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3 must-try winter recipes from Karnataka

From avarekalu upma to heerlekai gojju, these dishes hit the right spot with their tangy and spicy taste

Nellikai chitranna is a tangier version of the much-loved lemon rice.
Nellikai chitranna is a tangier version of the much-loved lemon rice. (Needpix)

In an episode of Gilmore Girls, the titular character, Lorelai Gilmore, rushes out in the middle of the night and stands on the road, adamant that it’s going to snow. The weather forecast and her partner try telling her it’s not yet time, but for Lorelai, it’s a feeling that can’t be dismissed—and it snows. The joy on her face has always felt familiar; it’s the feeling I savour when winter arrives. When the temperature drops, I crave pepper rasam.

There is nothing better than drinking the hot, spicy, and tangy concoction of pepper rasam or eating avarekalu saaru (hyacinth beans curry) with piping hot rice for a winter meal. If you take a walk around Bengaluru during winter, you are bound to come back with some avarekalu (hyacinth beans) or luscious peas. So, here are some simple winter recipes that you try.

Also read: From tambli to chutney, the appeal of Karnataka-style dishes using peels

Avarekalu upma (Hyacinth beans upma)

You might have heard of avarekalu sagu or rice bath but it might come as a surprise for some that it can also be part of breakfast recipes. Upma is a staple for many in Karnataka, and it's eaten at least once a week. During winters, when there is avarekalu is abundantly available, people also use it to make upma.

It’s a simple recipe that can be easily made on busy days. To start it off, cook the avarekalu in a pressure cooker with water and salt for one whistle. In a pan, heat a bit of oil, add mustard seeds, Bengal gram dal, green chillies, chopped onion, and ginger and sauté for a few minutes. Once the onions become translucent, add turmeric, followed by tomatoes. After the tomatoes turn soft, add water and salt and bring it to a boil. To this add the boiled avarekalu and semolina and let it cook on low flame for some time. Mix it well before you serve.

Nellikai chitranna (Gooseberry lemon rice)

Lemon rice is a comfort food that is the quickest to make. The tangy taste of lemon juice blends perfectly well with rice to offer a refreshing taste. During winter, nellikai (amla or Indian goosebery), which is abundantly available, in the markets is used to elevate the taste by adding a bit of sourness.

Cooking this type of lemon rice is as simple as it sounds. You can start by making a paste of coconut, nellikai, tamarind, jaggery, cumin seeds, turmeric, and some coriander leaves. Next, in a pan sauté groundnuts along with mustard seeds and Bengal gram. As they splutter, add the ground paste into this and cook for a few minutes. Once done, add it to rice to make the winter special, nellikai chitranna.

Heerlekai gojju (Citron gojju)

Heerlekai or citron is an aromatic citrus fruit that looks like a big lemon. It’s especially available in winter months but in recent times, people can find it throughout the year in some Bengaluru markets. A popular dish that’s made with heerlekai is pickle—a favourite in many households. One might also come across heerlekai chitranna wherein the citrus fruit elevates the popular dish with its tanginess.

However, it’s this gojju that often steals the show. To make it, roast fenugreek, cumin, and sesame seeds, asafoetida, and chillies. Cool this mixture then grind it with grated coconut and jaggery to make a paste. Add salt and sauté this paste in a pan until the oil separates. To this, add the heerlekai juice and cook for two minutes. You can relish this with rice or chapati.

Also read: Karnataka’s hyper-local fare enters fine-dining spaces

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