Archive for the ‘Slow Cooker’ 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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 ๐Ÿ˜€

” 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 ๐Ÿ˜‰

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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Greek hay- Cooking with Fenugreek

Wednesday, February 24th, 2010

Venthayam(Methi in Hindi and Fenugreek in English) is a regular herb used in South Indian cooking, atleast once a week. Most of the spice powders will have the addition of roasted fenugreek, and it is also common in pickles to act as a stabilizer.

Both the leaves and seeds are used for cooking and flavoring, though they taste slightly bitter. Besides cooking, Fenugreek has a lot of medicinal uses:

– Fenugreek seeds help to lower cholesterol levels.

– The seeds are used as a cure(to control) diabetes (Check with the doctor first before using, as there can be some side effects)

– For women, fenugreek seeds are a good cure for Menopause and PMS. Regular use of fenugreek will increase lactation for nursing mothers. But if taken during pregnancy, the fenugreek infused water can induce labor, because of this use, it is also given during labor to help in the process of child birth. Fenugreek seeds with rice or Urad Dal(black lentil gram) is made into a soft pudding and that also helps to strengthen the uterus.

– Soaking a teaspoon of fenugreek seeds in half a cup of yogurt and taking it in the morning will reduce body heat.

– Fenugreek seeds with yogurt is a good cure for uncomfortable tummy (Diarrhea).

– When used with yogurt or vinegar as a conditioner, fenugreek seed paste can help in hair growth.

How to use fenugreek in cooking:

I like using fenugreek seeds for a spicy tamarind sauce and the leaves for a comforting rice dish(Khichdi).

Methi Khichdi: (Vegetables, rice and lentils with Fenugreek leaves)

Ingredients: serves-2

Rice- 1 cup
Lentils(yellow or green moong beans)- 1/2 cup
Salt- to taste
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Garam Masala powder- 2 tsp
Green chilies-2
Chopped Ginger and Garlic- 1 tsp each
Red onions- Chopped-1/4 cup
Fenugreek leaves- 1 cup
Mixed vegetables (carrot, peas,cauliflower, potato, beans)- all together- 1 cup
Olive oil- 1 tsp
Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
Cinnamon sticks- 1″ piece
Bay leaf-1
Cilantro leaves- to garnish


This dish can be prepared as a one pot dish, in a slow cooker, in a pressure cooker or a rice cooker. With mild spices and vegetables, it is the comfort food for a weekend brunch or a weekday dinner. It is very simple to prepare this khichdi and you can throw in all the veggies you want if you want to clear out the fridge. Whichever way you cook, add lot of water to cook the rice.

Stove top: Wash the lentils and rice, keep aside.Heat olive oil in a pan, add cumin seeds, bay leaf and cinnamon sticks. Fry well for a minute, add onions, green chilies, ginger and garlic and stir fry for 2-3 minutes. Add the fenugreek leaves, chopped vegetables, salt, turmeric powder, garam masala powder and stir fry well for another 2-3 minutes. Add about 6 cups of water, cover and let it simmer. Once the water is boiling, add the lentils and rice and simmer for 25 minutes or till the rice is cooked. Once in a while, mix the veggies and rice well and mash it as you cook. The more you mash them all together, the more tasty it till be. Once all of the veggies and rice is well mashed and is cooked through, garnish with cilantro leaves and serve hot with spiced yogurt(Kadhi).

Pressure cooker: Follow almost the same method but instead of waiting till the veggies are cooked, add rice and lentils and pressure cook for 2 whistles.

Rice Cooker: Cook till stir frying the vegetables in a pan. In the rice cooker, add water, rice and lentils and transfer the stir fried vegetables to the rice cooker. Cover and let it cook like normal rice.

Slow cooker: Stir fry the vegetables in the pan, transfer the rice, lentils and the vegetables to the slow cooker. Add atleast 8 cups of water (slow cooker needs more water than a rice cooker), set it on high (3 hours) or low(8 hours) for the rice to cook.

Cooking with Fenugreek Seeds:

Appalam Vathakozhambu (Poppadams in spicy tamarind sauce)

Can you cook without any vegetable to make a sauce? That too with poppadams? Sure you can. The simplest of all sauces in South Indian cooking, a favorite for summer season to have with yogurt rice.

Ingredients: (Serves-2)

Poppadams (about 14 each)

Green chilies- 2 each

Red Chilies- 2 each

Curry Leaves- 5

Tamarind- 1 small lemon size

Red Chili Powder- 1/2 tsp

Turmeric Powder- 1/4 tsp

Mustard seeds- 1 tsp

Fenugreek seeds- 1/2 tsp

Chana dal- 1 tsp

Asafoetida- 2 pinches

Salt- to taste

Gingerly oil- 4 tbsp (You can also use light olive oil)

Rice flour- 1 tbsp

To be ground to a powder

Coriander seeds- 1.5 tsp

Red Chilies-4

Chana dal- 1 tsp

Fenugreek seeds- 1/4 tsp


Soak the tamarind in about 200 ml of hot water. You can also substitute 1/4 tsp of tamarind paste for this. Squeeze out the juice from the tamarind, add another 100 ml of water, extract the juice again, filter and discard the pulp.

Roughly break the poppadams into two. Slit green chilies lengthwise.

Heat oil in a thick bottomed vessel(kadai) and add hing and mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds splutter, add chana dhal, fenugreek seeds, curry leaves ,red chilies and green chilies. Stir fry for a minute. Add the poppadams and salt and stir fry for another 2-3 minutes. Add turmeric powder, red chili powder and stir fry till the raw smell of the red chili powder disappears.

Pour the 300 ml of tamarind water into the pan and simmer for 15-20minutes(tiill poppadams are tender). The tamarind water should have reduced to at least 1/2 of its original volume.

In the mean time, toast(dry fry) the coriander seeds,red chilies, chana dal, fenugreek seeds to a golden brown color. Cool and grind to a fine powder. This powder is my version of the vathakozhambu powders sold in stores. I grind it fresh, but you can also sprinkle some store bought vathakozhambu powder if you want.

In a bowl, mix about 3 tbsp of water and rice flour into a thick paste. Add the ground powder to this paste and add these to the boiling kozhambu. Stir well to avoid any lumps.

Let it simmer for another 4-5 minutes. Switch off. Serve hot with rice and spicy potato stir fry or stuffed ย okras.

The Methi Khichdi is my entry for Yasmeen Health Nut’s Bitter- Better Health Event.

The appalam kozhambu is my entry for cooking with fenugreek seeds byDenufood an event started by Priya.

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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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Egg Kurma/Muttai Kurma

Friday, November 27th, 2009

Im still not sure on the correct name for kurma as whether it is kurma, korma, kuruma or qourma. All that matters to me is the egg that has absorbed the flavors and richness cashew, coconut and poppy seeds giving it a heavenly taste. When I used to travel to/from Madras in the evenings the aroma of different gravies(mainly chana masala and muttai kurma) or parathas would greet me before I enter the city. I would go home after the trip and try to make a kurma that tastes like a hotel kurma. It took me years to find the necessary ingredients and grind them in the correct proportions.

I make this korma in my slow cooker as it gives me time to do other things while the gravy simmers and absorbs the flavors. I realized that on a maximum I was able to simmer the gravy after adding eggs for about 15-20 minutes if I am cooking on a stove top. If I had to further thicken up the gravy, or to prevent gravy from sticking to the pot I would add more water, thereby diluting the flavors.

In my slow cooker though, I add the eggs an hour or so after the mixing masala for the gravy thereby giving the eggs enough time to absorb all the flavors yet maintain the consistency of a thick gravy.

Serves- 2 people

List 1:
Red onions- 1/4 cup
Frozen peas(optional)- 3 tbsp
Bay leaf-1
Curry leaf-4
Cumin seeds- 1 tsp
Oil- 1 tsp
Cilantro- 3 tbsp(garnish)
Salt- 1 tsp
Turmeric Powder- 1/2 tsp
Boiled eggs- 4
Water- 3 cups

List 2:
To be ground to a thick paste with little amount of water
Green chilies-4
Chopped onions- 1/4 cup
Cardamom- 4
Coconut- 1/4 cup
Ripe tomatoes- 2 numbers (finely chopped)
Roasted chickpeas(pottu kadalai)- 1 tbsp
Ginger garlic paste- 1 tbsp
Poppy seeds- 1 tsp(soak in 1 tbsp of hot water)
Coriander seeds- 2 tsp(soak in 1 tbsp of hot water together with poppy seeds)
Cashew nuts- 4

Grind the ingredients given under list 2 to a thick fine paste adding little amount of water.

Heat oil in a pan and add cumin seeds. When they splutter, add chopped onions(from list 1) and saute till it turns light golden color. Add salt, turmeric powder, bay leaf, peas and curry leaves. When the onions are transparent, pour in the paste made from list 2 and saute till the raw smell of the masala disappears.

I cooked the masala till this stage and transfered it to a slow cooker, added 4 cups of water and kept it under slow mode(8 hours). After an hour or so I added the boiled eggs to the gravy, stirred once and covered the slow cooker again. It usually cooks within 4 hours and the rest of the time keeps the gravy warm. Once I smell the aroma of gravy coming together, I usually check if its cooked enough and turn it to keep warm. Just before serving I check for salt and garnish with cilanro leaves. All thats left to do is to serve muttai kurma with rice or parathas.

If I am in a hurry and I dont use the slow cooker: after stir frying the masala, I add the boiled eggs, 3 cups of water and let it simmer for 15- 20 minutes to thicken the gravy.
Serve the muttai kurma with rice or naans, parathas.

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