Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Open Sesame

Yes, there’s the answer - those photos in the previous two posts were of sesame paste and what it ultimately became _ Nuvvula Porutu (which translates as Scrambled Sesame). This is a very unusual dish that I came across in a Telugu cookbook called ‘Kantamani Vantakalu’ by Ms J. Kantamani. This is just the second time that I'm making it - the first time, it turned out bitter, this time, not too bitter. The bitterness had to do with the time it was kept on the stove but I think I have the solution.

I'm not having fun doing this post because of various reasons. I'm agonised about whether it will go through, and I just discovered that posting through Flickr is eating up the right side of the photo. That means another round of help forums and I'm really tired of that, what with all the trouble Blogger is giving me publishing photos! So I'll go straight to the recipe.

Sesame seeds – 200 gm
Onions – 5 (big), chopped
Oil – 8 tsp
Green chillies – 6, minced
Salt – to taste
Chilli powder – 1-1/2 tsp
Turmeric – ½ tsp
Curry leaves, chopped coriander – a little
Garam masala/curry powder – ½ tsp (optional)

Wash and soak the sesame seeds for 30 minutes or more. Grind into a fine paste (well, as fine as you can).

Heat the oil in a pan, fry the onions and green chillies well.

Now add the salt, chilli powder and turmeric and turn the heat down to the lowest setting.

Now add this paste, curry leaves and coriander to the onions in the pan, give it a quick and thorough stir (be careful) and add the curry powder if you’re using it. Remove from the heat.

Don’t ignore it or take it easy while it’s in the pan – it will go from nutty and sweet to bitter in a jiffy! The book says it is supposed to taste sweet. I, of course, took my own sweet time to take it off the fire – but it was much better than my first attempt.

The solution I mentioned above: the key words are ‘quick and thorough stir’. A couple of swishes of the ladle, and please turn off the heat, you can continue mixing it later if you feel the spices haven’t melded for a uniform colour.

I really don’t have any information on the history of this dish or where it’s made, in which part of Andhra Pradesh. Definitely not where I’m from, what we mostly see there of sesame is something called a ‘jeedi’, a hard ball of candy made with jaggery. And, of course, gingelly oil, which is extracted from sesame seed. And as a sprinkling for ariselu (adirasam in Tamil). So maybe this is from Telangana or Rayalaseema where sesame is used more widely to give body to curry bases, as in the famous Mirchi Ka Salan of Hyderabad.

I love its warm, mellow, nutty taste, but be aware that it’s one of the most notorious allergens the world knows!

This is to be eaten with rice!

I’m sending this off to Latha of Masala Magic who’s hosting RCI-AP this month.


  1. Hi Sra, thanks for visiting my blog. Misery loves company! BTW, you might want to cross your fingers and download firefox. It was quite painless in my case (of course that is not guarantee!)

  2. BTW the Nuvvula Puruntu looks yummy. I should pester one of my various Andhraite friends to make some for me! Work right now is so busy I haven't been doing too much experimantal cooking lately :-(

  3. what is the trouble u are having with blogger? is this a snack or a side dish?

  4. Hope you have switched to Beta and change the browser to FireFox,it really helps.
    Nuvvulu stuff looks good.I bought Nuvvulu podi from the Indian store,didn't like it much.It's slightly bitter.
    We call Til sweet as Ellu Unde,it's okay too.Guess I don't like til much!!:P

  5. Sra,

    eppudu vina ledu e dish gurinchi, I love sesame seeds, thanks for the recipe

  6. Sra, what is this dish usually eaten with rice and or roti?

    I do understand your frustrations about uploading photos.

    When you've added them from flickr, click to html and adjust the size to fit your margins.

    I use blogger and (knock wood), apart from the fact the reproduction is not as clear as I would like to be, I generally do not have a problem.

  7. My guess was totally wrong :))
    This sesame dish sure looks interesting. Its first time I have seen a savoury dish made with only sesame seeds.Good for winters becoz of the heat.
    Thanks Sra for sharing this lovely recipe :)

  8. Hi SJ, thanks for visiting. I'm steeling myself to stop bothering about Blogger, photos etc for at least one day - I'm tired of it. yep, misery loves co, that's exactly what I said somewhere else!
    Mallugirl, I'm not able to upload pix. This is to be had with rice, I updated the post after I saw your comment.
    Asha, I switched to Beta long ago. I don't much like the Til sweet, it's not bitter but it's too hard.
    Sreelu, it's new to me too!
    Cynthia, I guess you can eat it with both, and probably even use it to top digestive biscuits! I switched to flickr only because Blogger is causing problems. I'm not v tech savvy, and don't know how to adjust margins (I saw the HTML, didn't understand) I've posted questions on Blogger Help Forum, let's see if someone can help.
    Try it and let me know if it worked for you, Archana!

  9. Oh Sra, 1 tsp jeera for tadka , and again 1 Tablespoon jeera roasted and ground coarsely to be added separately,along with 1 Tablespoon coriander seeds powder :))) Do try it :)

  10. Sra, at last, the cat's out...that's such a new recipe for me...we do use sesame seeds in our cooking, but this is definitely different...

  11. so it was sesame! u did fool me this time;) i am not a gr8 fan of sesame usually avoid using it. may be its coz of all those sesame laddus my amma used to stuff in mouth when i was a kid which had completely put me off from having it now;) but i love that serving dish:)
    u r still having prob with loading the picture? i had same prob when i was using firefox browser but it works fine with IE. loading photoes in flickr or photobucket is much better than uploading pictures via blogger and the picture quality is also lots better than blogger.

  12. Archana, okay, that will be tomorrow's dish! I have both the coriander and cumin powders!
    Sunita, it's unusual to me too, we don't use too much sesame in our cooking except its oil!
    Sia, yes, that serving dish was lying ignored all these days! I'm glad I found it! Yes, still have problems with Blogger upload of pix. I've been contacting them and posting messages on help fora like a maniac hoping Blogger will notice!

  13. Sra,I am from Telegana, I don't think this curry comes from that side. The bitterness comes even from Chutneys if you put them long on the stove, I guess we have to follow the same procedure.

  14. hey SRA, never heard of this one. very new to me. when I come to India, I have in mind to get lot of books on cooking. rare one for RCI. keep it up.

  15. Hi Lata, I wonder where it's from - this is the only book/source that I've seen it in/heard about.
    Sharmi, not sure if there are any new Telugu books (if you meant those) but if you don't have any, the old ones are good buys.

  16. a new savory dish with sesame! i mostly use it in tadka and to make laddu! would love to try this in a small quantity to start with :)

  17. This sounds very aunthentic. I like sesame seeds. Will try this some time.Thans for sharing:-)

  18. I would have never guessed!!

    Hmm, you are having problems with Blogger...switch to WordPress - they have cool smileys too :-)

    And you got my quiz right!

  19. What a fascinating recipe! I would love to give this a go!
    And I think the picture looks great!

  20. Richa, sesame in tadka is new to me, I've only thought about it, not done it!
    Meena, thanks. See you around!
    Anita, true, I like the smileys in Wordpress. I'm giving Blogger a v long rope, let's see!
    Thank you, Freya & Paul, I think the gleaming copper did it!

  21. I have never heard about this dish before. Our extended families are scattered through out kosta and rayalaseema areas. Never came across this. Unique entry for RCI.

  22. You guys use sesame in your cooking a lot I guess. I don't even have sesame at home :(. Would love to get hold of some one who could let me sample this

  23. Suma, yes, the origin of this dish is a great mystery, I'm now wondering if it belongs to AP at all!
    Sandeepa, visit me!

  24. Looks good SRA... I think many Andra dishes are prepared with sesame and peanuts...

  25. sra , just my thoughts , this is a great curry... commonly made by coastal andhra people... they love to sprinkle anything with sesame and make a famous curry called telakapindi kura , telakapindi is the leftover husk/powder after the oil is squeezed from the til in a traditional mill, remember ganuga eddu ? the ox is made to go around in circles and is tied to a ganuga to ge t the oil out? It is commonly used as koora podi in many dishes . u will find it any pachadi store in hyderabad. I recently got a pack from India. this curry is also fed to mothers just after delivery to regain strength.