Bhath ( pronounced “bath”) in Kannada means mixed rice. It refers to an almost inexhaustible family of vegetarian friendly dishes. It is great for when you have many guests and you don’t want to spend the evening explaining what goes with what and how to eat it. All you need to do is serve bhath hot or cold, on its own or with a bit of raita (plain unsweetened yoghurt with salt and grated cucumber). One thing you do need to make in advance is the bhath mix which is a powdered mixture of all the spices required. The mix keeps for months so you don’t have to make it each time. I have a recipe for the bhath mix, the bhath itself and a simple raita. Hope you like it!
At the same time as I was in Rome, my extended family in India were celebrating a harvest festival called ‘Pongal’ (pronounced ‘pon’ as in pontiff and ‘gal’ as in seagull) in the state of Tamil Nadu and ‘Sankranti’ (pronounced ‘sun’ + ‘kra as in kraal+’ n’ + ‘thi’ as in ‘thick’) in the state of Karnataka. This festival marks the end of the winter and the beginning of the new harvest season in these parts of the country.
Wikipedia explains quite nicely how the festival is celebrated in the state of Karnataka http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makar_Sankranti#Karnataka and in the state of Tamil Nadu http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Makar_Sankranti#Tamil_Nadu. Since both my parents grew up in Tamil Nadu but my sister and I were brought up in Karnataka, we grew up celebrating both versions of this harvest festival. The Tamil version involves the preparation of this rice and lentil porridge called ‘Pongal’ where the festival gets its name from. It is a dish that I fondly remember from my childhood days and is a recipe I learnt from mum who learnt from her mum. It comes in a sweet version – Sakkara pongal (meaning sugary pongal) and Venn pongal (meaning savoury pongal). I will share recipes for both dishes with you in separate pages to make reading easier and the next time I make them at home, I’ll put up a picture or two.
As wikipedia quite rightly describes, Upma (Tamil) and Uppittu (Kannada) are the amalgamation of two separate words (The ‘U’ in both words is pronounced as in blue). In both languages ‘Uppu’ means salt. ‘Ma’ is short for ‘maavu’ in Tamil which means flour. Similarly, in Kannada ‘ittu’ is short for ‘hittu’ which also means flour. So essentially, it means ‘salty flour’. Upittu is dish ideal for situations where you have lots of visitors and not much time or patience. It is also great for a quick meal and finishing of leftover vegetables. Not surprisingly, it is quite filling and dad has nicknamed it ‘concrete’ because according to him, once it gets into your belly, it just sits there forever.
This blog is not about the traditional upma/uppittu which Wikipedia describes pretty well (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Upma) but a recipe for a cheat’s take on it. Instead of semolina, which is used in the authentic version, I use bits of white bread. This can also be substituted with left over rotis/chappatis/wraps and any slightly stale bread. Continue reading