06 March, 2008

Saga of Saagu

Vegetable Saagu with Rava Idli

There lived a house wife in some part of Karnataka with her husband, kids, in-laws and other family members. Every morning, be it on weekday or weekend, she would get up early before the golden sun rays caressed the mother earth. With pearls of water adorning her long curly hair and the diamond studded nose ring sparkling from the golden glow of Diyas she entered her humble kitchen to prepare breakfast for her whole family. She had to prepare something which all her family members enjoyed and it was not an easy thing to achieve. To make the matters worse it was month end and there wasn’t many vegetables left in her kitchen pantry to cook with. She wished it was a bad dream and she just have to close her eyes for a second and open to see an array of baskets filled with vegetables which all her family members liked.

But it wasn’t any nightmare and all she could find were few potatoes, some wrinkling carrots, few beans from backyard vegetable garden and a bowl of green peas and lilva which she had shelled a few days before with her mother-in-law and sisters-in-law while gossiping over a cuppa. This wasn’t the thing she expected to cook with, which not only should fill her family’s tummy but also please their palette. Sighing deeply she opened the kitchen cabinet and took out her prized possession, the spice box. She took a pinch of this and handful of that, added touch of this for flavour and splashed little of that for colour. The heady aroma of roasted spices lifted her spirit! With her lifted spirit she ground these spices with freshly grated coconut which she knew for certain will be loved by her family. She added this ground masala to cooked vegetables and let it simmer for the flavour to blend well with the vegetables. While the curry was simmering she made few poories for her children, rotties for her in-laws, fluffy idlies for her sisters-in-law and crispy dosas for her brothers-in-law. To add the final touch she fried some onion rings to golden brown and mixed with the curry. Thus the new dish was born, packed with flavour and oh so aromatic!!! It is what we know today as Vegetable Saagu, a dish which is a crowd pleaser and great side dish for poori, chapatti, rotti, dosa, idli or even with simple steam cooked rice. While roasting the spices I thought this might be the story behind the birth of Veg Saagu :)

Vegetable Saagu is a classic Kannadiga dish. Visit any of the Darshini hotels or Dosa corners and you are sure to see Vegetable Saagu as their signature dish. Just visit any Kannadiga home at breakfast time and the probability of finding Saagu for breakfast is very high. And why not? It is one of the delicious blends of spices with sweet coconut which is sure to show its magic on any vegetables it touches. The leftover vegetables at the weekend or month end dazzle with flavour and aroma and are not less worthy than any other exotic dish. Here is my Amma’s signature Vegetable Saagu recipe which I treasure a lot. It is full of flavours and scores high when it comes to taste department. And I love it more the next day. So don’t forget to make extra batch of Saagu which is sure to blow you away when you taste it next day. I just love the aroma of Saagu which lingers for hours on my finger tips and can’t help but feel hungry again in spite of having it just few minutes back.

Vegetable Saagu
Prep Time: 15 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
Serves: 4-5

1 large Potato, chopped into ½ inch cubes
2 medium Carrots, cubed
Few Cauliflower Florets
½ cup Avarekaalu/Tuvar Lilva
¼ cup Green Peas, fresh/frozen
Few French Beans
Few Flat Beans
(Basically, take about 5-6 cups of mixed vegetables of your choice)
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tbsp Jaggary/Brown Sugar (Adjust acc to taste)
1 tbsp Coriander Leaves, finely chopped
1 large Onion, thinly sliced
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
Big pinch of Hing/Asafoetida
1 tbsp Oil
Few Curry Leaves

For Ground Masala:
1-1½ inch Cinnamon Stick
3-4 Cloves
3-4 Cardamom pods
4-6 Dry Red Chillies (adjust acc to taste)
1 tbsp Coriander Seeds
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
1-2 Green Chillies (Optional)
¾ - 1 cup Coconut, fresh/frozen
1 tbsp Raw Rice, soaked in water for 15 mins
½ tbsp Poppy Seeds
2 tbsp Coriander Leaves, including stems

Roasted Spices for Saagu Masala

Cook vegetables with turmeric powder and salt to taste in a pan or pressure cook till they are fork tender.
While the vegetables are cooking, dry roast all the spices (cinnamon, cardamom, cloves, coriander seeds, jeera, dry red chillies) for 1-2 minutes on a medium to low heat till nice aroma appears.
Grind these spices with coconut, soaked rice, poppy seeds, coriander leaves, and green chillies, if using any, to a smooth paste adding very little water.
Mix this ground paste with cooked vegetables. Add jaggary and adjust the seasoning and let it cook on a medium flame for 15-20 minutes for all the flavours to blend well.
While the Saagu is cooking, heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. When the mustard starts to pop and splutter, add curry leaves and hing. Sauté it for few seconds and add thinly sliced onion. Saute it on a medium flame for about 5-10 minutes till it turns golden brown.
Remove Saagu from fire and mix browned onions and coriander leaves. Cover and let it sit for 10-15 minutes for the flavours to blend well. Serve hot Saagu with Poori, Chapatti, Dosa, Idli or with steaming Rice and enjoy. It tastes better the next day.

Veg Saagu with Rava Idli

Other Saagu Recipes worth trying in Blogsphere
Asha’s Chayote-Carrot-Green Peas Saagu
Latha’s Vegetable Saagu
Sailu’s Veg Saagu with Set Dosa
MT’s Veg Saagu


PhotobucketAn Ode to Potato ends on 15th of March (GMT Time). Send in your entry before the deadline and join us in the singing. Bake, boil, mash, fry, sauté, grill, stuff, cook... The choice is endless.

Deadline: 15th March, 2008

Please go through the guidelines and include all the required information in your post and mail when sending me your entry. Don't forget to add Your Name, Your Blog Name, Name of the Dish you cooked, Perm Link of the entry along with the gorgeous Photo of Potato dish.

Click Here to find out more information on this event.


  1. Love the stories you tell Sia,I am never going to forget the story behind the Saagu ;) This is probably what is called Kurma in TamilNadu yes the heady mixture of coconut, spices and vegetables is hard to resist. Looks lovely.

  2. Namaste London! :D Hey thats a very lovely story, the saagu looks very tasty,with those fried onions! Same pinch, indeed for rava idlis!Wd surely try out your lovely Saagu!

  3. WoW....a lovely recipe & it was wonderful reading the background description...Its really mouth-watering...will try this recipe in the weekend....Wonderful!

  4. Slurp!! I love it. Looks like Kurma than Saagu though. Saagu always has Poppy seeds and green chillies, which is the trade mark of Saagu. I guess different region in K'taka has different recipes. I have got to try your Saagu too with Pooris! YUM! I am drooling already!:)
    Got bread at FH today. One more Bengali post next week and I am off blogging for a month. Got to do Arusuvai too at Aroma before I go.Can't wait to see the Ocean!:))

  5. That is such a colourful dish...thanks for sharing Sup..and those are some gorgeous pics :-)

  6. I loved the story. I love your pictures too, they are so beautiful.
    Never had sagu, but looks delicious.

  7. Rawa Idly and saagu.....Nice combination.....YUM!.....Really want to try it once....Great pictures...

  8. Lovely to read it all Sia.
    I never tried Saagu , yours one is too tempting . A feast for eyes.
    thanks a lot for sharing Sia.
    P.s.-Got your email with entry buddy, thanks a lot, hugs to you .

    Hope K is all fine now.
    Take care.

  9. What a lovely story.
    The saagu looks delicious.

  10. I *adore your writing Sia. I have some odd veges lying around. Thanks for the inspiration.

  11. BEAUTIFUl story! i could almost imagine MOM inventing some lovely dish :). Hugs to you, Sups, for such beautiful creations. Rave idli and saagu do go so well together :). You know my love for rava ;).

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  13. Your story was so much fun to read!! Love your writing style. Saagu sounds really good. Will try this out sometime! :)

  14. you are one great story teller! and a fabulous photographer too! Love the pics of your Saagu spices! Kudos girl!

    And thanks for reminding me about saagu! Had it last week at our SIL's house -with regular idlis!

    Gosh, haven' had rava idli's in ages.

    Hope your travel plans are going well.

  15. wow, you make simple things look so great Sia! the "saga" was entertaining:)

  16. Love the pic of the spice mix. I've made this before...had no idea it was a saagu:-)

  17. Love the story and of course the saagu. Yummy recipe. thanks.

  18. lovely story!pic looks so tempting..especially rava idlis r wondeful.....

  19. Wow...I am drooling and salivating...I love sagu in all its forms. I am going to try this.

  20. Loved the story and the suspense that followed. I loved the Puri, Saagu made in restaurants etc, but I can never make a decent one.
    One question though, I see corriander seeds in the picture for 'Saagu spices', but it is not mentioned in the masala list. How much corriander seeds do you add?
    Thanks for the other links as well.

  21. Sia, surely the housewife of the story is drawn from your own sweet self. I can see you making dosa for this one and poori for that one... :)

    It was a lovely story and also a lovely way to use up the leftover veggies! We're so lucky aren't we, to go shopping more than once a month :)

  22. oh wow!! Saagu looks yummy!! And you said it right Sups.... Its everyones fav dish in k'taka!! the pic with all the roasted spices is fab!!

  23. lovely recipe. i've had something similar with soaked moong dal thrown in. it ads good texture and flavour.

  24. That's a gorgeous pic of the roasted spices, Sia!

  25. I actually thought that story was true:).beautiful presentation and narration as usual:)

  26. I am a big big fan of Idli and I do feel that idli with sambhar is boring sometimes...... so it's gonna be sagu next time!!

    An email coming you way again ;)

  27. Sia, I thoroughly enjoyed reading the saga. Well written. Gorgeous pics, tempting the reader to try them straight away.

  28. lovely story...you make a great story teller!..the recipe sounds like our kurma right..that will be great with everything...

  29. Nice to read sia :) Ofcourse excellent dish ....

  30. I thoroughly enjoy reading your posts dear Sia, it always takes me back in time :) Love the Saagu and the recipe...like the Eggplant curry, the saagu too has its own versions in every household. Amazing pics!!

  31. Lovely picture of the spices! Nice story too! And ofcourse saagu is a favorite in my home!

  32. As usual perfect picture and it says a thousand words...some being.."come eat me"...and hmmmm u r so far away...may be u cud fedex me sometime..:))

  33. spices looks great on Pictures...

    I have to try this..as i have never tried saagu sia..

  34. that saagu is popping off the screen onto my plate here :)
    hv a good wknd sweetie!

  35. Sia.. Today i came to knw the origin of Saagu :) !!
    Lovely story with wonderful saagu !!

    Guess What?? Me being a kannadiga, never tried it :( !! Bit lazy to make it, becoz lengthy procedure :)!!
    I always wanted to try but keep postponing it !! but this time I vil ur version.. :D !!

  36. I LOVE this recipe. By the way, you have just reminded me of the event. Eeeeek. Better get cooking!

  37. This is awesome !!!excellent pics and recipe ....I will surely try this soon!!!

  38. Hey Sia, this saga reminds me of my ammuma's "sholay" - not the movie but a veg dish that's so similar to saagu! Ah, maybe I'll write down that story in one of my posts!!! :)

  39. Hi Sia,

    Fantastic looking and healthy saagu. Thanks for mentioning

  40. Loved the story....very interesting.Though I am from Mangalore,I've never tasted the dish.Thanks for the info :)

  41. Modhalane sari Kannadavara Aduge website nodi kushi hayithu.

  42. Tumba kushi hayithu modalabari kannada cooking recipe website nodi.


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