Sunday, March 29, 2015

Avarekalu-Menthya soppina bhaath - a single pot rice dish needing no pre-made powders

Before I forget to wish you all, Happy Sri Rama Navami to all my readers celebrating the birth of Lord Rama. By the time I got to writing this post, Ramanavami for 2015 had already slid into the past making me late again with my wishes. But as I always say, "better late than never". Hope you all had a good celebration, ours was simple with kosambari, panaka & hesaru bele payasa. Filling, very satisfying and saatvik :-).

On my not posting regularly, I won't even go there :-(.  I was thinking yesterday of making a really catchy poster to adorn my home page and say something to the effect of, "Gone missing, will be back as soon as life slows down a teeny bit" but then I thought if I have the time to think up and make up fancy posters, I might as well sit myself down and write the posts for some of the recipes that have been languishing in the draft folder for a while now. Ironically enough, I was attending a 3 day talk last weekend about life management and managing time was the topic of day-1 :-).

Here I am with a family favorite and extremely easy to cook up, one pot rice dish that brings together 2 of my favorite ingredients - fresh fenugreek leaves for its characteristic fragrance & taste and avarekalu (papdi lilva) for the love of beans :-). I have another delicious version of rice made with fenugreek leaves that uses Vangibhaath powder, check it out here if interested.
I believe I have already professed my love for avarekalu and written my ode to this humble beans many times over on the blog, here, here and here. Recently a reader from Michigan reached out to ask some questions about averekalu and I felt as glad as he did when he wrote back a week or so later to say he did find them in his local grocery store and made yummy dishes with it. It feels good to come across folks with similar tastes and I am glad my little posts spread some (avarekalu) love to others living away from home.

Nammamma made this version of the bhaath towards the end of avarekalu season when the beans would be mature and plump but not very juicy or fragrant. Back home in Mysore, the beans would first announce their arrive with that very distinct fragrance and as soon you picked them, your hands would undoubtedly be coated with a thin layer of sticky substance (we called it 'sone' in kannada, not sure if it has a name in other languages) which was all part of the avarekalu experience. Adding methi or fenugreek leaves perfectly complements the flavor in this rice. I made this rice recently knowing fully well that my few weeks of avarekalu enjoyment was coming to an end here.

This dish does not need any pre-made spice powders and is very easy to prepare. It has carbs(rice), protiens (beans), nutrients & flavor (fenugreek leaves) and hence makes a perfectly wholesome meal. This can be done in a single vessel from start to end - less cleaning, less wastage and environment friendly :-)
What do you need to make averekalu-menthya bhaath? 
2 packed cups of fresh fenugreen leaves
1-1.5 cups avarekalu (Papdi lilva)
2 cups rice (use sona masoori preferably)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 Tsp cumin
1 inch piece of ginger
1 inch piece of cinnamon
2 cloves
4-6 black pepper corns
3-4 green chilies (adjust to taste)
1/2 cup coconut (fresh or frozen)
1 Tsp salt (Adjust to taste)
2 Tbsp oil
How do you make averekalu-menthya soppina bhaath?
  • Chop washed fenugreek leaves. 
  • Wash and soak rice for about 20 minutes (this speeds up the cooking process)
  • Take a heavy bottom pan (or pressure cooker) and heat it on medium heat. 
  • Add cinnamon, black pepper & cloves and roast for about a minute until they warm up and become fragrant. Take them aside and let cool. 
  • Make a rough powder of the spices when cool, add ginger, green chilies and coconut to the blender jar, use 1/4 cup water and grind into a fine mixture. 
  • Add 1 tbsp oil into the pan (or cooker) and let it heat up. 
  • Add cumin and when it sizzles, add chopped onion and let it sweat lightly.
  • Add chopped fenugreek leaves and fry until they wilt, 2-3 minutes. 
  • Add the averekalu (or other beans you choose) to the pan and mix it with the fenugreek leaves. 
  • Add salt and mix them together. 
  • Add the ground masala mixture and let it cook for just a minute. 
  • Taste and adjust salt if needed. 
  • Drain all the water from the soaked rice and add it to the pan. 
  • I use 1:2 (rice:water) ratio for making these rice preparations, and add 3 & 3/4 cup (discount 1/4 cup used for grinding) water into the pan. 
  • Let it come to a boil. 
  • Close the pressure pan with the weight and cook it for 3 whistles. 
  • If you like to open cook, reduce heat to low, cover the pan and cook until rice is soft. 
  • Let it stand until it is warm. 
  • Fluff it gently with a spoon, and serve it warm with any kind chips, fryums or yogurt based raita. 
Notes: 
  • You can precook rice (make sure you use the right amount of water to get fluffy rice) and mix the rest of the ingredients, I think the flavor is more enhanced when you cook them all together. 
  • If you don't get avarekalu, replace it with mutter or green peas, frozen lima beans or other beans you prefer. 
  • The spice comes from the black pepper, ginger & green chilies - adjust them to your liking.