I love Bisibelebath! When I was in school, we had a neighbour who used to make the most awesome bisibelebath, my mouth waters even now just thinking of it. She used to make it on special occasions, and as is well known, sharing is caring. And thus, I would enjoy it as well.
Sometimes, in weddings they used to serve this with chips – crispy and spicy potato chips and raita as well. These wedding feasts were so much looked forward to. Such is the tantalising taste of bisibelebath.
Obviously, since I love it, I had asked my mom to make it. And she didn’t, because she didn’t know how to. This made me venture out and ask around for the second best way to satisfy my craving whenever I wanted to eat bisibelebath. (The first best way is to get it delivered by some charitable neighbours/ restaurants etc.)
One of my friends from college is a Kannadiga. And bisibelebath is a speciality from the state. After me nagging her and her nagging her mother for it, I got a recipe. It was a long list of things that went into making it and even more procedures. Nonetheless, it did not deter me.
Bisibelebath is a rice dish with vegetables. You can alter it to your taste and make changes. Add more vegetables or less. Make it more spicy or less. My personal preference is the recipe I am listing below. I prefer to eat bisibelebath with just chips and raita. If I feel extravagant, then perhaps some chicken fry as well.
Here’s the recipe.
For the spice powder
- Channa Dal – 1 tsp
- Urad Dal – 2 tbsps
- Jeera – 1 tbsp
- Methi Seeds – 1 tsp
- Cloves – 4
- Cinnamon – 1-inch piece
- Coriander Seeds – 3 tbsp
- Red Chillies – 8-10 nos
- Coconut grated – 5 tbsp.
Roast and grind all of this without water, into a dry powder.
If you want to store this powder, skip the coconut; roast all the other ingredients and grind them. You can roast and grind the coconut when you need to make the dish. This powder stayed good for around 6 months when I stored in a ‘cool & dry place’ (read inside a shelf).
- Toor Dal – ¼ cup
- Rice – 1 cup
Soak the Toor dal for at least a half hour before cooking. The dal and rice are to be cooked in a pressure cooker for 3-4 whistles. I let it cook for 2 whistles on high flame and one on low.
- Tamarind – lemon sized piece. Extract it.
- Veggies I normally add – Shallots, carrots, beans, tomatoes, ladies finger, potatoes, frozen peas. (I have also added cauliflower, brinjal, drumstick if I have them at hand.)
Cut all the vegetables to the same size. Roughly less than the size of a shallot. As for the amount of each vegetable, I take a hand full of shallots. One tomato, one carrot, four long beans, one potato, and a quarter cup of peas.
Add oil to a pan, and fry the shallots. Go ahead add the vegetables to the shallots, the harder ones first; so potatoes, carrots followed by beans and tomatoes. Once they are half cooked you can add peas and the tamarind extract. Add salt, turmeric and water. Let the vegetables cook.
Once the vegetables are cooked, add the ground powder (the one with the coconut). And cook for about five minutes. I then turn off the heat and start mixing the rice into this curry.
The one thing that I used to have a problem with is the consistency. The first few times, the rice, once mixed in would become hard, not the typical soft and mushy consistency you want with a bisibelebath. After a few tries and more water, I learnt to mix the rice in after turning off the heat, and taking it down from the stove. You may need to adjust the water required. You should also check for salt. I learnt these by making mistakes, and now my method is good enough for me.
- Ghee – 2 tbsp
- Mustard – 3/4 tsp
- Cumin – 1/2 tsp
- Cashews – about 6-7 nos (split)
- Red Chillies – 5-6 nos
- Raisins – 5-6 nos
- Curry leaves
The last step is to temper. Heat ghee in a pan, add mustard and wait until it splutters. Then add cumin, cashews, and red chillies. You can also add raisins if you want. Once the cashews are golden brown, turn off the heat. Curry leaves are also needed for tempering. But they splutter like crazy. And so, I add them once my tempering is off the heat and has been resting for a few seconds. And that’s it! Add this to the rice and veggies and we have bisibelebath ready to eat. Oh, and do not forget to take a bit of the rice and run it around in the pan you tempered in. Do not waste the flavours left in the pan.
Plate it to perfection, take a photo for Instagram’s sake and eat it while it is still hot.
If you do try to make it and happen to enjoy it, let me know.