CHIKMAGALUR – The Coffee Land of Karnataka

Summer begins early in Bangalore, largely in the past few years. For reasons I won’t bore you with in this post, come February 2013, all we wanted was a getaway to escape the soaring temperatures and avoid getting baked in the afternoon sun. Chikmagalur seemed like the perfect place to do that and more. Located at the foothills of the Mullayanagiri Range, this little town bestows the clichéd “picture perfect”, watercolour painting-like scenes that not only deceived us into being in a parallel universe but also astonished in a way because this beauty lay so close to home. Well, close because it’s a short road trip away, about 4 hours although it did take us longer since the husband and me were keen on a stopover at a little town called ‘Channarayapatna’. Significant mainly because my husband spent a good chunk of his childhood here. A serious case of nostalgic fever was evident on his face as we clicked away pictures of him and a bunch of students from the alma mater. The little things, no? Continue reading “CHIKMAGALUR – The Coffee Land of Karnataka”

THE SERAI, KABINI

Amidst river banks, wilderness & light drizzles, we rang in the husband’s 30th, back in 2013. Nothing like a birthday falling on a weekend, nothing like a road trip to celebrate and nothing like an indulgence like The Serai.
A five hour drive from home( Bangalore) which included stopping at Kadambam for breakfast( if you ever happen to be on the Bangalore – Mysore highway & have a soft corner for South Indian food, don’t miss this place!), we were finally at The Serai, Kabini just in time for check in. There’s a minor possibility of finding yourself blankly gazing at the silent waters & the lush greens without a care in the world. Of course, if you’ve gone through some of my other posts, you know how I love escaping the city life into a quieter world, even if it’s for the shortest time (this time it was a one night stay). Continue reading “THE SERAI, KABINI”

Black Eyed Peas/Lobiya & Spinach Curry

Inspiration for cooking can be drawn from a lavish buffet restaurant or from a simple meal at a temple made with the most basic of ingredients; from a loving great grandmother or sometimes a 5 year old even. The possibilities are infinite & the only tools one needs are an open mind & a speck of imagination.
En route from Bangalore to Mysore, there is a restaurant, Kamat Loka Ruchi and on a sultry weekend road trip, the husband & me decided to lunch here. The restaurant is dressed in a simple attire sans any frill or fancy; simple dining chairs & tables, limestone sculptures of Gods & Goddesses, scraps of rotis strewn here & there and even harmless fruit flies to keep one company. Most customers are tourists punctuated with theater artists from the adjoining ” Janapada Loka”. The friendly staff run hurriedly from table to table not just merely serving utterly delicious food but also eagerly coaxing hungry patrons to relish the myriad of dishes and treating them to bonus helpings like a well meaning relative.
img_9394
Now, the food. Their speciality is cuisine from North Karnataka , all served on the traditional banana leaf & comprising Jowar rotis( with a nice spoonful of butter), brinjal curry, Black eyed peas curry, Methi & onion salad, Bajji(veggies coated with chickpea flour & fried), Sambar , Rasam(lentil soup) & Curds. Dessert is Holige ( sweet rotis with a dal filling) & a banana. Simple, unsophisticated soul food that will leave one supremely satiated.
img_9466
The Black eyed peas curry from Kamat is a treat for a legume lover like me. But, a drive of 1.5 hours on sunny Sunday afternoons can leave you too tired to face the tyranny of Mondays. So, one morning I decided, why not try it at home…”if it fails, then at the least I tried,  but if it works, then nothing like it”. Well, it turned out to be the latter and I’m not going to toot my own horn & say that it tastes exactly the same. But, it’s my version & will have to do until I visit Kamat again.
img_9445.jpg
The curry I present to you today celebrates the goodness of black eyed peas or lobiya. I’ve paired these protein-rich lentils with another favourite, spinach leaves. But, if spinach is not your cup of tea, then it can be omitted or replaced with other leafy greens such as fenugreek. An aromatic spice mix brimming with coconut brings it all together. It pairs well with rice or rotis but don’t forget to include a dollop of ghee!
Hope you like this one!

RECIPE FOR BLACK EYED PEAS CURRY
INGREDIENTS

3/4-1 cup lobiya /black eyed peas/cow peas (once soaked, this will yield about 2- 2.5 cups)
2 cups chopped fresh spinach
3-4 green chillies
1 Dry red chilli
1/2 cup fresh grated coconut
1 medium sized onion, roughly chopped
1/2″ cinnamon
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tbsp jeera/cumin seeds
1 tsp oil
salt to taste
FOR TEMPERING:
1 tsp oil
1 tbsp mustard seeds
Pinch of Hing powder/ Asofoetida
1-2 dry red chillies

METHOD
1. Soak the black eyed peas/lobiya overnight.
2. Once soaked, drain the water off and wash the peas well. Then pressure cook it with 3 cups of water. (can even be cooked in hot water in a pot but will take a longer time)
3. Once cooked & cooled, grind together,
onion
green chillies
dry red chilli
coconut
cinnamon
turmeric
jeera/cumin seeds
1/4th cup heaped, cooked lobiya/black eyed peas
and roughly 1/4th to 1/2 cup of water
Grind to a medium coarse/smooth paste.
4. In a kadai/deep bottomed pan, add a tsp of oil. Once it’s heated, add the chopped spinach and let it cook until the stalks are tender.
5. Add the cooked black eyed peas to this. Add the ground paste, salt and let it all come to a boil.Keep stirring from time to time to ensure that it doesn’t stick to the pan. Remove from heat.
6 To temper, in a small pan/ tadka pan, take oil and let it heat up. Add the mustard seeds and allow it to splutter. When done, add hing & dry red chillies. Add tempering to the curry and serve hot with rice/chapati.

BADAMI & AIHOLE…a stint with history & heritage

The cave temples of Badami, in the Bagalkot district of Karnataka, India, boast of the architecture of the Chalukya Dynasty in the 6th century.Carved out of hill cliffs hued with the rouge of sandstone they are home to numerous, intricate carvings of the many avatars of Lord Vishnu & Lord Shiva. If you pick a day when the crowds are scant (weekdays or maybe when the kids are slogging it out with exams in February & March!), the tranquility of River Agastya, the magnanimity of the cave temples, and the pleasant breeze that cruises through at the top of the hillock take you back to an era gone by, an era of grandeur, ancient culture & royalty. Continue reading “BADAMI & AIHOLE…a stint with history & heritage”