There are different ways of doing this pilaf-porridge as I call it. Ask anyone from Karnataka, and they will say that their mom makes the best! My mom does it in a 5 step process. It sure is one of her signature dishes. You need to take the time, to make this dish, to get your taste buds wanting more! I have modified it a bit, to suit my lifestyle.
What I used: Serves 4-6
1 cup raw rice
½ cup toor dal
1 cup vegetables, peas (beans, carrots, colored peppers, all diced the same size)
1 onion chopped
2 tomatoes chopped
2 tsp BBB powder (Homemade recipe, or the MTR brand BBB powder)
1tsp thick tamarind paste
2tsp brown sugar/ jiggery
1/4tsp hing (asafetida)
1/2tsp mustard seeds
1/2tsp cumin seeds
Salt to taste
For the roasted seasoning:
A few peanuts, cashew nuts, curry leaves and 4-6 whole dry red chilies.
Soak the dal and rice in water, for 30 minutes. Cook it completely in 4 cups of water and a little salt.
Parallely, boil the peas, beans and carrot with a little salt in a microwave on another stove top. Cook them till they are 75% done. Don't cook them all the way.
In a thick bottom, large quart pan, add 1tsp of ghee. On medium heat, when the ghee starts to shimmer, add in raw peanuts and cashew nuts. Roast to a golden brown. Add in the red chilies and curry leaves. When they roast to a crunchy texture, strain it out and keep aside.
In the same quart pan, to the remaining ghee, add mustard and cumin seeds, let it splatter on medium heat. Add in onions and roast to a light brown. Now add the chopped tomatoes and cook until it is soft and pulpy. Add in the BBB powder, hing, salt and brown sugar. Cook on low heat for 2 minutes. Add the tamarind paste and 2Tbsp water. Now, bring it to a simmer on medium heat. Stir it occasionally. When the ghee begins to leave the sides of the pan, the masala is ready.
Add the cooked dal rice, and vegetables to this masala and stir it very gently. When mom does this, even the cooked carrots and peas don’t get mushy or break. Blend all of it until you see a uniform colored porridge. Let it simmer on low heat. Taste it with a spoon. Check to see if it needs any salt, sugar, spice, tanginess. Add in a cup of hot water, if it is too thick. To finish it all, smear a top coat of 1tsp ghee. Just before the dish is served, garnish it with the roasted peanuts mixture. It goes great with chips or an onion yogurt salad.
Mom always made this as Sunday breakfast. The aroma of roasted peanuts and curry leaves, the simmering dal and intoxicating red chili powder, would fill our home(My mouth drools when I think of it now!) and actually wake us up. Sunday Times paper on the side, Dad watching TV in the background, the warm sunshine kissing the morning dew in our garden. And hot, steamy Bisi bele bath with MTR chips (MTR is the best vegetarian food hotel and bakery you can find in Bangalore, South India), could you ask for a better start of the day?