This series is about real ‘American’ food, highlighting all of its diversity that enables me to eat pupusas, dim sum, or kati rolls in the same day if I want. So here we will record the ‘authentic’ recipes of various cultures and communities. Keeping in mind that what is ‘authentic’ is ever-evolving, Cooking by Heart pays homage to family food traditions and record them for future generations.
Our first recipe is based on an authentic dish from Karnataka, in Southwestern India, where Asha Janardhan was born and raised. Asha is my good friend, Kavitha’s mother and I have known her since I was a teenager. She’s always awed and inspired me in the kitchen. Her calm demeanor while she prepares food can be deceiving – I am always a little surprised when a meal is served and about 8 dishes magically appear. I think that it’s her casual way in the kitchen that tricks me into thinking she’s not doing much. But the truth is she is masterful in the kitchen.
Asha adapted this traditional recipe to her liking and she’s always looking for ways to introduce new and healthy ingredients into her kitchen. In this case, instead of using the traditional combination of rice and toor dal (lentil), she uses cracked wheat and moong dal. Asha cooks with such ease and fluidity that it can be difficult to record her recipes. So hopefully this recipe is cleared up visually.
To people who are not familiar with this dish, I would describe it as an Indian jambalaya. Like jambalaya, bise bele bath is a rice-based dish that packs a spicy punch and it can be thought of as a one-dish meal. But unlike jambalaya, this recipe is loaded with protein from a healthy portion of lentils (dal) and a variety of fresh (and/or frozen) vegetables. Probably the most important ingredient is the masala powder that flavors this dish. Asha prepares her masala from scratch in a separate video. But you can find packaged bisie bele bath masala at any Indian market as an alternative.
Here is the written recipe:
Hope you enjoy!
Thank you Sintalentos for fantastic music recommendations: Téki (with Les Gauchers Orchestra) by Lee Maddeford; Docteur Nico & Orchestre African Fiesta Sukisa – Yokolo, Pt. 1 (discovered on Likembe); Thanam-Kalyani by Professor Dwaram Venkataswami Naidu; Kanilemaza Ikhwani Safaa by The Sounds of Taraab
Also, thank you Joram for lending us your audio equip!
And thank you Janardhan family!