It is common for Indian ladies to have a kitty party once a month where they can catch up with each other and get to spend a good time eating and chatting. My friends and I keep switching host, so that everyone gets a chance to cook and host the gathering. Last month, it was my time to host a kitty party and I also had a couple of friends coming from the Northern part of India who I hadn’t met for ages. I therefore decided to cook South Indian dishes, but there are so many popular South Indian dishes that they may have already tried and I wanted them to try something unique. I went through my pantry and looked at all the ingredients I had.
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 leftovers will be turned into a new dish.
So after thinking about it for some time, I came up with the “One Pot South Indian Dinner Meals Party Idea”. For those of you who don’t know, “one pot” basically means a dish that can be cooked in the pressure cooker in a short time. Like any other Indian women, I love pressure cookers, I have four in total, all in different sizes (small, medium, large and extra large). 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 tons of gas. We have been part of reducing carbon footprint for over 50 years now. That’s something to be proud of.
So what was on the menu? After looking at my pantry, I decided to cook the following dishes:
- Cucumber raita
- Cabbage poriyal
You can find recipes to all of these 4 dishes below. You can try out these easy South Indian dinner recipes when you don’t have a lot of time to cook something of your choice.
I served bisibelebath with cool raita, potato chips and cabbage stir fry. I quickly chopped all the veggies, made the spice mix, soaked some tamarind in water, washed the rice and lentil. Saute, pour and stir. The pressure cooker was set to cook for 10 whistles. Once done, the rice-lentil medley was garnished with fresh cilantro. I left them hot in the pressure cooker until the guests arrived.
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.
Finally for dessert, I made pathirpeni, which I was so glad to make because I knew my North Indian friends had not tried this dish before. Pathirpeni is a noodle-shaped dry dish which is soaked in aromatic milk infused with saffron, cardamons and nuts.
I pressure cooked the whole milk with cardamons for 8 whistles and once the steam had settled, I mixed in saffron strands, coarse rice powder, nuts and sugar to taste. I bought cute ceramic glasses similar to shot glasses. I placed the noodles at the bottom and poured the warm milk over it and garnished with some chopped nuts.
Bisi Bele Bath
For The Rice
- ½ cup rice
- raw peanuts a few pieces
- rock salt a pinch
- 1¼ cup water
For The Dal
- ½ cup arhar dal also known as tuvar dal
- ¼ tsp turmeric powder
- 1 cup water
For The Veggies
- ½ medium carrot
- 9-10 french beans
- ½ cup peas
- 1½ – 2 small brinjals
- ½ medium onions
- ½ medium tomato
- ½ tbsp tightly packed seedless tamarind soaked in ½ or ⅔ cup water
- 1 – 1½ cup water
- ½ cup water added later
- 1½ tbsp bisi bele bath masala dissolved in 1 cup water
- salt add as required
- 1 tbsp unsweetened desiccated coconut
For The Tempering
- 1½ – 2 tbsp ghee or oil
- ½ – 1 marathi moggu optional
- ½ tsp mustard
- 1 – 1½ dry byadagi or dry red chillies
- 6 – 8 curry leaves
- asafoetida a little
- 9 – 10 cashews
For The Rice
- Rinse the rice and peanuts and add 2½ cups of water to a large bowl.
- Let the rice and the peanuts soak in the water for 20 to 25 minutes. Add a little salt.
- Keep the rice and the peanuts on the stove top and cook the rice.
- If required, then you can add some more water while cooking the rice.
- Let the water boil before you lower the flame. Simmer till the rice grains are cooked well as well as the peanuts. Cover and keep aside.
For The Lentils And Veggies
- Soak 1 tbsp tightly packed tamarind in 1/2 or 2/3 cup warm water for 25 to 30 mins.
- After you have left the tamarind in the water for 25 – 30 minutes, squeeze and extract the tamarind.
- In a pressure cooker, add rinsed tuvar dal, turmeric powder and 2 to 2.5 cups water.
- Leave it in the pressure cooker for 8-9 whistles or until the dal is cooked soft.
- Once the pressure settles down on its own, mash the dal and keep aside.
- In another pan, add the chopped veggies and ¼ tsp salt and pour 2 cups of water and stir.
- Cover and allow the veggies to cook till they are cooked and still retain their shape.
For The Bisi Bele Bath
- Now in the cooker with the mashed dal, add the cooked rice and peanuts.
- Then add the cooked vegetables along with its stock and stir slowly.
- Add 1 cup of water to the cooker along with the tamarind pulp and mix it well while ensuring that the rice grains do not break.
- Now in another pan or bowl, take the 3 tbsp bisi bele bath masala and 1 cup water.
- Stir the mixture very well as the masala tends to stick to the back of the spoon while stirring. You can remove the masala from the spoon and add it to the mixture.
- Now add this bisi bele bath + water mixture in the cooker.
- Add desiccated coconut. Add 1 tsp salt or as required. Stir well.
- On a low flame, simmer the mixture for 20 – 25 minutes without placing the lid on the cooker. You can add more water if required and keep stirring it. When the mixture has been cooked well, you will notice the raw aroma of the tamarind fade away with all the flavours blending well. Cover and keep it aside once done.
Tempering Bisi Bele Bath
- In another pan, add ghee or oil and add the mustard seeds to crackle. Temper the curry leaves, marathi moggu dry red chillies, cashews and hing till the dry red chillies change their colour and the cashews turn golden. Ensure that you do not burn the spices.
- Pour this tempering in the prepared bisi bele bath. Stir the mixture and cover the cooker with its lid for 5 minutes so that the tempering flavours combine with the bisi bele bath.
- 1 medium sized cucumber
- 1 cup fresh yoghurt or greek yoghurt whisked
- ½ tsp kashmiri chilli powder
- ½ tsp roasted cumin powder
- 2 tbsp coriander leaves chopped
- Grate the cucumber and ensure to peel off the skin if the cucumber is bitter.
- add 1 cup of curd.
- add chilli powder, salt, coriander leaves and raosted cumin powder.
- mix the mixture well.
- 100 gm cabbage
- cumin powder 2 pinches
- 2 green chillies
- 2 tbsp vegetable oil
- black pepper as required
- 50 gm coconut flake
- 2 tsp lemon juice
- 1 tsp mustard seeds
- salt as required
- Wash the cabbage under running water and shred it into a bowl using a shredder.
- Add oil to a pan on medium flame and add a few mustard seeds to it.
- Let the mustard seeds crackle before adding green chillies and curry leaves. Let it dry for a couple of minutes.
- Add the shredded cabbage to the pan and also add the cumin powder, salt and pepper. Mix them well and cook them over high flame.
- In low flame, add the coconut flakes to the pan before closing the pan and letting the dish cook for 5 minutes.
- Put the cabbage in a plate and pour some lemon juice over it.
- 1 cup maida
- ½ cup water
- ¼ tsp salt
- 1 tsp oil
- 1 tbsp rice flour
- 2 tbsp unsalted butter
- ⅓ cup powdered sugar
- ¼ cardamon powder
- ½ tsp pistachios chopped finely
- 1 tsp almond finely chopped
- In a small bowl add maida and a pinch of salt. Mix it well while adding water slowly until a soft dough is former.
- Add sugar and cardamon in a blender to form a dine powder. Remember that grinding the cardamon fresh enhances the taste of the dish.
- In another small bowl add unsalted butter and rice flour and mix it well with a spoon to form a creamy texture.
- Once the dought has been set aside for 30 minutes, divide it into 2 equal sized golf balls. Take one of those balls and flaten it thin. Keep repeating this until all the dough balls are flattened.
- Take one flattened dough and place it over a chopping board, add the rice flour butter mixture to the dough and spread it evenly.
- Repeat this step until you have added the flour and butter mixture to all the flattened dough's. Once completed, roll the dough and cut it into 1 inch thick pieces.
- Now take each swirl ball of dough and flatten it gently in a way the layers don’t disappear. Keep it aside.
- In a frying pan, heat oil and add the rolled poori in oil.. Fry the puris over medium heat until the padhir peni turns crisps and light golden.
- Now arrange all the fried padhir pen in a plate and garnish it with powdered sugar mixture and nuts and serve it.