Haal saaru

'Haal saaru' means milk curry. This is an age old classic curry. It has been cooked for generations. My great grand mom would say, in the winter, when you had very few vegetables in your farm (that is India, grow your own vegetable garden, no wonder they were so healthy and lived to be a hundred), or when you were sick, and your taste buds need a kick of spice, this was a lip smacking curry to warm you up.  
     I love my great grand mom. There is not a thing I did not learn from her. She lived long, and my sisters and I were fortunate to have spent our lives with her. She died in her late 90’s, when I just finished my bachelor’s degree.  In those days, she was a mom of two daughters, who lost her husband in her early 20’s. She never remarried, and she spent her whole life, looking after the plant nursery with her dad. She is my rock, my inspiration.

OK, back to Haal saaru :-)
What mom uses:  Serves 4
2 cups cubed sorekaay (bottle gourd)/heerekaay (ridge gourd)/potatoes
1 cup thogrikaalu (pigeon peas)/avrekaalu(Surti Papdi kidney beans)/fresh raw peanuts
3tsp ghasghase(in kanndad) khus khus (poppy seeds)
3tsp dry coconut
1tsp black pepper seeds
4 to 6 dry red chillies
2 large garlic petals peeled
Salt to taste
2Tbsp milk
For the tempering: 1/2tsp mustard seeds, few curry leaves, 2 dry red whole chilies and 1tsp ghee/oil.

In a shallow pan, on medium heat, roast the khus khus(to a light brown), pepper seeds and red chilies. Turn off the heat. Add the dry coconut and garlic petals. When warm, grind it in a blender to make a fine paste with little water. 

Cook the beans in 1 cup water, when it is half cooked; add in the cubed gourd or potatoes. Add salt to taste (If you are using the green bottle gourd, remove the large seeds in the middle, and then cut to cubes). Don’t overcook the gourd. When it is crunchy and half cooked, add the ground paste. Bring to a constant simmer on low heat, for about 7 minutes. 

In a small pan, add 1tsp ghee/oil. Toss some mustard seeds, curry leaves, and dry red chilies. Once they splatter, add it to the simmering curry. Serve piping hot. 

Just before you serve, add milk. Use less milk, if you like a spicy curry. It tastes yum with steamy soft rice or ragi mudhe. Enjoy!