HAPPY NEW YEAR!!! Wishing you all a very wonderful 2017!!
I woke up on NYE, reflecting on how it was a wonderful 2016.
When I say wonderful, it was, with some complexity. It had its ups and downs. And when I say wonderful, I meant that I chose to focus on the wonderful things. I tried to focus on the positive things. I learnt how to heal myself and look at what I had in front of me. I learnt that there’s no right way of life, no right way of living, or a perfect life. Perfection is a perception. It’s what we make of it.
Late fall brings excitement over the return of soups, spicy meals, desserts, pies, and the opportunity to fill the kitchen with the heat and heady smells of herbs and spice. Winter follows with spectacular holiday celebrations, with friends talking around grand feasts.
This is one dish which is present always at winter parties and meat eaters adore it equally.
The Autumn of 1996, cold and lonely.
I could not step out without the loud chatters of my teeth and my numerous layers of clothing. I was cooped inside for those three months, and do remember, I live in beautiful California, where the temperatures are pretty perfect.
I remember the beautifully decked malls, and the grocery shops filled with ingredients I hadn’t seen or tried or heard of. A new world, new friends, a new life. I never really understood the sitcoms. I continually complained about Seinfeld being dry humor.
My best friend (my only friend then) and I enjoyed our funny moments together. Our apartment was ten minutes away from the grocery store, so we would walk to it. Those trips were always quite interesting. We would go with the intention of getting only one bag and come back walking with two in each hand, weighing a ton.
Born and brought up in Bangalore gave me some insight into traditional food of Karnataka. Having a fabulous grandma-aunty who cooked like Julia Child was even better. She was a lady of precision. The smell that came from her kitchen literally pulled dad and I to the balcony. We stood there discussing what she was making. Everything smelled and tasted divine. Ofcourse, we wanted a bite or more of everything she made. We had to refrain ourselves from going and knocking her door to start a conversation just for some food. There were times she would pack some for us, and you have no clue how happy we were whenever that happened. I remember the moment, her grandson would come up to drop the plate and we would very politely take it and the moment the door was shut, hungry or not, gobble up the whole thing.
I remember I used to come home from school and pick up the keys from our tenant grandma-aunty. She was too sweet at times to call me in to feed me some Akki Rotti(rice roti), some Chitranna(rice) or Semiya Upma(which was the best I’ve ever tasted).
One day I remember, she was making a spice powder and the smell was crazy intoxicating. I asked her what it was for and she said it was for BISI BELE BAATH. She told me she’ll share it with me when she cooks it. Yes, I waited a whole 2 and a half days for that. I still remember the moment she gave me a bowl with a generous dose of ghee and chips for the crunch. I remember I wanted to fall at a her feet or hug her. I was just a high schooler at that time. I was blown away at how good it was. I was warm and happy from within. It was that good, I remember that moment all too well.
I got my burgundy diary out and immediately had to write down the recipe. She was so precise, so dedicated and so literal in the details. I was/am always amazed at how perfect this turns every time I make it.
To my grandma aunty, wherever she is. Thanks for this treasure of a recipe.
Hope you get to try it out. It’s vegan, one of the most traditional ancient dishes, gluten free and super healthy. Perfect for this cooler weather or anytime.
Have a lovely day my dear friends.
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BISI BELE BAATH(Spicy Vegetable Khichdi)
Recipe type: Rice, Entree
- 1 cup medium grain rice(sona masoori)
- ½ cup toor/tuvar daal
- lemon sized tamarind soaked in ½ cup of water and juice taken out and drained
- VEGETABLES (beans, carrots, cauliflower, peas, moringa)
- 1 tsp vegetable oil
- 2 tbsp channa daal
- 2½ tbsp coriander seeds
- 1 tsp urad daal
- 8-10 red chilies(according to your spice level)
- 1 tsp fenugreek seeds (meethi seeds)
- 3 pinches asafoetida/hing
- ⅓ tsp turmeric powder
- ½ fresh grated coconut or frozen (fresh is best)
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- 1 tsp cumin seeds
- 1 pinch of asafoetida/hing
- 10-12 cashew (broken)
- 10-15 curry leaves
- Wash the rice and daal/lentil well and cook in a pressure cooker for 3 whistles or in a pan with 4 cups of water until it is completely cooked. Turn off the heat and set aside.
- Cook the vegetable in 2 cups of water, salt and turmeric powder until it is 90 percent cooked. Turn off and set aside.
- In a small frying pan on medium heat, add the channa daal, coriander seeds, urad daal and fenugreek seeds and fry until it is slightly browned and toasted. Add the whole red chilies, asafoetida, turmeric powder and saute for a minute and turn off the heat. Grind this a blender with coconut, ½ cup of water to a smooth paste and set aside.
- Now, mix the rice with the vegetable, add the ground masala paste, the thick tamarind juice and check for salt. Mix, Simmer and cook the rice mixture for 15 minutes. Turn off the heat. The mixture should be little runny and not very thick at all. This will solidify as it sits.
- In a small pan on medium heat, add some oil. Add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, asafoetida cashews and curry leaves. Let it splutter and add it to the rice mixture. Mix well.
Indian food is quite simple, and this is a recipe which shows just that.
The vibrant, intensely colorful Indian food has found its way into many hearts. However, I do hear very commonly that “the spices are overwhelming.” I completely agree, especially for someone who is completely new to the array of spices Indian food has to offer, although it is not really too hard. In fact, I do tell many that you can always create an Indian flavored dish with ingredients you already have at home. It’s that simple.
I don’t exactly remember the first time I had it, but I do remember who taught me to make it. After that, I’ve never stopped. The best thing about this recipe is that you can use the spice mix for many vegetables: stuffed potato, stuffed cauliflower, stuffed bitter gourd, or you could even toss the spice mix in a beans curry! It’s all so good. This is a basic recipe, and a very popular one.
I definitely try to hold on to every part of Indian culinary culture I’ve learnt, and try to simplify it so that it’s attainable. I definitely think you’ll agree that this is one of the simpler recipes that’s still so authentic. I really hope you get to try it out.
Baked Okra stuffed with Spiced Peanut Mix
- 3 tbsp peanuts roasted and coarsely powdered
- ⅓ cup chickpea flour
- ⅓ tsp garam masala
- 1 tsp chili powder
- ½ tsp salt
- 1 tbsp sesame seeds
- ⅓ tsp cumin seeds
- ½ tsp sugar(optional)
- 2 tbsp canola oil
- Bake at 400 degree for 20 minutes
- Prep the okra by wiping it with a damp cloth and trim off the ends and the top and set aside.
- Mix all the ingredients for the stuffing mix and set aside.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees for 15 minutes.
- Slit the okra/bhindi in the middle but not fully, it still needs to hold it's shape. Stuff 1 tsp of the mixture in the middle and line all in a baking tray.
- Lower the temperature of the oven to 400 degrees.
- Drizzle oil evenly over the okra and bake them at 400 degrees for 20 minutes or until the okra is completely cooked.
- Serve it with rotis or soak them in yogurt and serve it with some rice.
This spice mix c an be stored in a bottle in the refrigerator for upto 2-3 months.
Tiffin boxes are very intimately tied to mine, and many people’s childhoods. So when my friend sent me this write up, I had to make it special. Sharing a recipe that my mom made and came in my box every week. In the words of my friend, a writer friend. Enjoy this wonderful piece and share your thoughts, and say hello to my gorgeous and talented friend Lakshmi.
The love of food the four of us shares is quite intense.
We all love to try different things, quite tough critics, and we might enjoy one more than the other. We enjoy a good hearty Lamb chop meal as much as we enjoy a loaded salad with some dressing.
Trying to balance out the carnivore loving boys with a lighter fare which suits our taste is a challenge I take on happily and love. I try not to fall into the routine of recipes and when variety is there, it makes it so much more fun.
This was one such thing.
I don’t know how to grow plants. I can’t grow plants.
We never know what we get into, until we are handed a tiny little bundle with just the face peaking, eyes stuck together with some liquid, flushed pink face, and a blue striped or pink striped cap. We feel an overwhelming sense of joy, a chilling and warm feeling. Tears swell up and the first smile you give your tiny baby is filled with so much joy and love (and oxytocin, as my teen adds). It’s a feeling that has never crept up until then, and will never go away.
There are some dishes we make when there’s nothing in the refrigerator. There are some dishes we make when you have no time at all. There are some dishes we make that are purely comfort food and remind you of home. This dish is all of those things for me………
Low and slow, is the mantra for a good Curry.
Curry comes in a variety of colors. Cooking is an art, curries are the colors.
Indian Curries are pretty time consuming, especially with the ones that involve meat. The pan or pot that a curry is made in also adds to its complexity. Everything must be slow cooked and sauteed without burning, and the meat almost always is cooked for long periods of time left unattended. For example, a good fish curry would always take a while to make. If it sat overnight before serving, the dish became exquisite the next day. A lamb/goat meat dish prep would start a few hours before lunch time and it was almost on Sundays. Cookers or slow cookers were never used. It cooked long hours leading to a ‘fall of the bone’ tender, flavorful and juicy meat. All these different curries really required a lot of time and love, but were so worth the wait.