Sometime in November last year, I lost a bet over something silly with my friend. Incidentally, we’d agreed that whoever lost the bet would treat the other to lunch at the place of the other’s choice. And that’s how I landed at Mahamudra, a restaurant started under the aegis of Isha Life that is connected with Sadhguru Jaggi Vasudev’s Isha Foundation.
I’d read a review of this restaurant in a newspaper and had been planning to go there for a long time. I’m equally at ease experimenting with different cuisines and strange unpronounceable names as I am with ‘local exotica’ from the motherland’s ‘backyard’ as the restaurant proudly explains its food.
It has an array of dalia (broken samba wheat /godhuma rava) based dishes which would simply bowl anyone over. Replace rice with dalia in your typical bisibele bhat or pongal and you’ll end up with a superb variation of your standard preparation that is healthier to boot (I’ll write a post on how to prepare both these items in the coming days)! Another dish that I first had here that has found a way into my everyday menu is keerai (palak/spinach) poriyal, a dry spinach curry.
Most versions of this dish are made with onions and/or garlic. Although it tastes real good, the onion/garlic flavour ends up being the dominant flavour. But the version served here is prepared with coconut and allows the subtle taste of the greens to stand out.
Here’s how I prepare it.
Keerai Poriyal with coconut
Keerai (any variety of your choice except gongura/pulicha keerai, which is sour in taste) – 1 bunch
Coconut grated – 1 tbsp
Red chillies – 2
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Urad dal – 1 tsp
Hing – 1 pinch
Chop off the bottom end of the spinach bunch and rinse the bottom half directly under water. This way, all the dirt/mud will be washed off making the rest easier to clean
Wash the greens thoroughly in two-three changes of water
Boil a pot of water and dunk washed spinach bunch. Let it stay like this for 15 mins
Remove spinach using tongs and put them into another pot containing cold water
(This method is called blanching and stops the vegetable from cooking any further)
Spinach will be fully cooked and tender at this stage
Take it out f the water after a couple of mins and chop it up roughly
Heat oil and splutter mustard seeds
Once they stop popping, add urad dal. As it starts to change colour, add red chillies, followed by a pinch of hing
Add chopped spinach and salt when chillies turn bright red and bloat up. Stir for a minute and switch off flame.
Add grated coconut and mix thoroughly. Serve.
Today, I altered this standard recipe to include grated carrots basically to increase the quantity of the curry and also to make it visually more appealing. I added grated 2 small carrots to the work after spluttering mustard, urad dal and red chillies. I sautéed it for about 5 minutes before adding the spinach.
Cooking spinach like this retains its colour and, more importantly, ensures that most of the vitamins and minerals aren’t lost in direct contact with the hot wok (I read this somewhere)
Do not discard the hot water in which the spinach was cooked. It’ll be light green in colour and has a very mild spinach flavour. You could use it for cooking rice, thinning gravies and rasam or even in preparing soup stock.
The other dishes in the pictures are cucumber salad and mixed coloured capsicum vethai-kozhambu (capsicums in a spicy, tangy gravy)
Quick salad recipe
1 tbsp moon dal soaked in 3 tbsp water for 30 mins
Cucumber – 1 small, chopped fine
Green Coriander – 1 tbsp, chopped fine
Grated raw mango – 2 tbsp (quantity can vary depending on how tangy you like it)
Drain water from soaked moong dal. Add all other ingredients. Serve.
Quick vethai kozhambu recipe
Coloured capsicum – 1 cup
Tamarind paste – 1 tbsp (1 cup if it is thin tamarind water)
Sambhar powder – 2 tsp
Dry red chillies – 2
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – a few
Oil – 1 tsp
Heat oil in a wok
Splutter mustard seeds. Add red chillies.
Add curry leaves, immediately followed by capsicum when chillies turn bright red
Sauté for 2 mins
Add tamarind paste/water
Cook for 7-8 mins
Add water depending on desired consistency
Take off heat and serve
A friend came back to me saying that while the blog was interesting, the recipes got lost out in the end. Do let me know if you feel like that too. I’ll try to highlight the recipe part or fit in a link to the same right at the start. But I’ll have to figure out how to do that! It is taking me quite some effort finding my way around the blog. She also told me that most of the dishes mentioned here sound difficult to accomplish for someone like her who’s just starting to cook. I’ll try and incorporate regular fare too. Incidentally, the curry and vethai kuzhambu recipes today were a step in that direction. Hope these doesn’t seem intimidating!