south india cooking

chuchu palya

8th January 2020

I  planted a chuchu vine 2 years ago, the first year it took off with great enthusiasm climbing up and over anything in its path. By the middle of Autumn, it was covered in small white flowers which sadly fell to the ground. This year, those white flowers turned into little buds, which grew into tiny, then small, then medium, then big chuchu. Lots of them! There are so many hidden amongst the leafage that when I think that I have picked them all, a few days later I come away with another basket full!

~locally known as Chuchu, Seemebadanekaayi in South India, Chayote in Mexico and Choko in Australia~

chuchu palya

Preparation –  25 minutes

Serves 2 – 3

Use heaped spoon measurements unless otherwise stated.


2 Tbsp peanut oil

1 medium/360g chuchu

½ cup water

⅓ cup dried shredded coconut

1 tsp fine rock salt

1 tsp jaggery

¼ cup coriander leaves, chopped


½ tsp black mustard seeds

1 Tbsp channa dal

tsp asafoetida powder

tsp turmeric powder

15 curry leaves

to serve

carrot palya  (Instead of grating, cut the carrot into small uniform cubes. When cooking, add a ¼ cup water and simmer uncovered until the water evaporates.)


spicy amla pickle

round brown rice


1.  Peel the chuchu and finely chop into small uniform cubes. Set aside.

2.  In a skillet, over medium-high heat, pour in the oil, add the mustard seeds and split channa dal – fry until the mustard seeds pop and channa dal starts to turn golden-brown.

3.  Add the asafoetida, curry leaves and turmeric – fry for a few seconds.

4. Add the water and stir in chuchu, simmer uncovered for 10 minutes then cover and simmer, stirring often  – approximately 5 minutes or until the chuchu is cooked and water has eliminated.

5.  Turn off the heat, add the dried coconut, salt, jaggery and coriander. Stir to combine.


  • Towards the end of cooking stir in ½ cup full-fat yoghurt.

tomato gojju

23rd July 2014


Over the last few days, I have been working in the garden under slow-falling, drizzle of rain, the gentlest of winds and splashes of the warmest of sunshine.  Soaking up the rain, sun, light and listening to the morning and evening chorus, sipping warm tea on the garden bench.  Enjoying seeing all those plants, seedlings and fruits



I ‘m







get to do it




tomato gojju

Inspired by ‘Mysore Style Cooking’ by Sandhya.

I have not made these fermented mung bean patties for quite some time.  With this welcome wave of hot weather, they ferment quickly.  I soak in the night, grind in the morning and ferment all day, ready for dinner tonight.  Perfect with this tomato gojju, a simple carrot palya and guacamole.


3 Tbsp ghee or peanut oil

½ tsp black mustard seeds

1 Tbsp split channa dal

1 tsp split urad dal

¼ tsp asafoetida powder

1 Tbsp ginger, finely chopped 

½ red capsicum, finely chopped

8-10 curry leaves

¼ tsp turmeric powder

500g tomatoes, finely chopped

1 heaped tsp fine rock salt

1 heaped tsp jaggery/brown sugar

1 heaped tsp rasam powder (moderately spiced)

½ – 1 tsp tamarind paste

2 Tbsp coconut grated

a handful of fresh coriander, finely chopped

to serve 

mung bean pattiesdosa /rice



1.  In a medium skillet, over medium-high heat, add mustard seeds; when they start to splutter and pop, add the channa and urad dal – fry until both dal turn golden-brown.

2.  Add the asafoetida powder and ginger – fry for a few seconds, stirring to allow the spices to fry evenly, then stir in the capsicum and curry leaves – fry for 1 minute.

3.  Add in the turmeric powder and tomatoes  – mix well, cover and cook for 15 -20 minutes, stirring occasionally.

4.  Add the salt, jaggery, rasam powder, tamarind paste, coconut and fresh coriander – allow to sit for 5 minutes, taste, adding more sweet or sour, if needed.


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