Two South Indian comfort foods to nourish your body and soul!

Two South Indian comfort foods to nourish your body and soul!
It is Monday evening, the refrigerator is mostly empty. There were no elaborate meals or meal prepping this weekend. We've all had a busy day, we're all hungry - there are a handful vegetables in the crisper and a pot of fresh Greek yogurt, some eggs.

We nominate dad to make his infamous khichdi, volunteer ourselves to the chopping and cleaning after.

One pot meals never fail to save the day. They always make an appearance on lazy days. They also offer each of us agency in the form of toppings.

Each of us has a repertoire of quick, easy, comforting meals in our pocket - pongal and bisi bele bath are two I grew up with. My only requirement was crunchy toppings always.

These meals are a nourishing blend of lentils, rice, spices - we've amped up their nutritional value and carbon footprint (!!) with millets. Millets - the ancient, climate-smart grain of our ancestors (did you know UN declared 2023 as the international year of millets?).

There is so much comfort in commensality - comfort in the ease of making one pot meals - comfort in the toddler-friendliness of these dishes, especially for busy parents. These meals have probably stood the test of time thanks to a vicious cycle of nostalgia and practicality.

Even when you're eating alone, one pot meals means taking care of your future self. Some comfort and ease for future-you, a little gift from present-you.

Comfort mush make an appearance in every culture around the world - in Southern grits, in oatmeal, in Italian polenta, in South Indian upma, kanji, pongal, bisi bele bath, in Chinese Conjee, in middle eastern couscous, in japanese okayu, in korean juk, in thai jok.

While all of us will remain beautifully different, it's lovely to note we all find comfort in similar things. same same, but different.

Learn more about two one-pot comfort meals of South India!

What is pongal and where is it from?

Pongal is a one-pot meal made of rice, lentils and some spices. The dish is made on the harvest festival day - also called Pongal. Typically, pongal (the dish) is made of freshly harvest ingredients, and are cooked in a pot, allowed to boil over!  The word pongal actually means 'to boil over'.

This boiling over signifies a blessing of abundance for the coming year :) The dish is made across South India, but is of great significance for Tamils and Telugus in the region!



How do YOU eat pongal?

I personally love pairing it with Spicy Coconut PODI. The pairing is quite incredible! We make this dish at home without fail on every Pongal day, with freshly-harvested (and hence fragile) rice. We make it on other days too, but the Pongal made on Pongal is a special childhood memory!

What is Bisi Bele Bath and where is it from?

Bisi bele bath is a one-pot meal with its origins in the state of Karnataka, India. It is said to have originated in the Mysore Palace and it took 100 years for the dish to come out from the place and another 200 years to spread across the state of Karnataka (wiki). 


How do YOU eat Bisi Bele Bath?

I've grown up eating this dish since I was a kid! It was a lazy sunday meal at home. My parents loved chucking a whole bunch of vegetables into this mix, but also pair with serve it with some potato chips on the side. I love this combination :)