22 July, 2011

Horse Gram/Huruli & Bimbli Saaru: Hot, Spicy and Comforting

 Horse Gram/Huruli & Bimbli Saaru/Rasam

Few days back everything seemed perfect! Bright and beautiful summer days, lovely blue sky with puffy white clouds, chirpy birds singing happy songs, and my lil pea healthy and happy! Ah, happy days... filled with sunshine, laughter and good fun.

And then everything changed with a blink of an eye. First the weather turned dark and gloomy and along it brought cold, cough and horrible chest infection! Within a day, my happy, giggly, and naughty boy turned clingy, tired and, heartbreakingly, cry baby and who could blame him for that! With quick visit to doctor’s clinic and seven days antibiotic course later, he is back to his normal self. Since he started going to day care a month and half back, every week he comes back with one infection or the other. If it was flu last week, it could be runny nose, fever or cough in next week. Every single person I know and meet has been assuring me that it will end soon as sweet lil pea is building his immunity against all infections, virus and all other nasty things. I hope they are right.Well, I know that they are right. But who will tell this to mother’s fragile heart as it starts shedding bucket loads of tears whenever it sees her baby suffering!

Just when everything seemed to be getting back to normal, my health has taken topsy-turvy and now its my turn to cough till I can actually feel my guts crying in pain! For first two nights, I am competing with night owls and I think I almost managed to take away the price by staying awake whole night. Thankfully with the help of some medicine, hot soups and warm cups of turmeric-pepper milk, I am almost back on my feet. As it is, I miss my mom everyday. But when you are feeling low or ill, you miss her all the more. Oh, how I wish to hug her and keep my head on her lap while she lovingly runs her fingers on my hair and makes me feel really loved and cared. Oh, how I wish... Nothing can replace mother and mother’s love...

But there are few things that can cheer your mood, make happy and lift your spirit when you are feeling low and ill. One such thing is comfort food; a streaming hot bowl of rasam/soup, a bar of chocolate, a plate of steaming rice, dal and ghee, bowl of Ganji (Rosematta rice porridge) with tender mango pickle, a carton of your favourite ice cream or any such food that makes you, well, happy! When it comes to comfort food I usually fall for a bowl of hot, spicy and delicious bowl of Saaru/Rasam with fluffy steam cooked rice and papad. And its same bowl of rasam that clears blocked noses and comforts the tired lungs after sleepless nights.

One such Rasam I was craving for was my mother’s famous Hose Gram/Huruli and Bimbli Saaru/Rasam also known as Kudu Saaru in Uduli/Mangalore. For some of you Bimbli may be something new or something that you may never have come across.
Bimbli (Averrhoa bilimbi) is multi-lobed, oblong fruit with a pale green waxy skin and crunchy but watery flesh, very similar to the star fruit, although the flesh is much more acidic.

A pretty, usually small or medium sized tree growing to 15-30ft. The leaves are borne on leaflets often containing several dozen smaller leaf-pairs, which close together at night. Flowers bloom from the trunk, often in great number toward the bottom of the tree. Fruits follow, and a single tree often produces hundreds and hundreds of fruits.
(Source: here)

Bimbli Fruits

In Udupi-Managalorean region, Bimbli is a common plant/tree grown in backyards. I have literally grown eating tender Bimbli sprinkled with little salt and red chilli powder almost everyday. When short of tamarind or other souring agents, Amma simply would replace them with Bimbli as they are available throughout the year. Bimbli is used in making simple Tambli, sweet and sour Gojju, instant pickle and also as souring agent in simple Dal, Saaru/Rasam. Isn’t it wonderful to have something that you can simply pluck from tree and use it in recipes as and when required? Usually Tamarind is used as souring agent in Hose Gram Saaru/Rasam but my Amma’s secret ingredient, Bimbli, gives it a wonderful twist and every one of us end up having second or third servings of this wonderful Hose Gram/Huruli and Bimbli Saaru/Rasam.

Ingredients for Horse Gram/Huruli & Bimbli Saaru/Rasam

Horse Gram/Huruli & Bimbli Saaru/Rasam (Spicy South Indian soup of Horse gram with Bimbli and Garlic)
Prep Time: 5 mins
Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 5-6 people
Recipe Level: Intermediate
Spice Level: Medium to Hot
Shelf Life: 3 days when refrigerated
Serving Suggestion: With Rice, Ghee and Papads

1 cup Horse gram
6-8 Bimbli, quartered OR 1 large marble sized Tamarind Pulp, soaked in ¼ cup hot water and juice extracted
1 tsp Jaggary/Gud/Cane Sugar
¼ tsp Haldi/Turmeric Powder (optional)
Salt to taste

For Spice Paste:
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
1 tsp Methi/Fenugreek Seeds
1 tbsp Coriander Seeds
5-7 Byadagi/Kashmiri or any mild chillies (adjust acc to taste)
1 tbsp fresh/frozen Coconut, grated (optional)

For Tadka/Tempering:
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
1-2 Dry Red Chillies, halved
Few Curry Leaves
10-12 small Garlic pods/cloves or 5-6 large thinly sliced pods
A big pinch of Hing/Asafoetida
1 tbsp Oil (preferably Coconut Oil)

 Horse Gram/Huruli & Bimbli Saaru/Rasam
Dry roast  horse gram or huruli for 3-4 minutes on medium flame till it turns light brown. This step is optional but roasting gives it a wonderful aroma.
Once roasted, cook the horse gram with enough water and turmeric powder in a pressure cooker for 15 minutes (3 whistles). Release the pressure from pressure cooker completely before opening the lid.
Meanwhile, prepare the spice mix. Dry roast fenugreek seeds, on low flame, till it turns golden brown and keep it aside. Next, dry roast cumin seeds, coriander seeds and dried red chilles on low flame for 2 minutes. Let the spices cool down completely before grinding them to fine powder in coffee grinder or mixer grinder.
Take ¼ of cooked horse gram, spice mix and grated coconut, if using, and grind them to smooth paste by adding little water. Keep it aside.
Add around 2 cups of water to cooked horse gram and bring it to boil.
Mix in Bimbli or tamarind extract, ground paste, jaggary and salt to taste and cover and cook on low flame for 10-12 minutes for all the flavours to blend well.
Take off the lid and add little more water to get the required consistency and cook for another 5 minutes.
Meanwhile, prepare the tadka for Horse Gram/Huruli Saaru/Rasam. Heat oil and add peeled garlic pods. Fry them till they start to turn light golden in colour. Then add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, dry red chillies, curry leaves and hing one after the other. Just when mustard seeds start to pop and splutter and garlic cloves turns to brown in colour, transfer the tempering to Saaru/Rasam and mix well.
Switch off the flame and set it aside covered for 5-10 minutes for all the flavours to blend well.
Serve this finger licking delicious Horse Gram/Huruli and Bimbli Saaru/Rasam with fluffy Rice, Ghee and Papads or just serve as the delicious bowl of Soup and enjoy the goodness!

 Horse Gram/Huruli & Bimbli Saaru/Rasam

Sia’s Notes:
  • Replace Bimbli with Tamarind pulp. Take one large marble sized tamarind pulp and soak it in hot water for 10 minutes. Extract the juice out of it by using your fingers and discard the pulp. Save this tamarind extract for cooking and follow the recipe.
  • Use of coconut is optional. Coconut lends creamy texture and wonderful flavour to Saaru/Rasam.
  • By grinding ¼ of cooked lentils gives little body to the rather thin Rasam. If you prefer thin Rasam then simply skip this step or grind just little cooked horse gram.


  1. Where did you get Bimpuli from??
    We have a little Bimpuli plant and I have been checking for some fruits every time I visit my mom's place. Haven't got any yet!
    I have never had this combo before... love huruli saaru though!

  2. Sai glad you are ok. Your kid ,is it Parth? will be fine, and grow up to be a strong healthy kid.
    New to me. But love this one. Will search for hurli now for I am sure my hubby will love it especially since it has garlic well fried in it.

    Thanks for the tip of frying garlic first then adding mustard. I used to do it the other way round and wonder:0

  3. Never seen or heard about them. Maybe it is used in Tamilnadu but I am not familiar.
    Saaru looks delicious.

  4. Bimbli is a very new fruit for me. I never heard or saw about it. Love to know something new. Recipes and pics look great !!!

  5. Please could you tell me where you find Bimbli in the UK? I have lived there for almost 10 years and never managed to find it.

    I love saar... its my favourite!

  6. Nothing can replace mothers love,rasam looks so good :)

  7. Best wishes for everyone feeling healthy. That beautiful food will surely help!

  8. Lovely saaru, wonderful ingredients, it looks and sounds so earthy and delicious.

  9. Huruli saaru is our family fav!!! Tastes even better the next day.. :) We have relatives who carry this saaru all the way home to mumbai from udipi!! Adding bimbli is a nice twist & looking forward to more of ur mom`s such tips & tricks on monsoon spice!!!
    Prathima Rao
    Parts Corner

  10. Bimbli Fruit is very new for me, that pic is gorgeous!!

  11. Thank you all :)

    Michelle, this pic was taken when i was visiting my parents in december.

  12. I love bimbuli & its preps.... Dodamma made aswesome tilisaaru with them which made me eat 2-3 morsels more than what I regularly eat..... & would still long for more..... Would love to try this prep for sure..... You space has come back revived... Wishes & Hugs)))

    Ash.... :)

  13. Lovely recipe and a great start for me to prepare horse gram (which I recently bought for first time). Alas, I now have no idea what bimbli is. LOL! Always something new to investigate - I love it.

  14. @Ash, lol.. I do the same... I always end up eating lil extra whenever my amma makes this saar :D

    @Susan, u can substitue Bimbli fruit with tamarind extract or tamarind paste.

  15. Hi sia,
    Any idea where can I get horse gram in UK? Right now i have some from India. I checked in asian groceries but could'nt find.

  16. @Arc, I have seen it in a Gujarati shop. You can ask the shop owner of your regular Indian grocery shop to get it for you.


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