Chutneys/Thogayals/Dips/Podis, Side Dishes, South Indian, Vegan

Roasted Horse Gram, Urid Dal, Sesame Seeds Chutney Powder

A chutney powder (podi) with roasted horse gram, sesame seeds, and urid dal that goes well with dosa, idli, or even rice. Spicy, tangy, and has the goodness of roasted grains and seeds. I used black sesame seeds because it is more nutritious than the white ones. A different traditional variety of podi recipe is here.

Horse gram – 200 gm
Urid Dal/White or black gram – 200 gm
Black sesame seeds – 100 gm
Dry red chillies – 10-12
Black peppercorns – 1 tbsp
Curry leaves – 1 cup
Asafetida – 1 inch piece
Tamarind – lemon size
Salt to taste

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
Makes 500 gm Chutney powder

Each grain has a different roasting time. Hence need to be separately roasted.
In a thick iron wok, dry roast horse gram and urid dal (SEPARATELY/Not together) in a low-medium flame until it turns color and you get roasted smell. Well-roasted horse gram starts popping. That’s also sign that it is sufficiently roasted. Remove and keep aside to cool.
Roast dry red chillies, asafetida, and peppercorns. Remove and keep aside to cool.
Sesame seeds are small and thin and hence need to roasted gently and carefully without burning them. If you are using a very thick iron wok that has already been heated sufficiently and is really hot at this point, turn off the fire and add the black sesame seeds. They start popping at the slightly heat. Even though the fire is off, keep stirring and be cautious about not burning them. Remove and keep aside.
Heat the pan and dry roast the curry leaves until they lose moisture content and turn dry. Remove and keep aside.
Add tamarind pieces to the hot iron wok. Keep stirring until it loses moisture content. Remove and keep aside.

Pulse all these ingredients together in the mixer to make a coarse powder. Taste and add sufficient salt. Adjust pepper if necessary.

Store in an airtight glass container. Will stay good for a month. For long term use, store in refrigerator and take out small batches as necessary.

Serve with dosa/idli or rice along with sesame oil.

Chutneys/Thogayals/Dips/Podis, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, South Indian, Vegan

Pumpkin Fiber Thogayal (Chutney)

This is a spicy chutney of sorts made with the insides of the pumpkin / intestines (for lack of a better word). All parts of the pumpkin including the peel and the seeds are nutritious. Instead of discarding the ribbon/strand-like insides of a pumpkin, use it to make thogayal. Slight sweetness of the pumpkin, flavor of the roasted urad dal, punch of the pepper and tanginess from the tamarind makes it a lovely dish. Use just enough coconut to add to the volume and careful not to overpower the pumpkin/urad dal taste. You may add the normal parts of the pumpkin also

Pumpkin intestines (ribbon like fibers) (or pumpkin pieces) – 2 cups
Urad dal (deskinned)/white lentils – 2 tbsp
Grated coconut – 2 tbsp
Peppercorns – 10-15
Dried red chili – 1-2
Tamarind – marble sized ball
Jaggery – 1/2 tsp
Cooking oil (coconut oil) – 1 tsp
Salt as needed

Preparation Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 15 mins
Makes 1 cup

Cut the pumpkin and remove the inside strand-like fibrous part attached to the seeds. Be
careful to remove all the hard seeds. You may use the white tender ones.
In a kadai, pour a tsp oil, add urad dal, peppercorns, and dried red chilies and roast
until urad dal turns red in color. Remove the roasted ingredients and keep aside in a
plate to cool.
In the same kadai, add the pumpkin fibers and cook for about 5 minutes until the raw
smell goes and the pumpkin gets cooked. Add jaggery. Let this cool down a bit.
In the mixer, pulse the roasted urad dal, peppercorns, dried red chilies, and grated
coconut. Since the volume is less, you may have to do quick whips to powder them. Add
cooked pumpkin fibers, tamarind, and salt along with this and pulse to make a coarse
paste. Taste and adjust tamarind, salt, and pepper as per taste.
Tastes excellent when served along with hot rice and ghee.

Recipe Courtesy: Ramya Gopalakrishnan

Bachelor-friendly, Chutneys/Thogayals/Dips/Podis, Everyday Simple Recipes, South Indian, Vegan

Onion Tomato Chutney

If you are bored of the regular coconut green chutneys, try this tangy onion and tomato chutney, which can spice up the mundane idli. I usually make this chutney along with unfermented moringa leaves dosa, which makes it a yummy combo.

Onion – 1 big or 2 small
Tomato – 2 medium
Garlic – 1 clove
Urad dal (white or black husked gram) – 1 tsp
Dry red chillies – 3
Tamarind – a small piece
Oil (Coconut/sunflower) – 1 tsp
Salt as needed
Water – 2-3 spoons

For Tempering/Tadka (optional):
Oil (Coconut/sunflower) – 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Asafetida/Hing powder – a pinch
Curry leaves – 1 sprig

Preparation Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins
Serves 2

Method: Chop garlic, onions, and tomatoes and keep aside separately.
Pour a teaspoon of oil on a wok and add urad dal. Roast until golden brown. Add chopped garlic and dry red chillies and saute until they start changing color.
Add chopped onion. Cook until onion pieces turn pink and translucent. Add chopped tomato. Saute for at least 5 minutes in medium heat until the tomato skin starts to peel off.
Add salt and tamarind. Mix well and turn off.
Let this mixture cool and grind to a smooth paste in the mixer. You may add few spoons of water to get the smooth texture. You can grind without water also.

Heat a wok and pour half a teaspoon oil. Add mustard seeds. When they crackle, add hing powder and curry leaves and immediately turn off the fire. Add this tadka to the ground paste. Mix well and serve along with idli or dosa.

Notes: You may avoid the tadka. I personally prefer the aroma of curry leaves in this chutney.

Bachelor-friendly, Chutneys/Thogayals/Dips/Podis, Everyday Simple Recipes, Vegan

Guacamole – Avocado Dip

A mild, easy, and flavorful homemade dip that can be served with chips, crackers, or even khakhra. Simplest of recipes. Cannot even call it a recipe; just about chopping and mixing things. Guacamole is a 16th-century Mexican dip made from avocados. The original recipe might have many variations. The simplest version of guacamole is just mashed avocados with salt. The below recipe is suited for the Indian palate. Avocado is locally available in most mid-sized vegetable shops and all Mangalore stores in Bangalore. Avocado is basically tasteless but the combination of ingredients in guacamole makes it taste awesome!
Avocado is a low carb, vitamin-rich fruit. It has more potassium than banana and is rich in antioxidants and heart-healthy monosaturated fats. It also lowers cholesterol.


The trick to make a perfect guacamole is to use ripe avocados. Gently press the outside of the avocado. If it is not supple, the avocado is not ripe yet and will not taste good. If it gives in a little bit with pressing, the avocado is ripe and good for guacamole. If it feels too squishy, the avocado is not good. An avocado that is close to ripening may be dark green. The ripe and ready ones may have a deep purplish, almost black color.

Avocado – 1
Onion (small) – 1
Tomato – 1
Coriander leaves – 1 tbsp (chopped)
Green chili – 1
Lemon juice – 1 tbsp
Black pepper for garnish (optional)
Jeera/cumin seeds powder for garnish (optional)
Salt as needed

Preparation Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 0
Serves – 2

Method: Peel and chop onion finely and keep aside. Cut the tomato into half. Scoop out the seeds and juice. Chop the outer flesh and keep aside. Chop coriander leaves finely. Slice the green chili and remove the seeds. Chop finely.

When choosing avocado for Guacamole, choose the ones that are firm yet supple to touch. Cut the avocado in half lengthwise and remove the seed. Use a spoon to scoop the flesh of the avocado and place in a bowl.

Use a fork and mash the avocado flesh to make a smooth paste. Add lime juice and salt. Mix well. Add finely chopped onion, tomatoes, and green chili. Mix well. Taste the guacamole and adjust seasoning if necessary. Refrigerate for half an hour to allow the flavors to blend in. Sprinkle coriander leaves just before serving. You may sprinkle jeera powder and black pepper powder also. Serve with chips. Dip your tapioca chips on the guacamole, scoop up, and relish.

Chutneys/Thogayals/Dips/Podis, Palakkad Iyer Recipes, South Indian, Vegan

Pirandai Thogayal (Adamant Creeper Chutney)

I first had this dish about a few months back at my friend’s place when I gatecrashed for dinner. I simply fell in love with its taste. But there was no way to try out this dish at home because the shrub is not sold in city markets. Last month while gallivanting the vegetable market at Tanjavur during a sightseeing trip, I found the plant. I was really excited and talked at length to the vendor, a poor old lady. I wanted to buy it but since I wouldn’t be home for another 2 days, I was not sure that it would last the journey. Besides, the trouble of lugging it along separately and carefully from hotel to hotel. Yet, my wish to cook and present this in Samagni got better of me and I bought it. The next day I find that the same plant is being sold at Srirangam. I bought another bunch thinking at least maybe this one will survive if the Tanjavur bunch didn’t.

Three days later, two bunches of Pirandai plants arrived at a home in Bangalore after having traveled in rickshaws, cars, buses, and trains across towns and hotels. The plants looked just fine. I was amazed by their resilience. I decided to try and plant these and selected 5 cuttings that looked like they might have a second chance. I just stuck them into the coco peat mixture. Now, one month later they are sprouting new leaves and doing very well. In fact, two weeks earlier, in an effort to propagate this medicinal plant, I carried one of them to my mother’s home. So 5 pirandai cuttings from Tanjavur/Srirangam are now thriving in Bangalore and Palakkad. What an amazing journey! Sometimes I wonder about the life of plants and animals. How we humans manipulate them, choosing to just cut and cook or nurture and grow them as we please! Okay, too much rumination, now moving on to the informative part.

Used as a medicinal plant since ancient times, this wonder plant has vast curative and therapeutic properties. A rambling shrub with fleshy stem that is margined and contracted at the nodes, it has round leaves and greenish red flowers.
English: Veldt Grape, Devil’s Backbone; Bengali: Harbhanga, Harjora; Gujarati: Chodari, Hadsand, Vedhani; Hindi: Hadjod, Hadjora, Jangli-angoor; Kannada: Asthi Samhaara, Mangaravalli; Malayalam: Changalam paranta; Marathi: Chaudhari, Harsankar, Kandavela; Sanskrit: Vajravalli, Asthisamhari, Asthisamhrta; Tamil: Perandai; Telugu: Nalleru, Gudametige, Kokkitaya-ralu; Botanical name: Cissus quadrangularis

As proven by my experience, it is almost impossible to kill this plant and hence also aptly named Adamant Creeper. As its Hindi name (Hadjor) suggests, this magical vine can join bones and heal fractures. It is also useful in treating gastrointestinal disorders, piles, scurvy, and irregular menstruation. In South India, it is usually cooked for the death anniversary meal (chatham/sradham) as thogayal. Thogayal is a thick chutney usually served with rice.

How you clean and cook pirandai is a very important part. During cleaning it can cause your skin to itch and if not cooked properly, it could cause an itchy throat. So be very careful to cook pirandai really well. Well worth the effort when you think of all the benefits to bones amongst other things. 🙂

Pirandai, cleaned & chopped finely – 2 cups
Red chilies – 6
Urad dal – 1/4 cup
Tamarind – marble size
Asafoetida – 1/4 tsp
Grated coconut (optional) – 2 tbsp
Salt – As needed
Sesame oil – 2 tbsp

Preparation Time: 45 minutes
Cooking Time: 15 minutes
4-6 servings (1 tbsp each)

You need to either grease your hands with cooking oil or wear gloves to clean pirandai. I chose to grease my palms with cooking oil. Using a knife, cut the pirandai at the nodes and remove the sharp thin edges by the sides. Wash and chop into smaller pieces.

Pour some oil in an iron wok and saute the pirandai pieces until it shrivels and changes color slightly to a lighter green shade.

Remove from the wok and let it cool. Dry roast urad dal, red chilies, and asafetida in little oil and keep aside to cool. If you are adding coconut, dry roast coconut until it gives out the roasted aroma and starts turning golden brown. Remove and let it cool. Grind all the roasted ingredients to a smooth paste and add salt.

If your ground paste is thick like how thogayal should be, you can mix it with rice or eat it as a side dish/pickle. Or you can add water to the thogayal and make it a thin chutney consistency and serve along with dosa or idli.

1. Grease your hands with cooking oil or wear gloves to clean pirandai.
2. Use tamarind in all your pirandai recipes as it neutralizes the itchiness.
3. You may add a little bit of jaggery also while grinding to balance the tart.

Chutneys/Thogayals/Dips/Podis, Everyday Simple Recipes, South Indian, Vegan

Dill Leaves Chutney

Dill chutney served with ragi dosaDill is an herb high in anti-oxidants and dietary fibers. It is rich in iron and helps reduce blood sugar and cholesterol levels. I have found this herb only in certain cities (Mumbai and Bangalore) where locals include it in various dishes, like akki roti, dal, dry subzi, roti, and so on.

Dill has a very distinct and strong flavor and taste, which is not liked by all. So, if your family members do not prefer dill, be careful about the quantity of dill you use for this chutney. Do not use more than a handful. I love this herb and include it in my diet at least twice in a week in the form of subzi or in akki roti. Chutney is a good way of consuming this wonder herb in the raw form and getting maximum benefit from it.

Dil leaves (Sabbasige soppu) – 1 cup
Green chillies – 3-4
Grated coconut – From one half of a coconut
Tamarind – 1 marble size
Ginger – 1 small piece

Preparation time: 5 mins
Cooking time: 5 mins
Yield:  2 cups

Grind all ingredients to a smooth paste. Serve with dosa or idli. Enjoy the flavor of dill and coconut with tanginess of tamarind.

You could add a tadka of mustard seeds in some oil for more flavor but I liked the flavor of the dill chutney as is.

Bachelor-friendly, Chutneys/Thogayals/Dips/Podis, Everyday Simple Recipes, Snacks, Vegan

Fire-Roasted Eggplant Dip

Eggplant DipSmoky, garlicky, healthy, and simple – I am totally in love with this dip. Baba Ganouj is a Middle Eastern eggplant dip. The original Greek recipe calls for Greek Yoghurt, which I skipped. Yet the result was amazing. I can only imagine how tasty the original must be! Once you try this recipe, you will never buy a dip from the market. Serve it with breadsticks and vegetables to guests, pack it off along with crackers to the kids for snacks, or just spread them on to your bread toast. It is amazingly delicious. I seriously love this purple vegetable!

Baingan/Eggplant (Large purple variety) – 1 large
Garlic – 1 clove
Lemon – 1/2
Black pepper – 7-8
Jeera/cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Extra virgin olive oil – 2 tbsp
Salt as needed

Preparation Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 10 mins
Makes 1 cup

Fire roasting an eggplantWash the eggplant and pat dry. Use a fork and prick the eggplant all over. Place on gas flame and roast it over a low flame. Turn the sides about every 30 seconds so that the eggplant gets cooked all over and completely. Remove from flame when the outer skin is charred and you get the smoky eggplant smell. This would take about 2-3 mins. Alternatively, you can use an oven to do this. But you will get a smoky flavor only if you roast it directly on fire. Wait for the eggplant to cool a bit, and then remove the stem and peel off the outer skin carefully. Chop the eggplant. If you feel that some parts of the eggplant is uncooked, cook the eggplant on a pan along with tablespoon of olive oil for about 3-4 mins. You may avoid this step if the eggplant gets fully roasted over the flame. Allow to cool.

serve with vegetable slicesIn a mixer, grind the eggplant, garlic, salt, pepper, and jeera seeds, together. Add lemon juice and make into a smooth paste. Adjust pepper/salt/garlic as required. Garnish with dil leaves, parsley, or use the Italian pasta/pizza garnish. Drizzle olive oil. Healthy, delicious, and easy eggplant dip is ready to be served with crackers, bread toast, sliced cucumber, carrot, bell pepper slices.