Sunday, February 28, 2010

Palak/Spinach Rice

Last time we had taken in laws to this fine restaurant - 1947, we had ordered this Spinach rice. Though it wasn’t quite dry, we did love it for its fabulous taste, with mild spices, and plenty of greens. Especially, FIL loved it a lot, but couldn’t have enough of it as he was already full. And he kept on praising it for some days.

And on a weekday morning, he had taken out a couple of bunches of palak from the fridge, and started picking it, by the time I woke up. Yes, he actually chooses the menu for the day and keeps the veggies ready, by the time I or MIL get into the kitchen to start cooking. That in fact, reduces a great deal of our work!
Coming back to my story about Palak rice, that morning, FIL wanted me to prepare it. Oops, I find it quite difficult to cope with sudden ideas of trying out a new dish, if I’m not prepared for it; especially on a weekday morning!! So I explained to him, saying I was not very sure about the recipe, though I could give it a try, and that I would look through a couple of recipes for Palak rice and come back and prepare it for dinner the same day. He too agreed.
In between work, that day I checked through some recipes, and found that every recipe was different from each other, and everything looked different and had different sets of ingredients. Hmm.... I thought, I should take points form at least a couple of recipes to suit the taste of my family.

I came back home and gave it a try, in my own way, of course adapting a couple of thing from a couple of places. And I should say the outcome was just awesome! It had a rich taste, and yet mild spices, and tasted great. It’s now a dish-in-demand at home :)
Palak Rice

Preparation time : 10 min
Cooking time : 25 min, including cooking rice
Serves : 4

For rice:

Basmati rice - 2 cups
Water - 2 cups
Milk - 1 cup
Cloves - 2-3
Bay leaves - 1 (optional)
Cooking oil/ghee - 1 tsp

Fresh spinach - 2-3 medium sized bunches
Onion - 1 medium sized, chopped (optional)
Cooking oil - 1 Tbsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Cinnamon - 4-5 small pcs
Cloves - 4-5
Pepper - 8-10 (optional)
Salt - ½ tsp or as per taste
Green chilies - 4-5, vary depending on taste
Ginger - ½” cube
Fresh cream - 1 Tbsp
Ghee - 1-2 tsp
Cashews - 10-12, made into pieces

• Wash and soak rice for 10 minutes
• Cook in a pressure cooker with water and milk, with the spices cloves and bay leaf for a nice aroma and oil/ghee added to make the rice grains non sticky
• After rice is cooked, allow to cool slightly, ensuring that the grains do not get sticky
• Meanwhile, pick and wash the spinach leaves and let the water drain completely
• Chop into very fine pieces. Alternatively, a part of the spinach can be processed in a food processor or mixer, to get a coarse paste. Green chilies can also be combined while grinding
• In a cooking pan, heat oil, add cumin seeds, pepper, cloves, cinnamon and allow to splutter
• Add grated ginger and slit green chilies, if not ground to paste already
• Add finely chopped onion and sauté till translucent
• Once onions are done, add the spinach - chopped and the coarsely ground paste
• Sauté well till the raw smell disappears and the color changes o a darker green. This might take 5 to 10 minutes depending on the pan used and the heat of the stove
• Add salt and mix well. Note that spinach as such is slightly salty and requires a lesser amount of salt
• Once done, mix in the rice, and add fresh thick cream
• Mix thoroughly and heat for a few more minutes, letting the water content to go
• Serve hot, optionally with a raita of your choice

Tips n Tricks:
• Ensure the raw small of spinach is gone, by sautéing well.
• Be sure to drain the spinach well after washing it, as it already has a high water content

• Potatoes can be boiled, mashed and added
• Grated cheese can be added in place of fresh cream

Sunday, February 14, 2010


Bisi bele bhath is a famous rice-based dish Karnataka. Bisi-bele-bhath translates to hot-lentil-rice in the Kannada language. It is also known as Bisi bele huliyanna. The preparation of this dish is quite elaborate, involving preparation of spice powder. The spices used, contribute to the unique flavor and taste of this dish. It is served hot along with boondi or potato chips.
The best place to savor this dish in Bangalore is MTR or Mavalli Tiffin Room. However, the MTR branded ready-to-eats are nothing great to be bragged about. So is the spice powder - it is best when prepared fresh.
Here’s my MIL’s recipe for BBB. She makes wonderfully tasty BBB, which can easily compete with the MTR BBB :)

Bisi Bele Bhath

Preparation time : 15 min
Cooking time : 25 min
Serves : 5-6

Rice - 2 cups
Tur Dal - 1 ½ cups
Chopped Vegetables (Beans, Carrot, Potato, Onion, peas) - together 2 cups, all chopped into ½” pcs
Salt - 1 tsp
Coconut - 1 ½ Tbsp, grated - fresh or dry
Tamarind pulp - 1 Tbsp, adjust acc to taste
Jaggery - 1 big marble sized ball
Oil - ½ Tbsp
Butter - ½ Tbsp, optional
Turmeric - 1 pinch
Salt - 1 tsp, adjust acc to taste

For the powder:
Chana dal - 2 tsp
Urad dal - 2 tsp
Dry red chilies - 8-10
Cinnamon - 1” stick
Coriander seeds - 2 tsp
Cloves - 5-6
Maratha Moggu - 2
Cardamon - 2
Poppy seeds - 2 tsp
Curry leaves - 2 sprigs

For tempering:Cooking oil - 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Groundnut seeds - 1 tbsp
Curry leaves - 2-3 strands
Red chilies - 1
Turmeric - 1 pinch

For BBB powder:
• Dry roast all the ingredients
• Allow to cool for 5 minutes
• Grind them into slightly coarse powder
• This can be made in larger quantity and preserved for a couple of months

Bisi Bele Bath:• Pressure cook dal and vegetables with a pinch of turmeric in sufficient water
• Cook rice separately
• Mix the cooked rice into the cooked dal and vegetable pan
• Add tamarind pulp, salt, jaggery, BBB powder and bring to boil
• Add grated coconut and mix thoroughly
• Stir in between. Adjust the amount of water as per required consistency.
• After boiling well for about 10 minutes, turn off the flame and add butter and mix

• Heat oil in a pan
• Add mustard seeds and allow to sputter
• Turn the heat low, add groundnut seeds, and stir
• After the groundnuts are half-done, add curry leaves and red chili pieces and stir for half a minute till all the ingredients are properly roasted. Keep aside till needed
• Mix the tempering to the BBB just before serving to retain the crispness of the groundnuts

Tips n Tricks:
• Do not make rice too mushy mushy
• Make the BBB a little watery. It absorbs the water and gets thickened after sometime.

• An onion can be sautéed and added along with the tempering
• An alternate method is to add all the raw ingredients and pressure cook the entire mixture at one go. However, my preference is the elaborate method.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Kattina Saru - Plain Lentil Rasam

When it comes to simple comfort food, kattina saru / simple lentil rasam tops the list. A very mild spiced, yet tasty and very healthy, this one is a preferred choice for us for lunch on days we’ve had a heavy breakfast. Being very simple to make, it is a good choice for us to cook too. The spices give a subtle flavor and taste, while a correct blend of salt and jaggery and pepper make it tasty.

Kattina Saru

Preparation time : None
Cooking time : 15 min
Serves : 4

Tur Dal - 1 cup
Green chili - 1 or 2
Turmeric - a big pinch
Coconut milk - 1 Tbsp
Jaggery - 1 small pinch
Salt - ¾ tsp
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Coriander leaves - 1 sprig
For tempering:
Ghee - 2 tsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
Black pepper - ½ tsp
Asafetida/hing - 1 pinch

• Cook tur dal with 2-3 cups of water, one green chili and turmeric in pressure cooker for 1-2 whistles
• Once the pressure releases, bring it to boil again
• Add salt, coconut milk, and jaggery.
• Add curry leaves and coriander leaves for flavor. Let it boil for 5-10 minutes.
• Adjust water to get a thin, rasam-like consistency
For tempering:
• Make a coarse powder of black pepper and cumin seeds
• Heat ghee in a small skillet
• Add mustard seeds and allow to splutter
• Add cumin, pepper, hing
• Mix it to the rasam just before serving
• Serve piping hot with hot rice and ghee

• Juice of a lemon can be if you like a sour taste

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Strawberry Milkshake

Strawberries are back! What a treat these little red fruits are! I am a big fan of strawberries and especially love it with ice cream and cream served at Corner house - an ice cream parlor in Bangalore. Well, I know that will be too heavy on my diet but strawberries are not something that I can miss. So, a glassful of milkshake with strawberries is something that I make do with, as it is healthy and not so heavy as ice cream and cream!Little niece Hima, also loves it. Whenever I bring home strawberries, she knows I’m gonna make milkshake with it, and she jumps up in joy!

Strawberry Milkshake

Preparation time : 10 min
Serves : 4

Strawberries - 14-15
Chilled Milk - 3 ½ glasses
Sugar - 4-5 Tsp, depending on taste
Strawberry / Vanilla Ice cream - 2 scoops (optional)

• Wash and chop strawberries into halves or quarters
• Blend it in a mixie or blender with sugar and some milk
• Add milk, blend it well, to make the milk frothy
• Pour it into serving glasses
• Add half a scoop of ice cream to each glass and serve.

• Ice cream can be substituted with fresh cream. It can be omitted if you are too health conscious
• Some strawberry sauce can also be added over