One of the specialties of our cooking involves the use of home grown herbs and spices. Many houses had/still have a small patch in the backyard, where women would grow some mint, curry leaves, Doddapathre, coriander leaves, chillies, ginger, turmeric, etc. These plants were not only very easy to grow, but also had medicinal value.
Doddapathre is a very well known herb around Bangalore. It can be very easily propagated from cuttings. It is called ‘Cuban Oregano’ in English. The juice of the leaves is great for hives and itching of the skin, and is applied to the skin. It is also great for coughs and colds.
The leaves have a very strong flavor, which you can get just by touching. Here is a picture of the Doddapathre in our backyard-
Doddapathre, is used to make a cool, raitha with buttermilk, called ‘Thambuli’. Thambuli is served with rice, or can also be made a refreshing drink.
The leaves can also be used to make Fritters or bajji.
1. Doddapathre leaves- 10-12, washed and chopped
2. Ghee- 1/2 tbsp
3. Fresh gratedcoconut- 1 tbsp
4. Jeera- 1/2 tsp
5. Peppercorns- 4
6. Red Chillies- 1 or 2, depending on the spiciness
7. Salt- To taste
8. Buttermilk- 2 cups
9. Oil- 2 tsp
10. Mustard seeds- 1/4 tsp
12. Asafetida- a pinch
Heat the ghee in a small pan, add the Jeera, peppercorns and red chilli, fry for 10 seconds. Add the cut Doddapathre, and sauté till it wilts. Add the coconut and sauté for a few more seconds. Remove from the heat and cool completely.
Grind the mixture well with the buttermilk, or curd. Add salt. Make a tadka with oil, mustard seeds and asafetida, and add to the thambuli. Serve with hot rice.
Our Karnataka cuisine includes many types of spiced up rice varieties, which we call ‘Chitra Anna’. There are many different types of Chitra anna. I have written the recipe for the tangy tamarind type below, made from a spicy, sweetish, tamarind sauce called ‘Gojju’. Gojju is supposed to be a perfect mixture of all the 4 basic tastes- sour, sweet, salt and bitter, pepped up with a little spice. Though this dish used to be made from scratch back home, the recipe below is more like an instant version and cooks up very fast. ‘Gojjina Chitranna’ is very popular on festivals, and is also served a lot in temples.
1.Rasam Powder- 3 Tsp( adjust according to spiciness needed)
2. Tamarind paste( Tamcon)- 3/4 Tbsp OR Water from a golf ball sized tamarind ball
3. Jaggery powder- 2 to 3 Tbsp( approximately)
4. Peanuts- 1/4 cup( I love peanuts and add a lot, so it does not really need to be so much)
5. Dry grated coconut- 1 Tbsp
6. Turmeric powder- 1/4 Tsp
7. Curry Leaves- 1 Sprig
8. Whole Red chilies- 2
8. Asafetida- 1/8 Tsp
9. Mustard seeds- 1/2 Tsp
10. Channa Daal- 1 Tsp
12. Urad Daal- 1 Tsp
13. Oil- 4 Tbsp
14. Salt- To taste
Roast the following till the sesame starts popping, and powder coarsely in a dry grinder-
15. Sesame seeds( eLLu)- 1 Tbsp
16. Fenugreek seeds(Menthya)- 1/2 Tsp
Make a runny paste of the rasam powder, tamarind, jaggery, turmeric powder, a little asafetida and salt with water. Heat the oil in a kadai, fry the peanuts and keep aside. make a tempering of mustard seeds, channa daal, urad daal, red chilies, asafetida and curry leaves. Reduce the flame and add the tamarind paste mixture, otherwise it will splutter hot oil all over. Add the dry coconut and peanuts and simmer the mixture till it thickens well and all the oil starts settling on the top. Add the powdered sesame and fenugreek seeds and mix well. This gojju can be made in advance and stored in an airtight container for up to 15 days in the fridge.
Mix well with cooked rice to make Chitranna, and top off with some fresh, chopped coriander. It can also be eaten with Chapathi, Dosa or idlis.