February 21, 2015

Bisibele-bhath

India is popular for its varied diversity in culture, language, religion, climate and most importantly FOOD!! Infact, every household has unique recipes, proudly carried over for generations, that are special in their own ways. One such signature dish from Karnataka (Mysore/Bangalore region) is "Bisibele-huli-anna" or "Bisibele-bhath" (Hot lentil rice).


Bisi-bele-bath is a wholesome one-pot-meal with rice, lentils and vegetables all cooked to a slightly-runny consistency. Don't be intimidated by the long list of ingredients as it's mostly spices and each one of them adds a dimension to the overall flavor of the recipe. Call it a cliche but, freshly ground spices definitely adds a special kick to this dish. But, if you are in time crunch or if you don't have spices in stock, you could simply use store-brought bisibele-bhath powder (MTR seems to top the list) for a quicker version.

While half of the world is debating whether to add vegetables to bisibele bhath or not, (it is claimed that authentic bisibele-bhath is simply rice & lentils cooked with fresh spices) I have always added vegetables to my bisibele bhath. Call it fusion or innovation, the end result have always been good!!


Tips
- Do not add cilantro to this recipe.
- Serve this recipe hot & fresh. This is not a make-ahead recipe and not suitable for parties/pot-lucks either.
- Do not add vegetables that can go mushy like okra/eggplant etc.
- Chips/fried papads, raita are great choices as sides for this recipe.



Basic Info
Complexity - Medium
Prep time - 20 mins
Cook time - 30 mins
Serves - 4

Ingredients
10-12 Medium Shallots, peeled and roughly chopped
2 medium Carrots, cubed
2 small Potatoes, cubed
Peas - 1/4 cup

Raw Rice - 1/2 + 1/4 cup, washed and drained
Pigeon peas/Toor dal - 1/2 cup, washed and drained

2 cups of tamarind extract from lemon size tamarind
Water - 2 cups
1 tsp powdered Jaggery

Oil - 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
Sambar powder - 2 tsp (adjust according to your spice level)
Salt - to taste

Roast & Grind
3 dry red chillies
Coriander seeds - 1 tbsp
Cinnamon sticks - 1 inch
Cardamom pods - 3
Cloves - 4
Poppy seeds - 1 tsp
10 Peppercorns
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
1/4 tsp Fenugreek seeds
Grated Coconut - 1/2 cup
Curry leaves - 1 sprig

Tadka/Seasoning
Oil - 1 tsp
Peanuts - 1/3 cup
Curry leaves - 1 sprig
Ghee - 1 tbsp, optional

Method:
Heat a tsp of oil, and fry peanuts & curry leaves until crispy and golden brown. Set aside.

Prepare the masala powder by dry-roasting & grinding all the items under "Roast & grind". Keep it aside.

Heat 2 tbsp of oil in a pressure cooker, splutter mustard seeds and saute shallots until translucent. Add chopped vegetables and give it a stir. Add raw rice & toor dal and saute for a min or so. Add sambar powder and give it a quick stir.

Next, add tamarind water, water, masala powder, jaggery, salt, and pressure cook for 3 whistles (1 on high & 2 on low). Remove pressure cooker from stove and let it cool for 20-30 mins.

Using the back of a ladle, mash up the rice & lentils well. Add roasted tadka/seasonings, and a tbsp of ghee (if using) on top and serve hot.

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