Sunday, 8 January 2012

Bisi Bele Bhaath

I was introduced to Bisi Bele Bhaath at a family friend's wedding when I was very young. I was not familiar with Kannada then and I did not understand what the word meant, but I loved the taste of it very much. This Rice item, Poli (Holige) and Padhir Peni are a must have in some weddings. When I moved to Bangalore, I realized that this is a specialty dish here and found out that it means "Hot Dal Rice" or "Soodana paruppu saadam". I wonder why they did not include the word for vegetables in this name... Anyways, that is exactly what this dish is: wholesome healthy and heavy on your palette, extremely delicious and at the same time very easy to prepare. Now that is not a very easy combination is it?

Heres how you can make it very easily:

Rice - 1 cup
Toor Dal - 3/4 cup
Potatoes - 1, diced
Beans, cut - 1/2 cup
Carrots/Beetroot, diced - 1/2 cup
Grean peas/Lima Beans/Toor beans - 1/2 cup
Capsicum, sliced - 1/2 cup (optional)
Tamarind paste - 1/2 tbsp or Tamarind Juice - 1/4 cup
Salt - to taste
Bisi Bele Bhaath powder -  3 tbsp (I use MTR)
For the tempering:
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves - 10
Oil - 1 tbsp
Ghee - 1 tbsp  + some for garnishing
Cashews - 10
Coriander leaves for garnishing
If your vegetables are very fresh, the kind that gets cooked very easily in a kadai, without the need for pressure cooker, then you need to cook the vegetables separately. Cook the vegetables in tamarind juice or tamarind paste diluted with 1/4 cup water. 
Soak the rice and dal for 20 minutes and then cook it in the pressure cooker with excess water. If your usual rice to water ratio is 1:2, then make adjust the rice+dal to water ratio to 1 : 3. For the above recipe, you would need 5 1/4 cups to 5 1/2 cups of water.
If your veggies need pressure cooking and you are sure they will not get mashed, then you can add the veggies to the rice and dal and boil them together. In that case, add the tamarind juice at a later stage.
In a heavy bottomed vessel, add the oil and the mustard and curry leaves and allow the mustard leaves to splutter. Add the boiled rice and dal, and the vegetable mixture and mix until combined. In a small bowl add salt to water as required and mix it up.  Add the Bisi Bele Bhaath powder to the salt water. Pour this mix into the rice, dal and veggie mix in the kadai and mix until well combined. I you had not cooked the veggies with tamarind juice, add the tamarind juice at this stage and allow it to simmer well for 5 minutes or more mixing continuously. Add more water if required to make it a little pasty/slightly runny. You need to ensure the taste of raw tamarind does not show up. Garnish with Ghee and coriander leaves. In a small tadka kadai, fry the Cashews in ghee and garnish just before turning off the flame. Serve hot, topped with Bhoondi, mixture or chips. I usually serve with Raita and Papad.
Verdict: This is one of my options for a one bowl rice on weekends when I want to spend as little time in the kitchen and yet have something delicious to serve at the table. Chop the vegetables and you are practically done. The above quantity serves 4-5 people easily.

priya's signature image at photobucket

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