Guest Post for RCI Karnataka: Menasina Saaru

A very dear friend of mine, Mekhala who is one enthusiastic and exceptional cook, was thrilled at the idea of RCI Karnataka. She is a regular reader of many of our blogs, but since she doesn’t have a blog of her own (yet!), I invited her over to Kitchen Aromas to do a guest post for the event. Here is her entry showcasing a true taste of Karnataka, on its way over to Asha! Mekhala will address all your comments and questions directly in the comments section.

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This simple saaru is Mysore style, traditional to most South Karnataka homes. The black pepper broth, mixed with fresh soft rice and a spoon of ghee is literally prescribed for the sick and the weak, which includes women in their post-partum period. Unlike some other menasina saaru recipes, this one does not use the toor dal base. Milk is used as the base for this and it contributes to the protein content. Understandably so, since it is easily digestible by a sick person. The jaggery in it contributes to the Calcium and Iron content. In some households, this is also called Haal Menasu, literally meaning Milk-Pepper in Kannada! Pepper as a traditional healing spice aids in soothing any sore throat. Cumin helps in alleviating what is termed as ‘pittha dosha’ in Ayurveda. Curry leaves and hing add to the flavor, apart from lending their healing properties. Clarified butter/ghee aids in digestion. I love to sip this saaru like soup, sometimes without the rice. If you use rice, make sure it is super soft, else this saaru doesn’t lend well. Sona masoori rice cooked in the 1:3 (rice to water) ratio works very well. This saaru can get a little pepper-spicy; you can adjust the quantity of pepper to your tolerance level.

While too much pepper is not recommended as it increases body heat, too little renders the saaru useless for healing. So, enjoy this whenever you are feverish or have a sore throat or simply to up your spirits on a gloomy day!                                                                                                              

The recipe for this wonderful concoction follows below.

Mekhala’s Menasina Saaru – for RCI Karnataka

Ingredients to grind into powder:

  • 1 tsp Split black lentils/Urad dal
  • 1-2 tsps Black pepper corns
  • 1 tsp Cumin
  • 1/2 tsp Corriander seeds
  • 2 tsps Desiccated coconut gratings
  • a pinch of Hing
  • 1/2 tsp Ghee

Other ingredients:

  • 1 cup Water
  • 1 cup Milk
  • 1 tsp Crushed Jaggery
  • 1 sprig of Curry leaves
  • Salt to taste

Ingredients for the tempering:

  • 1/2 tsp Ghee
  • 1/2 tsp Mustard seeds 


  • Heat the ghee, add Urad dal and roast until almost light brown. Add remaining ingredients except coconut gratings. Roast until fine aroma wafts through the air and everything is nicely toasted, not charred. Best indicator to take off the heat is when the peppers start popping.

  • Grind this with the desiccated coconut and keep aside.

  • In a sauce pan, allow 1 cup of water to boil, add the ground powder, jaggery, salt and curry leaves and boil for 5-6 minutes.

  • Add milk and let it boil once. Turn off the heat.

  • To temper, let the mustard seeds splutter in hot ghee and add it to the broth.

  • Taste for spiciness and salt. You can add more milk and jaggery to suit your palate.

  • Serve with fresh, soft rice and half a tsp of ghee.


* If your grinder does not grind ghee toasted spices, it is ok to dry roast. Grind all the spices and urad dal once before adding the desiccated coconut and grinding again into a fine powder.

* Hing can be added at the time of tempering too.

* Sugar can be substituted for jaggery but the nutritional value and special flavor are lost.


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40 thoughts on “Guest Post for RCI Karnataka: Menasina Saaru

  1. Roopa amd Mekhala, thanks to both of you so much!:))

    Mekhala, this Menasina saaru really looks delicious. Usually, it’s cumin and Pepper, but adding coconut and Dhania, I can imagine the yummy taste.Thanks for posting, I will add it in your name. Thanks again Mekhala, see you at the round up!:))

  2. Thanks Asha. We were looking to blog on a not so familiar kannada recipe and this we felt was one of them. Dhania can be optional. Some recipes use it while some don’t. It does change the taste subtly. Most of our homes use desiccated coconut though. Adding coconut gives a little more texture/thicker consistency to the saaru.

  3. Latha, Nags, Suganya, Raaga and happy cook. thanks for all your comments. Happy Cook, I just blogged from my home here in the North East! I do wish I could hop over to Roopa’s everyday!

  4. Thanks to your friend Mekhala we got to know such wonderful recipe. I know one of my friend add milk in moong saaru, so I can imagine how that tasted…thanks R & M team

  5. Thanks to all for your wonderful comments. Maybe I should get Mekhala to do guest posts more often than just for events!

    Happy Cook – wouldn’t that be nice to have her over every so often! What could be better than company of old friends and good food! 😉

  6. Mekhala thank so for all the valuable informtation about this dish and its various components. Can’t wait for you to start your own blog and share many other dishes with us.

    Roopa, you are a good friend, not only to Mekhala but also to all of us for introudcing such a lovely lady to us. Looking forward to hearing and seeing more from both of you.

  7. Hi Roopa, I don’t think I’ve seen your blog before this — thanks for commenting at mine so I could find yours.

    Mekhala, your lovely saaru looks so tempting, cheer on a gloomy day indeed. And decadent with ghee for roasting spices and tempering — I have been using mostly oil if anything, but this seems to deserve the flavor of ghee 🙂

    Look forward to reading more of your blog, Roopa, and to reading yours too Mekhala, when you get it going 🙂


  8. hi mekhala,
    never heard of adding milk to a pepper spiced curry:)
    saaru looks delicious and healthy.
    thanks for sharing the wonderful recipe .many thanks to roopa for introducing ur friend .

  9. This is so unusual, Roopa! To me, this is the best part of food blogs, learning about traditional recipes that would never be found in the glossy cookbooks. The saaru looks delicious.

  10. Thanks everybody for your encouraging comments. I will try to bring more unique recipes, am not sure about starting my own blog though.

    This recipe is not the one you would make on a daily basis, its only when u feel sick. Obviously, as a child I never appreciated its true value. Post-partum, traditionally, this is all we get to eat for 40 days, ofcourse with plenty of veggies but no dal, with every meal 🙂 So, you either cultivate a taste for it or you dislike it the most.

    Although I dont leave many comments, I visit all of your blogs frequently, thank you all for your wonderful contributions.

  11. go girl! This recipe brought back fond memories, memories of those good old times in India. Menasina saru (malag rasam as we call it) is one of my favorites but I have never tried it with milk (or at laest I don’t remember ) this is something to look fwd to when I fall sick :). I agree with should start your blog soon!! Now that both you and Roopa have started food blogging…is it my turn? never know 😉

  12. I read some of the posts and I think it is a great site. Are you playing with my longings height I have a nice joke. What is the difference between a photocopier and the whooping cough? One makes facsimiles and the other makes sick families.

  13. Mekhela ,

    thank you for the wonderful recipe.
    I had heard about the ‘saaru’,but didn’t know the recipe;hope this is the authentic one.

  14. My mom used to make this on cold rainy days in Bangalore. I had been looking for this recipe for so long and found it an hour ago. I already roasted the dry ingredients and the menasina saaru should be done shortly. Thank you for the recipe.

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