My pantry is stocked with basic Indian spices like turmeric, chili and cilantro powder, mustard seeds, fenugreek seeds, cumin seeds, whole spices like cloves, cardamon, cinnamon and dry red chillies, herbs (some dried and some fresh), ghee – clarified butter, oils from sesame, sunflower and olive, tamarind fruit, three varieties of rice, lentils like yellow split peas, frozen coconut, frozen and fresh and cans of few beans. With these staples, I can make more than 25 dishes and these were the pantry essentials I had during my student life too. Everyday cooking requires meager use of the spice mix, which makes them be used over a long period of time. Indian cooking is simple, affordable and healthy. Even with minimum spices, wholesome meals can be cooked. Like Italian cuisine, nothing goes waste in Indian cooking, any left overs will be turned into a new dish.
Now take a peek into my domain – the kitchen I love the most and my pantry – the one I totally depend on for everyday cooking. I mustered all the courage in the world to show the utterly cluttered pantry of mine. Feel free to voice your views on what you feel about that and also tell me what are the things you stock in your pantry?
Indians love their pressure cooker and I have four in total, each in different sizes – Small, Medium, Large and Extra-large, just like in clothing stores I steam the vegetables and cook my dhaal (lentils), meat, rice, payasams (dessert), you name it and that would have been cooked in my cooker. You can find no house without one. It makes cooking fast and saves ton loads of gas. We have been part of reducing carbon footprint for over 50 years now. That’s something to be proud of. Anyways coming back to my foodbuzz event, for today’s dinner – all the dishes were cooked in the pressure cooker.
A one pot meal…
One that can be cooked in no time in a pressure cooker…
That is delicious and quick to fix…
Perfect lunch box food…
A definite party hit…
What’s on the menu?
1. Bisi-bele-bath – Rice-lentil based dish
2. Cucumber raita – Cold yogurt seasoned with cumin
3. Cabbage poriyal – Cabbage stir fried with mustard seeds and coconut oil
4. Pathirpeni – Indian dessert
Since my little one needs to be carried and pampered almost 24X7, I managed to whip just the entree, side dish and dessert and decided to go for a store bought salsa and chips for the appetizer. I know that is no South Indian dish, please show me some love and forgive that part of the meal
After munching few chips, we started right away with Bisi-bele-bath. A South Indian rice based meal made with equal portions of rice, lentils and vegetables cooked in an exotic spice blend. Bisi-bele-bhaath translates to hot-lentil-rice in Kannada, A South Indian language. My mom’s second sister, S periamma is known for this dish and I call this her signature recipe. For any family lunch or potluck parties, she would prepare this and the moment she opens her hot pack box, the wonderful flavor of nutty sesame oil will waft through the air and tickle our taste buds in a way that would attract all my cousins to the dining table like bees buzzing around a flower. To get that brilliant taste, she shared her trade secret. Finish the rice with few drizzle of sesame oil at the end, she announced when I asked her for the recipe. Yes perimma I followed your recipe and that tip and everyone loved the outcome. Thank you lovely lady!
For the side, I steamed the cabbage for 1 whistle and tempered the fuming oil with mustard seeds, curry leaves, onions and green chillies. Saute and mixed in the cooked cabbage and for little color, I added turmeric powder and finally drizzled some coconut oil for an added earthiness. Stirred to combine and ready to enjoy. We paired the food with Cabernet Sauvignon, Robert Mondavi wine.
1. For women with gestational diabetes, replace white rice with brown rice. Its better to overcook the brown rice, as the mushy consistency of the brown rice when mixed with lentils and other spices will not taste any different from white rice.
Update on Jan 10th 2012:
Hope over to my good friend Grishma’s blog to know the recipe for bisi-bela-bhaath. She is such a warm person who is so passionate about cooking and I love her smile Infact I see magic in her hands be it with food or garden. Yes she is a pro gardener who attempts to grow every possible vegetable, fruit and herbs in town. Hop over to her space to know more her and her love for food and cooking.