An extra special recipe that is a favourite of a very special person – my mom. Incidentally my brother and husband love it as well. I am guessing that the two men like it because of the time they spent in Karnataka and this is a popular dish in that state. This dish brings back some nice memories as well. My brother used to go to work from a small town and was living on his own. That was a great opportunity for my mom and me to go on a wee trip and spend sometime out of our home. We would go when my college closed for the semester and would take some basic utensils with us. I would then go to small village shops like stuff and get ingredients like vegetables and some spice mixes like for rasam and bisibelabath. The packet instructions would say something but my mom figured out that it is not to our taste. She then made it in her own way but just used the powder from the pack as we had no mixie or food processor there. It was usually cooler than in Chennai and it would be lovely to smell the nice aroma and it would then be a matter of waiting for my brother to return from work. We would then sit on the floor and help ourselves with nice accompaniment like ‘vathal’ or chips. Anyway, I have made this pretty much how my mom makes it and here is her recipe...
3 cups rice
1 cup Toor dal (pigeon peas)
1-2 teaspoon tamarind paste
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1-2 cups mixed vegetable
Few small onions (sambar onion or shallot onion)
Cooking oil and or ghee (clarified butter)
Salt to taste
For the spice powder
3 tablespoon dhania (coriander seeds)
2 tablespoon channa dal
5 dry red chillies (adjust according to preference)
2 bay leaves
1-2 cinnamon sticks
2 tablespoon grated coconut or coconut powder or dessicated coconut
To make the spice powder roast each ingredient separately. Roast dhania until it starts popping, the dal until it starts turning brown, red chillies until it turns crisp. You can put the bay leaves, cinnamon and cloves together and roast until a nice aroma comes. The coconut need not be roasted especially if you are using dessicated or powdered coconut. Cool and grind to fine powder.
Cook the rice and dal together in atleast 8 cups water as we would like the rice to be mushy for this dish. Steam or boil the vegetables as well.
In a skillet, heat some oil or ghee and add mustard seeds. Once it crackles, add the onions and fry until it starts changing colour.
Add the spice powder, a cup of water and tamarind paste. Once it boils add the cooked vegetables.
Add the rice dal mixture and required salt and allow to boil. You may want to keep adding water to maintain desired consistency.
Let the rice come to a consistency where it is neither too watery nor too dry. Turn the gas off when it is just a touch watery as this dish tends to dry up when cooled.
The said quantity would serve 5-6 people. You may want to adjust quantity but keep 1:3 ratio of rice and dal. I served it with charred aubergine raita and ‘vathal’ and ofcourse a dollop of ghee added just before serving!