May 24, 2007


My mother never was, or is, a gourmet cook.Her philosophy of cooking is to keep it simple always.Her methods have had a lot of influence over how I cook our daily meals.But among everything else she cooked,the one thing that stands out in my memory is her Ariti Davva Koora(except for her sambar and chaaru of course).Ariti Davva is literally,the tender stem of Banana trees.It is ivory coloured,but like banana,blackens in no time when exposed to air.We had a very nice lady as our domestic help when we were younger.Janakamma or Janko as we fondly called her,would very patiently chop the banana stem,removing fibres and chopping it into very small pieces and putting them in diluted buttermilk to stop it from turning black.My mother would then cook curries using them.

The particular texture of ariti davva is what attracts me.It is very porous and absorbs flavours really nicely.The stem itself,as you will have guessed now,is full of fibre.That is why,even after it is cooked,it retains its crunchiness which is just wonderful.

Cutting the stem is a time taking task.First,the outer blackened layer is removed.Since it has lots of fibre,it is then usually cut into thin slices and the fine fibres which stand out,are taken off.Then the slices are chopped into really small pieces and put into diluted buttermilk to prevent it from becoming dark on exposure to air.But once this has been done,it cooks very quickly.I chopped it in the morning and kept it ready for the night to make the curry.

Aava is telugu for Mustard.Mustard and rice are soaked in water for some time so as to soften the mustard grains and then ground into a fine paste.This paste is usually added to curries at the end.It gives a really nice flavour.

On a recent trip to the Indian grocery store,I was lucky enough to find a piece of banana stem.I immediately grabbed it,having longed to eat it for as long as 6 years.So without much ado,here is the Ariti Davva curry that I learnt from my mother:

Ingredients:2 cups finely chopped Banana stem

1 tsp split urad dal

1 tsp mustard

2 dry red chillies,broken into 2-3 bits

2 tsp salt

1/2 tsp turmeric

6-8 curry leaves

For the Mustard paste:2 tsp mustard seeds

1 1/2 tbsp raw rice

3-4 dry red chillies

1 lime sized ball of tamarind,soaked and juice extracted


1 tbsp tamarind paste

Method:Soak the mustard and rice along with dry red chillies in some water for atleast 2 hours.This will soften the mustard seeds.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a pan.Add the urad dal and mustard seeds and let them brown and splutter.Add the dry red chillies and curry leaves.

Now add the drained banana stem pieces.Mix well and let cook for 2 minutes.Now add turmeric and salt, and add 1/2 cup water to it.Close the pan and let it cook on low till the banana stem feels softer.You can test by putting a small piece in your mouth-it should feel crunchy but cooked.

Drain the water from the mustard and grind it along with rice and chillies to a fine paste.

Add the tamarind juice or paste(if using paste,dilute with a little water) to the cooked banana stem.Make sure that there is some water left in the pan.If not,add some more water before adding the tamarind paste.This is a gravy curry,so you do need some water.

Now once the curry is heated through,and comes to a boil,add the finely ground mustard-chilli paste.Mix well and take off the heat.

Once mustard is added,donot let the curry cook on heat as the mustard will turn the curry bitter.

Serve with hot steaming rice and a dollop of ghee.

My Notes:This curry goes very well with rice, and chapathis as well.We had it with chapathis yeaterday and it was a great combination.

Thanks to Lakshmi K of Veggie cuisine who started the RCI,I have had this wonderful chance to delve into the beautiful memories of my past and recreate one of my timeless favourites.
I would like to submit this for this month's RCI Andhra Cuisine hosted by Latha of Masala Magic.


May 16, 2007


I have been very busy lately,but not so busy not to notice the advent of summer.Mango is the fruit of Indian summers.I remember the countless days we spent as vacations with my Ammamma and Tatayyagaru(we call them Amma and nannagaru anyway(that is telugu for mother and father) .My grandfather would buy us loads of ripe mangoes to eat in the hot afternoons while my grandmother got loads of raw and sour mangoes which were used to make numerous pickles every summer.How I miss all those pickles that my Ammamma made lovingly for all of us!

Mangoes here in UK aren't anywhere near to the Indian varieties like banginipalli,kobbari mamidi,etc.Neither are the raw ones any better.The skin is a nice green.But the moment you cut it open,there lies the yellowing flesh smiling at you ,smelling sweet,while it dawns upon you that you cannot make a truly savoury dish like mamidikaya pappu(mango dal) or Pachchadi(chutney) with it.Well,not so this time.I found nice fresh,raw and sour mangoes this time.It had been a long time since I had prepared any fresh chutneys of note,so I decided to make chutney with the mangoes.

here goes my Coriander-Mango chutney :

Ingredients:1 cup mildly sour mango pieces(skin peeled)

4 cups loosely packed fresh coriander leaves,washed

5-6 green chillies

3-4 tsp salt or as per your taste

Method: Wash the coriander leaves.I used only the leaves as the stems were too fibrous.

Peel the mango and chop into small pieces.

Put it all together along with the salt in a blender or a food processor.I had to put in some water as well,to make my blender motor crush the leaves and the mangoes.An indian style mixie or a food processor will definitely do a good job.Grind to a fine paste.

At this stage,you can add tadka/popu/seasoning to it if you like.Just heat a tablespoon of oil,add half a teaspoon of mustard seeds and 2 pinches of asafoetida.when the mustard splutters,pour it onto the chutney .

Serve this with idli,dosa,uthappam,or mix it into hot rice or upma.You can even use this as a spread for sandwiches.Use it on chats,bhelpuri,hot samosas,kachoris,whatever you fancy!Enjoy!

I served it with Dosa and idlis.I made those small idlis in the microwave using my mini muffin mould.

The other dish that I made using these mangoes is called Menthi Mukkalu,literally meaning Mukkalu(pieces,referring to mango) in a fenugreek(menthi)spiced base.This is a very famous and simple dish that most households in Andhra make.This is a kind of instant pachchadi.

The basic thing for this is the spice powder needed for the dish.I usually make a small amount during the summers.


For the spice powder:2 tsp mustard seeds

2 tsp fenufreek seeds

Roast them separately till the mustard starts popping(do this without oil), and the fenugreek/methi also splutters and takes on a nice brown colour, and has lost its raw smell.Grind it together in a coffee grinder or processor and keep in an airtight container.

The rest of the ingredients:

2 medium sized raw mangoes,peeled and chopped into small pieces(about 1.5 cups of chopped mango)

1.5 tbsp salt

1 tsp turmeric

4 tbsp grated jaggery/gud/bellam

4 tsp chilli powder

2 tsp of the mustard-methi powder

Method: Take a clean bowl, and mix the mango pieces with all the ingredients mentioned.Put this into a clean and dry glass jar and keep it aside for atleast 12 hours.

Soon after mixing everything together,the salt will start to drain the water from the mangoes and that will inturn melt the jaggery,creating a very fragrant sweet and wour sauce in which the mango pieces pretty much float around.

After soaking for atleast 6 hours,the mango pieces become very nicely flavoured with the fenugreek and jaggery.This really tastes very good with Utthi pappu or Mudda pappu (Plain old cooked toor dal,seasoned with nothing but salt and turmeric).It is good to eat on its own too.

It has been a really long time since I participated in any of the blog events.So this time,I am sending this to Deepa for the AFAM-mango event.