..OR, what to do on your last week of freedom
With one week of extended freedom before I step back into the world of having a regular job, I find myself with a lot of empty time that I hadnt planned for. Im all about planning what I want to do, even if it is to laze around all day. In a happy coincidence, I also had this really strong longing to have my cooks (back home) BisiBeleBhaath. Because the way she makes it, is to die for. It is comforting, homely, satisfying and altogether scrumptious.
There are some tastes that are just meant to be reminders of home. Comfort food, home food, call it what you want. These are things one tends to enjoy best at home and no substitute can come close. BisiBeleBhaath (BBB, as I call it) is one such home delicacy for me. Since Iv moved out, every trip back home features one BBB meal, and truly completes my going-home-experience. Without it, something is amiss.
Despite the massive cravings and pangs for BBB I have had since I moved to Goa, I still hadnt mustered the courage to try my hand at making BBB on my own. However, there is always a first time, and it seems that time for me, was today.
What you need
For the masala:
1 tbsp poppy seeds (khus-khus)
1" piece of cinnamon
3-4 tbsp dry coconut (if you dont have dry coconut, you could dry roast freshly grated coconut, like I did)
2 tbsp sambar powder (I get this home-made from my cook back home, so I dont really know what secret ingredients she puts in it, unfortunately)
For the main dish (to feed 2 hungry people):
2-3 cups chopped vegetables of your choice. I used carrots, potatoes and peas because thats all I had handy. But you can even add cauliflower, french beans, double beans, or even sambar onions or small brinjals.
1 cup toor dal
1 cup rice
2 small tomatoes chopped
1 small onion chopped (I took the liberty to add this in, inspired from an online recipe of BBB that I was looking at yesterday)
1-2 tbsp tamarind paste
2 sprigs curry leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 dry red chillies roughly chopped
What you need to do
First, dry roast the poppy seeds, cloves and cinnamon on a low flame. Keep this going till the poppy seeds turn nice and brown.
Next, dry roast the fresh coconut till it has lost all its moisture and begins to show some brown specks. If youre using dried coconut to begin with, you can skip right to the next step.
Grind together the sambar powder, poppy seeds, cinnamon and cloves, along with the coconut. This should give you a deep brown, rich and flavourful dry masala.
Meanwhile, par boil the chopped veggies. Start to cook the dal and rice (mixed together) on a low flame.
In a deep bottomed pan/pot, generously add some ghee. When its hot, throw in the mustard seeds, curry leaves, onions and roughly chopped red chillies.
When the mustard seeds stop sputtering, add the onions and saute till slightly translucent. Next, add the dry masala and roast well. Continue to saute this on a low flame till the masala is cooked. Note that this is all done without adding any water.
Next, throw in the chopped tomatoes, add the tamarind paste and a cup of water. Continue to cook the masala.
By now, the dal and rice should be more than half cooked. Tip it into the masala, mix well and continue to simmer on a low flame.
The best BBB is usually mixed so well that the masala, rice and dal are well combined into one giant pot of flavourful splendour. So continue to simmer and add water when necessary, until you get that rich silky looking BBB.
At the very end, add in the parboiled veggies and add salt to taste. Cook for a few minutes more so that the various components are all well combined.
BBB is best enjoyed with something crunchy. Traditionally it is served topped with khara-boondi, but back home it was tradition to have it with locally made potato chips.
My first endeavour at making BBB was quite a success, so I can safely say that future BBB-homesickness-pangs will be efficiently dealt with and put to rest.