Bisibelebath (also spelt Bisi Bele Bath), meaning hot lentil rice, is a much loved dish of the Karnataka and surrounding regions of South India. In form, it is similar to a kitchari (rice and lentils cooked together), but more like a variant of a mixed vegetable Sambar with Rice (Sadam Sambar) as it has tamarind included. In some parts it is also known as Bisi bele huliyanna which means hot lentil sour rice.
This recipe is from Goa, where I first tasted Bisibelebath. Goan Bisibelebath is a beautiful dish, and this is the recipe that I learned there. By comparison, it is a simple version (but delicious) – some versions have up to 30 ingredients.
Typical vegetables include shallots, green capsicum, carrots, peas, green beans, potato, drumstick, tomatoes, and/or eggplant. Peel the vegetables where necessary and chop or dice them before cooking.
125g toor dal
125g raw rice – pooni or sona masori rice, or use basmati rice if that is what you have
tamarind water made from tamarind concentrate or soaked dried tamarind
1 tspn mustard seeds
1 branch curry leaves (12 – 14 leaves)
12 cashew nuts
(optional) Coriander leaves
(optional) fried Boondi
Ghee (1 tspn),coriander seeds (5 Tblspns), cinnamon (1 tspn), black gram dal (2 tspn), fenugreek leaves (2 tspn), cloves (0.5 tspn), fenugreek seeds (1 tspn) , curry leaves (20), dried chillies (12).
To make the spice paste
Heat the ghee in a heavy frying pan or wok over a medium heat. Put in the dal and spices except for curry leaf and chillies. Stir roast for 3 – 4 minutes. Add the curry leaves, stir and roast another 5 minutes. Add the dried chillies and continue stirring and roasting for 2 – 3 minutes until the chillies darken. Remove spices to a plate. When they have cooled, grind them as finely as possible. Store in an airtight container. It can be stored for several months.
Cook the Toor dal in 3/4 litre water with a pinch of turmeric. Add the rice when the dal is half cooked. When they are cooked, add some tamarind water or lime juice with salt to taste and mix well.
Meanwhile, cook your selected vegetables by steaming, sautéeing or boiling in a little water.
Add 4 tspns of bisibelebath powder to the cooked dal and rice, and mix well. Stir in the cooked vegetables gently. Cook over low flame for 5 – 8 minutes.
For the tadka, pop the mustard seeds, in the coconut oil. When they stop spluttering add the curry leaves. After a few seconds, add the cashew nuts, then immediately pour over the bisibelebath.
Garnish as desired, serve and enjoy.
recipe notes and alternatives
Serve hot with salad, papad, potato chips or Khara Boondi. It is also good with a tomato-onion raita or thayir pachadi.