Wednesday, August 31, 2016

Baingan And Elephant Garlic Bharta - Eggplant and Elephant Garlic In Gravy


We arrived at Portland right on time for the 19th annual Elephant Garlic Festival!
 As the name indicates Elephant garlic is enormous in size. Unlike normal garlic, it has a mild and sweet flavour but possesses the same antibacterial properties as the normal garlic does. Each clove is fleshy and  is  as big as a medium size onion. It can be chopped and used like any other vegetable in soups, kozhambus, rasam, gravies and salads. 
Though we had already enjoyed the festival during our last trip, visiting the Garlic mela once again was really an exciting experience.
Garlic ice cream, garlic lemonade, garlic pizza, garlicky  popcorn and more garlic snacks were selling like hot cakes at the food stalls!
After having a gala 'all garlic snack time' at the Elephant Garlic Festival my taste buds started to crave for something spicy, tangy and salty! We had picked up four huge Elephant Garlic bulbs at the festival and there was a huge eggplant tucked away in the refrigerator at home. That was enough to trigger off my enthusiasm to prepare Baingan and Elephant Garlic Bharta for dinner! I was not brave enough to use more than three cloves of Elephant Garlic in this attempt! After tasting the Bharta I realized that more cloves would not have harmed in any way!

Grilling is the first and best option to cook eggplant for bharta. But I chose to microwave it this time.

Elephant garlic cloves ( Peeled ) - 3
Eggplant - 1 (huge)
Onion - 1 (huge)
Tomatoes - 3 (huge)
Ginger (Grated)- 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
Sambar powder - 3/4 tsp
Salt - 1 tsp
Garam masala powder - 1 pinch
Sesame oil - 2 tbsps
Coriander leaves - for garnishing
1. Wash,wipe and cut eggplant into thick slices.
2. Place the sliced pieces in a microwave safe dish and microwave for three or four minutes  till they are half done.
3. Place the peeled cloves of Elephant Garlic in the same dish and microwave for another four minutes till the eggplant becomes soft and mashable. Let it cool.

4. Peel the skin of the cooked eggplant and mash the pulp using the back of the ladle and keep it aside.
5. Mince onion, grate the ginger and cut tomatoes into small pieces.
6. Heat oil in a pan and splutter cumin seeds.
7. Add the minced onion, ginger and the microwaved Elephant garlic cloves.

8. Saute till the onions turn golden in colour and then add the tomatoes, salt and sambar powder.
9. Cover and cook on medium flame, stirring now and then till the tomatoes turn mushy and  the oil separates.
10. Add the mashed eggplant and garam masala powder and cook till all the ingredients blend well.

11. Add water if the bharta is too thick and simmer for 2 or 3 more minutes.

Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and enjoy the Baingan And Elephant Garlic Bharta with rotis or rice.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Bisibele Navanebath - A Flavoursome Dish With Foxtail Millet,Lentils And Vegetables


“What is your favourite dish?”
I get utterly confounded when someone poses the question such as this, which is most difficult to answer. I am a vegetarian and I love food. All dishes under the sun are my favourite dishes provided they are vegetarian. I love the authentic  Ethiopian Injera as much as I love our traditional  Ragi dose. I relish  Burritos and Rajma masala with Roti with equal zest. Falafel or Masal Vadas, Pineapple Gazpacho or   Pineapple Morkuzhambu –  all of them make my mouth water! My  sweet side  and  salt craving side  are equally balanced, hence I love sweets and savouries alike. Similarly I have a ‘hot side and cold side’ too! As a young girl I was almost in tears when I had to decide between hot coffee and rose milk after  a sumptuous treat at a restaurant. Touched by my predicament my doting father bought me both the drinks  at  a short  interval so that I could  relish them both  to my heart’s content! Years have passed by. Nature has decked me up with a silver crown to vouch for my senior citizen status. But  my favourite dishes are yet to be sorted out! I am still at a loss when I see  an elaborate spread laid out in front of me!

I have been raised in a large household  where the kitchen throbbed with activity from dawn to dusk. The numerous pleasant aromas that wafted through the kitchen started off with that of filter coffee and drifted towards the many flavours of roasting, grinding and simmering of food, that were capable of  activating the digestive juices  of even a yogi.  The spluttering of the seasoning, the hissing of the frying pan, the rolling of the grinding stone which crushed the masalas on a stone slab, the rhythmic  ‘dhak dhak’ of the huge pestle pounding the spice powders in the heavy stone mortar  were music to my ears!  If at all A. R. Rahman had time traveled and listened to the music, he  would have  certainly been inspired to compose the  world’s greatest  ‘Kitchen Symphony’ ever!  The distinct aromas arising out of the mixing and matching of the   Indian  spices  used in the preparation of various  lip smacking dishes  gave away the day’s menu to everyone even without them entering the kitchen. Our everyday food was simple but delicious and nutritious.

Special food was prepared when we had a celebration or when we had guests at home. On those occasions the entire house would be filled with the heady aroma of  specific  spices being roasted for  an  authentic  Mysore dish which has no parallel in the entire  world even to this day! Bisibelebath or BBB as it is dearly referred to  by the people of Mysore was and still is the star and the highlight of all parties. As the story goes  Bisibelebath  literally meaning  hot lentil rice was born in the royal kitchens of the Mysore Palace during Maharaja Sri Nalwadi Krishnaraja Wadiyar’s time. The   innovative dish prepared by the Palace chef  was a mixture of cooked  lentils (Bele) and rice (Bath), blended with powdered spices  and  liberally  drenched with ghee. As time  rolled by  multiple vegetables were added to the simple basic recipe and the royal dish evolved  into a wholesome and nutritious Bisibelebath.

 Though the basic recipe remains the same each household has a specific method for preparing  Bisibelebath. I love my mother’s recipe the most where equal measures of dal and rice were cooked together and then blended with vegetables cooked in  tamarind juice. Finally the ground spice and a lot of ghee were added. As the cooking continued the inviting flavour of the spice powder and melting ghee filled the entire atmosphere attracting the admiration of one and all. Showered with ghee fried cashew nuts it became a gastronomic delight.

I remember the funny occasion when I prepared  an instant Bisibelebath in the middle of the night! My husband was away on business to the next town and he was expected only late in the night. On such occasions  he usually  finished his dinner in one of  the way side restaurants well before he reached home. On that particular day due to some reason he came home hungry and tired that too accompanied by his business friend. There was no way he could give me prior notice as he was zooming through a high way. And those were the no mobile phone days! I was dazed for a moment as I had closed the kitchen for the day and had put away the leftovers in the refrigerator. How could I immediately serve a decent meal for two hungry men at that hour of the day? Suddenly it occurred to me that I had  stored some Bisibelebath powder in my kitchen shelf. With a new found courage  I pulled up my socks and set to work. I took out all the leftovers from the refrigerator -  sambar, rasam, curry, and nearly one cup of rice and emptied them together  into a big vessel. The addition of water, salt, a handful of beaten rice and a chopped tomato increased the volume of the food. The men were still washing up while I cooked the leftovers together. The flavor of  the Bisibelebath  powder  and the big dollop of ghee which I added in the end  drew the men to the dining table. The liberal addition of the powder had lent a porridge like consistency to my watery Bisibelebath. It was heartening to see them gobble up the instant BBB served with cucumber slices and a bowl of curd with utmost relish! Thenceforth I learnt about how the business friend went on raving about my BBB among  our friends' circle for many more days!

Such is the power - or should I say the charm - of Bisibelebath, be it an authentic preparation or it was just an instant mishmash! 

As I write this I realize that a very special soft corner in the deepest recess of my heart is reserved for the most flavoursome and deliciously spicy Bisibelebath. Why else does Bisibelebath top the list of my Sunday menu?

With the increase in lifestyle diseases and other medical factors nowadays people want to cut down on their rice intake. Most of them  are switching over to millets for their high nutritive value and numerous health benefits. Bisibelebath buffs need not lose heart due to this new trend in diet. A delicious and nutritious Bisibelebath can  still be prepared  using millets as a substitute to rice. Foxtail millet ( NAVANE) is a good choice for preparing a delicious Bisibele due to its nice texture and  nutty flavor.

Bisibelebath has donned a new avatar to suit the need of the hour. Here is  Bisibele Navanebath for the benefit of all the health conscious BBB lovers.

Now over to the recipe.

Foxtail millet / Navane - 1 cup
Split Pigeon Pea/ Tuvar Dal - 1 cup
Turmeric powder - 1/4 tsp
Ghee - 2 to 4 tbsps
Tamarind - A plum size ball
Salt - 1 3/4 tsps
Bengal gram dal/ Chana dal - 1 tbsp
Coriander seeds - 1 tbsp
Black gram dal/ Urad dal - 1 tsp
Red chillies ( Preferably Byadagi variety) - 8
Black pepper - 5
Fenugreek seeds / Methi seeds - 1/4 tsp
Cardamom - 1
Cinnamon stick - 1 inch
Cloves - 4
Asafoetida - 1/4 tsp
Dry coconut ( Copra) gratings - 1tbsp
Kholrabi/Knol Khol - 1
Carrot - 1
String beans - a fistful
Potatoes - 1
Capsicum - 1
Tomato -1
Onion - 1
Sesame oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
Curry leaves - a few
Cashew nuts - 10
1. Wash the Foxtail millet / Navane three times thoroughly, add three cups of clean water and let it soak for an hour.
2. Roast the split pigeon peas / Tuvar dal in 1/2 tsp of ghee till it emanates a pleasant aroma.
3. Add 3 cups of water and turmeric powder to the roasted dal and set it in a pressure cooker.
4. In another separator of the cooker and chopped Kholrabi/ Knol Khol and place it on top of the dal vessel.
5. Fill a very small cup with water, drop the tamarind into it and place it in a corner of the separator containing the vegetable.
6. Pressure cook until three whistles so that the dal becomes soft and mushy.
Switch off flame and allow it to cool.
1. Heat 1/4 tsp of sesame oil in a kadai and roast cinnamon, cloves and cardamom in it.
2. When it emanates a pleasant aroma add all the other ingredients listed under SPICES except the dry coconut/copra gratings and asafoetida powder.
3. Keep roasting on low flame till they become golden in colour emanating a very pleasant aroma.
4. Finally add the asafoetida powder and roast for another few seconds and switch off flame.
5. Dry grind the roasted ingredients into a fine powder. Now add the dry coconut /copra gratings and run the mixer for another minute.
The spice powder is ready.
1. Add 1/4 tsp of sesame oil to the soaking Foxtail Millet/Navane and cook on low flame stirring now and then.
2. Cook till the millet becomes soft, till it gets mashed when pressed between the thumb and the forefinger.
1. Heat the remaining sesame oil in a huge kadai or wok, and add the mustard seeds.
2. When the mustard seeds splutter add the chopped onion and curry leaves.
3. Cook till the onion becomes transparent and then add the chopped carrots and beans.
4. Cover and cook the vegetables till they are half done add then add chopped potatoes. 
5. When all the vegetables are almost done add the chopped capsicum and stir fry till done.
6. Open the cooker, take out the tamarind, extract the juice and pour into the vegetables.
7. Add the cooked Kholrabi / Knol Khol, chopped tomatoes and salt and cook till the tomatoes become soft.
8. Add the mushy dal and the cooked Foxtail Millet/Navane and stir well.
9. Mix the powdered spice with little water to make a paste and blend it into the vegetable dal millet mixture. Adjust consistency by adding one more glass of water. The Bisibele needs to be of pouring consistency immediately after cooking. Gradually the powder will absorb the water and a soft Bisibele Navanebath with porridge like consistency will be ready to relish.
10. Cook for a few more minutes till all the ingredients blend well.
11. Add half of the ghee and switch off flame.
12. Heat the remaining ghee and fry the cashew nuts till they become golden in colour and pour over the flavoursome and deliciously spicy BISIBELE NAVANEBATH.

Enjoy the hot hot BISIBELE NAVANEBATH for breakfast, lunch or / and dinner with or without side dishes!
“This story was originally written for “Cook Me A Tale” contest on Tell-A-Tale.”

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Parotas Stuffed With Rajma Masala Dry Curry - Flat Bread Stuffed With Spicy Kidney Beans Curry

 My grand children sent me a message  saying that they would drop by for a quick bite during lunch time in the middle of their busy shopping schedule. I wanted to serve them something special though I had already cooked sambar, rice and curry for lunch. 'Rotis and Rajma Masala'! The thought that crossed my mind set me into action and I pulled out the pre soaked Rajma from the refrigerator. Since the number of tomatoes were insufficient to make a gravy, I prepared a Dry Rajma Masala Curry and stuffed it into the Parotas. Parotas with spicy stir fried brinjal  may seem like a strange  combination! But it tasted delicious though!

Whole wheat flour - 2 cups
Salt - 1 pinch
Oil or ghee - 2 tbsps
Ghee for roasting
1. Mix flour, oil and salt together.
2. Add water little by little and knead into a soft and pliable dough.
3. Cover and keep aside.
Pre soaked Rajma - 2 cups
Onion - 1(Chopped finely)
Tomatoes - 1(Chopped finely)
Salt - 1tsp
Sesame oil - 1 tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1/2 tsp
1. Pressure cook the Rajma without water up to three or four whistles.
2. Heat oil in a kadai and add the cumin seeds.
3. Add the chopped onion and stir till it becomes transparent.
4. Add the chopped tomatoes followed by sambar powder and salt and stir well.
5. Cover and cook till the tomatoes are done.Take care to keep the curry dry.


6. Add the cooked Rajma and allow to cool.
7. Grind them together without adding water.

1. Pinch a lemon size ball of the prepared dough.
2. Flatten it on your palm.
3. Place a ball of Dry Rajma Masala Curry in the center and pull the edges together and seal the curry inside.
4. Place the dough ball stuffed with the Rajma Masala Curry on a board dusted with flour.
5. Roll into a slightly thick palm size Parota using a rolling pin.

6. Place the Parota on a greased tava and dribble ghee all around and cook until it turns golden brown in colour.

7. Flip and cook the other side similarly.

Remove the golden Parota stuffed with Rajma Masala Dry Curry.

 Enjoy with any of your favourite side dish.