Milagu Kuzhambu (Black Pepper and Tamarind Gravy)

Srilatha Indian, Main Dish, Sides, South Indian Leave a Comment

This is a thick jam-like gravy with a tamarind base, spiced with a mix of roasted powdered pepper and lentils. Perfect over a bed of hot steaming rice, with an accompaniment of vegetables (kootu) or curry.

Instant Pot Bisi-Bela-Huli-Anna (Spiced Tamarind 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. Since I started using the Instant Pot, this has become a much simpler dish as it involves just one, at the most 2 (to fry the spices and toast), pots to wash.
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!

Instant Pot Rasam Rice

Srilatha Basics, Main Dish, Rasam, Snacks And Light meals, South Indian Leave a Comment

Rasam is what I crave when we’ve been traveling or eating out too much. And on those days when I simply don’t want to mess with soaking tamarind, waiting for the toor dal to cook, and make rice in a different pot. A few years ago, I came across this method where you can make it all in one go and tried it in my pressure pan – this was before the OPOS days. Now, I have started using my instant pot for the same, and even the extra step of watching and turning it off is eliminated. It’s ready with minimal prep – no soaking tamarind, no making a pot of rasam, and rice separately, no waiting for dal to cook. All the ingredients go in the instant pot together, pressure cooked for 15 minutes, and a simple rasam rice is yours – hot, steaming, and will soothe your soul in under 30 minutes. And it tastes heavenly!

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.