Author Archives: Mini Ribeiro

Healthy Alternatives

Butternut Squash Bajra Paratha 2

With lifestyle changes, people getting more health-conscious. Whoever said millets were a poor man’s grains, needs to think again. The good ol’ coarse grains or millets are now back in kitchens in most homes.

Millets include jowar (great millet), ragi (finger millet), korra (foxtail millet), arke (kodo millet) and sama (little millet) are available in the form of  grains and flour forms in supermarkets. Millets may look coarse and unappealing, but are packed with nutrients and health benefits and are versatile too. Apart from nutritional benefits, now technology has made it possible to process these millets which was not possible earlier.

People are thus celebrating local produce and turning to their backyards to see what is available or even forgotten. They have taken it upon themselves to revive traditional ingredients like ancient grains and millets and reacquaint guests with these.

The changing lifestyle patterns of consumers, who are keen on staying fit is the key reason for these grains to have made a comeback. Almost all of these “pack a punch” when it comes to a nutritive chart, as these are much superior to wheat or rice, which has been the staple.

The choices today are infinite – buckwheat, quinoa, bulgur wheat, barley, nachni or ragi, rajgira, bajra.  These can be incorporated in a myriad exciting ways, along with other ingredients, into one’s diet, to inculcate variety.

Nachni or Ragi has always been around for the longest time, but, this millet has suddenly acquired a new status in health-conscious India. A great source of calcium, magnesium, iron, protein and fibre, this finger millet is now in demand. Ragi, which is usually difficult to digest, should be soaked, sprouted and dried, prior to milling into atta, to improve its nutrient absorption.

From ragi upma to ragi rotis and even cookies and halwa, this multipurpose millet is being used in varied dishes, both sweet and savoury. Ragi dosa, dumplings, pancakes and porridge are other dishes, one can prepare with ragi.

One of the oldest millets and perhaps the cheapest, bajra  or pearl millet, is completely gluten free and thus beneficial to those suffering from celiac disease. Thalipeeth, bhakri and theplas are not all that you can make with this millet. Dhoklas, chaklis, upma, khichu and even ladoos are what this millet can be used for. Traditionally, Kambu Sadam or bajra cooked like rice, was consumed with raw onions and green chillies in every home in Tamil Nadu. Thus, people have also taken to bajra once again, but in several new avatars.

Buckwheat or kuttu too is preferred by many, owing to the health benefits it endows. A pseudo grain, known for its nutty flavour, it lends itself to several dishes across cuisines. Buckwheat flour is mixed with wheat flour to make Japanese soba noodles. Being gluten free, it is used for pancakes, crepes, rotis, cookies and even mixed with other flours and millets to alter the texture.

Millets can be used on their own in dishes as well as added to other ingredients. Add a small amount of millets to idli or dosa batter or a roti dough.  One can also use millets along with oats, whole wheat and jaggery to make cookies and ladoos, as well as add sprouted millets in salads.

And it is not only in the grain form that millets are being used. Flours of these millets too are being incorporated into the daily diets. Beige coloured Sorghum flour, for example, considered to be “sweet,” softly textured and mildly flavoured, low in glycaemic index, high in fibre, gluten free is now a popular ingredient easily available.

Ironically, once upon a time, an Indian kitchen included a single canister of flour. Today, supermarkets stock myriad options, reflecting increased consumer demand for diversity and thus various flours make way into the kitchens. Each kind of flour has a different nutrition profile and cooking or baking qualities and thus, blending these grains and flours is important as it tones down flavour profiles, yet providing the nutritional benefits.

With evolved palates and matured taste buds, guests in Hotels maybe seeking the exotic, but are also ready to allow chefs to let loose their creative side and churn out dishes that they term unusual or exciting.

There is no smoke without fire

Signature Smokey Cauliflower Hummus - Maffy's

Smoking food can unlock a world of new flavours. Not surprising therefore, many  are turning to this technique to impart a smoldering flavour to their dishes

The process of smoking imparts a distinct flavour to the dish. It elevates and enhances both the aroma, as well as the flavour.

Smoking is being incorporated to impart aromatic flavours to traditionally prepared dishes. After all, there’s something universally appealing about a whiff of fire in our food. And so, today smoking is not restricted to meats only- but cheese, vegetables, fruits, yogurt, butter and even desserts, are being smoked.

Gone are the days when smoking was perceived and used as a method of preservation only. After having made its way into bars for smoking cocktails to create heady flavours and aromas, it is now a must-have technique in kitchens for chefs.

Indian dishes are often cooked in the tandoor and hence already have a smoky flavour.  However, chefs can still enhance other dishes, using the smoking technique. This can be done with Indian curries and gravies, with a combination of utilizing ingredients like clarified butter, desired aromatic spices and a hot piece of charcoal in a small bowl. The same is then placed inside the cooking vessel and covered to incorporate the desired smoky flavour.

Maas Ke Sooley, prepared in a Rajasthani style, with cinnamon stick, being used to impart flavour to the Kababs and Dum ka Murgh -Mughlai Style Chicken Gravy, where mace is skilfully made use of to give an aromatic smoke to the finished product, are some typical examples.

Meat, dairy and eggs are naturally suited for smoking, but interestingly, vegetables too can be smoked. Broccoli, cauliflower, bell pepper, eggplant, zucchini, are some of the vegetables which can be smoked to perfection. Some chefs are even adding fruits to their repertoire.

It’s not as if smoking is used to enhance the flavours of Indian food alone. Some exciting flavours can be added to international foods too, with smoking. Smoked Chicken Pizzas, Fresh vegetables and smoked sea bass, Honey glazed lamb with smoked yogurt and vegetables, Wood-smoked cauliflower and carrots with pistachio crunch, are some inimitable dishes.

When the surface of the meat is softer, smoke is able to penetrate the meat more deeply and effect a stronger smoky flavour. Thus, sometimes the marinade becomes crucial, even before the meat is smoked.

Flavourful woods like apple wood chips, cedar wood chips, which are the latest cooking trends, lend their taste, aroma, body and texture to the food that are cooked together.

It is recommended that the wood chips being used for smoking food, should be soaked for about 30-40 minutes and drip-dried before being added to the fire.

The smoke generated by hot smoking has a different flavour than the one generated by cold smoking, even though both are used by chefs.  Cold smoking, flavours the food without actually cooking it. Smoked Salmon and Bacon are typical meats that are cold smoked.

Smoke adds a dimension of flavour all its own, something sweet and rich, but also pungent, which is being maximized in innovative desserts.

Some prefer using an open flame to smoke while others rely on the blowtorch or charcoal.  Instead of smoking the whole dessert, one can try smoking one component of the dessert. Smoked vanilla ice cream made with muscavado sugar is a unique dessert, where, smoke acts as an incredible flavour enhancer. Smoked coconut cheesecake, is another example, where the coconut is first smoked. Fruits are a hugely popular choice when it comes to smoking.

Smoking is clearly witnessing a resurgence in kitchens. The textured feel of smoke works on all senses of the diners. It is beautiful to see, vivacious to taste, raw and rustic in smell and the texture feels incredible in the mouth.

Breakfast with Whole Grains

 

Bajra Riso at Sante Spa cuisine

 

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, so make it count with nutritious whole grain dishes, both sweet and savoury

Breakfast is absolutely necessary to replenish one’s supply of energy and other nutrients to jump start metabolism. It is thus important to pick healthy foods that keep one energized throughout the day and whole grains, are definitely the best choice. Thus, it’s good to get a few servings of these daily at breakfast.

Whether one craves pancakes, oatmeal, bread, dosas or upma, for breakfast, one can have delicious and healthy options brimming with whole grains like quinoa, barley, millet, buckwheat, in some form or the other.

Owing to the array of nutritional benefits that wholegrains impart, coupled with the lifestyle changes people are undergoing, whole grains are back in several household and hotel kitchens. A tasteless bowl of steaming mush made with oatmeal or Muesli with nuts and fruits, are not the only porridge or cereal options. The choices today are infinite – buckwheat, quinoa, bulgur wheat, barley, nachni or ragi, rajgira, bajra.  These can be incorporated in a myriad exciting ways, along with other ingredients, into one’s breakfast to inculcate variety.

Whole grains retain the bran and hence are rich in protein and fibers. Because they digest slowly, one ends up feeling fuller longer and retain their energy levels. Also, if you’ve started the day on a healthy note you end up feeling upbeat and fitter. Whole grains are very easy to work with.

 

One merely needs to use one’s imagination when combining whole-grains with other flavourful ingredients to rustle up an interesting breakfast item. These need not be consumed in the grain form alone, flours made from whole grains are a simple way to make use of these. Wholegrains can add interesting textures to dishes.

Combining these with milk, yoghurt or water, either by boiling, roasting, poaching, stewing whole grains, makes them easily digestible.

Even if one is keen on a western breakfast with toast, eggs, pancakes, cereal et al, healthy whole grains lend themselves to these. Multigrain bread, quinoa in omelettes, barley cereal with low fat milk or yogurt, buckwheat crepes, cooked millet porridge, ground millet muffins. There is something for every palate.

Balance of ingredients is critical when using whole grains with other ingredients. Also, a little bit of planning ahead is important, as some whole wheat grains are coarse and need a fair bit of soaking in water to help them fluff up.

So versatile are these wholegrains that one need not merely have them in cereals or in pancakes and crepes. Closer home, as Indians prefer Dosas, upma, idlis, theplas and parathas, for breakfast, whole grains like ragi, bajra, kuttu, barley, can be added to these too.

Again, couscous, barley, buckwheat, quinoa, can be incorporated interestingly into Indian breakfast items too.

Similarly, buckwheat (not from wheat) is a pseudo grain that is hugely popular, as it is gluten free and is being used to make parathas for breakfast, apart from the usual crepes. Oats too make for a delicious savoury upma with vegetables, apart from being cooked with milk as porridge. Oats can also be mixed with besan (gramflour) to make a healthy chilla with vegetables, or even used to roll a ragi patty or tikki for breakfast, before being shallow fried.

But wholegrains need not always be exotic. Eating local wholegrains is equally beneficial. A great source of calcium, magnesium, iron, protein and fibre, the finger millet,  or ragi is now in  great demand. Keppa or ragi roti, has made a comeback in South Indian homes and is being combined with methi or fenugreek for additional benefits. Koozh, a ragi-based porridge with a buttermilk base in Chennai is also preferred. Many opt for a ragi idli, where ragi is combined with rawa and urad dal

 

Bajra or jowar Khichu, is another breakfast staple of Gujarat, where bajra or jowar flour is combined with other whole grain flours, yogurt and spices to make an upma-like dish. Thalipeeth, the savoury multi grain pancake of Maharashtra too uses bajra and is perfect to kick-start one’s day. Bajra roti and lahsun or garlic chutney is a breakfast enjoyed by our ancestors, which is making a comeback again.

 

 

Crepes, Muffins and granola bars are not the only options to pander one’s sweet cravings at breakfast. Ragi halwa, Nachni satva or a popular porridge in Maharashtra, sweet pancakes made with multigrain flours like ragi and jowar, are equally great options. To enhance the sweetness quotient, one may even drizzle these with maple syrup or even jaggery or honey.

So be it scrambled eggs with whole wheat grains paired with an oatmeal toast or a ragi upma, almost any dish can be made healthier by substituting regular flour for a whole-grain variety. With a little effort, this can set the tone for the day.

 

Tea for two?

IMG_20200228_170912_1

 

Afternoon Tea is all about indulgence. Sipping fine tea from a bone china cup with delectable treats served on a tiered stand, simply adds to the charm.

It’s not as if, one cannot drink the same cup of tea at home, with some ordinary biscuits or a slice of cake. But there is something glitzy about sipping it in elegant surroundings replete with a piano playing in the background, divinely decadent tea selection and salmon or crust less cucumber finger sandwiches, lemon cake, scones with jam and clotted cream, laid out on a table covered with a crisp white table cloth.

While this may seem straight out of an Enid Blyton storybook, hotels and tea rooms across India, are making Afternoon Tea fashionable all over again, albeit sometimes with a twist, to suit the Indian palate

Tea has always had a lasting place in the British culture. But it was Anna, Duchess of Bedford, who created the tradition of afternoon tea in England, as she would get hungry in the long hours between breakfast and dinner. She began asking her servants to sneak in a pot of tea with some bread stuff, to ward away her hunger. Eventually, this became a daily ritual and she shared this custom with her friends. Afternoon tea soon became popular among the aristocratic class.

In India, while this custom of Afternoon Tea was somewhat retained and followed only in Eastern India, it is now being revived in other cities too. Although people are busy, Hotels and Tea rooms, are encouraging tea lovers to fuss around their evening cup and step out and take a tea break.

Afternoon tea offers guests an opportunity to reconnect over light-hearted conversations and brings respite from an otherwise hectic day at work.

Pure Assam, Darjeeling and Nilgiri, may be the teas of aficionados, but there are Infused Teas, Earl Gray, English Breakfast, Lemon, Indian Masala, Herbal Teas, Chamomile et al, catering to all palates.

Cutting chai, meri apni cutting and kadak masala chai, are offerings that provide the quintessential Indian Chai experience. Right from Sulaimani chai to Mumbai Masala Chai and the classic Portuguese Cha to the Parsi Choi, infused with mint leaves and lemongrass, with fresh ginger and cardamom, everything is served.

Teas maybe the mainstay at an Afternoon Tea, but Hotels encourage guests to embark upon a culinary journey with delicacies, which are served alongside the selection of fine teas. That enhances the tea drinking experience, apart from satiating hunger during early evening.

While some hotels prefer to stick to the quintessential English teatime pastries and savouries, others want to do away with predictable fare and offer creative interpretations. Scones, pastries, Lemon meringue, blueberry cupcakes, sandwiches, apart from local classics like Vad pav, Chaan Jor garam and kanda bhajiya are on offer.

Five star hotels are not the only place, one can relish an elaborate afternoon tea. Tea rooms, both swanky and modest, have sprung up in several cities and are hosting popular Afternoon Teas.

With Afternoon Tea enjoying a resurgence in India, one no longer needs to wait for a visit to the Ritz or Savoy, to recreate the nostalgia of childhood story books.

Cross Country Ingredients

 

 

GOJI BERRY CHICKEN CURRY with black rice pilaf and broccoli-sweet potato sabzi 0

 

Ingredients may be abundant in a region, but are often used in cuisines across several countries

Lemon grass chicken, Steamed fish with tamarind sauce and Thai basil eggplant, are the quintessential Thai dishes we are familiar with. Thai cuisine is synonymous with strong spicy and aromatic components. Yet, while one may associate basil, tamarind, lemon grass and coconut only with this cuisine, interestingly, these versatile ingredients lend themselves effortlessly to several other cuisines across the globe.

The French call it, basil herbe royal. Basil, a fragrant herb finds itself in every chef’s kitchen as it enhances a multitude of cuisines. The flavours range from mild and floral to spicy and complex from different varieties and are used across cuisines.

The aromatic Thai Basil, part of the mint family with the distinguishing flavours of licorice, anise and clove, is fairly commonplace. The herb is popular in South East Asian cuisines and is generally incorporated fresh, in dishes. Thai basil is equally flavourful when eaten raw and added to salads.

Vegetarian pot stickers are dumplings with tofu and shiitake mushrooms, tossed with galangal, coriander root, green curry, coconut milk, then steamed and pan-seared, boast of the subtle flavours of Thai basil.

But there is more to basil. The slightly sweetish basil is a part of Italian cuisine. Whether it is pesto from the Ligurian region or a Pizza from Naples, or a Tomato and basil soup, the addition of the basil leaf is a must.

Again, the bold and balanced flavours of Mediterranean cuisines are characterised by herbs such as basil. The understated, fresh aroma of basil with its intense, but light taste, is the perfect ingredient for a Tomato Dandelion Salad.

Tamarind is a popular fruit which is used in cuisines all over the world. The fruit pulp is used in drinks, snacks, sorbets and most notably, Worcestershire sauce. In Thai cooking, tamarind is used in a variety of dishes including Pad Thai.

No Indian snacks are complete without the sweet and tangy tamarind or imli chutney. Used a souring agent in Indian cuisine, tamarind is extensively a part of dals, sambhar, curries too. Some chefs even use tamarind as a marinade, as besides adding flavour, tamarind helps to tenderize the meat.

And of course tamarind is a popular choice, as a base for many a tangy-sweet refreshing drink, apart from the Thai Nam Makham.

Globally, tamarind is often made use of as an ingredient in a salad dressing. With a dash of lemon juice, brown sugar and olive oil, this can prove to be a great dressing for strongly flavoured greens with apples and cashews. Chicken wings with tamarind mango glaze is another favourite.  And of course no one goes through summer in Mexico, without sipping the refreshing Aguas Frescas.

The coastal cities in India may be using coconut in various forms daily in their cooking in curries, chutney and desserts, but certain global cuisines make use of it also.

Thai food, Sri Lankan and Caribbean cuisine, are replete with coconut. Scraped coconut makes its way into several Sri Lankan curries amidst an array of flavours that the cuisine boasts of. Mallum is made from shredded leaves (kale, mustard greens, cabbage, or others) with scraped coconut, lime juice, onion, chili, and fish. Apart from that, a coconut roti with sauce is a popular dish in Sri Lanka. And of course several Sri Lankan sweets are made with desiccated coconut.

Coconut milk is widely used in Caribbean cuisine to add volume, creamy texture and flavour to a dish. Coconut is often married with curry and such a coconut curry, served with lobster, fish or chicken are spicy and sweet is common.  From rice or Johnny cakes subtly laced with coconut milk to super sweet coco brut candy, Belizean, Creole and Garifuna cuisine often incorporates this tropical mainstay. Muffin sized coconut tarts, empanada style ‘crusts’ stuffed with shredded coconut and creamy pies, are other typical desserts made with coconut.

Coconut milk is used as a base for many Thai curries as the rich flavour cuts through the spices.  No Thai meal is complete without the classic Thai soup with coconut milk, galangal and kaffir lime. Equally important in this cuisine is the Green, red or yellow curry, abounding in coconut milk and served with steamed rice.

Bird’s eye chilli and ginger are other such ingredients which foray into kitchens across the world, to enhance the flavours of food.

Back to Basics

Prawns Raw Mango Curry

Maa ke haath ka khaana has always been the preferred choice. Interestingly, this simple, rustic, home-style food is back and how

It is suddenly fashionable to eat basic food. And people clearly prefer that. Honest and simple food is what gourmets seek nowadays. Mother’s recipes with simple cooking techniques and rustic, natural flavours are sought after.

Home style food holds a special appeal for everyone as it is their comfort food. Also, more people are looking for authenticity.

Freshness is key to home style food. Not just buying fresh food but, the method of cooking also makes a great difference in retaining the freshness, flavours and nutrients of the dish, giving it that home-style touch.

The basic idea of home- style cooking is that the food is made in one go and consumed immediately. Home-style cooked food is not cooked and stored over a period of time for future meals. Ingredients are equally crucial when cooking a simple meal.

Emphasis on home-style cooked food with simple recipes from mothers and grandmothers is in.  Knowledge of masalas, blending of spices and ingredients, personal touch, that home makers possess is unparalleled.

Traditional recipes definitely have their own value. Home style food is a balanced meal of fat, protein, and roughage. It is prepared with a lesser usage of oil and spices to maintain that balance.

Home-style food experience can be achieved across global cuisines too. Hand-crafted pastas right from ‘Tajarin ai tartufi’- typical flat long pasta from “Piedmont to the ‘Pizzoccheri’- Ribbon shaped buck wheat flour pasta from “Lombardy”, are preferred.

So it is clearly time for  your favourite kadhi chawal or Prawns Balchao at home.

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A Mouthful of Southern Flavours

 

Jamavar

Kozhambus (curries), poriyals, kootus (vegetable dishes) and rice, may be the mainstay of meals in South India, but flavourful podis and chutneys, are equally an intrinsic part

A soft, fluffy idli is almost always, dipped into piping hot sambhar, but sometimes it is simply enjoyed, coated with the reddish dry gunpowder or milaga podi, to set one’s taste buds on fire. Gunpowder, is one of the most popular and commonly eaten podis in Southern India.

Bursting with varied flavours, podis and chutneys are multipurpose spice mixes that can enhance any meal. A unique culinary delight of South Indian cuisine, the Podi, a dry spice-mix, is made from a combination of lentils like chana dal, urad dal, tuvar dal, along with spices and condiments, such as sesame seed, chilies, fenugreek, curry leaves, coriander leaves, asafoetida and sometimes garlic, which are roasted and ground to make a coarse textured powder

These are usually an accompaniment to adais, idlis and dosas and often mixed with hot steamed rice and ghee or sesame oil drizzled on top. Apart from adding zest to a meal, the podis, at times, are also used as ready-to-use premixes for preparing dishes like sambhar, rasam, bisibele in households.

While podis are always dry, chutneys can be either dry or wet. Chutney is also called Thogayal or Thuvayal, in some parts of the South. There are many varieties of chutneys, some cooked and others made with vegetables. The primary ingredients remain the same, but vegetables vary depending upon the season and taste buds.

Fresh South Indian chutneys are smooth, uncooked purees, tempered with fried mustard seeds, dal, and curry leaves, that attributes a distinct flavour to a chutney. Cooked chutneys are soft and pulpy mixtures of cooked ingredients, again seasoned with fried mustard seeds, dal, and curry leaves. Chutneys in South India are usually made using the mortar pestle or Ammi Kallu, for the right texture and flavour.”

Kandi podi and Beerakaya Pachadi in Andhra Pradesh, Milaga podi and Kollu Kadyal or horsegram chutney in Tamil Nadu, Chamannthi podi in Kerala.  While these may be characteristic of each Southern State, the ingredients of these chutneys and podis, are largely common, with minor variations.

Primarily, it is only the spice quotient and perhaps the combination and proportion of dals and lentils, that differs in podis, thus introducing a variety in different parts of South India.

Podi and pachchidi (chutney) is the first course of any traditional Andhra meal unlike other regions, where it is usually sambar and rice. Podis from Andhra Pradesh tend to be more fiery.

The flaming hot kandi podi or gunpowder made from equal portions of tuvar, chana and moong dal with red chilies and cumin (jeera), is perhaps the most famous podi here, even though it is consumed elsewhere too. A must in every household, it sets the taste buds tingling. Gunpowder is typically eaten with rice and ghee. If it is paired with dosas and idlis, or even the green gram pesarattu, it is usually mixed with oil to temper the spice.

Nalla Karam Podi, another typical Andhra-style podi, similar to gun powder, is made with tamarind, garlic, red chilies and urad dal. Roasted groundnuts or peanuts, dry red chilies, garlic and salt, with a distinctive smoky flavour make the Chennakai podi, while Nuvvulu podi is made with sesame seeds and dried red chilies.

If podis are palate-tickling, the chutneys of Andhra are equally legendary. Korivikaram Chutney with Curry Leaf, tamarind, chilies is famous, as is the crunchy peanut chutney.

 

And, while a typical podi in Tamil Nadu is made from the combination of the various dals, peanuts, kopra (dried coconut), sugar, curry leaves, tamarind, dried red chilies and a pinch of asafetida, other specialties of this state are; Kollu or Kaanam podi, made with horse gram, a staple of Tamil Nadu, Flaxseed or Paruppu podi, made with toor dal and flaxseeds and Karivepillai podi made with curry leaves, tamarind, urad dal and chilies. Of course, here too gunpowder or milaga podi, remains popular, served with idlis and ghee.

Coconut, a key ingredient here, is used to make a podi, to which only a few chilies are added. Endu Kobbari Podi or dry coconut spice mix powder, is another versatile coconut-based powder stocked in every kitchen. This podi has a strong nutty flavor with a subtle spice taste and a hint of sweetness, owing to the combination of lentils, dry red chilis, garlic and dry coconut, which are roasted in oil, till the aromas are released and ground to make a fine powder.

Who can eat a Tamil Brahmin meal and not savour the ubiquitous coconut chutney? Apart from a basic chutney with coconut, chana dal and a tempering of mustard seeds, curry leaves, other variants include coriander, tomatoes and even onions. Sometimes curd is added to a coconut chutney, to impart sourness and the right consistency.

Equally popular here are; the tasty Parangi kai or yellow pumpkin chutney which is commonly paired with Ragi Adai for breakfast, the unique gooseberry chutney called Nellikkai, which is relished with curd rice and the tomato chutney with Kanchipuram idli.

In Karnataka, the standard podi also called, chutney pudi, requires urad dal, chana dal, toor dal, grated coconut, dried red chilies (Guntur and Byadgi), curry leaves, tamarind, jaggery, and salt. It is seasoned with mustard seeds and turmeric.

Here, tamarind and jaggery are added to podis, instead of garlic and roasted peanuts, which are common in Tamil Nadu, informs Chef Jacob. Again, instead of hing, cinnamon powder and coconut, form the combination for podis with lentils and other spices.

One cannot be in Karnataka and not taste Bisibele Bhath, a delicacy of this region, which can be prepared using the podi pre-mix and rice.

Typically, in Kerala, podis are made on the stone mortar and pestle, for the right texture.

While the Chammanthi podi or roasted coconut chutney powder, is synonymous with Kerala, Kothamali podi or coriander leaves podi with urad dal, red chilies, tamarind, is popular too. But it is the Avalos Podi, made from roasted rice flour and grated coconut,  that is unique to this region.

What sets the Coconut chutney from Kerala apart, is the absence of the roasted gram which is used by the other Southern states. Sour green mangoes are another popular ingredient  for chutneys.

Thottu kootan, a simple chutney-like side dish which is a mixture of sour, sweet, and spicy flavours to offset the richness of a meat curry or to enhance the flavours of a lentil, is widely eaten. This can be made with tomatoes or green chilies, or even vegetables like okra and bitter gourd.The delectable, sweet-sour Pulinji or bitter gourd chutney made from bitter gourd, tamarind and ginger, is a delicacy known for its distinct flavour.

It is not only for that extra zing or diverse flavours that podis or chutneys are eaten with a meal. these help in digestion and are quick supplements of protein too, since most of these, use lentils in some form or the other.