- Submitted by Dahlia
(Huli Anna, Sambhar Sadam)
Weekends have become quite hectic these days. Children’s hobby classes and their pick up drop; preparation for weekly tests, laundry, weekend going out and cleaning totally makes a busy and sometimes exhausting weekends. I try to keep the cooking very simple but at the same time unique and grandiose that can be relished thoroughly. Since, on weekdays we eat the cold lunches from tiffin dabbas, I make sure that on weekends we eat hot and fresh just out from the cooking pans. Last weekend when I was planning my lunch menu, I decided that I will make a one pot meal that is easy and quick to cook, visually enhancing (that is very important in our family!!!), tasty and wholesome dish that has all nutrients in it. And my Sunday menu looked like this: Bisibele bath, boondi raita, chips, curd rice and mango pickle.
Bisibele bath is an authentic and traditional dish of Karnataka but has its prominence in Chennai and other south Indian cities. Bisibela bath literally means ‘hot lentil rice’ in Kannada. What makes the bisibela bath unique is the spice powder that is added into the dish. It is said to have emerged three hundred years ago from the royal kitchens of the Amba Vilasa palace of Mysore Wodeyars. When I spoke to my Kannada neighbor she shared that in some traditional households, preparation of this dish involves close to thirty different spices. Many brands of bisibele bath masala are available in super markets but none beat the flavor and aroma of the powder that is made at home. This powder can be made in large quantities and can be stored for use anytime later. Bisibele bath is wholesome and nutritive as it is the perfect blend of carbohydrates (from rice), proteins (from the lentils) and all other nutrients from the vegetables added. The spices added apart from adding aroma also contributes in digestion and increasing nutritive value of the dish. This one pot meal is a favorite of all age groups and can be made on busy office days, and parties or get together. There can be no reason for not trying out this exotic and tasty dish. Do try at home any day or like me on a weekend and reserve the time to spend with your family.
Recipe For Bisi Bele Bath
Preparation Time : 15 minutes
Cooking Time : 30 minutes
Serves : 3-4
- Rice - 1 cup
- Toor Dal (Red Lentils) - 3/4 cup
- Water - 5 cups
- Onion - 1/2 (chopped)
- Tomato - 2 (chopped)
- Mixed Vegetables - 2 cups (You can use whatever you have on hand like brinjal, ash gourd, capsicum, carrot, potatoes, Green Peas, Drumstick, Yam, Beans, cauliflower, zucchini, yellow squash etc)
- Turmeric Powder - 1/4 tsp
- Salt - to taste
- Tamarind Juice - 1/4 cup (or as needed)
- Ghee - 2 tbsp
- Sesame Oil - 1 tbsp
- Channa dal - 1.5 tbsp
- Urad dal - 1 tbsp
- Dry Red Chillies - 5
- Black Peppercorns - 4
- Coriander seeds - 2 tbsp
- Dry Coconut Powder/ Fresh Grated Coconut - 3-4 tbsp
- Cumin seeds - 1/4 tsp
- Curry Leaves - 1 spring
- Poppy Seeds - 1 tsp (optional)
- Whole Garam Masala - 1" piece cinnamon, 2 cloves, 1 cardamom
- Ghee - 1 tbsp
- Mustard seeds - 1/4 tsp
- Fenugreek seeds - 1/4 tsp
- Cashews - 10
- Curry Leaves - 1 spring
- Asafoetida - a pinch
- Dry Red Chillies - 2
- Wash the rice and toor dal. If you have time, soak it for 10 minutes. Wash and chop the vegetables in big chunks so that it doesn't get completely mashed up.
- Take a pressure cooker or a heavy bottomed pan and add the rice, lentils (toor dal), 1 tbsp sesame oil, onion, tomatoes and all the other vegetables.
- Add 5 cups of water, required salt and turmeric powder. Close the cooker and pressure cook for 3-4 whistles.
- Alternatively if you are using a heavy bottomed pan, cook for about 45 minutes till the rice, dal and vegetables are soft.
- In the meantime, dry roast all the ingredients under 'Spice Mix' on low heat till everything turns light brown. Cool it and make a coarse powder. You can also add some water and make a paste.
- After the pressure has gone down from the cooker, open the lid and turn on the heat again.
- Mix the coarsely ground spice and the tamarind juice with the rice. (Tip :- If you want the rice less spicy, reduce the amount of spice powder according to your taste. Also adjust the amount of tamarind juice depending on the sourness you need. The tomatoes already adds little sourness to the dish.)
- Heat ghee in a separate small pan and splutter the mustard seeds. Fry the fenugreek seeds, cashews on a low heat for 30 seconds. Add the curry leaves, dry red chillies and asafoetida to this.
- Add this hot tempering to the bisi bele bath. Mix everything together and let it cook on low heat for about 10 minutes till all the flavors blend up.
- Finally add 2 tbsp of fresh ghee and switch off. Serve it piping hot with some potato chips, papad, salad or some fry.
Detailed Steps to make Bisi Bele Bath
Wash the vegetables and cut it into big uniform chunks.
Take a pressure cooker and add the washed rice, lentils (toor dal), 1 tbsp sesame oil, onion, tomatoes and the cut vegetables. Add 5 cups of water, required salt and turmeric powder. Pressure cook for 3-4 whistles.
Take all the ingredients under 'Spice Mix' in another pan.
Roast on low heat till everything turns light brown. After it cools, make it into a coarse powder.
After the cooker pressure goes down, open the lid.
Add the coarsely ground spice mix and the tamarind juice with the rice.
Mix everything and switch on the flame. Cook it on low flame.
Heat some ghee in a small pan. Crackle some mustard seeds. Roast the fenugreek seeds and cashews. Add curry leaves, dry red chillies and asafoetida to this.
Add this hot tempering to the bisi bele bath. Mix everything together and let it cook on low heat for about 5-10 minutes. Finally add some fresh ghee on top and switch off.
- You can make a big batch of the spice powder (Bisi bele bath powder) and store it. This way you can make bisi bele bath very quickly whenever you crave for it. Of course, you could also use store bought bisi bele bath powder.
- To get the perfect texture, it would be better to use the small grained rice. The rice needs to completely blend with the lentils.
- It is better to avoid vegetables like ladies finger or radish as they do not complement the basic flavor of the dish.
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