Midhi Pavakkai Poriyal| Baby Bitter Gourd Stir Fry

The health benefits of bitter gourd (‘pavakkai’ in Tamil) are quite well known. They are rich in dietary fibre and Vitamin K, and low in calories. They are great for keeping one’s weight and blood sugar levels in control. Indian cuisine has a wide range of dishes that use bitter gourd, some really innovative. However, a whole lot of people shun this vegetable, thanks to its bitter taste. I used to be one of those people too, till I discovered the real beauty of the bitter gourd and made it a regular feature in my kitchen.

The last weekend, on a short holiday in Madras, I came across these lovely baby bitter gourds (‘midhi pavakkai‘ in Tamil) at a vegetable vendor’s. They looked so cute, lying there in their basket, that I absolutely had to get some back home with me to Bangalore. 😉 This delicious, delicious Baby Bitter Gourd Stir Fry aka Midhi Pavakkai Poriyal is what happened to them.

Check out the recipe, just in on my blog!

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In Pics: Karpagambal Mess, Mylapore, A Foodie’s Delight

I am sure the Karpagambal Mess in Mylapore, Madras, needs no introduction. It is, after all, a Madras legend, well known for its quaint atmosphere and the gorgeous vegetarian South Indian food that it serves. I have been to the Mess once before, and I wanted to relive those beautiful foodie memories all over again, at our recent Madras visit. The OH had never been to the eatery before, and I couldn’t wait to show it to him. So, that is how we ended up at the Karpagambal Mess, bang opposite the famous Kapaleeshwarar temple in Mylapore, and were thrilled to see it all decked up for Panguni Uthram.

I will not say any more, but let the pictures of the food we had there do the talking. Everything was absolutely beautiful, fresh, well-cooked and delicious, we found, except for the Avial served with the Adai, which we didn’t like much. And, of course, we didn’t leave without getting our hands on some filter coffee, but we greedily lapped it up before any pictures could be taken – so no pictures of that for you! 🙂

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The entrance to the Mess, all decorated for Panguni Uthram
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The old-fashioned menu
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Keerai vadai, served with sambar and chutney
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Morekozhambu vadai – a first for me!
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Idiyappam, served with Korma
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Onion Adai, served with the Avial that we didn’t like all that much

 

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Lemon Sevai
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The extremely famous Badam Halwa
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Beautiful, beautiful, fresh Sapota (Chikoo) Halwa

We are told the Mess has lost its former glory – what remains now is only a shadow of its old, glorious self, food included. Apparently, the food the Mess serves today is a far, far, far cry from what it used to be in the 1970s and 1980s. Well, if the lovely, delicious food we had recently at the Mess is anything to go by, I can’t even imagine how finger-lickingly awesome the food here would have been in years gone by!

Have you been to Karpagambal Mess? Do you think the food has deteriorated in taste and quality, over the years? If you haven’t ever visited this place, I recommend you remedy the situation soon – I am still drooling over the lovely food we had here, deterioration or not!

Holidaying In Madras

Then mittai. Akkaravadasal. Anjaneyar vadai. Mylapore Kapaleeshwarar temple. Karpagambal Mess. Gowrivakkam Sai Baba temple. Nanganallur Anjaneyar temple. Kamarkatt. Eating some lovely puliogare out of a donnai. Glorious home-made vattal kozahmbu, aloo roast, and paneer kofta. Exchanging notes with the extended family. Shopping, shopping, shopping, and more shopping. Bonding. Air conditioners. Pears soap. Hot, hot weather. Temple jewellery. Ogling at silk sarees. Paavadai Chattai. The most gorgeous of cotton sarees. Mallipoo. Bird watching. Photography. Exchanging gifts. Saravana Bhavan. Murugan Idli. Missing babywearing. Plucking organic lemons straight off the tree. Food photography props. Vadu mangaai. Learning more about the food of Tamilnadu. Vazha thandu pickle. Adayar Ananda Bhavan. Dry coconut burfee. Playing with the littlest member of our family, Bubboo’s cousin. Exchanging recipes. Learning more about Bubboo’s likes and dislikes. Pondy Bazaar. Jhumkas in all sizes, shapes, and colours. Pretty cotton frocks. Making a list of things to experience on our next visit. Watching Bubboo interact with Patti and Mama. Tender coconut water. Buttermilk. Home-made chocolate and vanilla ice cream. Weight gain. Sleeping in in the mornings. Filter coffee. Home-grown veggies. Being awed by the huge shopping palaces that Pothy’s, The Chennai Silks, and the like are.  Paneer drakshe. Jackfruit. Interesting taxi drivers. Kodakapuli Kaai. First-ever experiences. Raw mango pacchadi.  Madras local. Aavin Paal Kova.

That’s what we have been up to of late. What about you?

What I brought home from Madras, this time around

The sweet and spicy and strong sense of Pears soap filling up the bathroom after Mama has taken a bath

The sounds of ‘Om Bhoorbhuva Swaha‘ reverberating through the house every evening

The sight of the little oil lamp in brass burning away quietly in a corner of the kitchen platform

A pang in the heart at seeing the grandparents leading a vision-less life

A new nickname of ‘Ammaloo’

Bottles of Bovonto, ginger beer, omam water and panneer soda for the OH

The OH’s favourite inji mittai

Memories of licking up bowl after bowl of home-made vegetable kofta, ice cream and paal poli

The early-morning sounds of birds chattering in the bushes outside the house

That beautiful yellow saree that I had always dreamt of

Home-made baadaam burfee

The sound of dosas being made on the pan almost every morning, and the smell of onions cooking over them

The joy of filter coffee made from fresh decoction

Murukku, Anjaneyar vadai and plantain chips from Grand Sweets

Memories of Patti and Thatha fussing over me, enquiring whether I have taken a bath or gone on my morning walk

A lot of photographs that will make sense to no one but the OH and me

Hand-made kastoori manjal soap

The thrill of morning walks in a city that is relatively new to me

Packets of Cavin’s milkshakes in  chocolate, vanilla and butterscotch flavours

Gopuram kumkum, which has priceless memories attached to it

777 citron pickle

Tiny bottles of pachai kalpooram

Packets of mor molagai, thalir vadaam and sundekkai vatthal

A pretty pavazham necklace, an advance birthday gift for myself

Gopuram memories

Gopuram Kumkum.

A pretty little round tin box in red and yellow. The logo of a temple gopuram printed on it in black.

Fine powder in a beautiful rich red colour.

A divine smell that makes me want to fill the kumkum up in my forehead parting immediately.

A feeling of peace that touches some corner deep in my heart.

Priceless memories of Patti making a perfect circle on her forehead using the kumkum, and a bit of wax, every evening after washing her face with soap and a generous application of Ponds talcum powder.

Memories of boxes of the kumkum arriving at our house via courier, all the way from Madras, from a much-loved grand aunt who is no more.

Sweet childhood memories of dressing up, of draping Amma‘s silk sarees and applying big bindis and pretending to be all grown-up.

Bittersweet memories of an adolescent me wanting to get married so that I could use the kumkum every day, too.

A little bit of Madras that I can carry with me all the way to Bangalore.

A little something that invokes in me the feeling of having reached home, the home of years ago.

It is interesting, the memories and emotions that are triggered by something you come across accidentally in a departmental store. Something that you haven’t seen in years. Sometimes, memories that you didn’t even know you had registered, and emotions that you didn’t even know you had in you.

When I get all of these memories and emotions for a princely sum of Rs. 15, the question of whether to buy it or not is a no-brainer. Of course, I had to get a box bagged and billed, as a souvenir.

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The mater and I are on a short trip to Madras (I can’t get my head around calling it ‘ Chennai’!). This is more of a family trip than a sight-seeing one, one without lists and agendas. I am taking in the sights and sounds and smells of Madras as and when they decide to come to me, and it has been beautiful so far. This particular experience with the Gopuram Kumkum happened this morning, and it left me touched the entire day.  I can’t wait to find out what the rest of the trip has in store for me!