Wednesday, July 4, 2012

Pappula podi - one powder, multiple uses

I have a lot to write about the recipes (yes, two of them), so I will cut short on my usual general rant.

Bitter gourd or haagala kayi is one of my favorite vegetables. We infact love this gourd in any conceivable avatar and I almost always bring home this vegetable from my vegetable shopping sprees. If you are a fan of this bitter melon, try this version of the stuffed gourd. You will find an equally delicious variation already posted here. The last one had a slightly wet onion masala in it while this is a dryer version with a delicious powder.

South Indian kitchens have an array of spice powders that serve any and all occasions from chutni pudi which a one spoon oil away from a delicious chutney to the various sambar, rasam, bhath powders which make any side dish or rice item worth every penny on it. Today's powder is a very simple recipe with few ingredients yet very flavorful and comes in handy in a variety of dishes. This consummate powder can enhance the taste of your curries and snacks.

So let us get to the powder first and then I will show you one of the delicious ways I use it. For lack of a better name, I call it Kadle pudi or pappula podi ~ a generic name for a powder made with dals.
What do you need to make the powder? 
2 cups kadle/fried gram also called chutney dal - See notes for additional description on this
4-5 dry red chilies (adjust to suit your taste)
2 Tblsp grated dry coconut (kobbari in Kannada)
1 Tsp cumin seeds
1/4 Tsp asafoetida powder
3/4 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
How do you make the powder?
Heat a thick bottom pan on medium heat, put the kadle and the red chilies in it and fry for 2 minutes. Add grated dry coconut and fry for a minute. Switch off, add cumin seeds and let cool. Take all ingredients into the blender and grind it into a fine powder.

Transfer to an airtight container and use it as needed.
Notes: 
  • Frying the dal makes it crispy, if you have sunshine make use of it and spread the dal in a single layer and sun dry until crispy. 
  • Add cumin seeds after switching off the stove as it will burn otherwise, if you are sun drying the dal then toast the cumin in a pan for a minute and half.
  • If you love garlic, add a clove to the above proportion - toast it for a minute until it loses the moisture and grind it with the dal. 

Now that we have the powder ready, here is one of the ways I use it in my curries, try this version of stuffed bitter gourd for a delicious meal. 
What do you need to make stuffed bitter gourd? 
5-6 small fresh, tender bitter gourds - use Indian bitter gourds (big Chinese bitter gourds tend to become soft and does not hold shape in this recipe)
1 cup of the dal powder (see above) or alternatively one cup of basan/gram flour
3/4 cup cup finely chopped onions
1/4 Tsp asafoetida powder
4 Tblsp cooking oil divided
1 Tsp mustard
2-4 curry leaves - roughly chopped
1 Tsp salt - adjust to taste and remember the dal powder has salt in it
How do you make stuffed bitter gourd? 
  • Wash, pat dry bitter gourds and trim the ends.
  • Lightly scrape the skin and save it.
  • Make a vertical slit in the bitter gourd from top to bottom but ensure that the bitter gourd stays in one piece giving access for stuffing the masala. 
  • With the help of the back of a spoon, scoop out the seeds from the bitter gourds. 
  • Reserve one heaped Tblsp of the scrapped peels and one heaped Tblsp of tender seeds (see notes) for the masala. Remember the peels add to the bitterness and seeds give a crunchiness and bite. 
  • Heat 2 Tblsp oil in a pan on medium heat, add asafoetida, mustard and curry leaves. Let mustard sizzle, add chopped onions and fry till it sweats and turns pink. 
  • Add the reserved bitter gourd peels and seeds and fry on medium hear for 3-4 minutes until the peels soften. 
  • Add the powder and adjust salt to taste. Mix everything together. If using plain gram flour/basan, continue to fry for 5 minutes until the raw smell of the flour is gone. If using the above prepared powder, fry for just a minute until everything is combined and switch off the stove. 
  • Once the stuffing is cool enough to handle, scoop spoonfuls into the cut bitter gourds and stuff them well. Tie a thread horizontally around the stuffed bitter gourd to keep it from spilling. Reserve any left over stuffing. 
  • Heat a wide heavy bottom pan, add the remaining 2 Tblsp of oil. 
  • Now arrange the stuffed bitter gourds in a single layer in the pan with the slit side on top, cover the pan and cook for 6-8 minutes. The moisture collected drops on to the bitter gourd and helps it cook well.
  • Uncover, turn the biter gourds over to the other side and cook for another 6-8 minutes 
  • Uncover the pan and continue to turn and cook the bitter gourds until they are lightly browned from all sides. Add any remaining stuffing 2-3 minutes before switching off the pan and let it cook (adding earlier burns this semi-dry powder and spoils the taste of the dish)
  • Remove the threads and enjoy the delicious stuffed bitter gourds with rice or rotis. 
Notes: 
  • Choose bitter gourds that are slightly plump but tender, this makes it easier to stuff the stuffing.
  • Use white colored, thin seeds for the masala, discard if the seeds are plump and red colored.
  • Darker green bitter gourds are comparatively more bitter than the white variety.
  • Gram flour in the stuffing is also very tasty if you just want to use it or you can use 1/2 cup each of gram flour and the powder. 
  • Since the powder has red chilies and cumin, it is more flavorful. If you are using only gram flour add a Tsp of red chili powder. 
  • This recipe does not have any bitterness at all, I have made it multiple times. If you are a hesitant entry into the bitter gourd world, reduce the amount of peels you use.

6 comments:

Prathibha said...

We too make thisversion of stuffed bitter gourd,I hv it in my blog too...I don not scrape the peels and also I don't tie them with thread..bitter gourd is a fav veggie at my place too

Priya said...

Droolworthy stuffed bittergourd,looks fantastic.

Nagashree said...

Thanks Prathibha & Priya for stopping by.

@Prathibha - Glad to find another bittergourd fan :-) I find the tender seeds add a nice bite to the dish, a couple of minutes of frying makes it crucnhy and with the rest of the masalas, tastes wonderful.

Kannada Cuisine said...

hagalakai..nan favorite! slurp..super agide

NamsVeni Pothas said...

very tasty without a bitter taste and healthy too

Jay said...

how interesting..thanks for your innovative idea dear..:)
Tasty appetite