Monday, April 8, 2013

Bisibelebath

Karnataka is a verily a microcosm of India - due to the richness and variety it encompasses in terms of food, languages (Kannada – an umbrella term for its various dialects, Tulu, Konkani, Kodava), culture and traditions. So, the state run Karnataka Tourism aptly holds the motto “One State, Many Worlds”.

Food habits of a region are influenced by its climate, crops, location and culture. Karnataka cuisine has a wide repertoire of authentic dishes which have a blend of various sub-cultures that influenced and moulded it into its present form. Karnataka food and its varieties can be broadly categorised into five types based on the regions that make up the landscape of Karnataka; namely Northern Karnataka, Old-Mysore (Bayalu seeme), Malnad, Mangalore/Coastal cuisine and Kodagu. Different regions have their signature recipes comprising of both vegetarian and non-vegetarian delicacies. Technically, there is no one dish that can singularly represent all of Karnataka. Even Bisibelebath (pronounced as ‘be-see-bay-Lay-bath’) ; the recipe of which is shared here, is one of the authentic dishes of Old-Mysore region.

Cultural history
Rice and Ragi (millet) are the staple foods of the Old-Mysore region. The history of rice is said to date back to the Vedic period.  
There is no mention of rice in the Rigveda, but it is referred to frequently in the post Rigvedic literatures. In Atharva Veda, it is called one of the two immortal sons of heaven – Rice and Barley. The Yajurveda mentions five varieties of it, of which the best was mahavriti
                                                             - Extract from the book Cultural History Of India, Om Prakash

Toor-dal (pigeon peas), another important ingredient of Bisibelebath, has a history of about 3000 years. It finds its origin in the eastern part of India. We should thank the traders or the populations which migrated to this place for the introduction of toor-dal into Karnataka cuisine; without which Saaru (known as Rasam in other parts) and HuLi (known as Sambhar in other parts) would not have existed in their current tasty avatars. Now if you are wondering what the difference between “Saaru” and Rasam or “huLi” and Sambhar is - the answer is jaggery. A pinch of jaggery is almost indispensable in the Old-Mysore cuisine.

Flashback
The hunger-inducing, heady aroma of piping hot, spicy bisibelebath first hit the olfactory sensors three centuries ago, in the kitchens of Amba Vilasa Palace - the palace of Mysore Wodeyars.  The royal cook who wanted to be in the good books of the Maharaja, ventured out on a culinary exploration using a combination of lentil and rice,  spiced it up with slowly roasted and ground spices like cloves, pepper, cinnamon, turmeric along with dried coconut, tamarind etc.  Then, to add a dash of royal grandeur to the dish he added cashews tossed in hot ghee. This neonatal “bisibelebath” was prepared sans any vegetables because the then Maharajas chose their vegetable-based side dishes according to their preferences.
The good old cook forgot to obtain a copyright of his dish and the recipe leaked beyond the walls of the palace. It reached places where creative people came out with various versions of bisibelebath, and the vegetable-loaded version picked up popularity.

Now
Bisibelebath, BBB or B-cube as we algebra-lovers call it, remains the favourite of many people here. It is a wholesome nutritious food. The usual routine that is followed at home is – cook huge amounts of Bisibelebath in the morning and gorge on it for breakfast, lunch, dinner and if possible, as the subsequent day’s breakfast too. And this kind of craze for Bisibelebath, is not unique to our home. The recipe I am sharing with you was passed down to me as a secret heirloom from my mother’s kitchen.  The recipe seems extensive, but is worth all the effort. Ah..that intoxicating aroma and the lip-smacking taste!
Here we go!

RECIPE
Serves: 4
Preparation time: 45 minutes

Vegetables


- Carrot – 1 cup, medium diced
- Potato -1cup, medium diced
- Tomato – 1 cup, medium diced
- Green peas/groundnuts – 1 cup
- Capsicum – 1 cup, medium diced
- French beans - 1 cup, medium diced


Ingredients for roasting:
- Coriander Seeds – 1 tbsp
- Byaadagi Chillies – 2-3 pieces (used for color)
- Guntur Chillies- 4-5 pieces (used for the pungent taste)
- Channa Dal / Yellow split peas - 1/2 tbsp
- Urad Dal / Black gram split lentil - 1/4 tbsp
- Dry desiccated coconut - 2 tbsp

- Aromatic Spices:


- Cloves - 2 (Lavanga)
- Kapok Buds - 1 (Marathi Moggu)
- Cinnamon - 1 inch stick
- Black Pepper – 4 (Menasu)
- Poppy Seeds – ½ tbsp

General:
- Rice – 4 cups
- Toor dal – 4 cups
- Ghee  - According to your preference
- Tamarind -1 medium lemon size
- Jaggery – A small piece

Seasoning:
- Ghee - 2 tbsps
- Cashews – 10 broken
- Hing/ Asafoetida - A pinch
- Mustard - ¼ tsp
- Red Chilli - 1 broken red chilli

PROCEDURE:

  • Take a heavy bottomed pan and roast the listed ingredients in the said order, without spices, on a very low flame.
  • Empty the roasted ingredients to a plate.  Roast all the spices listed with 1 tbsp ghee. Once their aroma starts pervading the kitchen, add poppy seeds, desiccated coconut till the delicious aroma intoxicates you.
  • Wash tamarind thoroughly and soak it in water to get the tamarind pulp.
  •  Cook vegetables, rice and lentil in a pressure cooker preferably in different compartments.
  • Grind the ingredients that you earlier emptied onto a plate and the mixture of roasted spices, desiccated coconut and poppy seeds, along with tamarind pulp and a pinch of jaggery with sufficiently required amounts of water.
  • In a heavy bottomed pan, mix cooked lentil and rice. Add cooked vegetables and the ground mixture to it.  Add water so that it does not get very thick. Add salt to taste. Allow them to blend while you keep stirring.
  • For seasoning, add mustard, hing, broken cashews and red chillies sautéed in 4 tablespoons of hot ghee. Add this to the cooked mixture.



There! Delicious Bisibelebath is ready to be served!


SERVING
Bisibelebath should be served piping hot with generous helpings of ghee. The Maharajas for whom the dish was invented were not calorie-conscious and still aren’t, I am guessing. You can see the picture of current Maharaja for confirmation ;)
Serve it with boondi/chips/fried-stuff to satisfy the Indian penchant for something crunchy to go along with a heavy delicacy.
Enjoy the Bisibelebath and lick your fingers away!


PS: This post was originally written for Centre Right India

Monday, January 7, 2013

Stubble Grumbles

This was during our early days of marriage. One evening I hit a “rough patch” with my husband. My fingers which were moving over a terrain as smooth as melted chocolate, stumbled on a thorny terrain - his stubble! It was the same sensation I get when a metal is scratched. Sreeech... Yikes! That put me off.  I backed off and asked, “You did not shave today?” He rolled his eyes, “That makes me look cool! “. I gulped.

I had a challenging task ahead. I did not want to offend  him by nagging. I wanted him to shave whenever he had a stubble. Slowly, I started dropping subtle hints.

>>Showed him some snaps in which he was clean shaven and said he looked handsome.
He replied “I know. A lot of people have told me so.”. He didn't even get the hint on why I was showing him those snaps.  FAIL

>> Mailed him an article on the web which said shaving helps in removing dead-skin and also keeps the skin wrinkle free. The facial hair can keep oil and dirt on the skin and hence shaving is hygienic too.
He replied “Don’t waste your time reading such over analytical crap. I don’t give a damn to all these things anyway.” FAIL

>>Next morning, I put the toothpaste onto his brush, shaving foam onto his shaving brush, kept a flask of hot water next to the bowl and the after-shave lotion on the sink cabinet. Then I waited for him while I prepared the breakfast.
He returned as scruffy as a gorilla. I ran into the bathroom area to see that ONLY the toothbrush was used and all the other stuff I had carefully arranged remained untouched. FAIL

So, after the series of failures I tried making friendly conversations with him. I said that a beard looks weird on him. It is a furry mask which hides the handsome cuts his face has.  He defended by saying that a beard gives him a mature look and that it gives others an image of a thinker. And once he said “Having beard and moustache is so manly!” There! I got the exact reason behind my failures. Do not mistake him to be a misogynist. But, he is proud of what he is or has.

Now, I had to tackle this problem in a different way knowing the weak point. One evening he was watching a documentary on TV. I ran to him from behind and planted a kiss over his cheek. And I whispered in his ear “I do not want anything to come between us. Not even your stubble”. He requested for a cup of coffee. When I came back with a cup, Voila! I see a man who had sent his stubble to the rubble, by shaving double that day!




So, love worked for me. If you think I blackmailed him, let me tell you.. Everything is fair in love and war. Sometimes even I feel sorry for him that he has to keep shaving and think - why shouldn’t there be a receding beard-line like receding hair-line?Why can’t people go bald on their chin? LOL!



This post is a part of the 'Shave or Crave' movement in association with BlogAdda.com

Monday, November 26, 2012

Panchatantra side effects


I have always been a fan of children stories which are windows to our big world. I started off pretty early narrating stories to Bunni. Animals which can talk and which can emote kept her butterfly-like attention honey glued. Myriad stories made my life simpler in conveying subtle facts, rules and maxims to guide our daily lives. I was so proud of myself. But, later I started to realize, these stories have side effects too!



All wells have a lion in them. We were in our village, walking through the roads, we spotted a well. I thought, I will show her what a well is. But, she held my hand to stop me.
Bunni: Don't peep into the well. A lion is living in there. It will eat you the moment you bend in to see your reflection!
Remember the lion which fell into the well seeing its own reflection? (see here) And you thought that is the end?

 Ask for forgiveness. Get a life.
We were watching a National Geographic documentary. And a lioness was on the run to hunt a wild buffalo. Bunni started shouting.
Bunni: Buffalo must have done something wrong, that is why lion is trying to kill. <going near the TV> dear buffalo, dear buffalo, tell the lion that you won’t do that mistake again, it will forgive you. It won’t eat you!

Anyone who falls dies!
She does not know the concept of death. She just knows, the word and the situations in which I had used while narrating the story. We were walking on the road and Bunni spotted a traffic cop running. She was overly excited to see a cop running. (you know who runs in stories ;) ) she started shouting in the top of her voice.
Bunni: Amma, look! A police man is running!!
To my embarrassment, that police man stopped running the moment her words hit his ears and turned around to see us.
Me: Yes. Say Bye to police uncle.
Bunni:
Hi, police uncle. You should not run.

Police: Why shouldn't I run?

Bunni: See. Road has a lot of stones, you will fall down and die!!
Police man looked straight into my face! I did not know what to say. I mean, how I can explain to him so much? I just apologized and ran to save further embarrassments. I could sense a smile on his face.

  
Steal and eat. Your tummy will be fat!
We had gone to temple. The priest was busy with chants and aarti. Bunni was doing monkey-jobs of climbing the railings there. I told her to stand silently, or the priest would get angry. As the priest came near us to give MangaLaarathi and Theertha,
Bunni: Amma.. This priest has stolen and eaten a lot of Laddoos. See his tummy is so fat!
This was from the story of Bal Ganesh! Ouch! That priest's face was red! The pressure in my mouth for a roar of laughter was building by few kilo-pascals! I controlled myself and said. You shouldn't say so.


 Every Gopal's wife is Suman
We had been to a marriage reception. When we were on the stage,
BH: Bunni, Wish Gopal Uncle a happy married life
Bunni:
Where is your wife Suman?

Gopal looked perplexed,

Gopal: Who is Suman?
Gopal's wife Priya had baffled look on her face.I intervened and stopped the conversations because I knew where it was going. The story of the goose which laid golden eggs had owners named Gopal and Suman, who were husband and wife. So, for her, every Gopal's wife is Suman.

Children observe and construe a lot more than we expect. What a fun life they lead. Absolutely no inhibitions, no rules and bounds for the way-of-life. So much to learn from them. The way these stories are embarrassing me, it is should be Punch-atantra.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Arrgh-uments



Arguments. The unwritten rule in the life of people who live together under the same roof. Arguments can ignite because of one small action/inaction, word/no-words or frustration.  Over years of marriage, I observed that some solutions which have worked for me in wriggling out of or avoiding arguments. There may be many more. I will learn them eventually.

Respond. Don't react.
There is a big difference. Reaction comes with zero-thinking unlike response. When he says something which cuts through your ego and it brings up equally hurting words is when you have to drown them down your mouth. Take a deep breath. Step back. Listen carefully. If you feel situation is just blowing your head-off. Choose some corner of the house. Refuse to argue, even if the person comes behind you shouting all the way. Switch on mute mode. Take refuge in a place where you can cool yourself. Take your time. Choose your words. Give it back in a nice but firm manner when things are cool.  ;)

Accept Manufacturing Defects
In the initial days of living together, there will be many frustrating things, which you may not like.  You tend to pick up battles on that. Shout. Argue. Sob. But, you see somethings are inherent. They do not change over time. Wet towel will still find its place over the bed, wrapper of the new toothpaste on the wash-basin etc. Consider them to be manufacturing defects of that human being and accept that gracefully. And more importantly remember, you are also accepted with some such defects. Relationships are too valuable to fight over petty matters. Arguing over the same matter again and again is insane. It is like doing the same thing repeatedly and expecting different results. 

What is right? Not Who? 
You are frustrated, you pass some hurtful remarks and you get back hurtful remarks again. You are now offended. There starts a big chain of bomb shelling. Everytime, you are adding new layers to the argument, each trying to win and prove the point "I'm right!". Never have that urge to get the last word. Always remember, you are NOT arguing with your enemy. The other person may have a kernel of truth at their core in what he/she is saying. Take criticism positively. Be honest enough to see what is right, irrespective of which one of you is saying it.


Agree to Disagree
Watching old test matches of cricket has been an irritating issue for me. For BH, it is as enjoyable as those few minutes of a nail-biting finish. He tried explaining to me many a times, on how good a test match is, why it interests him etc. Finally, he understood, that I just cannot see through his perspective. Then he stopped explaining. Sometimes he gives in and sometimes he watches while I do something else. We just agreed to disagree.

POINTS TO REMEMBER! 

  • Arguments may augment tension if not transformed into a discussion.
  • Let go of ego.
  • Don't use tears as a weapon in the arguments. It will be an unfair game when your partner is in the ring unarmed. 
  • Ensure discussions do not become diss-cuss-sessions.


Wrote this post as I was thinking about ways of ending an argument I had with BH for not calling me or messaging me for 18 hrs when I was at my parents place! And there beeped my cell-phone.
"I now understand how empty God's house must have been, when He dropped you into your mother's womb. Missing you dear."
THERE! I realized. I missed an important point to end arguments. LOVE.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Clumsy Encounter


June 16th, 2006

We had a buddy group in our engineering college, like everyone who's been to college had. And we decided to watch a Hindi movie - "Krrish" on a Friday. There was a guy, whom I called "Anna"(for later references) who was (still is) very close. He messaged me and asked if he could bring along his chaddi-buddies to the movie. Since, I had heard some really interesting stories about his chaddi-buddies from him, I thought it would be good to meet them all. I messaged back. "Why not? Go ahead."

The show was at 2.30 PM, I wore white and white salwar kameez, strung a single strand of silken pearls around my neck, smeared lipstick, etched the eyeline with kohl and finally a white bindi.. I looked into the mirror and smiled "I love you. Mmmuuah!"
Sliding my feet into white, high-heeled sandals, got onto my chariot – Scooty pep! And zoomed off! It was 12.40 PM.

It rained all along the way. I was drenched when I reached the venue. I parked my chariot, swung my handbag onto my shoulder, removed the shades, opened the hair which was tucked up. The light breeze played my hair. I felt like I was walking through my dream. Friends waved from afar.

So, now after all the pleasantries were exchanged, it came to the introduction part of Anna's chaddi-buddies. He went on introducing, I greeted them and waved Hi with a wide, really wide smile. There was this guy, who did not even smile, just said "Hi" in a base voice, without a tinge of politeness! "Insult! What crappy attitude this guy has!" I thought and I was breathing fiery anger under my breath. I knew, this guy was Anna's best friend.

I ignored him completely later. We went into the theatre, we sat and started laughing out loud on some joke.. when I heard "Do you mind, if I sit here?" That same guy! "You know how to be nice also? Moron" I thought. Smiled grudgingly and said "No, I dont mind". He sat next to me, I ignored till he started laughing out loud to some comments passed. Though, I liked the hearty laughter, I was clouded by anger and revenge! Grrrr!

And finally when the movie got over, we dispersed. As Anna and his friends left, I found myself waving "Bye!" with a wide grinning smile again!!! And that guy just replied with a smirk. That moment I could imagine my ego banging its head and pulling out its hair out of frustration thinking - Why did I do this again? I did not know..

But, I knew one thing "I HATE HIM!" 

When the winds of change blew. Hate transformed to love. The actual revenge is now! Happening :-D 
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Reach out to me at sahana.b.rao@gmail.com

Acronyms and Definitions

BH: Better Half. Butter Half. Bitter Half.

BUNNI: Manufactured Daughter.

APPA: Role-Model Father.

AMMA: Near and Dear Mother.

CHD: Partner in Crime. Brother.

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