Monday, September 10, 2007

A Perfect Weekday Dinner

Recipes that can be compartmentalised into tasks that can be done ahead of time and assembled before meal times keep me sane! If I am sane, the rest of the household (including the cat) follows suit.

Any recipe that shows 'do-aheadability' and'compartmentability' potential immediately catches my eye.
This recipe from Saptahik Sakal, a Marathi magazine, for bisi bele bhaat using pohe (avalakki, puffed rice) scored high on both these accounts.

Saptahik Sakal is a weekly magazine from the stable of Sakal newpapers. Sakal (literally means morning) enjoys a wide and loyal readership in Pune and the surrounding area. The other widely read newspaper in Pune is Kesari (founded by Lokamanya Tilak). Folks from Pune can be broadly classified as Sakal-readers or Kesari-readers; with each side ferociously and fiercely loyal to their newspaper and to the views expressed in those newspapers. So typical! Puneris don't experience normal pride, it is always fierce pride.
But I digress.

Every year, Saptahik Sakal publishes a special issue titled Rucheepalat (change of taste). These issues are choc full of readers recipes, theme recipes, kitchen tips and tricks etc. etc. Each issue is a keeper.
This recipe for Avalakki Bisi Bele Bhaat is from the 1998 issue of Saptahik Sakal from the article 'Karnataki KhaadyaBahar' (loosely translates into Feasts from Karnataka).

The Bisi bele was delicious! Since the main preparations were made ahead of time, getting dinner ready was a snap.
This dish has it all; rice, daal, and vegetables.
Unfortunately I wasn't able to glam it up for the photo. Anyway, take a look:

Here is the recipe with some minor changes I made based on the ingredients used.
The original recipe used a waati (katori) as a measure; I've made modifications using a standard cup .

Avalakki Bisi Bele


3 cups thick pohe (puffed rice)
1 cup mung daal
2-3 cups assorted vegetables, chopped (I used 4 small brinjals, 1 large potato, some chard stems, 1 carrot)
2 tomatoes, chopped
15-20 curry leaves
1-2 tsps tamarind concentrate
1-2 tbsp oil
12 green chillies, sliced (optional)
The phodni kit (mustard seeds, turmeric, and asefetida)

For the masala:
2 tbsp coriander seeds
2 tbsp chana daal
2 tbsp urad daal
10 (or less) dried red chillies
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup coconut

For the masala: roast each ingredient separately using a little oil. Let cool before grinding it in a spice or coffee grinder.
Steam the vegetables. I used a microwave but you could aways use a pressure cooker.
Cook the mung daal with about 3 cups of water using a pressure cooker.
(The above three steps can be made ahead of time).

Mix the daal, vegetables and the masala.
Do the phodni (heat the oil, add mustard seeds, when they start dancing add the asefetida and turmeric), add the green chillies (if using) and the curry leaves.
Mix in the daal mixture, tamarind, salt, and some water. (The quantity of water depends on the consistency that you want. I used about 2 cups.)
While the daal is simmering, wash the pohe , allow to drain and set them aside.
Adjust the salt keeping in mind that you still have to add the pohe.
Also, adjust the quantity of the tamarind.
Before serving, add the pohe and let them cook for just a few minutes.
Serve with ghee, papads, or both!

This is my entry for Regional Cuisines of India: Karnataka Food, hosted by Asha (who no longer has any use for her glasses).
This incredible food blog event is Lakshmi's idea.
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