Saturday, November 30, 2013

Milagu Kuzhambu (Pepper Kuzhambu)

I have this brown diary from 1985, filled with hand-written recipes.  This was the diary my mother-in-law sent with my husband, when he came to the U.S. as a graduate student.  In it, she has penned down recipes for different rasams, couple of types of sambar, lemon rice, curd rice, a simple vegetable kootu, adai, pongal, her signature morkuzhambu, and a recipe for milagu kuzhambu.  For each dish, she has listed ingredients and easy-to-follow steps, and shortcuts for my husband.


I love her simple explanation for preparing these dishes and even today, turn to it for some classic recipes.  I got this recipe for milagu kuzhambu from her.  Most milagu kuzhambus I have had are fairly thick in consistency (almost like a chutney or thogayal).  My mother-in-law made it similar to the consistency of vathal kuzhambu. She has made this a few times when she stayed with us.  I love the tangy taste from the tamarind and the spicy kick from the pepper.

It tastes great with sutta appalam (fire-roasted papad).

Here is what you need:

For the masala powder:
  • 2 tsp. dhania
  • 3 red chilies
  • 3 tsp. pepper
  • ¼ tsp. hing
  • 3 tsp. channa  dal
  • 1 tsp. urad dal
To make the kuzhambu
  • small lime-sized ball of tamarind
  • 2 tsp. sesame oil
  • ½ tsp. mustard seeds
  • 2 red chilies
  • few curry leaves
  • salt to taste

 Here is how I made it:

  1. Dry roast all the ingredients for the masala powder.  Let it cool
  2. Grind it to a fine powder. Set aside.
  3. Soak the tamarind in a cup or so of warm water and squeeze out the juices, adding more water if necessary.  I had about 2 cups of tamarind water.  Discard the remaining pulp.
  4. Heat oil for tempering in a kadai.  Add mustard seeds and the red chilies. when the mustard seeds sputter, add curry leaves.
  5. Carefully pour the tamarind water into this pot, add salt and bring it to a boil. 
  6. Let it simmer on medium heat till the raw smell goes from the tamarind.
  7. Mix the powdered spices with a little water and add that to the tamarind water.
  8. Simmer for a few more minutes (about 5 – 10), till the oil floats on top and the gravy thickens.

Serve with hot rice drizzled with sesame oil, parupputhogayal, urilaikizhangu curry, and sutta appalam.

Wednesday, November 27, 2013

Karasev with garlic

It is now almost a month since Deepavali.  All the snacks I made, and the ones my friends shared with us are done.  My husband still comes back home and opens the pantry door, looking for some forgotten dubba (box) of snacks in the back.

Anyway, I had the day off after a long time.  It had snowed over night and the roads were pretty slick. I did not feel like going out to run errands, so decided to make something for my husband to munch on when he came home - and in the process have a handful myself :)

On our last trip to India, my brother kept bugging my mom to get him some garlic -flavored karasev.  She either forgot to buy it, or couldn’t find it in the store, and she ended up making some for him.  He loved those so much, that she had to make another batch and send it over to Singapore.

I have made karasev before, but have never added garlic to them and decided to try it out.  They came out great!  My husband came home, and as usual, looked in the pantry and saw these.  He munched on a few  and loved them.

Only later, when he saw the thenkuzhal press on my draining board, did he realize that I had made these - he though I had bought them!
Note:  Typically, karasev is made with a special ladle.  I don’t have this, so I used one of my thenkuzhal discs to make these.

Here is what you need:

  • 2 ½ cups besan (gram flour)
  • 1 cup rice flour
  • 2 tsp coarsely crushed pepper (I used my pepper grinder and just approximated the measurement)
  • ½ - ¾ tsp. red chili powder
  • ¼ tsp. hing (asafetida)
  • salt to taste
  • 3 tsp. ghee
  • 1½ tsp. minced garlic (I used store bought)
  • water to make the dough
  • oil for deep frying

Here is how I made it:

  1. Heat the oil for deep frying in a big kadai or deep pan.
  2. In a bowl, combine besan, rice flour, pepper, chili powder, hing, and salt.  Mix well.
  3. Add the ghee and garlic.  Slowly add water to make the dough.  Don’t make this too stiff because it will be difficult to press out the dough.  It needs to be a bit sticky to the touch.
  4. Make a big ball of dough and put it into the thenkuzhal press with the appropriate fitting.
  5. While swirling, squeeze out enough of the dough into the hot oil.  Reduce heat to medium and cook till both sides are done.  Drain on paper towel.
  6. Repeat till all the dough is done.
  7. Once the karasev is cool, break it up into pieces and store it in an airtight container.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Kathirikkai Curry (Eggplant / Baingan Curry)

I think I have said this before – kathirikkai (eggplant) is one of my favorite vegetables.  I think it is more of a favorite because we did not make it too often.  While growing up, both my brothers did not like it, and now, my kids don’t like it, and my husband barely tolerates it.  So my mom did not make it often, and I don’t either.


Most people don’t like eggplant, more because of the texture than because of the taste (at least that is my theory).  When I make these I home, I cook them in such a way that they don’t lose their shape and get mushy.  This is the only way my husband will eat it.  But he does like baingan bartha though – go figure!

My kathirikkai buddy is my friend Hema, who loves it as much as I do, and I think of her every time I make these.  She and I are the only ones who would look forward to lunch when we know that there is eggplant involved.  Miss you Hema – need to get together soon!

Here is what you need:

(serves a family of 4, with two who don’t eat this, and one who eats it reluctantly :) )

  • 2 tsp. coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp. channa dal
  • 1 tsp. urad dal
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 3 red chilies
  • 2 tsp. oil
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp. channa dal
  • ½ medium onion, chopped
  • 2 long japanese eggplants, washed and diced (after you cut off the stem)
  • salt to taste
  • ¼ tsp. turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp. chili powder  

Here is how I made it:

  1. Dry roast the first six ingredients (coriander seeds, channa dal, urad dal, black pepper, cumin seeds and red chilies).
  2. Cool and grind this to a coarse powder.
  3. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds and channa dal
  4. When the mustard seeds sputter add the chopped onions.
  5. Saute for a few minutes till the onions turn translucent.
  6. Add the eggplant, salt, turmeric, and chili powder.  Mix well.
  7. Cook covered for five minutes.
  8. Remove cover and cook on low for 10 more minutes, tossing the pan a couple of times.  I try not to use a spatula so that I don’t mush up the eggplant.
  9. Add the ground masala and give it a toss to coat all the eggplant.
  10. Fry for a few more minutes so that the eggplant absorbs all the flavors.

Serve with rice, sambar, rasam, vathal kuzhambu, or with rotis.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Paneer Wrap

Recently, I saw these Roti Wraps in the frozen food aisle in my Indian store and decided to try them out.  On our trip to Kolkata, we feasted on Kati Rolls and these seemed like the ideal covering for something like that. They look like thinner versions of laccha paratas and are the right size to make wraps.

Both my kids are big fans of paneer.  I don’t like paneer at all, and my husband doesn’t eat it either.  So, with my oldest away at college, it is difficult to use up the block of paneer that I get from my Indian store, before it gets spoiled.  I try to find different ways to use it so that my younger son ends up having a variety of dishes using his favorite ingredient, and we don’t end up with a ton of leftovers.

Paneer Wrap

The Roti Wraps gave me the idea to make paneer wraps.  The minute I say "paneer wrap" my younger son’s eyes light up.  It is now one of his favorite things to have for dinner or weekend lunch (after Italian or Mexican).  I wish he would take these to school though. 

His standard lunch on school days is bagel with cream cheese, a green apple, a belVita bar, and some Cheez-its.  He will not take anything that requires warming up, or something that needs silverware.  He claims that he has to be able to walk/run around with his food, because sitting down to eat is SO not done.

Paneer Wrap

A couple of weeks ago, I was trying out different lunch options for him.  This was more because I was getting bored packing the same thing everyday, than him complaining about it.  While potato sandwiches and veggie burger passed muster, the paneer wrap failed.  He felt that these wouldn’t taste as good when they are cold, and I tend to agree with him.  It tastes great hot off the tawa though.

Here is what you need:

(to make 4 wraps)

  • 2 tsp oil
  • ½ tsp jeera (cumin seeds)
  • ½ large onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 green chilies, slit
  • ½ tsp. chili powder
  • ¼ tsp. turmeric
  • 1 tsp. cumin powder
  • 1 tsp. coriander powder
  • ¼ green bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • ¼ red bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • ¼ yellow bell pepper, thinly sliced
  • ½  block of paneer , cut into strips
  • salt to taste
  • cilantro for garnish
  • 4 roti wraps. plain rotis or tortillas
  • some oil to make the wraps crispy

Here is how I made it:

For the filling:

  1. Heat oil in a sauce pan.  Add cumin seeds
  2. When the seeds change color, add the onions and green chilies.  Sauté for a few minutes.
  3. Add the chili powder, turmeric, cumin powder,  and coriander powder.  Mix well.
  4. Add the peppers and salt. Sauté for five minutes.
  5. Now add the paneer.  Toss to blend well.  Cook on low heat for about 5 minutes so that the paneer absorbs all the flavors.
  6. Garnish with cilantro.

To make the wraps:

  1. Thaw the roti warps (if you are using them).
  2. Place a few spoonfuls of the filling in the center of the wrap/tortilla.
  3. Fold one side in a little and roll like you are making a burrito.  Poke a toothpick into the wrap to keep it from unraveling.
  4. Heat a tawa or a sauce pan.  Drizzle it with a little oil.
  5. Place the wraps on the hot tawa and let them get crispy on one side.  Flip them over and let them get crispy on the other side too.

Serve hot with chutney, ketchup, or just like that.

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Medhu Vadai (Urad Dal Vadas)

We have a tradition.  Every time we go to Chennai, the morning after we land, my mom makes idli or dosa for breakfast, and we get medhu vadais from the Udipi restaurant a couple of doors away from our apartment complex. 

Medhu Vadai (Urad Dal Vadas)

This is a small restaurant, bustling with customers at 6:30 a.m.  There is a pot in the corner, with steaming milk, ready to be mixed with decoction for filter coffee, mounds of hot vadais and steaming idlis, a big stainless steel bucket with pongal – dripping with ghee, buckets of sambar, coconut chutney, onion-tomato chutney, and masala for dosas, all visible behind the counter.  The waiters have banana leaves, newspaper, and twine – ready to wrap up any order for parcel (take-out) that comes their way.  My husband likes pongal from here too – so sometimes I get pongal and vadai for him.   But, there is nothing that comes close to idli, vadai, sambar, and chutney for breakfast – at least not for me.

Though I don’t make these vadais for breakfast here, I make them for a lot of festivals and parties.  These are really simple to make – the most basic recipe has only four ingredients.  The trick is to be able to grind the batter without using too much water.  A lot of people add more water than necessary and so end up with oily vadais.  Since I use a wet grinder to make the batter, I use very less water.  My batter ends up being really thick, and my vadais come out really crispy on the outside and soft on the inside.  As you can see, they are not oily at all.  See note below, if you don't have a grinder.

Here is what you need:

(to make about 20 - 24 vadais)

  • 2 cups whole urad dal without skin
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tsp. jeera
  • 2 tsp. whole black pepper
  • oil for deep frying
Optional: curry leaves, chopped green chilies, minced ginger, chopped onions

Here is how I made it:

  1. Wash and soak the urad dal for a couple of hours.
  2. Grind to a smooth paste without adding too much water.  I probably add less than a quarter cup of water to make the batter.
  3. Heat oil for deep-frying.  Once the oil is hot, reduce heat to medium so that the vadais cook evenly.
  4. Add the salt, jeera, and pepper to the batter.  If you are using any of the optional items, add those too.  Mix well.
  5. Keep a bowl of water next to you. 
  6. I use a sandwich- size ziploc bag to shape the vadais. Wet your hand as well as the ziploc bag.
  7. Take some batter (about the size of a big lime) in you hand and put it on the Ziploc bag. 
  8. Shape it like a donut with a hole in the middle.
  9. Drop this gently into the hot oil.  You can fry a few vadais at a time.  Turn the vadais over gently a couple of times till they turn golden brown.
  10. Drain them on some paper towels.
  11. Repeat till all the batter is done.

Serve hot with chutney or sambar and idlis, or as part of a meal.

Note:  If you don't have a grinder, and need to use a blender to make the batter, you will need to use a little more water.  In that case, add a little semolina to the batter, after you grind it, to make the vadais.

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Soft Idlis

A lot of people who grow up in southern India take idlis for granted.  I probably did too, but I loved them – especially idlis that have been coated with molagai podi.  My mom used to pack these for lunch and my friends and I would devour them way before lunch time.

It was only when I moved to the U.S., that I appreciated the soft idlis that I used to eat back home.  With only an Oster blender in my kitchen, it was really difficult to get the perfect idli batter.  Also Colorado winters are really cold and getting the batter to ferment was a big deal.  I used to try warming up the oven before putting the batter in, leaving the oven light on, and even wrapping the container with the batter in a shawl to keep it warm.  Who knew that getting the perfect idli batter would be so difficult?


Once we moved into a house, one of my first purchases was a wet grinder.  I still did not have too much space, so bought the smallest Ultra available online, and have been using it ever since.  Apart from making soft idlis, I have also been able to make almost perfect medhu vadas since I bought the grinder.

There are as many idli batter recipes as there are South Indian households.  I know people who use a 3:1 ratio, 2:1 ratio, 5:1 ratio and various other options in between for their rice to urad dal proportion.  I have a friend who will steam the raw rice (without water) to make it into pseudo-parboiled rice before soaking it for the batter.  I know people who add beaten rice or even cooked rice to the batter to make soft idlis.  

Some things to remember - the dal needs to be really smooth and fluffy after grinding.  Also, the amount of water - or the consistency of the batter is important, if it is too watery, the idlis might be flat and if it is too thick, you may end up with hard idlis.  Mix the batter well after fermenting, before making the idlis.

Here is my recipe.

Here is what you need:

 (makes about 40 idlis)
  • 2 cups raw rice (I use Sona Masoori - but any regular rice should do)
  • 2 cups idli rice
  • 1 cup whole urad dal, without skin
  • 1 tsp. methi seeds
  • salt to taste

Here is how I made it:

  1. Wash the two types of rice together in several changes of water.
  2. Wash the dal and methi seeds also in several changes of water.
  3. Soak them separately for at least 4 hours.
  4. I use my Ultra Pride wet grinder to make my batter.  Add a little bit of water (about 1 cup) to the grinder and start it.  Add the urad dal with methi seeds.  Grind it to a smooth, fluffy paste.  You may need to add more water if the batter is getting too thick.
  5. You will also need to keep scraping the batter from the sides of the grinder, to make sure that it is all uniformly smooth and fluffy. It takes about 20 minutes for my dal to grind well.
  6. Remove the urad dal paste into a big bowl.
  7. Now add more water (another cup) to the grinder and add the rice to it.  The rice gets done much faster than the dal (probably 10 - 12 minutes).  When you have a mixture that is not totally smooth, but is not coarse either, stop the grinder.
  8. Remove this and add it to the urad dal batter.
  9. Add a tiny bit of water to the grinder to clean the sides and pour this also into the bowl.
  10. Add salt to the batter and mix it well with your hand.  My mom says that the heat from your hand starts the fermentation process.
  11. Cover the batter and leave it in a warm place overnight.  I leave it in my oven (no heat or light).
  12. Your idli batter will be nice and bubbly and ready for you in the morning.

To make idlis:

  1. Mix the batter thoroughly.
  2. Grease idli molds with either nonstick spray or oil.
  3. Spoon a small ladleful of batter into each mold (so that the mold is 3/4 full).
  4. Add a little bit of water to the bottom of a pressure cooker or steamer.  Place the idli molds in the cooker/steamer and steam for about 15 minutes without the pressure building (with the weight off or in the steam release position).
  5. Remove the lid and let the idlis rest for about 5 minutes.  Remove them from the mold with a wet spatula or spoon.

Serve steaming hot with chutney, molaga podi, or sambar.

Note:  If you are making this for a large party, place a wet cloth or paper towel on the bottom of the serving  bowl, place the idlis in it, and cover them also with a moist paper towel, so that they don't dry out.  When you are ready to serve, warm it up in the microwave, covered with a moist towel.

Thursday, November 14, 2013

Kutti Vengaya Sambar (small onion sambar)

Deepavali mornings were very special.  We would wake up super early, have an oil bath, quickly wear our new clothes, and run outside, to be the first on our block to start bursting crackers!  I am sure the adults in our neighborhood were cursing us – wishing we would give them a couple of more hours to sleep in! 

Vengaya Sambar

After we exhausted our cracker supply, we would come in, ravenous, to a delicious meal of vengaya (onion) sambar, rasam, urilaikizhangu (potato) curry, avial or kootu, appalam, vadai, and payasam. What a feast!

I thought that this was the tradition only in my house, but we went to a friends’ place on deepavali, and she pretty much recited the same menu, saying that they made this the night before for a deepavali dinner.

Deepavali is the one festival, where you can use onions in your cooking, and there is no neivedyam (or offering of prasadam to God) – at least not in my house.

I followed this menu at home this year for our deepavali lunch.  I did not make payasam, but make pedas instead.  I also made kootu instead of avial.

Kutti vengaya (small onion) sambar adds a festive feel to any meal.  It is almost as easy to make as any other type of sambar, and when you serve it, people think you have gone to a lot of trouble.

Here is what you need:

  • ½ cup toor dal, washed and cooked in a pressure-cooker, till done
  • small lime –sized ball of tamarind, soaked in warm water, or 2 -3 tsp. tamarind paste
  • 10 -1 2 small red onions
  • 1 Tbsp. coriander seeds
  • 4 – 6 red chilies
  • ¼ tsp. methi seeds (fenugreek)
  • 1 tsp. jeera (cumin seeds)
  • 2 tsp. channa dal
  • ½ tsp. pepper
  • ½ cup coconut
  • 1 tsp. oil
  • ¼ medium onion, chopped
  • ½ tomato, chopped
  • 2 tsp. oil
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 2 red chilies
  • ¼ tsp. hing (asafetida)
  • ¼ tsp. methi (fenugreek seeds)
  • few curry leaves
  • salt to taste

Here is how I made it:

  1. Extract the juice from the tamarind and discard the remaining pulp (if you are using tamarind)
  2. Peel the skin off the baby onions.  An easy way to do this – cut the top and bottom off the onions and dry roast in a hot pan for 2 - 3 minutes.  Let it cool slightly and then rub off the papery skin.
  3. Dry roast coriander seeds, cumin seeds, red chilies, channa dal, pepper, and methi. Set aside
  4. Heat 1 tsp. oil in a small sauce pan.  Fry the chopped onions till translucent. Add the chopped tomatoes and fry for a couple of more minutes.  Let this cool for a few minutes.
  5. Blend the dry roasted masalas, the onions, tomatoes, and coconut to a smooth paste.  Set aside.
  6. Heat oil in a pot.  Add mustard seeds, red chilies, hing, and methi seeds.
  7. When the mustard seeds sputter, add the small onions and curry leaves.  Fry for a few minutes.
  8. Add the tamarind extract (or a little bit of water mixed with the tamarind paste) and salt to taste.  Let this come to a boil.  Turn the heat to medium-low and cook for about 10 minutes till the raw smell goes from the tamarind and the onions are cooked.
  9. Add the ground paste and cook for a few more minutes.
  10. Mix the cooked toor dal with a little water, and mash it up well.  Pour this into the sambar.  Let this whole thing simmer for about 10 minutes.
  11. Check to make sure that salt is adequate and turn off the heat.

Serve hot with rice, urilaikizhangu curry, and appalam.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Cholé (Channa Masala)

I have, in my recipe collection, about 5 – 6 different ways to make cholé.  I have the version my mom used to make – with ground up onions, garlic, ginger, and tomato puree.  I have a Bengali version, where you boil the cholé with tea bags to give it a darker color.  I have a Bihari version where you add ginger, garlic, onions, potatoes and all the masalas to the soaked cholé and pressure-cook the whole thing together, and a few other hybrids from my talented friends.


My favorite though, is the one Shashi makes.  She boils the channa with dried amla (gooseberries) and adds this special masala powder she brings back from Delhi. The last few time that she has gone to India, she has brought back a packet for me too.  This masala is from a small store in her neighborhood, and comes in a tiny plastic bag with no other packaging – no name – no ingredients list, just a plastic bag with the masala.

Cholé Masala

I am running out of this masala powder and wanted to see if it was possible to replicate the taste of her cholé with a home-made version.  A few days ago, I made my own masala powder, and made cholé with it.  My husband couldn’t make out the difference!  After dinner, I asked him if he liked the cholé, and he said – “This is Shashi’s cholé – right?  Why won’t I like it?” - which makes me think I have come close to the original taste.

Here is what you need:

  • 2 cups dried garbanzo beans, soaked overnight or for 6 hours (I soak it in the morning before going to work, and make it when I get back home)
  • 4 – 6 pieces dried amla (dried gooseberry)
  • 2 pieces badi elaichi (black cardamom)
  • salt to taste
  • ½ tsp. hing (asafetida)
  • 2 tbsp. coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp. jeera (cumin seeds)
  • 1 tsp. black pepper
  • 2 small pieces cinnamon
  • 4 cloves
  • ½ star anise (just 3 petals)
  • 4 -5 red chilies
  • 2tsp. oil
  • 1 tsp. jeera
  • 1 medium onion, chopped fine
  • 4 cloves garlic, sliced
  • 2 tsp. slivered ginger
  • 2 tsp. amchur powder (dried mango)
  • few sprigs of coriander, chopped
  • sliced onions and green chilies for serving

Here is how I made it:

  1. Wash and drain the beans.  Add enough water, salt, dried amla, badi elaichi, and hing and pressure-cook on low for about 10 minutes, after the first whistle.  Drain and reserve the liquid.
  2. While the channa is cooking, dry roast coriander seeds, jeera, black pepper, cinnamon, cloves, star anise, and red chilies.
  3. Turn off the heat when the coriander seeds change color slightly, cook, and powder to a coarse powder.  Set aside.
  4. Heat oil and add jeera.
  5. When the jeera changes color, add onions.  Sauté for a couple of minutes.
  6. Add garlic and ginger. Sauté for a couple of more minutes.
  7. Add 2 – 3 tsp. of the ground masala powder and the amchur powder.  Mix well.
  8. Remove the badi elaichi from the cooked cholé.  Discard.   Add the cooked cholé with a little bit of the reserved liquid to the onion masala.
  9. Let this simmer for some time.  Check for salt and spiciness.  If necessary, add some more ground powder and salt.
  10. After about 15 minutes, mash some of the cholé with a potato masher and then turn off the stove.  Add some more liquid if necessary.
  11. Just before serving, garnish with slivered onions, chopped green chilies, and cilantro.

Serve with bhaturas, puris, or rotis.

Monday, November 4, 2013

Bisibele Bath

I haven’t made bisibele bath from scratch in a long time.  The last few times, I just converted left-over sambar to make a hybrid bisibele bath.  Last Saturday, I had some time and I also had small onions at home.  My younger son, who does not like bisibele bath, was volunteering with his soccer team, and was also going to have lunch with them.  Since it was only my husband and myself for lunch, I decided to make bisibele bath.

Every time I make this, I remember Anand.  Anand was a graduate student in Boulder when I moved here in 1994, and was subjected to many of my cooking experiments.  He has now moved to India, and apart from working on numerous projects, has a farm close to Mangalore.  He sends me organically grown turmeric from his farm every now and then and I am thoroughly spoiled.  I can’t use store-bought turmeric any more.

Bisibele Bath

He is also my best food critic.  Most people tell me if a dish has come out well or not, if it has too much salt, or not enough, is too spicy or bland, but Anand can pinpoint the individual spices and tell me exactly what my dish needs to make it perfect.  Sometimes, this can be very annoying – and I am sure his wife will agree, but most times, I adjust the recipe the next time I make the dish, and it comes out well.

I have made changes to my bisibele bath recipe based on his critique.  I have added a little more cinnamon and have also included pottu kadalai (fried gram dal) while making the masala.

My husband, after lunch, proclaimed that this was my best attempt yet, and that everything – from consistency, to the level of spices, to the amount of veggies, was perfect.  He, of course, went on to criticize some other things, but I will save that for another post :)

I have an Oster blender.  It does not grind masalas well. So I make a dry powder with the masalas and a wet paste with the coconut.  If you have a Sumeet or other powerful blenders, you can make one masala paste with all the ingredients listed under masala powder and masala paste.

Here is what you need:

(easily serves a family of four)

  • 1 cup rice
  • ½ cup toor dal
  • small lime-sized ball of tamarind, or 3 tsp. tamarind concentrate
  • 3 tsp. oil
  • 1 tsp. mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp. channa dal
  • 1 tsp. split urad dal
  • ¼ tsp. hing
  • ¼ tsp. methi seeds
  • 2 red chilies
  • few curry leaves
  • ½ tsp. turmeric powder
  • 10 – 12 small onions, peeled
  • ½ green capsicum, diced
  • 1 small baby potato, diced
  • ½ small eggplant, diced
  • ½ carrot, diced
  • ½ cup frozen green peas, thawed (see note)
  • 2 tsp. sambar powder
  • 4 tsp. ghee
  • 2 Tbsp. cashew nuts
  • few more curry leaves
  •  coriander for garnish
       For the masala powder:
  • 6 -7 red chilies
  • 2 Tbsp. channa dal
  • 3 Tbsp. coriander seeds
  • 2 –3 pieces of flat cinnamon, each 1” long
  • 3 tsp. khus-khus (poppy seeds)
  • 3 – 4 cloves
      For the masala paste:
  •  ¾ cup grated coconut
  • 1/3 cup fried gram dal



Here is how I made it:

  1. Wash the rice and dal together in several changes of water.  Transfer it to a pressure cooker-safe bowl.  Add 5 cups of water (I use Sona Masoori rice which needs more water - 1:3 ratio.  Adjust water according to the rice you are using).  It should be a little mushy.
  2. Cook in a pressure cooker, turning the heat to low, after the first whistle, for about 10 minutes.
  3. While the rice is cooking, extract the juice from the tamarind and discard the remaining pulp (if you are using tamarind)
  4. Dry roast all the ingredients listed under masala powder, and grind it to an almost fine powder.  Set aside.
  5. Grind the coconut and fried gram dal, with a little bit of water, to a fine paste.  Set aside.
  6. Heat oil in a saucepan.  Add mustard seeds, channa dal, urad dal, hing, methi seeds, and red chilies.
  7. When the mustard seeds sputter, add the curry leaves and turmeric.  Sauté for a minute.
  8. Add the small onions,   and fry for a couple of minutes.  Then add the other vegetables. Sauté for a few more minutes.
  9. Add sambar powder. Mix well
  10. Add the tamarind extract.  If you are using the tamarind concentrate, add a cup of water and the concentrate.  Add salt.
  11. Let this come to a boil, then simmer for a few minutes till all the veggies are cooked.
  12. Now add the powdered masala and the ground paste. Let this come to a boil and then turn the heat to medium -low.
  13. After about 5 minutes, add the cooked rice and dal.  Mix well.
  14. If it seems very thick, add some water.  Taste to check if there is enough salt.
  15. Now, heat the ghee.  Add cashews.  When they turn slightly golden, add the curry leaves. Turn off the heat and pour this over the bisibele bath.
  16. Garnish with chopped cilantro.

Serve hot with papads or potato chips.

Note:  I like the peas we get in our Indian store, because they seem to be a bit more firm than the ones we get in a regular grocery store.  You can use either.

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...