Kothimbir wadi (Steamed coriander cakes/fritters)

Kothimbir vadi tempered with sesame and mustard seeds
Kothimbir vadi tempered with sesame and mustard seeds

 

Mom is here  and so nowadays our evenings are special with yummy snacks rolling out of the kitchen. Kothimbir vadi or coriander fritters is a healthy snack which can be arranged in no time. The aroma of the fresh coriander leaves cooked into this dish just leaves one craving for more. I gobbled up the steamed ones without waiting for them to be fried or to be garnished with the tempering.

Without much ado, here is the recipe for it:

Ingredients

Finely chopped coriander leaves – 2 cups, tightly packed

Besan – 1 cup

Ginger-garlic-green chilli paste – 1 inch of ginger, 8-10 cloves of garlic, and 2 green chillies

Sesame seeds – 1 tbsp

Turmeric powder – 1 tsp

Chilli powder – 1 tsp

Hing – a pinch

Water – little for making the pasty dough

Salt – to taste

Method

Mix all the ingredients listed above except water. Add water in very small quantities to form a pasty dough (somewhat similar in consistency to thick idli batter). Transfer the mixed ingredients to a steamer, greased with oil and steam it for around 12-15 minutes. Note that I have added half the quantity of besan to that of the coriander leaves  which yields really fragrant kothimbir vadis.

Allow it to cool and cut into shapes of your choice. These vadis can be eaten as it is or can be further shallow fried, deep fried or just tempered with mustard seeds and curry leaves.

I had the zero-oil, steamed version and they were just as delicious 🙂

Kothimbir vadi (coriander fritters)
Kothimbir vadi (coriander fritters)

 

 

Menthada Huli

Menthada Huli
Menthada Huli

 

‘Huli’ is to Kannadigas, what ‘aamti’ is to Maharashtrians. The term ‘huli’ means sour. I cook a lot of Madhwa recipes on a regular basis (courtesy my parents and my late grandmother). Madhwa cuisine usually abstains from onion and garlic. However, over a period of time, these taamsik ingredients have found their way to our everyday meal 🙂

In my house, ‘huli’ usually refers to toovar dal to which a souring agent like tamarind is added. But today, I was in no mood to have my everyday share of protein and wanted to have something tangy to liven up my tastebuds. So, Menthada huli it was, to be made in a jiffy! This particular recipe does not use any dal. ‘Mentha’ here refers to methi or fenugreek seeds which lends its unique flavor to this dish.

This dish can be made with or without any vegetables. I added a bit of  ladies fingers to it to give it a nutritious punch. Other veggies like Bangalore brinjal, chow chow, and drumsticks too can be pre-cooked separately and added. Please note, it is important not to add other varieties of brinjals which contains seeds, to this dish.

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)

Ladies finger (okra), chopped into inch-long pieces – 6 in number

Onions – 4 medium sized onions, sliced vertically

Tamarind soaked in water – about the size of 2 lemons

Besan – as a thickening agent, about 1-2 tsp. To be made into a thick slurry with water

Jaggery powder (mildly sweet) – 2 tsp

Water – as needed

Salt – to taste

For tempering

Peanut Oil –  about 2 tablespoons

Mustard seeds – 1 tsp

Methi (Fenugreek) seeds – 1.5 tsp

Urad dal – 2 tsp

Chana dal – 1 tsp ( I did not use it)

Curry leaves

Green chilli – 1

Red chillies – 4 ( The chillies I used are very hot)

Method

Start by heating the oil for tempering in a kadhai. When the oil is sufficiently hot, put the ingredients under tempering and let its flavours ooze out in the oil for a minute or so. Next, add in the ladies fingers and onions and cook till the vegetables are almost done. Once the ladies fingers are cooked, add in the tamarind pulp, and about 1 small cup of water.  Add the  thick slurry of besan  to the gravy and let it simmer for 4-5 minutes till the besan gets cooked. Add jaggery powder, salt and check the dish for its consistency. Add more water or besan slurry to adjust the consistency of the dish to your liking. You can add more jaggery as well to suit your taste buds 🙂

This is a hot (not spicy!)  preparation and is ideal to be eaten with rice and a side of papad. It is more of a comfort food for us, which gets done in no time. Hope you try it and enjoy it!

Sailing to Flam (Norway)

We were all ready to explore Norway on a cruise ship. We had read beautiful stories of the vistas of Norway; especially of its fjords and the stunning landscape it offers. Flam, situated on the western coast of Norway, was our first destination and it did mesmerise us as expected. Truly speaking, words are not enough to describe the magical sights, we witnessed in Flam. Hopefully, my pictures will do some justice to describe what we experienced.

flam-port
Port of Flam

Flam is a little hamlet of majestic beauty with about 700 residents, located at the inner end of Aurlandsfjord – an 18-mi long branch of Sognefjord. The landscape is colossal with deep fjords adjoining the tall granite cliffs, which are dotted with red & white houses and numerous waterfalls interspersing its vastness. Sognefjord is the largest fjord in Norway with a stretch of 127 mi and the second longest fjord in the world. It is also listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

A population of just 700 people does seem a small number when one stays in India, doesn’t it? :D. However, such is the beauty of the place that it receives almost 450,000 visitors every year! Furthermore, the Flam harbour too receives about 160 cruise ships a year.  With such a large influx of tourists, it is amazing that the place is divinely charming and pristine as if left untouched.

ms Koningsdam - our cruise ship
ms Koningsdam – our cruise ship

Our ship docked at Flam sharp at 8 am and was to set sail at 5 pm the same day. So, we had close to 9 hours to see this beautiful place. We had booked a Fjordsafari-Hiking-Goatfarm-Lunch tour with a group there ( www.flamguide.no ) from 9 am to 2:40 pm. The tour started with us wearing a warm, waterproof oversuit which contained a floatation device  (seriously, the fjords are about 1500 metres deep in some areas!!! )and hopping onto a speed boat.

Our boat guide was a Norwegian guy who had migrated from Bergen to the surroundings of Flam, where he had bought 33,000 acres of land. Yes, you heard it right! He bought a goat farm high up on the mountains adjoining the fjords. In summer time, he farms his land wherever it is arable and in other seasons, when farming is not possible, he doubles up as a guide offering his excellent services to tourists. He chose this village life over the city life in Bergen and is quite content about the way he gets time to spend with his family amidst nature!

Fjord
Fjord

We started off towards the heart of the Naeroyfjord (branch of Sognefjord) and also sailed a bit of the Sognefjord before reaching our destination. On the way there, we saw the fjord banks dotted with numerous charming hamlets and  verdant farms. Inspite of being located in such a popular tourist area, these hamlets are very remotely connected and are majorly accessible only by water.  One such farm – the Stigen farm, now turned into a hotel, must surely  be the most inaccessible of them all.  Perched up high on a cliff, this farm is accessible only by a ladder. In days of yore, when the farm had any unwelcome visitor like the tax collectors, the farmer, it seems, would simply pull up the ladder. However, now it is a very popular hotel in the tourist season and gets fully booked 3 years in advance!

Hotel which is accessible by only ladder
Stigen farm – cum – hotel

As we sped further ahead in our boat, we reached Undredal, the village which is famous for its goat cheese. This fjord village has about only 80 residents, 300 goats and the smallest stave church in the whole of Scandinavia. Cheese production still happens here the traditional way and it is quite famous for its brown cheese. Dotted with red houses, flanking the vertical cliffs and waterfalls, this unique village in the middle of the World Heritage area, was a sight to behold!

Undredal - the cheese making village
Undredal

We reached Aurlandsfjord and were almost ready to dock in Skjerdal, when we spotted a dolphin jumping out of water. Some seals were making merry just on the other side of our boat. Well, this was a good start! Now, we looked forward to the hike. It had taken us about 40-45 minutes to reach Skjerdal.

At the wharf, we jumped out of our speed boats, got out of our oversuits and began the rather steep but short hike towards Leim goat farm. It was a beautiful hike with splendid views of the fjords along the way.

the-gorgeous-view-from-the-hike
Vistas as seen from the hike

Soon, we reached a motorable road along our hike route, from where we spotted the white Leim farmhouse.

 

 

 

The goat farm at Leim
The white coloured farm house at Leim

We continued the hike and came across a stony path filled with adorable goats, just below the farm house. The goats were very friendly and were trying to chew at our backpacks;) We spent some time clicking pictures and goofing around with the goats and then made our way to the farm house.

Our grand goatee welcome to the farmhouse 😉

goat

The 1.5 hour hike was a bit tiring, particularly as it brought us along some steep climbs. On reaching the farmhouse, we were greeted by a young Norwegian girl, dressed in a local attire. She was home on vacation and was helping her mom cater to the tourists. She herself had prepared delicious lunch of salads, pesto, salami, goat milk spiced yoghurt and a variety of cheeses for us. Ravenous as we were after the hike, we immediately settled down on a terrace overlooking a beautiful valley for a sumptuous lunch. She served us the lunch with some warm bread and fresh apple juice.

The cheeses were all home made from their own farm’s goat milk and so was the meat. Meat was obtained from the old goats who were no longer useful. As we gorged on the food, she further brought in plates of pancakes with brown cheese…yeah brown cheese! It is the cheese which is made from the leftover whey.  A delightful gastronomic experience it was!

Our (goat) cheesy lunch at the farmhouse
Our (goat) cheesy lunch at the farmhouse
Pancakes served with brown cheese and blueberry preserve (not in the pic)
Pancakes served with brown cheese and blueberry preserve (not in the pic)

It started raining while we were having our lunch and this made the vistas around us all the more beautiful. Mists of clouds were drifting over us as we started our descent. It just seemed magical. Our hiking guide told us that it was the fjords and the culture of Norway (Undredal and other places) which inspired Disney’s movie Frozen.  No wonder, the region seemed like a fairyland in the mists.

At the base, we drove back to the port of Flam enjoying a hearty chat with our Swedish guide, and I making a mental note to myself…to capture this wonderful experience on my blog soon 🙂