Thursday, January 10, 2008


Garlic is one of the ingredients proscribed by yoga, because it is considered to be rajsik, or heat and emotion-inducing. Well, I dunno if it's the garlic I eat but I'm a pretty volatile person. I love garlic on almost anything except desserts - garlic soup, garlic mashed potatoes, garlic aloo tikkis and what not. My favourite way to spice up a simple and bland dal - which my cook sometimes turns out - is to quickly fry a little bit of garlic slivers in oil and garnish the dal. It instantly perks it up and breathes life and savour into it.

Garlic is also often used as a curative. When I had brochitis attacks as a kid in Mysore, ajji used to get roasted garlic pods and make me eat them. It's also used in masala or pepper rasam sometimes to keep cough and cold at bay ( or maybe just to get through to the palate despite the stuffy nose :))And if I needed any excuse to overuse garlic, it's also considered to be good for cholesterol and for anti-ageing. And of course, it keeps away vampires too!

I rounded up a whole list of dishes I made recently in which garlic was a star contributor to the taste, including my secret sauce, muhammara and soup. But what I made specially for Sunita's event was the sagu. Sagu is a typical Karnataka dish made with mixed vegetables cooked in a juicy sauce. It's had served hot with fresh puris, but also tastes great with rice or rotis or even with a baguette dunked into it. In France, since frozen mixed veggies were easily available and a breeze to cook, sagu often found its way on the menu, though perforce I had to use dessicated coconut instead of fresh since we couldn't find a way to break the fresh coconuts we got there - they were too hard, even when hit with a hammer!

I also made my winter staple of saaru with dill and garlic. This is a variant of the traditional rasam and works equally well as a soup or served with hot rice. I had earlier given the recipe for saarina pudi or rasam powder on my blog - you can link to it from the garlic soup link above.

I cup each each of beans, carrots, potatoes, cauliflower, peas and broccoli if you like, and 1 onion. The beans, carrots and potatoes to be cut into 2 inch long pieces, about 1 cm thick. Onion diced large.
1/2 coconut, grated ( use fresh, else soak dessicated coconut - 1 cup - in hot water)
4-5 garlic pods, peeled
2 inch stick of cinnamon
4-5 cloves
3-4 black peppers
2-3 green chillies
1 large handful coriander leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 handful roasted chana dal - roast peeled bengal gram, available at Indian grocery stores( bhuna hua chana)

Grind the coconut, garlic, chana, coriander, chillies, cinnamon, cloves, pepper and cumin seeds together until finely ground.
Meanwhile, cook the cut vegetables in a litre of salted water, starting with the slowest cooking and moving onto the faster ones, e.g. start with potatoes. When they're slightly done, add the carrots, then the beans, then the cauliflower, then the peas and broccoli and lastly the onions.
When all the vegetables are cooked till soft but not mushy, add the ground mixture into this, stir to mix and bring to the boil.
Turn off the heat and garnish with a traditional south indian tadka - heat 1 tbsp oil and add black mustard seeds into it. When they are done popping, put in a dried red chilli and handful of curry leaves and turn off the heat.

Dill-Garlic Rasam
Handful of dill leaves, chopped into 1 cm segments
3-4 pods of garlic, peeled
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp rasam powder
1 lime sized ball of tamarind, soaked in 1 cup hot water for 15 minutes
1 cup cooked toovar dal ( pigeon peas)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste

Pound the dill, garlic and cumin seeds together in a mortar until they are well cruched and mixed up.
Squeeze the tamarind ball in the hot water to get all the juice out and strain the tamarind water. put it on to boil, until the raw smell of the tamarind goes away.
Then add the rasam powder, turmeric powder and the garlic-dill leaves-cumin seeds mixture and let it boil for a few minutes.
When the kitchen turns spicily fragrant, add the toovar dal and 1/2 litre of water. You can add a little more or less water to thin out the dal to your liking.
Bring to the boil and then turn off the heat.
Garnish with the tadka - 1 tbsp home made ghee, melted on the stove; then add mustard seeds into it and wait for the pop, and lastly add curry leaves and wait till they turn crisp.


sunita said...

Thanks for your entry .

Mansi Desai said...

sounds like a nice combination:)

bird's eye view said...

Welcome, Sunita. It was fun and I'll be watching out for your next spice of the month.

Mansi - the sagu is a family favourite - and so simple too. Do try it.