Thursday, June 13, 2013

Hasiru Palya - An accidental recipe from Nammamma's kitchen

Most of our morning breakfast while growing up used to be a fortified left over. Dosas or idlis saved the day if there was dough or it would be a quickly converted fried rice from left over rice or an adhoc huli+anna heated and jazzed up with some seasoning and ghee, that would also go into the lunch dabba or on extremely rushed days it would be mosaranna with uppinakayi. While we all left at different times starting a little before 7 and came back for lunch or a little later, my father left later, didn't come for lunch nor take dabba from home. So he ate his lunch before leaving home in the morning, a proper rice-saaru/huli/gojju kind of meal. Having 4 kids with different demands on time, nammamma just wanted to get us all out with something sumptuous and healthy and then make meals for the remainder of the day.

We had this concept of tiffin in the afternoon and that is when we had all the yummy things mostly made for breakfast in other homes such as Avalakki, dosa, idli, etc. This was our weekday routine but Sundays used to be different starting with a lazy breakfast in the morning followed by a lazier lunch and then a tiffin and dinner, you get the idea, looks like we didn't do much other than eating :-). We did loads of other stuff and ate too, the best part about the weekend food was that everyone will be around and amma mostly served stuff hot off the stove. All this changed once dad retired and my parents became empty nesters. They morphed into a light breakfast, late lunch and light dinner routine unless any of the kids were home. I loved amma's chapatis (plain paranthas), try as I might I will never get those soft layers, uniform thickness, geometrically perfect triangles and the faintly crunchy top of the chapatis. Though all the side dishes she made for chapatis were yummy, my favorite to this day is this Hasiru Palya literally translated as 'Green palya/curry' because of the tender green color of the finished dish.

When I was talking to nammamma a few years ago as I started cooking on my own and mentioned this palya she smiled and said that it was a poor man's saagu. You see Saagu is a very popular side dish served with set dosas and pooris in restaurants in Karnataka and has many vegetables. You will find potatoes, cauliflower, beans, carrots and other veggies in a saagu. This slightly spicy dish that makes you go 'ha' in the back of your tongue is a perfect accompaniment for plain or slightly sweet tasting dosas, pooris or plain rotis.  But amma explained that one day when she didn't have all the vegetables in her kitchen basket, she just put some cabbage (which is something that was always found in there because it was available year round and also cheap) and some fresh green peas, used similar spices as saagu and called it Hasiru palya. Everyone at home ate it, licked there fingers, let out a satisfied burp and the rest was history as the recipe attained an official status with a humble name :-).

Many people don't seem to like cabbage but I do and so does BH. A quick stir fry of crunchy cabbages and grated carrots is a satisfying dinner for us many times. I make cabbage bhath, cabbage huli and other recipes regularly. I just avoid packing cooked cabbage in any form in a lunch box, don't do this unless you have a colleague that you want running out of office :-). While I bring a cabbage head home from my grocery shopping, it usually goes and waits patiently in a far corner of the vegetable crisper until I polish off all the delicate (use me today or else I die on you) kind of vegetables and reach out purposefully for that lone head of cabbage. Recently I have been on a conscious effort to clear up my refrigerator and pantry before going out and overstocking them again and all I had was this cabbage and a bag of frozen peas along with some other random vegetables. It had been so long since I made this Hasiru palya at home that I had almost forgotten. So remembering what amma said, I picked up the cabbage smiling and set off to make the delicious Hasiru palya.

If you are familiar with the Karnataka saagu, you will notice similarities in taste - the aroma of cinnamon and the tongue ticking heat of clove but the combination of cabbage and peas brings its own soothing uniqueness to the dish. You can make this with some gravy or cook it until the consistency is more like a dry side dish, the choice is yours to make depending on what you serve it with. So next time, when you are racking your brain for a quick and delicious side dish for your rotis, you don't have to look beyond that sattvik head of cabbage.

What do you need to make Hasiru Palya? 
3 cups shredded (or chopped) cabbage
1 cup fresh/frozen green peas
1 Tsp salt (adjust to taste)
To Grind:
1/4 cup grated coconut (fresh/frozen)
4-5 green chilies (adjust to taste)
1/2 Tsp poppy seeds
2 - 1 inch piece of cinnamon
2 cloves
1 Tblsp chopped onion
1/2-3/4 cup chopped cilantro

How do you make Hasiru Palya? 
  • Take shredded cabbage & peas in a pan, add salt and a couple of Tblsp water. Cover and cook until the vegetable softens (do not over cook)
  • Grind all the ingredients listed under 'to Grind' to a smooth paste adding 1/4 cup water.
  • Add the ground masala to the cooked cabbage and let it continue to cook for another 4-5 minutes or until the masala gets completely incorporated and the mixture looks uniform. 
  • You can make this dish with a little gravy or keep it on the stove until the water evaporates. It tastes great either way. 
  • This palya is best eaten with chapatis/rotis.
  • If using fresh green peas, cook it separately until tender and add it to cabbage as it takes a little longer to cook than frozen variety
  • The palya becomes sweeter as it settles with cabbage and peas, if you like spicy stuff make sure you have enough green chilies to cover you :-)
  • Don't skimp on cilantro, it gives the curry a nice green hue. 
  • There is no turmeric or tamarind in this recipe.


prathibha Garre said...

i make without the spices,the spices must make it more aromatic

Rajani Rao said...

This comes out well with mix veg too. Include few big pieces of Tomato at the end. Awesome with puri:-)

Kalyan P said...

looks delicious & mouthwatering!

NamsVeni Pothas said...

very nice recipe truly we must try it.

Chitz said...

That's an interesting one !! Bookmarked :)