Bisi bele bath is a wholesome South Indian (Karnataka) dish made of a special spice combination with rice and lentils (toor dal). It comes from the Kannada language bisi-hot, bele-lentil, bath-rice dish or “hot lentil rice”.
I am from the city of Mysore, Karnataka, and this aromatic, tasty rice dish is very famous in all houses there and it has a special place in the menu of any wedding or any special occasion one celebrates. It is a signature dish of the Mysore/Bangalore region.
My version is a very quick method using pressure pans. Prep time is only when cooking the rice, vegetables and making the masala powder. If you have the powder prepared ahead of time, making it takes no more than 30 minutes.
It is served hot with papad, potato chips, salted boondis, raita etc.
Bisi Bele Bath (Spiced rice-lentil dish)
For the bisi bele bath powder:
2 tablespoons coriander seeds
1 teaspoon jeera or cumin seeds
3 to 4 cloves
1 inch piece cinnamon stick
5 to 6 methi seeds
2 tablespoons chana dal
2 tablespoons urad dhal
2 tablespoons frozen, fresh or dry coconut
5 to 6 dry red chillies
For the rice:
½ cup basmati or any regular rice
½ cup arhar or tuvar or toor dal
For the Vegetables:
½ cup chopped carrots
½ cup green peas
1 cup green beans, cut to 1-inch pieces
½ cup potatoes, peeled and cubed
For the seasoning:
3 tablespoons oil
2 teaspoons ghee plus 3 more tablespoons
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1 sprig curry leaves (I did not have them so did not add them)
½ cup chopped onions or shallots (small onions)
½ teaspoon hing or asafetida
½ teaspoon turmeric
½ cup roasted peanuts
1 teaspoon tamarind paste (or 1 small marble sized tamarind, soaked in water and pulp removed)
Salt to taste
Dry roast all the spices for the bisi bele bath powder one by one, cool and blend them in a blender or spice grinder to a fine powder.
In a large pressure pan, add the cleaned, washed and drained rice and toor dal, add enough water (about 3 cups) and cook in the pressure pan for about 2 whistles.
In another pressure pan, mix all the vegetables; carrots, peas, beans and potatoes, add some salt and water and cook for one whistle.
In a large kadai or deep saucepan, heat the oil and ghee. Add the mustard seeds and once they splutter, add the onions, curry leaves and peanuts and sauté for about 1 minute.
Add the hing and turmeric powder and mix.
Pour in the vegetables, cooked rice and dal mixture, salt to taste, the tamarind (paste or water), bisi bele bath powder, some additional water if needed, and mix well.
Add enough water and salt and adjust the tamarind to your liking.
I like my bisibele baath a little bit runny, so I add more water.
Bring to boil and then lower the heat and simmer for about 5 minutes.
Serve hot with additional ghee.
The red chillies and the consistency of the rice dish can be adjusted to your liking.
You can add other vegetables like cauliflower, drumsticks, pumpkin , bell pepper etc.