Bisi Bele Bath
I am a formidable multi-tasker. I moisturize when I'm at a traffic light. I do heel raises while waiting in the check out aisle. The old neurons are good for parallel processing. Two seemingly irreconcilable points of view? Daniel Craig and Pierce Brosnan? Fear not, I can make room for them both in the top storey. (Grinning widely, quite distracted) Mentally I'm like one of those incredible street performers that rides a bicycle and juggles three chairs while jumping through a ring of fire. (Goggling at vision, but I digress) You get the picture. Besides I said mentally!
My multi-tasking ends when it comes to bisi bele bath. Its true. Bisi bele bath is my one and only. Takes up all my attention. Its like a precocious child, just waiting to wreak havoc. Close supervision, gentle reader, is whats needed. Not a minute untended.
However, as with children I suppose, the payoff is worth it. Bisi bele bath, gentle reader is, arguably, on of my favorite combinations of substance and style. Robust, almost majestic. Complete in itself.
Heres what I did:
Followed recipe from Dakshin by Chandra Padmanabhan. Made the following modifications:
1. Used brown rice instead of white rice.
2. Add ginger paste to the ingredients.
3. Add jaggery as a sweetner.
4. Did not use ghee.
In more detail than you will EVER need:
1. Cook 1 cup each of toor dal and brown rice.
2. Heat a teaspoon of oil in a skillet. When the oil is warm (not smoking) chuck in the following. Give them each a minute to turn fragrant. This is my favorite part. 1 inch piece of cinnamon bark, 4 cloves, 5 whole pepper corns, 1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds, 3 teaspoons chana dal, 6 red chillies, 3 tablespoons coriander seeds, 2 tablespoons poppy seeds, 1/2 cup dessicated / unsweetened coconut. Cool and grind to a paste.
3. Grab tamarind pulp by scooping out of store-bought container (ha ha) or nuke a teaspoon of tamarind and a quarter cup of water in the microwave. Dig your fingers and play with the mushy brown stuff! This is my favorite part.
4. Time to put everything together. Heat another tablespoon of oil. Add a pinch of hing and check in the following and make them sizzle: 2 teaspoons mustard seeds, red chillies to taste, 1 tablespoon urad dal, 1 tablespoon chana dal, 6-8 curry leaves. Add upto a cup of diced vegetables of your choice: I would reccomend onions, green bell pepper, carrots, peas. There are those who will chuck in eggplant, broccoli, cauliflower and the like. (Insert disapproval here) Reckless behavior, if you ask me.
5. At any rate, at this point, you will be blanketed in a spice fug that would make the Maharaja of Mysore proud. Add a tablespoon of sambhar powder. Any sambhar powder will work, but if you have anything thats been made / procured specially for you, it will take things up a notch. This is my favorite part.
6. Add a teaspoon each of minced ginger and garlic. I've been known to crumble a half inch piece of jaggery at this point. Let the vegetables sweat. I like to leave them crunchy and so I don't cook them to mushiness. But of course, its all a metter of taste.
7. Show time! Add the cooked rice and lentils to the vegetables. Add the masala paste and tamarind water. Let them get to know each other. Hover attentively but do not intrude. What emerges is a flavorful one-pot dish that will warm your belly as well as your heart. This is my favorite part!
This is a good one to share with loved ones - Bisi Bele Bath is off to Monthly Mingle hosted by Meeta, domestic goddess extraordinaire!