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.
  • 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. 
  • 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.


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