In the next few days, I will post some traditional side-dishes prepared by my mother. I absolutely love these sides.
Let me start with my favourite dish.
This is prepared with raw papayas grown at home. The second main ingredient is ‘vali bhajji’, which is also called as Indian Spinach, Malabar Spinach or Vietnamese Spinach. These are available in all american grocery stores (it is called as ‘spinach’, it is a bit different than ‘palak’). This is easily available in Mangalore stores in India (called as ‘basale soppu’ in Kannada and ‘vaali’ in Marathi). If this green vegetable is not available, use normal palak for this dish, but this dish tastes great with ‘vali’ as a few tender stems are also used for this dish and the stems enhance the taste.
When we were kids, mom used to serve mini-meals to us when we came back from school at 11.30 (our school timings were 8-11 and 2-5). Usually a kind of rice item called as ‘Pej'(Konkani) or ‘Ganji'(Kannada) or Conjee(English) was searved for this meal. This dish has a ‘bland’ taste to it, because it is made of only boiled rice and lot of water(it is a watery dish). Some people serve salt, ghee and milk with ‘pej‘. I absolutely loved any side dish served with this ‘pej’. One such side dish was ‘vali bhajji – pappayi randayi’. Still I make this combo, but as a lunch or dinner, because there is no time for any mini-meals now :).
Vali bhajji 2 cups
Raw papaya (cut into big pieces) 1 and 1/2 cups
Coconut 1/2 cup
Toor daal 1/2 cup
Coriander seeds 1/2 tea spn
Red chillies 4-5
Tamarind 1/2 tea spn
Turmeric a pinch
Jaggery 1 and half tea spns
Oil 1 tea spn
Garlic cloves 2-3 (If Indian garlic is used, increase this amount to 5-6)
Note : this dish is a bit sweetish.
Cook daal with a pinch of turmeric till soft. Cook vali and papaya (for 1-2 wistles if cooker is used. Papaya should not become paste).
Heat oil and fry coriander seeds. (if the red chillies have become soft, fry them also. Because this crispy chillies can be ground faster). Grind fried coriander, chillies, tamarind and coconut to a smooth paste.
Add ground masala, cooked vali-papaya to daal. Add salt. Cook for around 10mins. Remove from flame.
Heat 1/2 tea spn oil and add garlic. Fry till they turn to brown. Add this to the dish and immediately close the lid to retain the smell.
Serve hot with ‘pej’ or normal rice.
Serves : 4
Preparation time : 20mins
PS: Garlic skin should be completely removed before frying them, better yet, cut them into two. If they are fried with skins, they pop up and cause serious burns.
Many people don’t add Toor daal to this dish, we add it for the thickness.