What I grew up eating…



‘Kodi Tambli’ (Curry with Tender Green Leaves)


I wrote about my attempts to cook fresh, local and seasonal in my last post and I got great response from you all. Thank you so much for all those wonderful comments and e-mails. It really made me happy that people could relate/understand me and appreciate my efforts.

In my about page I have written that I grew up eating hearty healthy Havyaka food. One of my readers who wrote to me is very interested in knowing what exactly Havyaka food is about. She also requested if I could share what kind of food I grew up eating. I have actually shared quite a few of those recipes on the blog but never really mentioned that they are Havyaka.

Today I am sharing a recipe which to me sums up the entire Havyaka cusine. It’s easy to make, extremely healthy, lite and made out of fresh produce from one’s own backyard. This is exactly the kind of food I grew up eating. I think being brought up on food like this helps me want to continue to eat like this. ‘Tambli’ is a favourite dish among all Havyaks. It’s basically a herb/vegetable/greens/fruits/spices ground with coconut and mixed with yogurt/buttermilk, topped with a simple tempering. Most of them are not even cooked. They taste different depending on what it’s mad out of.  The recipe changes according to season, like raw ones in summer to beat the heat and boiled in monsoon for warmth, green mangoes used in mango season and some wild flowers used when they are available only for a couple of weeks in the entire year! My mom probably makes dozens of different varieties of Tamblis and we all loved them even as kids. I can’t recreate most of them in Bangalore as some of the ingredients are simply not available.

I am in my mom’s place right now and the Tambli I am making today is called ‘Kodi Tambli’ (Tambli with tender leaves). It’s a curry made using 6 varieties of tender leaves of plants which are native to us. It has tender Guava leaves, Chashew leaves, Kokum leaves, tender leaves and flowers of Ixora plant (known as ‘kiskara’ in the local language), a couple of petals of Banana Blossoms and tender green Bay Leaves. All these beautiful wild leaves and flowers are quickly boiled till they wilt and then they are ground with coconut. A little bit of yogurt and a simple tempering makes this curry really simple and wholesome.  With the goodness of wild leaves and flowers this Tambli is fed to most new mothers for good health.

I know most of these leaves are not available to most of you. You can make it even if any oen or two of these leaves are available to you. It will not taste the same but it’ll still be good.  Very few of you will actually be able to re-create it exactly the same way but I felt like I just had to document this incredible dish. This is Indian food at its best. Unlike what most of the world thinks, it’s not spicy, greasy or heavy. Instead it’s lite, mild, medicinal and soothing. It has a very unique taste too. It is slightly bitter and sour. I can’t really describe what it smells like; it smells like forest, green and wild! White it tastes best when eaten fresh, it can be consumed for almost a week if boiled every day and stored in a cool dry place, even without refrigeration.

This is exactly the kind of food I grew up eating 🙂 what did you grow up eating?


Banana Blossom


Tender Guava leaves


Tender leaves & flowers of Ixora plant


Tender Kokum leaves


Tender green Bay Leaves


beautiful wild leaves and flowers


A perfect flower basket!


Cleaned and ready to be cooked


just coconut and dry red chili, no other spices used…


A very simple soothing yogurt based curry


lite, mild, medicinal and soothing



  • Tender guava leaves
  • Tender cashew leaves
  • Kokum tender leaves
  • Tender leaves and flowers of Ixora plant
  • Petals of banana blossoms
  • Tender green bay leaves
  • 2 cups of fresh coconut
  • 1 dry red chili
  • 1 cup of sour yogurt
  • Salt


  • Oil
  • Mustard seeds
  • Dry red chili
  • 1 pod garlic finely chopped


Clean all the leaves and flowers and tear them into pieces. Place in a pan with a cup of water and bring it to  boil. Cook for a few minutes till all the leaves wilt. Drain all the bitter water and let the leaves and flowers cool down.

Grind coconut, leaves and dry red chili into a very fine paste adding required amount of water.  Place this paste in a pot. Add the yogurt and salt and mix well. Add enough water to bring the curry to the desired consistency. Now bring the hurry to a boil on low heat. Make sure it doesn’t completely boil. When it almost about to boil turn off the heat.

For the tempering heat the oil in a little pan and add the mustard seeds and dry red chili. When it starts to splutter add the garlic. Fry till the garlic turns golden brown. Pour it over the curry and keep it closed till you are ready to serve it.

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  • Adi

    I’ve been following your blog for several years and have completely fallen in love with Havyaka cuisine. It’s so simple, elegant, beautiful and ingenious. It’s a real pity there are no books documenting this brilliant tradition. Chinmayie, you absolutely must find time in what I can imagine is a crazy schedule to write a seminal work on Havayaka cooking. I can just imagine it now – with all your gorgeous pictures!

  • Ritika

    I must say one of the most authentic recipe sites I have ever visited. I love food eating and making, thanks for these wonderful recipes.

  • prachi

    Hi Chinmayie, I recently stumbled across your blog and I must say your are very talented. I have already bookmarked a couple of recipes to try.
    I am a Saraswat and we love our tambli’s. I especially like the one made from ‘tendli/ ivy gourd’ leaves. Wondering have you tried that. It’s absolutely delicious with hot rice.

    p.s: My grandfather was raised in Puttur, but moved to Mumbai years ago. Happy to see your from the same town!

  • Preethi

    Absolutely beautiful post Chinmayie- wonderful to read and imagine this. Thank you for sharing!

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  • notyet100

    This looks so exotic,..:) ,thanks for sharing ,

  • Abi

    I’m re-visiting this blog post, as it’s very unique and authentic. Never thought this type of a simple dish can be made in Indian cuisine.

    As a Sri Lankan, I’ve grown up eating weird leaves like pumpkin leaves, thavasi murunga and even banana blossoms. But we always make varai with each one of them never combined them all.

    It looks very exotic. Keep it up gal. I’ve always wanted to see this part of India, looks like a lovely country side similar to my home town. Tnx for taking us there. Because i’ve only seen busy cities like cheannai

  • Sylvie @ Gourmande in the Kitchen

    I love learning more about the types of foods and cuisines people grew up with, thanks for sharing with us.

  • Christy

    What an amazing collection of wild leaves and flowers to use in cooking!:) I have seen those flowers; some are in my garden but I never did know they can be used for cooking too 😉

  • Tanvi@SinfullySpicy

    Beautiful pictures!! I have few recipes with leaves simmered in curry in my family but not with flowers. This is totally new & looks amazingly healthy! Are all those plants from your kitchen garden? They look so healthy & green!

  • Jacob

    I had never heard of Tambli before this. It looks delicious. BTW, great photography! It’s what lured me in here plus the curry. I live in Virginia, USA and most Indian ingredients we get come dried. Would they still work for this recipe?

    • Chinmayie

      Hey Jacob! Thank you… I am sorry but I don’t think you will be able to use dried ingredients in this recipe. These leaves and flowers are the main ingredients in this dish so everythign depends on their freshness 🙂

      • Jacob

        No worries. I’ll keep an eye out for them in specialty markets or try to find an online supplier. I would still love to try that recipe sometime.

  • Bree

    That looks amazing–and lovely pics!

  • Nash at Plateful

    Wow, this’s nice. I’ve never cooked with guava leaves or Ixora flowers. All I’ve used in cooking is the bay leaf–fresh and dry. I’m intrigued to try cooking with these tender leaves after seeing this post. Fantastic.

    Thanks for the inspiration hon!

  • leaf (the indolent cook)

    Thank you for sharing this. I don’t think I’ve eaten a dish like this before and it’s really interesting to me!

  • Princy

    feel\healthy just looking at it!

  • Soumya

    Thanks for this recipe. My grandma would make this tambuli..my favourite of all tambulis 🙂 Since all these ingredients are easily available to me, I’m going to try it out soon 🙂

  • Poornima

    Looks delicious…Wonderful post…

  • sreelu

    Chinmayee, what a beautiful recipe NEVER heard of using all these fresh leaves and flower, must have tasted divine. thanks for sharing !!

  • Shruti

    I had lot of Havyaka friends and they always made me taste their authentic food. They are truly fresh and flavourful. I will be excited to learn the recipes from you and surprise my friends !

  • dassana@vegrecipesofindia

    such beautiful pics… i have seen the flowers of ixora plant before, but i did not know its name…

    such a lovely traditional recipe…. thanks for sharing, chinmayie.

  • Saee Koranne-Khandekar

    This is my idea of exotic! Move over fancy lettuce and artichokes! Lovely, lovely recipe, Chinmayie! And how lucky you are to have access to all this gorgeousness!

  • Brooke

    What I wouldn’t give to come to dinner at your Mother’s house! This looks so wonderful!

  • Shalini

    I love Mangalorean cooking. What a lovely Tambli. Beautiful clicks. Awesome post.

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