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
- 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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