Saturday, August 25, 2007

Saru besara, dahi baigana and mixed vegetables: Culinary trip to Orissa and the warm aroma of cumin :)

The title tells you all, doesn't it ;). Has it ever happened to you that you plan days in advance before a certain event that you really want to enjoy, and then suddenly you get all busy and have almost no time to prepare the much planned khana, let alone blog about it :-D. Why o why, does it happen just before the events :-D. What do you do then? Ah! you day dream, cook those delicacies in your dreams, think of them during the bus rise, during lunch time, write imaginary posts in your mind ;). You also try to sneak some time out, get disappointed, etc etc. when that doesn't happen. and you look for simple, quick and yet delicious recipes to come to your rescue! This certainly was my story this week :)). I had been thinking and imagining about RCI:Orissa since the day it was announced.....and now its the 25th, and i am yet to post anything :). Same for my love for Cumin :). But i decided that i won't give up ;). So last night, i went all out: it took a lil' effort, but it was totally worth it :).

So here are the lovely, easy breezy dishes for RCI:Orissa (being hosted this month by dear friend Swapna of Swad. RCI is an event celebrating the myriad lovely regional cuisines of India, conceptualized by the creative Lakshmi of Veggie Cuisine), and for Think Spice:Think Cumin, the spicy event at Sunita's World, a brain child of Dar(l)ing Bakerina Sunita :).

As i looked for dishes for RCI, i wanted something that was quick and easy and yet something that would convey the flavors of Oriya Cuisine. So i zeroed on to Saru besara, a yummy taro and mustard based dish and Dahi Baigana, a culinary meeting of eggplant and curds: the result was fantastic! I loved the Dahi Baigana even more, because it boasted of cumin and hence i could take it to two e-potlucks :). Talking of cumin, how about a really easy mixed vegetable preparation, that primarily derives it flavor from cumin? So friends, here goes: my recent tryst with Oriya cooking and enjoying cumin:

Saru besara:

It is a simple dish made out of taro/arbi (saru in Oriya) in a mustard base (the besara). I adapted the recipe from Oriya Kitchen. Here's my version of Saru besara:

We need:

  • 6-7 taro roots, peeled and cut into 1" long pieces
  • Mustard paste (2 heaped tsp. mustard+ 2 cloves of garlic: ground into a coarse paste)
  • 2 tomatoes (cubed)
  • Chopped green chillies (to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp. Panch phutana (cumin, mustard, fennel, nigella, fenugreek seeds spice mix)
  • 1/4 tsp. Turmeric
  • Salt to taste
  • Oil (1/2 tbsp. for cooking, 1 tsp for tempering)

Peel the taro roots and cut them into 1" long pieces. Microwave these for 4-5 minutes and set aside. In a pan, heat 1/2 tbsp. oil and add the mustard-garlic paste. Saute' for 1-2 minutes and add the taro pieces. Stir fry for about 5-7 minutes till the pieces are slightly toasted/golden brown. Now add the tomatoes, turmeric and salt. Add 1 cup of water and stir. Bring to boil and cook on low heat till the gravy thickens. In a small pan, heat oil and splutter the paanch phutana. Add the cut gbreen chillies and saute' for 1/2 a minute. Add this to the besara and cook another 1-2 minutes. Serve hot with chapati or rice :).

Dahi Baigana:

This is one of the favorite combinations in Indian cuisine, this pairing of eggplants and curds :). Sample e.g. Dahiwala baingan bharta, Baingan Boorani, Buzwangun, Kathrikai pachadi etc. This is the delicious Oriya version of this national favorite. I adapted the recipe from Oriya Nari.

We need:

  • 2 Japanese or Graffiti or Chinese eggplants or 4 small eggplants(cut into 2" long pieces)
  • 1 and 1/2 cup curds (beaten)
  • 1/2 tsp each Cumin and mustard (jeera and sorisha)
  • 6-8 curry leaves
  • 4 green chillies (cut into 1" pieces)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tbsp. oil
Beat the curds with some salt and set aside. Heat oil in a pan and splutter the cumin and mustard and add the curry leaves. Stri in the curry leaves. Saute' the cut eggplant pieces with a lil' salt till the eggplants are fried well and the raw look and smell goes away. Add the cooked eggplants to curds, garnish with lil' bit of chopped green chillies and enjoy with rice :).

I have deviated a bit from original recipe here, because i felt stir frying the eggplant with salt and spice instead of deep frying them and later mixing with spices will enhance the taste of eggplants.

The end result for both these recipes was a yummy virtual trip to an Oriya household. During my M.Sc. i had a chance to work in a lab for my summer training where i met many Oriya colleagues. I still remember the taste and aroma of the delicious tiffins i had the pleasure of enjoying :). These closely matched the taste in my memories :).

Now for the simple mixed vegetable jeere wali ;)

This is a quick and easy preparataion and is a regular in my kitchen.

We need:

  • Carrots, Cauliflower and Broccoli mixed (i used frozen California style vegetable mix-1 packet) about 1 and 1/2 cup equivalent.
  • 1/3 cup green peas
  • 1 tsp. cumin
  • 1/2 onion chopped
  • 1 small tomato chopped
  • Turmeric and red chilli powder (to taste)
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp. oil

In hot oil, splutter the cumin and saute' the onions. Stir in the mixed vegetables and green peas and cook for 4-5 minutes on medium heat. Add the turmeric, red chilli powder, salt and tomatoes. Stir well, cover and cook on low heat till done. Enjoy with parantha or as a sandwich stuffing. Also works well as a side dish with rice and daal :).

Saru besara and dahi baigana are my contributions for RCI-Orissa at Swapna's corner. I am also sending dahi baigana along with mixed vegetables jeere wali, to Sunita's Think Spice-Think Cumin get together.


sunita said...

All the dishes look great...lovely entries indeed! thanks a lot:)

Asha said...

At last!! Many of you catching up on the last day for Oriya! Don't do that to me girlie!! :D
I thought I was going to have Lasik last month and posted Oriyan food almost immediately after she announced and then surgery didn't happen!Oh well..I am a little hyper!
Both dish looks great,I specially like the Baingan dish.
Have a great weekend M! Hugs.

musical said...


Thanks dear :). Am thrilled that you liked these :).


You are here on weekend! Wow, am glad :). When is your next appointment for Lasik? i loved the eggplant dish A LOT! hugs to you :).

You too have a fun weekend,

Madhu said...

Hi Musical,
All the dishes looks delicious. I like the saru besara have to try that one,its unique. Happy weekend !

Sig said...

:) last minute entries... I managed cumin, but had to let Oriya go... Did u forget my event? <Angry Stare>
:D Just kidding, I know how it is... Now, go enjoy your weekend...

musical said...


Thank you, dear friend :). Saru besara is good indeed: mustard garlic combo gives this dish a unique touch. Enjoy!


I know :-D. No sweetie, i didn't forget your event.....simply no lychees in sight :( and if at all i would have found them, i, after months of non-lychee state probably wouldn't have had enough resolve to not snack on them!! atleast this way i can say i didn't get the raw ingredients. if i had gotten lychees, i would have had to post an empty bowl ;).


Mishmash ! said...

So many dishes !! The dahi baigana looks too good ...we have a similar preps.....easy ones , isn't it :)


Sharmi said...

all the 3 recipes are simple and nice. there are very less oriya recipes online that too with pics. after this event we can see a lot of them. the saru looks very delicious.

Vcuisine said...

Musical all in one entry. Lovely post. Tks for the recipes. Viji

Srivalli said...

wonderful...everything looks so nice...hehe...I must say Asha is worried for all right reasons...


bee said...

graffiti eggpalnt? never heard of that.

so you made it, and delicious looking dishes they are.

Suganya said...

I have seen those eggplants in India not in the US though. The raita gets me attention :D. Ladies finger should also work well.

sra said...

Our recipes are really v similar, Musical! And I've eaten the dahi baingan and made it too!

Richa said...

haanji, i know what u mean, it does happen around events ;)
thuaddi taro roots di subzi badi soni e! guess what, i'm making dahiwala baigan bharta today :) thuannu yaad karangey! thuaddey mix veg looks yum, somehow have never used this frozen pack! enjoy...

musical said...


You are so right, the eggplant preparation is an easy one and tastes yummy! i am looking forward to your version :).


Thanks ji :). Thats the beauty of events, that we explore the unexplored. We are making our own cook-books for real!!


Thank you too, dear :). Enjoy :).

musical said...


Thanks a lot, dear :). i am soooo glad you liked these :). Ashakka is gonna' have us all go through hunger pangs as usual with her fantastic RCI spread!


Yeah, i made it and with all the dahi eggplant in my tummy, i am glad i did ;). The eggplants in picture are the graffiti eggplants, so called because of their stripes! i found them in Ralphs supermarket and they taste just like regular eggplant ( a lil' crisper though).


Isn't that a coincidence :). A good one, becuase more of good food is always welcome :-D. and you made dahi baingan too! that sure is amazing :).

musical said...


Oops! sorry, the reply to your comment didn't go through at the right place :( I have been seeing these eggplants in a certain Supermarket in CA called Ralphs Fresh Fair.....but i have seen them in India too :). You liked the eggplant dish, i am coming up with more soon :). and yes, Lady fingers taste good too (and saute'd carrots as well!).


Haanji, tusin vi is tarah di situation vich aa chukke ho :). Taro sabzi da taste vi mast e :-D. Ooh, you are making dahi wala bharta, do send some my way, can't just have enough of it ;). i always have some frzen vegetable or the other, makes life easy (he he, lazy me) ;).

Priyanka said...

Great entries Musical!!! the saru besara looks yumm....

Tee said...

Wow! 'Where there is a will there is a way' stands true! :)
All the dishes looks really yummy!
I too had dreamed of making a great Oriya spread when the event was announced, but got no time at all, and unlike you, i just gave up :)

musical said...


Thanks ji :). The besara tastes yummy too, try it for sure :).


I was almost gonna' give up. had i come home late even that day, this post wouldn't have materialized.....dreams, eh :-D. Thanks, dear.

TBC said...

I like the sound of your saru-besara :-)
Mustard-garlic paste? hmmm... never used that before.Nice entry for the event.

musical said...


Rhythmic, isn't it :-D. I had never used the mustard garlic paste before this too. but trust me it tastes great!

Linda said...

Hi Musical, your Oriya dishes look beautiful! That dahi baigana recipe was the one I first picked too -- ended up making a diff one but now seeing your yummy result, I am going to try that version too :) Have a great Monday!

Coffee said...

WAH! Your posts are getting bigger and bigger! ;)

Have had jeera aloo, but never jera with mixed vegetables! Thats sounds cool! :)

musical said...


Thanks a lot :). Thats quite a telepathy, isn't it ;). Will check out your version too :). You too have a great week ahead.


He he, that cracked me up :-D. Yeah, the posts will get bigger if i don't post for days together :-D. Try the mixed vegetable, it tastes good :).

Nags said...

looks healthy and yummy at the same time. and that's tough to do :)

musical said...

Hey Nags:

Thanks, dear :-D. These recipes surely are tasty and even healthy. Enjoy!

Mandira said...

everything looks delectable, especially the dahi baigana. thanks Musical.

Saju said...

Lovely mouth-watering spread! I like the look of the dahi baigana.
Now don't forget to pick up your award at my website :)

musical said...


Thank you too, dear :). I am with you on dahi baigana :).


Thanks for everything :). Dahi baigana is YUMMY! Do try it :).

Rachna said...

hey musy, i really cant pick one dish that i can choose over the other...all are so nice.... and hats off to u for trying to send to at least one potluck this month.... i havent even made any rice dish for JFI...and im feeling so bad... but i told myself...not to stress and blog...only do what i can... saw yur comment at jugalbandi on banana slices in the saunth... made me all crave it with garam garam samosas....ooooo.... where is my chai.... u guessed me right from the pic at soul food.... :) heee thank u dear....

Sia said...

so many items for RCI!!! i am floored musie:) i loved all the dishes but those mixed veggies with cumin just making me drool.

Sandeepa said...

Lovely entries, I like that Dahi Baigan almost like a raita

musical said...


Hey, i agree, blogging should be an enjoyable experience. No point stressing and writing, it just won't come out right on one front or the other. I personnaly blog only when i have the right mood for it and enough time to put my heart into it.....He he, the chutney at Jaugabandi made me think of the kele wali chutney, first thing first! Drop by anytime for Chai :). Where's my prize for the correct guess :-D.


Thank you, sweetie :).That mixed vegetable is super easy to make too! Especialy if you use frozen vegetables (just microwave them before using and its saves you few minutes right there!).


Thanks :). Dahi baigana is quite tasty, a raita with some tempering. and super quick to make! Enjoy :).

Pelicano said...

Hey! You're cooking and posting; I should too! hehehe These all look great Musical, I can never say no to the eggplant/yoghurt combo, especially with green chiles. :-)

musical said...

Hey Pel,

Thanks! I knew you would like Dahi Baigana, its got all the ingredients :-D. Yeah, am thankful that i could post keeps me going. But its hard to post when you are busy or stressed or just not in the right frame of mind. As i said, it just doesn't click then. Yeah, you should post when you think you really want to :).

Kajal said...

Simple mixed vegetable Jeera wali looks appetizing not simple my dear. I never try Baigana with Dahi.....this is also tasty plate some time I will try it out. Thanks for sharing.:)

musical said...

Hey Kajal:

Thanks dear :). Baigana with dahi is marvellous! do try it, am sure you'll like it :).

viagra online said...

Thanks for the recipe! Delicious, my family loved it and especially my husband who loves eggplant

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