUDI/AUBERGINE RICE POWDER RECIPE :


MAKES : 500 gms / 4 Cups of powder
CUISINE : UDUPI /INDIAN
TYPE : MASALA/ SPICE MIX
TIME : 10 MINUTES PREPARATION + 15 MINUTES COOKING TIME

INGREDIENTS :

1) 2 1/2 Cups Dried Red Chillies ( Generally Red Byadige Chillies are used. These are grown in Karnataka are known for the rich red colour they impart to the food. These are also milder than their counterparts. If you cannot get this use Dried Kashmiri Red Chillies instead)

2) 1 1/2 Cups (100 gms approx.)  Grated/finely shredded Coconut ( You can also use Desiccated Coconut ) 

3) 1/4 Cup (50 gms approx) skinned split Bengal Gram/Chana Dal

4) 1/4 Cup (60 Gms approx) skinned Black Gram /Urad Dal

5) 5 X 1 inch Cinnamon sticks

6) 1 tsp cloves

7) 1/4 Cup (4 Tbsp) Coriander Seeds

8) 1/2 Tsp Asafoetida / Hing Powder

9) 1/2 Tbsp Oil

STEP BY STEP PROCEDURE:

1) In a non-stick or thick bottom pan on low heat dry roast the grated coconut, for 2-3 minutes till all the moisture in it evaporates. Keep stirring constantly so that the coconut does not burn and the heat is evenly distributed to help evaporate the moisture. This step is for those using fresh grated coconut. Keep the dry grated coconut aside in a bowl ready to use.
TIP : A little browning is okay but not too much as it will change the taste of your powder.

2) In a pan dry roast the skinned split bengal gram for 10 minutes till it is fragrant taking care not to burn it. Keep aside to cool.

Simultaneously in another pan dry roast the skinned black gram for 6 minutes carefully and not burn it. Keep aside to cool.

In one of these pans add oil, when hot add asafoetida powder followed by the red chillies, cumin seeds, cinnamon sticks, cloves. Tear the chillies as it will be easier to fry them. Fry taking care not to burn the ingredients till they release a nutty and fragrant aroma. Remove from the flame and cool.

3) Grind the roasted chana dal and urad dal separately to a fine powder. Transfer to a plate. Next grind the fried chillies, cloves, cinnamon sticks, coriander seeds to a fine powder and transfer to a plate.
Finally in the largest jar of your food processor or grinder mix all the powders along with coconut and grind them all again to one smooth powder. If your food processor/mixer Jar doesn't hold the entire powdered ingredients, you can do it in batches, adding coconut to the previously powdered ingredients.

Once done, cool and then store in an airtight container. Do not refrigerate. This Pudi remains unspolied for a month and sometimes more. It tastes delicious if sprinkled over Spicy Aubergine fry or Stir Fried Veggies or to flavour any rice.
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VANGI BHAT/AUBERGINE RICE RECIPE :


SERVES : 4
CUISINE : UDUPI/INDIAN
TYPE : RICE DISH / MAIN COURSE
TIME : 30 MINUTES PREPARATION + 15 MINUTES COOKING

INGREDIENTS :

1) 500 Gms Long tender green Aubergines/ Baingan ( If you cannot get the green ones, use the purple coloured aubergines )

2) 1 Cup( 200 Gms Approx) Long Grain Basmati Rice

3) 1/4 Tsp Turmeric Powder

4) 4 Tbsp + 1 Tbsp  Vangi Bhat /Aubergine Rice Powder

5) 2 Tbsp Lemon Juice

6) 2 Tbsp Grated Dried Coconut

7) 2 Tbsp Oil

8) Salt to taste

FOR THE TEMPERING :

1) 1/4 Cup halved Cashew Nuts

2) 1/2 Tsp Mustard Seeds

3) 1 Tbsp Skinned split Bengal Gram /Chana Dal

4) 1 Tbsp Skinned Black Gram /Urad Dal

5) 1/4 Tsp Asafoetida

6) 20 Curry Leaves

7) 2 Tbsp Oil

8 ) 2 Tbsp Ghee/ Clarified Butter

STEP BY STEP PROCEDURE :

1) Wash the rice in a colander under running water thoroughly. Drain the water and keep aside.

In a thick bottom pan heat enough water to cover the rice totally. Once the water boils add the rice. Cook the rice until done. do not over cook the rice. 

Once done drain the water through a metal sieve and spread the rice on a plate so that each grain of rice remains separate from the other.
NOTE : Alternately you can cook the rice as per the instructions on the rice packet or in your rice cooker.

2) Wash the aubergines nicely. Cut them lengthwise into two equal halves first and the cut each half into 1 1/2 inch pieces totally. Keep the chopped aubergines soaked in water until you are ready to cook them.

Heat 2 Tbsp Oil in a wok. Drain the water from the aubergines completely. Add turmeric, salt and smear each piece of turmeric with the salt and turmeric mix. Now carefully add the aubergines to the hot oil. Cook covered till the aubergines become soft but not mushy.

Next add in 4 Tbsp of Aubergine Rice Powder to the Aubergines in the wok and mix nicely. 

Now add the cooked Rice and mix everything in your wok together.

3) Once each grain of rice has been properly coated with the Vangi Bhat Pudi,  Add salt and mix well again.

Remove the wok from the flame and add the lemon juice and mix.

Take a pan, add the 2 Tbsp oil + 2 Tbsp Clarified Butter and heat. once hot fry the curry leaves, take them out of the oil and spread them over the rice. 

In the same oil add mustard seeds and allow it to splutter. Add asafoetida, the lentils and fry them till golden. remove the pan from the heat and keep aside.

4) Fry the halved cashew nuts and keep aside.
NOTE : You may fry the cashew nuts in the same oil ghee mix in step 3 after frying the curry leaves.

Now add the fried lentils, mustard seeds and asafoetida tempering to the rice and mix.

Next add 1 tbsp of Aubergine Rice powder, Dried grated coconut and mix. Finally add the fried cashew nut halves and serve hot with a Raita/Yogurt Dip of your choice. Usually Vangi Bhat is served with a cucumber raita, but I served an okra raita with it. I was totally surprised by the way the crunchy okra raita complemented the Spicy Aubergine Rice.

~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~

BENDEKAI RAITA/ CRUNCHY OKRA YOGURT DIP RECIPE :

SERVES : 4
CUISINE : UDUPI/INDIAN
TYPE : DIP/ RAITA
TIME : 10 MINUTES PREPARATION + 15 MINUTES COOKING

INGREDIENTS :

1) 1 Cup of 1/4 inch sliced Okra/ Bhindi

2) 1 Cup ( 250 Gms ) Yogurt/Dahi/Curd

3) 1/2 Tsp Sugar

4) 1 Tbsp Fresh chopped coriander leaves

5) 1 Tbsp grated fresh coconut

6) Salt to taste 

FOR THE TEMPERING :

1) 2 Tbsp Oil

2) 1/2 Tsp Mustard Seeds

3) 2 Whole Red Dried Chillies

STEP BY STEP PROCEDURE :

Wash the okra before cutting them thoroughly and then dry them totally using a clean kitchen towel. By this you can avoid the okra slime. Now cut the okra into 1/4 th inch pieces and keep aside.

In a pan heat oil, add mustard seeds, dry red chillies and let the mustard seeds crackle and the red chilles sizzle. Next add the okra, salt and fry on medium heat them without covering till crunchy.

In a large mixing bowl add the yogurt. Whisk it to make it smooth. Add the tempering along with the crunchy okras. Add sugar, salt, grated coconut and coriander and mix everything well. Check for seasoning and add salt if required. Serve this crunchy okra raita as the perfect combination with your Aubergine rice. The subtle yogurt dip totally balances the spice of the Aubergine rice making for truly delicious spoonfuls.
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LINKS OF ALL THE SUPERLATIVE UDUPI CUISINE RECIPES FROM THE LOVELY LADIES OF CULINARY HOPPERS :