One of the toughest challenges about having to commute to work, picking up the kids and getting home past 6 is about having something ready for dinner in the next hour, plus doing the dishes, feeding the kids etc. Anything that makes this process easier is welcome and one such thing is the usage of the slow cooker/crock pot. The notion of fix it/forget it about the slow cooker has worked wonders for me. I used to be not so comfortable at being away from home while my food gets cooked, but I have gotten used to it now, that I prep by adding things to my slow cooker the previous night and setting the crock in the fridge. The next morning before going to work, I just place the crock in the slow cooker, set it to low and forget about it. The whole house is filled with the aroma of food when I get home, and there is dinner on the table.
I have several dal recipes using the slow cooker, and have used it to make rice dishes that requires the rice to turn slightly mushy such as pongal, bisi bele bath, risotto etc. Will post the recipe for pongal soon, but here is my bisi bele bath recipe. It is such a breeze to put together, but has plenty of flavor as the slow cooking makes the dish more creamy and delicious. I have used brown rice here, as the brown rice takes longer to cook and matches the time it takes to cook the dal, and it is much healthier.
1 cup brown basmati rice(see note below if using white rice)
1 cup toor dal
1/2 cup onion chopped
1/4 cup whole pearl onions
1 tomato chopped
carrots, peas, cauliflower, chayote squash, green beans, eggplant (or your choice of veggies), chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1 tsp sambar powder
1 lime sized ball tamarind, soaked in water and extracted
salt to taste
1 tsp oil
1/2 tsp ghee
1 tsp mustard
a few pieces cashews broken
2 red chillies, broken
curry leaves, a sprig
In a crock pot/slow cooker add the toor dal, brown basmati rice, chopped onions, tomatoes, pearl onions, chopped vegetables, turmeric powder, salt, sambar powder and 6 cups of water. Set this on low and cook for 5 hours.(alternatively you can cook it on high for 3 hours)
At the end of 5 hours, you will see the rice and dal cooked well and turning soft. Add in the tamarind extract, bisi bele bath masala powder, frozen peas if using and set it to high for another hour. Just before serving, do a tadka by heating the oil and ghee in a pan. Add mustard seeds, let it splutter. Add cashews, red chillies and a sprig of curry leaves. Add this to the rice. Mix to combine. Serve hot with papads and fryums.
Verdict: This is one of my most favorite recipes to make in the crock pot. It makes a nutritious and well balanced meal with very little effort. I have used frozen veggies to make it more easy. The rice and dal are cooked to a creamy consistency and interspersed with veggies and topped with delectable cashews, it is an awesome item to put on the dinner table.
- If you don’t have brown basmati rice, and would like to use white rice instead, soak the dal for 30 minutes in advance. This is because, the time in which white rice gets cooked will not be sufficient for the dal to be cooked well. If using brown rice, they both have approximately the same cook times.
- It also helps to layer the dal first and the rice next followed by the vegetables.