February 10, 2006

Everything tastes better with cashews - Upkari

My very first guest in my new home in the U.S. I was in a complete tizzy - what do I serve a vegetarian who was sorely missing home cooked meals? It had to be fancy enough to be served to a guest but simple enough to lift his spirits (I had been requested to stay away from paneer, kofta etc!).

I decided to make this upkari; a staple at our religious functions. Well if it's good enough for the Gods... At lunchtime I casually asked him if he liked ivy gourds. "Not at all", came the response. To cut a long story short he did try the upkari because the cashews were hard to resist and ended up liking it after all. It was a happy meal for everyone involved ;-)

A preparation such as this is common throughout the south, though the names (palya, poriyal) and vegetables (beans, plantain, cabbage) may vary. It is prepared as a side to curries, is undeniably simple to make and delicious.

upkari2

TENDLI KAJU UPKARI (Ivy Gourd-Cashew Stir fry)
2 cups ivy gourds, quartered
10 cashewnuts, halved
2 tbsp grated coconut
salt and jaggery to taste
Seasoning -
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 dry red chilli
2 green chillies, chopped
1 tsp black gram (urad dal)
5-6 curry leaves
a pinch of asafoetida
oil

Cook gourds in just enough water. They retain their crispness and flavor if cooked in this manner, so try not to use a pressure cooker.

When they are almost done, add cashews. Drain thoroughly once cashews have turned tender. Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. When they begin to splutter add asafoetida, curry leaves, red chilli, green chilli and black gram. Saute till dal turns golden.

Add gourds and cashews. Continue to saute for a few minutes. Season with salt and jaggery. Sprinkle grated coconut on top, mix well and serve immediately.

* This upkari (beeja manoli/ bibbe) is actually made with raw cashews that are in season in April-May but cooking the dry nut in water gives the closest possible taste.

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14 Comments:

Blogger Reshma said...

we call this 'upperi/varavu' in kerala:) and you are right, no masking with garam masala, and no killing the vegetable in this!

3:00 AM  
Blogger sailu said...

Nice recipe of gherkins and cashewnuts,Ashwini.

8:31 AM  
Blogger Nupur said...

mmm...thanks for an inspiring recipe idea!

12:45 PM  
Blogger Shilpa said...

wow Ashwini, I felt very happy to see this recipe on your blog. I just love this upkari, for that matter anything cooked out of tendli. Is tendli available in here in USA? I did not find it anywhere :(.

7:53 PM  
Blogger Ashwini said...

Reshma - Ah yes upperi. I was trying to remember what the name was! I like minimal treatment to vegetables too.
Thanks Sailu and Nupur
Shilpa - tendli is my favorite too!Tendli is available here. Look in international markets. If you dont get them fresh, you will definitely get them frozen at the Indian grocers. Won't taste the same but if you love tendli...:-)

9:47 PM  
Blogger Garam Masala said...

This is something new for me! True, anything with cashews does make the dish festive!

10:27 AM  
Blogger Ashwini said...

GM - its got a unique taste, do try it.

11:08 AM  
Blogger BDSN said...

Hi Ashwini..
Gherkins.never heard of it..... looks like Tindoora.......Well it is really interesting combination u have come up with....thx for sharing...I might give a try..

11:32 AM  
Blogger Ashwini said...

BDSN - you are right, gherkin is tindora in Hindi and Tendli in Marathi/ Konkani. Do let me know how you like it.

11:59 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I liked the preparation. I gave it an additional punch by adding some haldi (tumeric), jaggery and about a spoon of curds. I kind of like the yellowish tinge haldi gives and the background sweet-sour flavour from jaggery and curds.

4:55 PM  
Blogger Ashwini said...

Anon, glad you liked the dish. Btw my mum compulsorily adds jaggery to all veges saying it brings out the other flavors. Adding curd is a good idea since there is no souring ingredient.

11:54 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Hi Ashwini,
Had your gherkin upkari for lunch today and was reminded of a meal I'd had in Manglore many years ago, served on a plantain leaf,there was tondli upkari, rice, rasam, mango pickle and fried rice papad...so simple, yet so delicious,it will never fade from memory...since then I was in search of this recipe..thanks a lot!

2:52 PM  
Blogger Ashwini said...

Anon so glad you liked the upkari. The meal in Mangalore sounds delicous... its the simplest ones that we remember the most dont we?

5:31 PM  
Anonymous Ashu said...

nice recipe! had this once in ankola! Just loved it!

12:55 PM  

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