I lived in Bangalore for four years and was amazed by the sheer variety and diversity of Kannada food. Before living in Bangalore, south Indian food for me meant only idlis, dosas and vadas. It was later I realized the variety of Kannadiga food in the form of Akki Rotis, Bisi Bele Bath, Medhu vada, Chitrana, Majjige huli, Thatte Idli and so on.
Bisi Bele Bath is a lovely mix of lentil and rice with a lot of delicate spices. It literally translates to ‘hot lentil and rice dish’. I loved eating it in Bangalore and thought it was like a South Indian version of our humble khichdi until I decided to finally make it. It actually needs a lot of fresh spices and takes about 1.5 hours to make. There is also a swift version and actually be made as a one-pot meal too but it wouldn’t taste the same and you need to have surplus Bisi Bele Bath powder from before.
Bisi Bele Bath is such a complete meal in itself and I love making it over weekends in winters. Love adding all the veggies I could find in my refrigerator. I added bottle gourd, carrots, potato, and peas. I didn’t have pumpkin, beans, and brinjal but they taste equally good in this recipe.
I also made fresh Bisi Bele Bath masala before making the dish. I believe adding fresh masala makes it more aromatic and lovely. You could, however, make this masala and even store in the freezer for several weeks and it would still taste good. To decide about the spice as per your experience but making it fresh really will give you the best tasting Bisi Bele Bath. I hope you love this recipe as it would taste so good and let you forget about all your efforts.
PREPARATION TIME: 15 minutes
COOKING TIME: 60 minutes
SERVINGS: 4 bowls
DIFFICULTY SCALE: Medium
For the Bisi Bele Bath Masala –
- Split chickpea/Chana Dal – 2 tablespoons
- Split black gram/Urad Dal – 1 tablespoon
- Cumin seeds/Jeera – 1 teaspoon
- Corriander seeds/sabut dhaniya – 1tablespoon
- Cinnamon stick – 1
- Cloves – 4-5
- Black Peppercorns – 1 teaspoon
- Green Cardamom/choti elaichi – 2
- Dry coconut – a handful, sliced
- Poppy seeds/posht daana – 1 tablespoon
- Sesame seeds/til – 1 tablespoon
- Dry red chillies – 4
- Curry Leaves – 10-12
- Asafetida/Hing – ½ teaspoon
- Vegetable oil – 1 teaspoon
For the Bisi Bele Bath –
- Peanuts – ¼ cup
- Carrots – 2
- Peas – 1 cup
- Bottle Gourd/Lauki – ½
- Potato – 1 large
- Split Pigeon Lentil/Toor dahl – ½ cup
- Rice – ¾ cup
- Tamarind – small ball, size of a lemon
- Turmeric powder – 1 teaspoon
- Ghee – 2 tablespoons
- Mustard seeds – 1 teaspoon
- Cashews – 6-7
- Curry Leaves – a few
- Asafetida – a pinch
- Boondi – ½ cup
- Salt – to taste
For the Bisi Bele Bath masala –
- Take a pan, and add Chana Daal, urad daal, jeer and coriander seeds, and dry roast them on medium flame. Add them to a blender and set aside.
2. Add a cinnamon stick next, a few cloves of garlic, black peppercorns, and green cardamom and dry roast them for about a minute. Add them to the blender too.
3. After this add some dried coconut slices, poppy seeds, and sesame seeds. Toast them to. Since these burn easily, be a little careful and keep tossing them frequently. Keep these aside.
4. Add in a little oil now and add some curry leaves and red chillies. Cook them for 2 minutes or so.
5. Grind all the toasted spices and other ingredients along with ½ teaspoon of Hing.
6. Blend everything well. Bisi Bele Bath Masala is ready!
For the Bisi Bele Bath –
- Wash and soak Toor Dal and rice in separate containers for 15 minutes.
- Pressure cook the Toor Dal with some turmeric powder and salt on high flame till you hear 3 whistles. Take it from the heat and allow the steam to release.
- In another pressure cooker, add the rice and peanuts. Add a little salt and allow a single whistle. Remove from flame.
10. Heat some water in a pan and dip a small ball of tamarind. Let it soak for 15 minutes and then squeeze it to extract the pulp out of it. Strain the pulp and keep it aside. Alternatively, you could use readymade tamarind pulp too.
11. Dice the carrots, bottle gourd, and potatoes.
12. Add 1.5 cups water in a pan and add these diced veggies along with some peas. Add in a little salt. Remember that the Dal and rice also have salt, so be careful while adding salt to these veggies.
13. Cover the veggies and allow them to cook until they are more than half done but haven’t lost the complete crunch.
14. Open the pressure cooker with the dal next and take a masher to squish the dal. Add this dal into a heavy-bottom pan.
15. Add in the boiled rice and peanuts mix to the dal.
16. Next add in the cooked vegetables and the tamarind pulp. Add 1.5 cups of water and mix well. Cover the lid and let this mixture simmer for about 30-45 minutes.
Mix everything17. Once the mix has been cooked perfectly, add 4 tablespoons of the Bisi Bele bath mix we made earlier.
18. In a small pan, add a generous tablespoon of ghee and saute some cashews. Remove them and add mustard seeds next.
19. Once they crackle, add in the curry leaves and asafetida.
Tempering20. Add the tempering over cooked Bisi Bele Bath.
21. Sprinkle some crunchy boondi on top and serve hot.