In all honesty I would never dare to compete with the one who cooks South Indian food on a daily basis. Our cuisine uses very little oil and the fat mostly comes from the use of coconut. Even in recipes where coconut is not used, it is a blend of freshly ground spices used with a delicate balance that brings out the best from the dishes. To balance the spices, tang and sweet itself is a challenging act. To say, mastering them to bring out authentic flavors will take years. It's a fear that I would go through one of those catastrophic moments if I tried them in my own kitchen.
There are a several recipes out there that are confined to regions alone, those which rarely make to hotels and restaurants menu cards, and most of our non-Kannadiga pals may have never heard or known of them by taste. Our hotels restrict to publicizing Idli Sambhar, Dosa Chutney or Bisi Bele Bath, touting falsely for all to believe, this is what Kannadigas eat. Which isn't entirely true, really. Nucchinunde is one such breakfast dish I had not heard or eaten anywhere before. It was never made at my mom's place, so I don't know exactly what it tastes like. But on a quick google search for some traditional Karnataka recipes, I came across couple of sites citing Nucchinunde as one of the traditional recipes seen in Karnataka households.
I've tried the recipe from various sites, but the use of tuvar dal alone gives out a strong dal flavor which is not my favorites. So I tweaked the recipe a little by addition of rice flour to suit us. This is loved by all at home and is now this is a regular menu at my place.
1 cup togari bele / tuvar dal / split pigeon peas
2 tbsp rice flour
1 inch ginger chopped
1/4th cup fresh grated coconut
2-3 green chillies
A pinch of hing
Salt to taste
Soak split pigeon peas in water for an hour. Drain out the water completely and grind coarsely without adding water. Add green chillies, finely chopped ginger, fresh grated coconut, salt to taste, hing along with 2 tablespoons of rice flour while grinding.
Pinch balls from the dough and press them between the fingers and palms of your hands such that finger impressions are retained on the dough. Place them in a steamer/rice cooker and steam them for 10-15 mins. Serve hot with coconut chutney and laden with ghee.
1/2 cup grated coconut
2 green chillies
Salt to taste
1 tbsp sour yogurt
1 tsp Oil
1 tsp Mustard seeds
1 tsp Urad dal
Grind the grated coconut with green chillies and salt to taste along with a tbsp of sour yogurt till smooth paste. Transfer this to a serving dish. To temper it, heat some oil, add in mustard and urad dal and let them splutter. Add this to prepared chutney.
The recipe may not be authentic, but is surely traditional. I tweaked the recipe to suit our palate, but you can omit the rice flour and use only tuvar dal if you want to keep it authentic. That way the Nucchinunde will be soft and perfect. Increase in rice flour beyond 2 tablespoons will make the resulting Nucchinunde stiff. Again, there is no hard and fast rule with spices too. It's one of those traditional recipes I make during our festivals and we have come to relish this with either simple coconut chutney, sambhar or vegetable kurma.