Uppu saaru, or sappe saaru as it’s called, is the most staple food of Mandya, a prominent district of Karnataka, India, famous for its sugarcane and kannada ( language of Karnataka ) lovers!
It can be made from a combination of lentils and vegetables, beans or greens. I have used avrekaai (green kidney bean) and cabbage in this dish.
Here is what I used: Serves 4
2 cups fresh or frozen avarekaai beans (Surti lilva/green kidney beans)
2 cups cabbage diced medium or small pieces
8-10 green hot chilies
1 cup fresh cilantro (coriander)
½ tsp jeera (cumin seeds)
¼ tsp black pepper seeds
2-3 medium sized garlic petals
½ tsp tamarind paste or ¼ inch whole tamarind.
Salt to taste
1 small onion diced (to temper the boiled vegetables)
1 small onion (cut into two, keep one half on the stove, on direct flame or electric coil, so its charred,use the other raw half as is, set aside)
Add about 2-3cups of water into a quart or cooker pan and bring it to a boil on high heat. Toss in the avarekaai, and whole green chilies, cook for about 10 minutes till the bean is nearly soft. Add the diced cabbage and salt. Boil on medium heat till the cabbage is slightly soft but crunchy.
Turn off the heat now, and strain the whole water and vegetable mixture in a colander (strainer bowl). Let the cabbage cool. In the meantime, get the charred and raw onion, the boiled green chilies from the colander, garlic, jeera, pepper seeds, cilantro, tamarind and about 2 Tbsp of the boiled avrekaai . Grind it all together to a thick paste.
Traditionally, uppu saaru is served as a thick green paste, on the side, the filtered vegetable water, and boiled vegetables with boiled rice or ragi mudhe (finger millet flour formed to a dough ball in boiling hot water). My kids and I prefer the modified form. Mix the ground paste with the boiled vegetable water to form a curry. Temper it with mustard and cumin seeds in ghee or hot oil.
For the boiled vegetables, they can be eaten as is, or tempered with some onions, red pepper flakes, kadale and uddina bele (again dals). Don’t forget to check the salt and add more if needed. Enjoy!
Here is another combination of the curry you may like: Hesarakalu uppu saaru