Mirch Ka Salan

Srilatha Indian, Main Dish Leave a Comment

A complex dish with an unusual combination of spices, souring agents, and the star vegetable that’s actually a condiment! I have made bhaghare baingan which is very similar, but made with eggplant/brinjal. This year, I am getting a bounty of slim, long green chilies in my garden and was searching online for suitable new recipes, and ran into this. I have never actually had this dish in a restaurant but decided to make it, since we love bhagare baingan.
While looking for recipes, I did some research on the origins of the dish, and came across the fascinating story of how green chilies made their way into India. Hard to believe, but they are not native to India, considering how much every cuisine of India uses them, and how seamlessly integrated they seem, as to make one think they are native to India. Nope, just like tomatoes, they were brought to India by the Portuguese, specifically the famous Vasco da Gama who brought the saplings wrapped in moss as a gift — he picked them up from Spain, Brazil and Africa! In return, he took home the precious black gold, aka pepper!
Read all about how they made their way into Akbar’s and all the kitchens of India in this story:
http://indianexpress.com/article/lifestyle/food-wine/food-story-the-saga-of-mirch-ka-salan/
By the way, I learned that Akbar was a staunch vegetarian! Wonders never cease, and Akbar continues to amaze me. This dish, with the influence of Karnataka, Telengana, and Marathwada cuisines, apparently appealed to Akbar’s “unifying Hindustan” sensitibilites. I love food stories! On to the recipe now.

Bisi-Bela-Huli-Anna (Spiced Lentil Rice)

Srilatha Main Dish, South Indian Leave a Comment

Bisi-bela-huli-anna is a signature dish of Karnataka cuisine. I have split the name to explain what it means.
In Kannada (language spoken in the state of Karnataka), bisi means hot, bela means lentil (paruppu/dal), huli means tamarind/puli, and anna means cooked rice. The name pretty much gives you the recipe in a nutshell! It’s a wholesome dish that has starch, protein, fat, and vitamins in the form of vegetables. Can be a one-pot dish if cooked the traditional way, but for ease and quickness, I cook the rice and the dal separately and add to the pot in which the tamarind is boiled with vegetables and spices. So, mine is kind of a 3-pot meal, but takes a lot less time.
This is an involved recipe and the list of ingredients could be intimidating at first, but if you plan and get organized, it really is a simple dish to make and enjoy for a couple of days! On to the recipe now!