Bisi Bele Bath inspired by A Thousand Splendid Suns

19 Jun

The second book chosen for both Cook’s book club and Thoughtful Thursdays were coincidentally the same – A Thousand Splendid Suns. After having read and liked The KiteRunner, I was curious to read the second book by Khaled Hosseini. It is one thing to impress with a well-written first book, after all there is no reputation at stake, but quite another to keep that up and come up with a winner the second time over. While I wouldn’t call this a winner, Khaled did not flatter to deceive.

The book, again set in Afghanistan, is the story of two very different women, one old enough to be the mother of the other, and whose life touches and by a twist of fate, merges. The book, written from the perspective of Mariam and Laila alternatively, gives us a sneak-peak into a woman’s life in war-torn Kabul. The two women, married to the same man and forced to live together, slowly accept the presence of each other in their life, bond with each other over tea and end up caring for each other when the husband becomes their common nemesis.

This book, like life, is all about relationship: father-daughter, mother-daughter, boy-girl and wife-wife. The various relationships mish-mash and form the core of the book. This made me think about my life and the very many wonderful relationships that are part of it. I never really cooked with my mom; I learnt most of the authentic South Indian dishes from her – either over phone or through her written notes. Inspired by this book and my mom, with whom I share the love for cooking amongst other things, I made her Bisi Bele Bath.

Tamarind – 2-3 Tbsp thick paste
Mixed vegetables (Small Onions, Green Bell pepper, Drumstick)
Water – 2 cups
Rice – 1 cup
Lentil – 1 cup
Oil – 1 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – 10
Ghee – 1 tsp
Hing / Perungayam – 1 tsp

Roast and grind to a paste
Coriander seeds – 2 tsp
Peppercorn – 6
Red Chillies – 4
Coconut – 4 tbsp
Khus-kus – 1 tsp
Roasted Split Gram (daria dal / pottu kadalai) – 2 tsp

Pressure cook the rice and lentil in a cooker till they are completely cooked (typically, about 3-4 whistles)

In a thick-bottomed vessel, splutter mustard seeds in oil, add perungayam, curry leaves and saute the vegetables. Add the tamarind paste and water, cook till the vegetables are fork tender.

Add the cooked rice-lentil, the ground paste and ghee to the tamarind water and mix well. Add some more water, if it is too thick.

Serve hot with appalam or potato roast.


Posted by on June 19, 2008 in Books, Cooking, Desi, Traditional cooking


Tags: , , , , , , , , , , ,

10 responses to “Bisi Bele Bath inspired by A Thousand Splendid Suns

  1. Laksh

    June 19, 2008 at 6:05 AM

    Awesome!! I pretty much follow the same recipe but did not know about the pottu kadalai. Will try it the next time around. You can see I am excited about trying this can’t you? :yahoo:

    Yup – this is one recipe I know for sure you will try 🙂 – A-kay

  2. Spillay

    June 19, 2008 at 6:19 AM

    A-Kay. Good write-up on the book! I am hoping to read it one day 🙂 .

    Re not having cooked with your mum – I have the same story 🙂 . When I lived at home, Mum did all the cooking (Actually,…I never did hang around in the kitchen all that much too). Learnt cooking only after getting married …

    I am totally with you on what you said. – A-kay

  3. Uma

    June 19, 2008 at 1:13 PM

    This books sounds interesting. wow, it inspired you to cook bisi belo bath? My most fav. rice item. Thanks for sharing.

    It inspired me to thinkabout relationships 🙂 -A-kay

  4. sia

    June 19, 2008 at 4:23 PM

    i was bit dissapointed with this book after reading the kite runner. may be my expectations were too high but it sure was a good read.

    I was not disappointed but not as impressed as Kite Runner for sure. – A-kay

  5. Suman

    June 19, 2008 at 6:34 PM

    Nice review! I read this book a few months book and reviewed it too. Have to send the link to Laksh for Thoughtful Thursdays. I am reading Kite Runner now.

    I hardly helped around in the kitchen when I lived with my parents. I would do everything else – cleaning, sweeping, mopping etc. but somehow never took to cooking.

    Let me know how you like Kite Runner (since you are among the very few people to have read ATSS before KR 🙂 ). It is weird how I never did anything in kitchen back then.- A-kay

  6. easycrafts

    June 19, 2008 at 10:01 PM

    Adding pottu kadalai isvery new to me…have used it only for chutneys..

    I think pottu kadalai adds a nice twist and flavor to this recipe. – A-kay

  7. Priya

    June 19, 2008 at 11:46 PM

    I could not get myself to complete Kiterunner 😦 the only book lying unread on my bookshelf,…and so I have not picked up this book either 😐

    Oh really – somehow I really liked Kiterunner and finished it in one-go. But this was not anywhere close to that for me – so you are probably right in avoiding this 😛 – A-kay

  8. Cham

    June 20, 2008 at 1:18 AM

    Totally different recipe! Ingredient to grind and vege are unusual, so the taste should be different too 😉

    Not sure about different, as this was the bisi bele bath I was brought up with 🙂 Do give it a try and let me know how you like it. – A-kay

  9. Apar

    June 23, 2008 at 2:27 PM

    One of my favorite recipes. I prepare (mom’s recipe of course 😉 ) the powder, the one I published sometime last year I think. That contains roasting of chenna dal, so I suppose it would lend a similar taste as that of the pori kadalai. Though no khus-khus 🙂
    About the books, hope I can lay my hands on at least one of them to comment. Dearth of books right now due to various reasons! 😦


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