Bisi bele bhath or Hot vegetable and lentil rice

Bisi (pronounced : be+see) bele (pronounced : bay+lay) bhath (pronounced : bath) is an old stalwart in the Bangalorean/Kannada kitchen. Simply put, it is a one pot dish consisting of rice, yellow lentils (split pigeon peas or toor dal), assorted vegetables and optional dollops of ghee/butter. It is one of those dishes that will always be dear to my heart and my taste buds and I’m very glad my husband loves it too. My version has red-skinned peanuts in it which my mum would absolutely shun but hey, it’s MY version.

The last time I made this dish was while I was on holiday and was busy playing with my then recently acquired Nokia D200. The result was a somewhat burnt spice mix (shhh), lots of not-so-great pictures (that caused the burning) but a delicious bisi bele bhath for a rather late lunch / early dinner. I have given you the recipe for the spice mix as well as the dish itself. Hope you will give it a go!

Bisi bele bhath with greek yoghurt on the side

Bisi bele bhath with greek yoghurt on the side – It tastes better than in looks, I promise

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Methi Aloo Bhath (Mixed rice with potatoes and fenugreek leaves)

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!

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Moolangi sambhar or A thick lentil-based Daikon/Radish soup

I will use these terms interchangeably in this post – moolangi, mooli, daikon, radish.  Moolangi or daikon (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Daikon) is a long, white, carrot like vegetable and brings back many childhood memories. As a child, I absolutely hated it. Not because it tasted bad, but every time mum cooked it, the house smelt like half a dozen cows were simultaneously having tummy problems. Mum would make moolangi rotis using grated daikon but the first step to that was squeezing out all the liquid from the grated daikon. The juice was particularly pungent and I would avoid loitering around the kitchen whenever moolangi was on the menu. As I said before, the smell was the main deterrent but the taste of the soft rotis and the mollangi sambhar that mum made was always very good.

As a mature adult (ahem), when mum or I cook moolangi now, I don’t go around with my fingers pinching my nose any more. Having lived away from home for so long, I crave moolangi sambhar every now and then. I happened to spot daikon in our local supermarket one evening and got very very excited. This recipe is a result of my excitement.

If you are wondering what “sambhar” is, it is a thick, tangy, lentil-based soup. Like a lot of South Indian dishes, the centre piece of sambhar is the spice mix or sambhar powder. Unlike its South Indian companion Rasam, sambhar does not contain any tomatoes but often contains various vegetables including moolangi.

Moolangi sambhar with rice and poppadum

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Rasam (Tamil) or Saaru (Kannada) – A spicy South Indian tomato soup (with pictures)

The recipe for ‘rasam‘ was my very first recipe post and rasam is what my site is named after. However, I realised recently that I hadn’t posted any pictures for this lovely dish. It just so happened that I made some this weekend and I took some pictures this time. So here they are along with some minor changes to the recipe.

The essence of this delicious dish is the spice mix called  rasam podi or saaru pudi. This is the mixture of spices that gives Rasam it’s unique taste. It is pepper and chilly based and is the cure for many a common malaise (Read about them in my Old wives’ page for Rasam).

The rasam or saaru powder is special in that every south Indian household has their own take on it. This is passed on through generations of mums, grandmas and greatgrandmas and in my opinion is the most valuable form of inheritance – knowledge. Needless to say, every south Indian person tends to be partial to their mum’s/grandma’s/greatgrandma’s take on the dish and I’m no exception. My mum’s rasam is the best rasam in the world and she makes it exactly like her mum did. Even as a child, I was unimpressed with the other rasams in the area and would report back to mum about how the rasam next door wasn’t the greatest. Never mind being thankful for the invitation to eat there.

Without much ado, let me give you the recipe for mum’s rasam podi and rasam itself.

Saaru or Rasam

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Sakkara Pongal (sweet lentil and rice porridge)

The last time I posted, I talked about the savoury version of this dish called Venn Pongal. It’s now time for the sweet version. Indian desserts are not everyone’s cup of tea but having grown up eating them, my palette can take a fair amount of sweetness. Of course, I’m also genetically and geographically predisposed to Type II Diabetes (I wonder why) and so I have to watch what I eat and exercise to make up for my sweet tooth. However, come Pongal time, I can’t help but make a small quantity of this delicious dessert to share.

In India, it is typical to serve the dessert or some form of “sweet” at the start of the meal – especially if it is a happy and festive occasion. In the case of the festival of Pongal, Sakkara Pongal is served first or alongside Venn Pongal. You always eat a bit of the sweet version first before tucking into the savoury version. Having babbled enough about the dish, here’s the recipe for it. Continue reading

Venn Pongal ( A spicy rice and lentil porridge)

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.

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Rasam (Tamil) or Saaru (Kannada)

The very basis of this simple yet delicious dish is the rasam ‘podi’ (pronounced: ‘Po’ as in poll and ‘Di’ as in dig) or powder. This is the mixture of spices that gives Rasam it’s unique taste. It is heavily pepper and chilly based and is the cure for many a common malaise (Read about them in my Old wives’ page for Rasam).

The rasam or saaru podi is special in that every south Indian household has their own take on it. This is inherited from generations of mums, grandmas and greatgrandmas and in my opinion is the most valuable form of inheritance – knowledge.

Needless to say, every south Indian person tends to be partial to their mum’s/grandma’s/greatgrandma’s take on the dish and I’m no exception. My mum’s Rasam is the best rasam in the world and she makes it exactly like her mum (whom I call Papa) did. Even as a child, I was unimpressed with the other rasams in the area and would report back to mum about how the rasam next door wasn’t the greatest. Never mind being thankful for the invitation to eat there.

Without much ado, let me give you the recipe for it.

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