Archive for the ‘Lentils’ Category

Slow cooker BiseBela Bhath

Thursday, April 15th, 2010

Bisebela bhath is a wholesome rice dish(bhath=rice dish) and it is a good one to hide the vegetables too as it will be a well mashed rice and it has lentils, rice and vegetables and makes a good one pot meal. I often make it in a slow cooker on a weekend and our brunch is ready without standing next to the stove for hours the next day.

I often wonder how to place Bisebela Bhath as a regional dish. It is famous in Karnataka as well as Kerala(Palakkad). Almost all the Palakkad men I have met know how to make BB-Bhath. N, makes excellent Bise Bela Bhath too, and often he takes over the task of making it. Point to note: His BB-Bhath will be served with dozens of dollop of ghee on top, mine will be without the ghee, hence the offer 😉

It is a very common dish served in weddings as well, and one of the combinations for a typical south Indian dinner for guests will be Bise Bela Bath and stir fried potatoes(aloo curry) with onion raitha.

Now this is real incident that happened with Bisebela bhath to me. Much before our wedding, when N was in the East Coast,one of N’s uncles visited him. And N made his ghee dripping version of authentic Bise Bela bhath (made with MTR powder, if I can say so). After enjoying all the glorious varieties of food made by N for Uncle K for a week, uncle K decided to email me to say how lucky I should be to marry someone who can cook!

He addressed the email to N, copying me on the same and after praising N for a couple of paragraphs, he ended it exactly with this line, forgetting in the enthusiasm that I was also on the mailing list 😀

” Dude, don’t cook like this when S asks you to, make something miserable and she will never ask you to cook again”.

Now by the time uncle K realized that he wrote that, it was already on our email group and poor N was caught and so he makes BBB the same way he made it for everyone else 😉

Ingredients for Bise Bela Bhath:

The list for the spice powder is quite a long one, you can either use MTR Bise Bela Bhath powder or you can use some arachu vitta sambar powder to sprinkle on top, after flavoring the rice with usual sambar powder.

Ingredients: (serves-2)

List 1:

Vegetables and Rice:

Pearl onions- about a dozen
Mixed vegetables( Carrot, Beans, peas, Potato, Drumstick, Suran, Taro root, Cauliflower, White Pumpkin, Gourds, Long beans)- any combination- 1 cup
Rice- 1 cup
Cooked toor dal- 1/2 cup

List 2:
Sesame oil- 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds- 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves- few springs
Salt to taste
Asafoetida- 1/4 tsp
Tamarind – one Lemon size ball or paste 1/2 tsp
Sambar powder- 1 tsp

List 3:
Special Spice Powder for BBB:

Chana Dal- 1 tbsp
Coriander seeds- 2 tbsp
Cinnamon stick- 1″ piece
Cloves-2 each
Fenugreek seeds- less then 1/4 tsp
Dried red Chilies-6
Dried coconut- 3 tbsp


Toast the ingredients given under List 3 to a golden brown color (toast them one by one). Let them cool and grind it to a fine powder.

Finely chop the pearl onions. Chop other vegetables into any desired shape. Soak tamarind in a cup of warm water and extract the juice, discarding the pulp. Add another one cup of plain water to the tamarind juice. Keep aside.

Wash the rice under running water once.

Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. When they splutter, add asafoetida and curry leaves. Once that sizzles, add chopped onions and stir fry well. Add salt and turmeric powder and when onions turn transparent, add all other vegetables, sambar powder and stir fry well.

Using a slow cooker:

In the slowest setting, slow cooker takes 8 hours to cook and on the fast setting, rice will be cooked in 3 hours.

In the slow cooker pan, add the cooked vegetables, cooked toor dal, rice, tamarind water and the spice powder. Slow cooker also needs more water than regular pressure cookers, and so if you use 1:3 ratio for rice: water, add almost double the quantity of water (here, I added about 6 cups including the water used for tamarind extract).

Cover the slow cooker with some kitchen paper towels,make sure that the paper towels will not fall in, but it extends to the rim of the cooker. Place the glass lid on top of this kitchen towel (so that the extra water- the steam from the cooking will not make the rice soggy). Switch on the slow cooker according to your desired time level.

If needed, you can mix them once while cooking. Do remember that every time you open the lid of the slow cooker, it adds 20 minutes more to the set cooking time.

Once the rice is cooked, turn the setting to keep warm. Lightly mash and mix the rice with vegetables. At this stage, just before serving, you can also saute some whole pearl onions in ghee and add it to the rice.

If you are planning to add onions at the end, skip the step where vegetables are stir fried in a pan, add all veggies, tamarind water, powders,rice and dal to the slow cooker directly and cook. Then, do the tempering with mustard seeds, onions(list 2) and pour it over the bhath before serving.

Serve the rice with a dollop of ghee on top, with potato chips, onion or cucumber raitha.

If you are using a pressure cooker, you can simply stir fry the vegetables in the cooker pan, add rice to it and cook like normal rice for 3 whistles.

Adding roasted peanuts and cashew nuts as a garnish is also another way to serve BBB.

This wholesome rice with lentils is my entry for My Legume Love Affair edition 22, guest hosted here this month, brain child of Susan.

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Ven Pongal and Pongal stories

Tuesday, January 12th, 2010

Though Pongal is still a few days away, the excitement that a fresh start comes with pongal always gives the enthusiasm to share about the festival and the food.

When I was a kid in school, we had this joke doing rounds about pongal.

“Which festival is useful, Pongal or Diwali”?

“Obviously Pongal. You see, for Diwali, you can eat pongal, On Pongal day also you can eat Pongal, but on Pongal day, can you eat diwali?”

Ouch..That’s a kadi joke, I agree, and for once, I am glad that I am not near any of you, in case you were about to chase me for this joke.

The beginning of Margazhi month(Dec15-Jan 15) was a welcome change for Sis and I from the usual school schedule. We used to draw kolams(rangolis) during this month and we would tour our entire street to see how our friends have decorated their front porch. We’d even have healthy competitions on who’s kolam is better.

Now, the secret about me you did’nt know till now. Back in the 1980’s, we had cows in our backyard, yup, that’s correct, cows..

Amma had the feeling that since we were kids, it is better to have a cow at home for fresh milk, yogurt and ghee instead of buying milk from the milkman. And because of that mattu pongal (pongal for cows) was also celebrated in our house.
The love of my life, N, even till this day, greets me (with glee) a Happy Maatu Pongal because of this cow story.

Pongal festival is celebrated for 4 days:

Bogi- The bye-bye’s of old stuff begin by cleaning the house, repainting and throwing away trash.
Pongal- Pongal day to thank the sun god for a good harvest and to pray for a good year ahead.
Maatu Pongal- Pongal festival for cows to thank their support for agricultural purposes and for their milk.
Kannum Pongal- A day to meet and greet relatives.

When I was at the University, completing my Bachelor’s, our Dean would keep track of people who were preparing to mass bunk the classes. Ofcourse, who would want to attend the classes for a week when at least 3 days would be a holiday along with the weekend :)

OK, Back to the real Pongal story at Home:

Mom used to make pongal from freshly harvested rice( as we also had rice fields). The entire house had the aroma of different varieties of food and flowers. Other dishes like payasam, vadais,sundals would also be prepared. Sis and I would draw a chariot kolam to welcome the sun god in to our house. Since sun also starts his journey from Makra rasi (Capricorn), it is a sort of welcome given to him in the first day of the “Thai”Month.

Dad would do the pooja and then it would be the time to offer sweet pongal and ven pongal to the gods. Then comes another unique food for Pongal- The Sugarcanes. Since sugarcanes are also harvested around that time, cutting sugarcanes into foot long pieces and slowly sucking the juice is something worth waiting.

Here is the recipe for preparing ven pongal, the savory recipe with rice, lentils and pepper.

Pongal is dish made from rice and moong dal, usually served for breakfast in Tamilnadu. It is a simple dish, and often comes into the boundaries of one pot wonders. You can either cook the rice separately and add the seasonings or just cook the rice and seasonings in the same pot. You can make this pongal in 25 minutes in a pot. This is an excellent dish to be made in a slow cooker also. I used to pick out the peppercorns while eating this dish and so my mom started using ground pepper which was a good idea as pepper has good medicinal effects.

Ingredients: (Serves 3)

Rice: 1.5 cups
Moong dhal- 3/4 cup
Salt- To taste
Turmeric Powder- 1/2 tsp
Asafoetoda – 1/4 tsp
Grated Ginger- 1 inch piece
Crushed peppercorns- 3/4 tsp or whole peppercorns – 15
Curry Leaves- 5
Ghee- 3 tbsp
Red Chili- 2
Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
Cashew nuts- 2 tsp


Wash the rice and dhal together and drain. In a pan or deep pot, add ghee and slightly fry the rice-dhal mixture.

Add salt, turmeric powder, pepper powder and pour 6 cups water(1 part rice: 3 parts water) to the pan and partially cover and cook. If you are using slow cooker, just make sure that you add a cup of extra water while cooking.

When the rice is cooked throughly with dhal, mash them together. Pongal has to be slightly runny and it will thicken as it sits, so the softer it is, the better. Mash the rice smoothly so that it is almost like the texture of mashed potatoes.

In another pan, heat ghee and add asafoetida and add cumin seeds,curry leaves, ginger, red chilies and cashew nuts in the same order. Pour this over the pongal.

Serve hot with Sambar, chutneys, Aviyal or kathirikkai kothsu(recipe follows soon).

This pongal is also made in a special vessel called uruli back home (pix of sweet pongal in uruli follows soon).

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Kosumbari (Vegetables in Lentil Salad)

Thursday, January 7th, 2010

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Well, if I have to say it in simple terms– Think of it as an South Indian Salad. Simple, yet flavorful and inviting. . In the hot summer months, eating yogurt rice with pickles and kosumbari is quite common as it also cools down the heat and is refreshing.Kosumbari is also served in almost all weddings in Tamilnadu. N likes this kosumbari but he did’nt know what it is called. He’d often ask me to make a lentil dish served in weddings and I was thinking of everything from parupusili to pongal :)

You can also eat this as a light snack around 11 am instead of munching on chips :)

Serves 2:

Moong Dal- 1/4 cup
Grated Cucumber- 1 cup
Grated carrot- 1 cup
Lemon juice- 1 tbsp
Salt- to taste
Finely chopped Green chilies- 1 tsp
Finely chopped cilantro- 1 tbsp

For tempering:
Oil- 1 tsp
Mustard seeds- 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida- 1 pinch

Soak moong dhal in hot water for at least an hour. Drain off all excess water. Mix grated cucumber, grated carrot, green chiles, cilantro, salt and lemon juice to the lentils. Serve chilled with yogurt rice or as a salad as such.

I like garnishing kosumbari and I heated some sesame oil and added asafoetida and mustard seeds. When they spluttered, just poured it over kosumabri and served it. My choice is eating kosumabri with vathakozhambu rice.

I am sending this kosumbari to MLLA 19, hosted this month by Easy Crafts , brain child of Susan.

I am also reposting another entry Spinach Milagootal for this event MLLA-19, hosted this month by Easy Crafts , brain child of Susan.

Milagootal is a simple kerela recipe and N’s favorite, and it is made of vegetables, lentils and coconut.

And folks, if you are around Texas or Florida and reading this post, hope you know that we have got freeze warning temperatures till weekend. We are also in for the coldest night since 1966. Read this article and take measures to protect the pipes in your house as they may burst/freeze due to the freezing conditions.

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