Mini Thali

Karnataka is a Southwest Indian coastal state. Although half of the state is still agricultural, it is also one of the most successful economically developed states of India. Bangalore, its capital city, is home to India’s booming IT industry. Karnataka is home to about 2000 IT companies and attracts entrepreneurs from the entire country as well as internationally. This is how Bangalore got its local name – the Silicone Valley of the East! Karnataka also contributes to India’s economy in large ways, in the industries of technology and medicine.

Karnataka gave me the hardest time to decide on recipes for this state. I kept on switching back and forth. What made it challenging is that Karnataka has so many different, but equally delicious cuisines from various communitites. Both Mysore and Mangalore are known for their sweets as in the popular Mysore Pak. Then there is also Coorg Cuisine. Coorg, also known as Kodagu, is an administrative district of Karnataka, mostly populated by descendants of the Kodavas. The Kodavas were ancient military people and farmers. Coorg is an area rich in natural resources that abound with coffee and pepper plantations. Delicious non-Vegetarian food is found with the Coorgi’s. There is also Mangalore based Tulu cuisine & Konkani, differentiated by the language they speak and the Vegetarian cuisine, known as Udupi. Konkani cuisine is characterized by its abundant use of coconut as in the chutney’s and kadhi presented below. Fish and seafood are also used abundantly, as is the case with any coastal state.

All these cuisines within one state…can you blame me for having a difficult time what to make. Finally, I decided on a mini thali that included:
Kokum Rasam (I found kokum for the first time a few months ago and have been waiting for an opportunity to utilize it)
Goli Baje (Mangalore/Tulu)
Coconut Chutney
Dried Shrimp Chutney (Konkani)
Konkani Kadhi (Konkani)
Nimbekai Chitranna (Lemon Coconut Rice)

If you are not a coconut lover, you are going to have a hard time finding food to eat while visiting Karnataka. Whether you feast on Coorg, Konkani or Tulu cuisine, coconut will be present. Let’s start with the only non-coconut part of today’s menu.

Rasam is very popular throughout southern India. It is a very thin soup, usually translated as pepper water, served before the main meal. It is generally prepared with spices, chile and a souring agent, usually tamarind. There are many different varieties including lemon, pineapple and tomato. Every culture has something, usually a kind of soup, that mothers give to sick children that is supposed to cure all sort of ailments. Chicken Soup, in Jewish culture, is affectionately known as the Jewish mother’s penicillin. The Chinese have Hot & Sour Soup & the Filipinos use a Ginger & Tamarind Soup. In South India, they have Rasam.

Kokum is a fruit in the mangosteen family. Generally, the dried skin is used to add a sour flavor to soups, curries and sometimes beverages. It is used mostly in the Indian states of Karnataka, Maharashtra and to a lesser extent, in Gujarat. Kokum has many health benefits including high Vitamin C content, anti-oxidant power and also aids digestion.

Let’s start are Karnataka thali with the Indian mother’s penicillin 🙂

Kokum Rasam/ Punarpuli Saaru

Serves 2
Ingredients:

  • 5 kokum
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 green chile
  • 1 teaspoon ginger paste
  • 1 teaspoon rasam powder
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons ghee
  • 1 dried red chile
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 strand curry leaves

In a saucepan, combine kokum, water, chile, ginger and rasam powder. Boil for 10 minutes.
Add salt, to taste. (just add a pinch as the kokum is salty)



In a skillet, heat ghee,
Add mustard seeds. When they start to pop, Add curry leaves and chile. Fry for 1 more minute.
Add to rasam and cook for 1 more minute.

Goli Baje is one of the most popular street foods in Mangalore.

Goli Baje (Mangalore Bajji)

Yield: 16-18 baje
Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all purpose flour
  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 small green chiles, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon ginger, grated
  • 2 tablespoons frozen grated coconut, defrosted (or freshly grated coconut)
  • 1/2 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 1 strand curry leaves, chopped
  • 1/4 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 teaspoon salt, to taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • oil, for frying

Combine flour, yogurt, chile, ginger, coconut, curry leaves, baking soda, salt, sugar and cumin seed in a bowl and stir to combine. Leave out at room temperature for 4 hours. The batter will have fermented, to make the baje light and airy.
Heat enough oil for deep frying.
Place a tablespoon at a time in the hot oil and fry until golden brown on all sides.

Drain on paper towels.

Coconut Chutney

These are always served with coconut chutney.

Indian Dumplings, Karnataka Bajji

Whether you eat them spread with the chutney inside or even alone, these are so light and airy, they make a delightful snack!

Coconut Chutney

Serves 4-6
Ingredients:

  • 1 cup frozen coconut, defrosted (or freshly grated coconut)
  • 2 green chiles
  • 1 inch piece ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoon yellow split peas (chana dal), roasted
  • salt, to taste
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed
  • 1 dried red chile
  • 5 curry leaves

Combine coconut, chana dal, salt, chiles and ginger in a food processor with a little water. Grind with enough water to make a coarse paste (I used about 1/2 cup). Transfer to a bowl.
In a skillet, heat oil. Add mustard seed. When they start to pop, add chiles and curry leaves. Fry for another 1/2 minute.

Drizzle on top of coconut chutney.

Dried Shrimp Chutney/ Suggil Sunkta Kismuri

Serves 2
Ingredients:

  • 2 tablespoons dried shrimp
  • 1/2 cup frozen grated coconut, defrosted (or freshly grated coconut)
  • 1 tablespoon red onion, minced
  • 1/2 teaspoon tamarind water
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chile powser (cayenne pepper)
  • salt, to taste

Fry shrimp in a dry skillet for about 5 minutes until they are a bit crunchy and they spell pungent.
In a large bowl, combine coconut, onion, tamarind water, red chile powder and salt. Stir to combine.
Add shrimp and stir again.

This chutney is super easy to put together and added that smoky, salty flavor to the meal.

Karnataka Chutney

While most kadhi’s are characterized by their yogurt gravy, this one is unique in that there is no yogurt.

Konkani Kadhi/ Cumin & Black Pepper Coconut Kadhi

Serves 2

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon + 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 cup frozen grated coconut, defrosted (or freshly grated coconut)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seed
  • 6 black peppercorns
  • 4 dried red chiles
  • 1/2 teaspoon tamarind water
  • 1 teaspoon garlic, finely chopped
  • salt, to taste

Heat 1 tablespoon of the oil. Add cumin seed, peppercorns and chiles. Roast for 2 minutes, until fragrant. Cool and grind with coconut, tamarind and salt.
Transfer to a saucepan with 1 1/2 cups water.
Bring to a boil and cook for 10 minutes.
In a skillet, heat remaining oil. Fry garlic until slightly browned. Add to kadhi.
Leave to rest for 5 minutes before serving.

Nimbekai Chitranna  (Lemon Rice)

Serves 4
Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1/4 cup frozen coconut, defrosted (or freshly grated coconut)
  • 1/2 onion, finely chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • 2 small green chiles
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seed, separated
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric 
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • salt, to taste
  • 2 teaspoons ghee
  • 8 curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon urad dal (split black lentils)
  • 1 teaspoon chana dal (yellow split peas)
  • 1 tablespoon dry roasted peanuts
  • 1 tablespoon cashews

Grind coconut, chiles, 1/4 teaspoon of the mustard seed and turmeric in a coffee/spice grinder, without water.
Heat oil in a large skillet. Add other 1/4 teaspoon mustard seeds. When the start to pop, add curry leaves, urad dal, chana dal, peanuts and cashews. Fry for 1 minute, until the nuts start to change color. Add onions and saute, until translucent. Add coconut mixture and fry for 1 minute.
Add rice, sugar and salt. Mix well.
Add lemon juice and toss well.

The rice miixed with the kadhi and the dried shrimp chutney was amazing. The salty and smoky flavor of the chutney made this such a delicious meal, especially if you are a coconut lover!

Even if you leave out the Dried Shrimp Chutney to keep it Vegetarian, the coconut lovers will still find it just as delicious!

Have it for lunch in the middle of the day with the sun shining in your window and you can imagine yourself transported to Southern India as you enjoy this mini thali!

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Chef Mireille