Gravy (Curry and daals)

Tomato Saar (Tomato saru)

Most of the Konkani dishes contain coconut as the main ingredient. But a very few dishes like ‘Tomato saru’,which does not contain coconut, are very famous. I guess these were prepared when the ladies were bored of cooking and still wanted to prepare something delicious. My aayi usually prepared this for dinner.

In North Kanara, people usually cook(except rice, which is prepared fresh for lunch/dinner) in the morning for both lunch & dinner. Sometimes when the main dishes get over in the lunch, simple items like this is prepared for dinner. (Mainly because, people did not have electric mixer or grinders at home. Grinding was done using the hand grinders. So all the cooking was done once in a day. A lot has changed in recent years. All the people have these electric appliances, but since most of the places i am refering to are villages and there is power cut 10 hrs a day, and sometimes more than that, people still follow the old tradition of cooking once in a day).

Tomatos(ripe) 2
Green chillies 2
Sambar powder 1 tea spn
Sugar 1/2 tea spn
Mustard 1/2 tea spn
Cumin seeds(Jeera) 1/2 tea spn
Asafoetida(hingu) a pinch
Coriander leaves 3-4 strands
Oil/ghee 1/2 tea spn
Curry leaves 1

Heat oil and add mustard and jeera. When they start spluttering, add curry leaves, slitted green chillies and asafoetida. Fry for sometime. Add 3 cups of water and tomatoes cut into big cubes. Cover and cook till tomatoes become soft. Add salt, sugar and sambar powder. Cook for 1min. Garnish with coriander leaves.
Serve hot with rice.

Serves : 2
Preparation time : 10min

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Onion Tambli (Kande tamboli/tambli)

This is ‘the most wanted recipe’ of aayisrecipes, because many people had asked me to post this. For no reason I kept it on hold till now. Finally today I thought its the time to post it.

Now let me write something about this dish. This can be either prepared with spring onion or the normal onion. When I was a kid my aayi prepared this with spring onion, which I loved to grow in our garden. Since raw onion is used, this dish is not for those who do not prefer eating raw onion(like me!!). This dish has hardly 2-3 steps, so I can say this is one of the easy-to-do dishes.

Onion or spring onion (chopped) 1/2 cup
Coconut 3/4 cup
Tamarind extract 1/2 tea spn
Red chillies 4-5

Grind together coconut, tamarind and red chillies to a very smooth paste, adding sufficient water.
Mix salt and onions with hand. Add these onions to ground masala and mix well.
Serve with rice. (This gravy is not cooked. So keep it refrigerated. Remove from refrigerator 1/2 an hour before serving).

Serves : 3
Preparation time : 10min

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Bhindi curry (Bhende-Olli mirsangi ambat)

Let me first translate the Konkani name into English. ‘Bhindi’ is called as ‘bhende’ in Konkani. ‘Olli mirssangi’ is ‘green chillies’ and ‘ambat’ is ‘gravy’ in konkani. This name is to distinguish between the gravies we make with red chillies and this one.Some people use Potato and Tomato instead of bhindi(okra) for this dish. Aayi usually uses bhindi for this gravy.

Most of the vegetables used in North Kanara food are grown in their own garden. The bhindi which we get in North Kanara is of light parrot green color and big in size compared to the dark green bhindi we usually get in Bangalore and other places. There is a slight differentin taste also. But still I use any kind of bhindi available with me for this dish.

Bhindi(Okra) cut into round pieces 1 cup
Coconut 1 cup
Mustard seeds 1 tea spn
Curry leaves 1 strand
Green chillies 4
Asafoetida(hingu) a pinch
Tamarind extract 1/2 tea spn
Ghee 1 tea spn

Grind together coconut, tamarind and green chillies to a smooth paste.
Heat ghee and add mustard seeds. When they start spluttering, add asafoetida and curry leaves. Add bhindi and salt. Fry for 4-5 mins. Add 1/2 cup water, cover and cook.When bhindi is almost cooked, add the ground masala. Cook for until the masala and bhindi are completely done.
Serve hot with rice.

Serves : 3
Preparation time : 20min

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Curry with greens (Vali bhajji Ambat)

This is a very popular dish from North Kanara. Vali bhajji (bhajji or bhaji means Greens) is a kind of greens grown in almost every backyard there. The leaves(“pallo” in Konkani) and stems(called “dentu” in Konkani) of this are used for making different kinds of curries. It can be used with prawns, khubbe(a kind of shellfish) and many more.

Few days back one of our friend mentioned about Vali bhajji ambat with Garlic. So I wanted to prepare it immediately (Yes..If I feel like preparing something I have to do it, otherwise I wont get good sleep!!!). So I thought of an alternative, I used spinach in the place of Vali bhajji and the taste was still great.

3 cups Vali bhajji(Basale soppu) or spinach
3/4 cup toor dal
1/2 cup onion
1/2 cup fresh/frozen coconut
5 red chillies
1 tea spn coriander seeds
1 tea spn chopped garlic
A pinch turmeric
1/4 tea spn tamarind extract
1 tea spn jaggery or sugar(optional)

Cook dal, bhajji, chopped onion with a pinch of turmeric.
Heat oil and fry coriander seeds. Grind with coconut, tamarind, red chillies to a smooth paste.
Mix the cooked dal with masala and salt. Add sufficient water to bring it to gravy consistency. Cook till masala is completely done. Remove from heat.
Heat oil and add garlic. Fry till they turn slightly brown in color. Add it to curry & close the lid immediately to retain the flavor of garlic.
Serve hot with rice.

Serves : 3-4
Preparation time : 30min

PS: Many people don’t add toor dal to this dish. We add for thickness.

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Radish curry(Mulangi ambat)

This is a traditional recipe from North Kanara. I never used to like it when I was kid. Aayi used to prepare it well, but i never used to touch it. Now when I have grown up & learnt cooking, just for the sake of trying, I tried it and liked it very much. It may be because, I have come to US and I have a limited choice of vegetables here. Because whenever I go to market here, there will be only 5-6 types of vegetables that I recognize from the whole lot they have. Same case with fruits also. Thanks to dessicated coconut we bought from Indian grocery shop, I am somehow managing with my Aayi’s cooking.

2 cups radish(chopped)
½ cup toor dal
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup fresh/frozen coconut
1/4 tea spn tamarind extract
4-5 red chillies
A pinch asafoetida(optional)
A pinch turmeric
1 tea spn coriander seeds

Heat oil and fry coriander seeds. Grind together coconut, red chillies, asafoetida, tamarind to a smooth paste.
Cook dal, 1/4 cup onion(finely chopped) and radish with a pinch of turmeric in pressure cooker.
Heat oil and fry remaining finely chopped onions till onions turn slightly brownish. Add cooked dal, radish and ground paste. Add salt and cook till paste is done(almost takes 5-10min to cook). Serve hot with rice or chapathi.

Serves : 5
Preparation time : 30min

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Sambar, Kolmbo
Sambar (Kolmbo)

Kolmbo is one of the most popular dishes of North Canara, a traditional Konkani Sambar. My Aayi makes delicious Kolmbo. This is my all time favorite sambar. When I was a kid, I used to ask for this dish almost 3-4days a week. All others in the home got so bored of it that, they all used to object when I asked for this. I used to eat it continuously for 2-3days.  Now, my husband is a huge fan of this dish. So I can make and eat it for days.

Usually this is served with rice. But I think this can also be served with idli or dosas. I advice everyone to taste this atleast once, I can bet you will love it.

Pictorial :


Cook  dal with a pinch of turmeric and drop of oil. Cook vegetables with little salt.
kolmbo2 kolmbo3
Heat oil and fry spices. Then add curry leaves, red chillies, coconut. Fry for few minutes.
Add cooked dal to vegetables.
kolmbo4 kolmbo5
Add ground paste to dal-vegetable mixture. Mix well and add coriander leaves. Let it cook.
kolmbo6 kolmbo7
Heat oil in a small pan and add mustard seeds. When they start popping, add curry leaves, asafoetida. Pour over salmar. Garnish with coriander leaves.


A Konkani sambar loaded with vegetables, freshly ground spices and coconut.
5 from 2 votes
Prep Time 15 minutes
Cook Time 30 minutes
Total Time 45 minutes
Servings 3 -4


  • 1/2 cup toor daal
  • 1/2 cup grated fresh/frozen coconut
  • 1 tspn chana daal
  • 1 tspn coriander seeds
  • 1 tspn mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tspn cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tspn methi seeds
  • A pinch asafoetida
  • 7-8 curry leaves
  • 1/2 inch piece cinnamon optional
  • 5-6 cloves optional
  • 5-6 red chilies
  • 1/2 tea spn tamarind extract or a small piece of tamarind.
  • 2 cups vegetables - green beans carrot, cauliflower, tomato, potato, drumsticks, zucchini(not traditional), tendli
  • Oil
  • 4-5 strands coriander leaves
  • A pinch turmeric
  • Salt


  • Cook dal with little turmeric and 2 drops of oil (turmeric and oil help dal to cook fast).
  • Cook vegetables separately (I add little salt while cooking vegetables).
  • Heat 1 tspn oil and fry ingredients from chana dal to red chillies.
  • Add coconut and fry for 2-3 minutes.
  • Grind to a thin paste along with tamarind.
  • Heat cooked dal, add vegetables, ground masala and salt.
  • Add half the amount of coriander leaves while cooking.
  • Heat for 5-10 minutes.
  • Garnish with coriander leaves.
  • Heat 1 tspn oil. Add mustard seeds, when they start popping, add curry leaves.
  • Add this seasoning to the cooked sambar.
  • Serve hot with rice.
Sambar, Kolmbo
Sambar (Kolmbo)

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Coconut curry(Ghashi/Rosu/Udid Methi)

A must in all konkani functions. For this any or all of the vegetables mentioned below are used. Usually any one vegetable of sour taste like bimbal or ambado(amte kayi) is used. I use tamarind if both of these are not available.

Coconut 1/2 cup
Bittergourd(Hagalakayi or karathe) (Optional) 4-5 pieces
Bhindi(Okra) (Optional) 4-5
Bimbal or ambado (amte kayi) or tamarind or raw mango 2-3 pieces
Fenugreek seeds 1/4 tea spn
Coriander seeds 1/2 tea spn
Urad dal 1/2 tea spn
Jaggery 1/2 tea spn
Mustard seeds 1/2 tea spn
Red chillis 5-6
Curry leaves 4-5
Oil 1 tea spn

Heat oil and fry coriander seeds, Urad dal(half the quantity mentioned above), fenugreek seeds(half the quantity mentioned above), red chillies(4). Grind with jaggey and coconut(if tamarind is used, grind it with masala). Do not make the masala too fine.
Heat oil and fry mustard seeds, remaining methi seeds and urad daal. When they start spluttering, add curry leaves and 2 red chillis cut into pieces. Fry for one 1/2 minute and add vegetables. Add 1/2 cup water and cook vegetables(if bitter gourd is used, cook it seperately, sqeeze out water and then add). Add ground masala, add salt and sufficient water(It should not be too watery). Cook for 2-3 minutes.
Serve hot with rice.

Serves : 3
Preparation time : 20min

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Varn (Without coconut)

1 cup toor dal
A pinch turmeric
1/2 tea spn cumin seeds(Jeera)
4-5 green chilis
A pinch asafoetida(hingu)
1/2 tea spn ghee
Coriander leaves

Cook toor dal with turmeric in pressure cooker.
Heat ghee and add jeera. When it starts popping, add chilis and asafoetida. Add cooked dal and salt. Bring it to boil. Garnish with coriander leaves. Serve hot with rice & ghee.

Serves : 4-5
Preparation time : 20min

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Varn (with coconut)

This Varn is one of the most loved dal dishes at my home. This is the Konkani version with coconut in it. At my place, this is served with rice and lemon saru or kokum kadi. The saru or kadi gives the sour-sweet taste to the meal. While serving, first serve rice, then pour a ladle of varn on it, then on top, pour a ladle of saru. Enjoy :).

For the version without coconut, click here.

1 cup toor dal
3/4 cup fresh/frozen coconut
1 tea spn cumin seeds
A pinch turmeric
6-7 pepper s
1/4 tea spn tamarind extract or 2-3 pieces tamarind

Cook toor dal with turmeric.
Heat oil and add jeera & pepper. When they start popping, remove from flame. Grind with coconut and tamarind.
Add cooked dal to ground paste, add salt & bring it to boil. Serve hot with rice and lemon saru or kokum kadi.

Serves : 5-6
Preparation time : 30min

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Dal with vegetables and coconut (Dali ambat)

If you ask me what is my comfort food, Dali Ambat is one of the dishes that comes to my mind. Dali ambat is a simple delicious gravy with vegetable and coconut. Paired with hot rice, this makes a great comforting meal. The aroma that comes out of it while its cooking is very intoxicating.

I have prepared this dish for many of my non-Konkani friends and this has become a regular in their homes too.

1 cup Toor dal
1/2 cup fresh/frozen coconut
A pinch asafoetida
1 tea spn coriander seeds
5-6 red chillies
1/4 tea spn tamarind extract or 1-2 pieces of tamarind
5-6 Curry leaves
1/2 tea spn mustard seeds
1 cup of any one of the following vegetables
– Potato
Tendli (ivy gourd)
– Brinjal(Egg plant)
Seeme badane( chyote squash)
Phagla(Indian gourd/kantola)
Lauki(Gardudde/bottle gourd)

Cook toor dal with turmeric. Cook vegetables.
Heat oil and fry coriander seeds.
Grind with coconut, red chilies, tamarind.
Add to cooked dal & vegetables. Bring it to boil. Take off the heat.
Heat oil. Add mustard. When they start popping, add curry leaves & asafoetida. Add this seasoning to the gravy and close the lid. Serve hot with rice.

Serves : 4-5
Preparation time : 20min

PS: When ivy gourd(tendli) is used, add few cashews with them while cooking. It gives a great taste.

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