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Devasthana Saaru

When I was a kid, I was not a big fan of Konkani food, but this saaru, I loved. Still do. I’ve been calling it Devasthana Saaru from the time I remember and don’t know if there’s any other name to it. It is served in the temples during carfestival, and so the name. During weddings or special occasions, it is a usual accompaniment to rice.

I got this recipe from my Amma and don’t know if this is exactly how they do it in the temples. But it tastes pretty much similar.

2 tsp oil
3/4 tsp chana dal
1 tsp urad dal
2 tsp coriander seeds
3 to 4 red chillies
1/4 tsp hing powder
1 pinch methi seeds
1 pinch jeera
1 to 2 tbsp grated coconut
1/4 tsp turmeric powder
1 marble-sized tamarind
1 to 2 tbsp chopped jaggery
1 green chilli
2 strands of coriander leaves

To season :
1 tbsp ghee
3/4 tsp mustard seeds
6 to 8 curry leaves

[The chillies typically used are a variety called kumte mirsang. I used 2 kumte mirsang and 2 kashmiri chillies, hence the colour].

Method :
In a shallow bottomed pan, heat oil. Roast ingredients 2 to 8 one by one on medium low flame for a few minutes. When they release an aroma, add grated coconut and roast for a minute. Switch the gas off, sprinkle turmeric powder and allow to cool.

Grind the above with tamarind and enough water to get a smooth paste.

In a deep-bottomed vessel, bring two cups of water to boil. Add slit green chilli and jaggery [I added 2 tbsp of jaggery because I like the way it balances the spice. You can add less if you do not prefer sweetness in the saaru]. When jaggery melts, add ground paste. Add another cup or two of water and bring to a boil. Add salt [I added a little more than 1/2 tsp]. Add coriander leaves.


Season with ghee, mustard seeds and curry leaves.

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