Thursday, December 29, 2005

a winter's tale

My first attempt at food blogging is inspired by Meena-ben at Hooked on Heat. Been reading food blogs more than my textbooks, and have been itching to participate in the events.

I am far from a competent cook, having been fed by an exceptional grandmother, followed by exceptional cook. But I love food and all matters related. So here I am, trying my hand...


So many things came to mind when thinking of food for cold days. I remembered chana-bhatura on Indraprastha Marg, Delhi... kachoris, jalebis and milk in Agra... dal-bati-churma outside IIM, Ahmedabad... hot eggrolls in Calcutta... and even pumpkin soup and cheese toasties at a Dutch friends christmas party!

But considering my limited cooking skills, I settled on something that is a childhood favourite- sambhar rice! This was often put together using left over sambhar and rice and mixed together in a huge basin with lots of ghee. The kids would be seated around my pati (grandmother) and each of us would be given a spoonful (fingerful? since it was served with the hand?) in turn. We work through the basin, and be stuffed silly in the end!

Bisibela rice from Karnataka is a definite upgrade on the regular sambar- at least for me. Its a complete meal in itself- rice, dal, veggies. And it combines a whole range of flavours- theekha (chilli), khatta (sour from tamarind and tomato), the peculiar flavour of asafoetida, and an almost sweet undertone from cinnamon and coconut!

Barring some unforgiveable substitutions, this is how I went about it.
And yes, I had it with some potato, fried with only turmeric, chilli and asafoetida. There can be nothing better!

I have indicated what role I thought the contents played in the composition, so feel free to mess around as you like it.



rice, tuar dal, veggies: base
sambar powder: basic spice mixture
cinnamon powder, grated coconut: sweet tones
tamarind, tomato: sour tones
chilli powder: well, chilli tones, though the sambar powder was chilli enough for me!
asafoetida, curry leaves, mustard seeds, onion, cashew: tempering and topping

1. I boiled together rice and tuar dal (1 cup totally, in equal quanities since I really like dal) with a pinch of turmeric and two cups of water.

2. Can also add veggies to the rice-n-dal, but I only put in a can of peas...

3. I mixed (supposed to grind together) together a spoon of tamarind paste, a heaped tbsp of grated coconut, a heaped tsp of sambar powder, half a tsp of cinnamon power, chopped tomato (not having cinnamon, I used mixed spice, but stick to cinnamon!).

4. Once the rice was done, I added the sambar powder mixture, and let the whole thing simmer.

5. I put together the tempering in hot oil- asafoetida, mustard and onion, and mixed it with the rice.

6. Add salt, and then... done.