Bisi Bele Bhaath
Bisi bele bhaat (hot lentil rice ) is a kannadiga delicacy. My childhood favourite and my mom’s speciality, we can have it at any time of the day, seven days in a week. You call it a South Indian Khichdi, or Sambar rice with veggies loaded. Whenever it was planned at home, it was served with ‘Mensinkai sandagi’ ( crispy spiced dried green chillies fried in oil) which is my dad’s speciality. Right from carefully handpicking fleshy big green chillies from farmer’s market, washing and wiping them , stuffing them with tangy spices, drying them in the hot summer sun till they were carefully airtightly packed in jars, they were dad’s babies.
As I sit down to write this recipe, my mind wanders to the delicious aromatic sambar flavour wafting through my house when mom would cook this for leisure weekends. When she had time on her hands, she would freshly prepare the sambar powder especially for this dish.I craved for this rice during third trimesters of my both pregnancies. Instead of going for an elaborate method where everything is cooked separately and then boiled in tamarind water and spices, I would go for the easy one pot method where I would just dump in all the available vegetables, rice dal, spices and just pressure cook. Then I would relish it with tablespoons and tablespoons of ghee! This rice is made in a number of ways, I’am just jotting down my mom’s recipe and how I ‘short cutted’ it to suit our busy lives. Either ways, if your sambar powder is fresh and flavourful ( preferably homemade) then you have a winner at your dining table.Ingredients:
- Oil- 3 to 4 tablespoons
- Mustard seeds- 1 tablespoon
- Tej patta (bay leaves) – 2 big leaves
- Hing (asafoetida)- ½ teaspoon
- Dry red chillies– 2 to 3
- Curry leaves- ¼ cup
- Sambar powder- 3 to 4 tablepsoons (ready made or home made preferably)
- Dry coconut powder ( roasted )- 2 tablespoons
- Patthar ke phool/ black stone flower (widely used in South Indian dishes)- 1 small bunch
- Tamarind- ½ cup
- Salt- 2 to 3 teaspoons
- Turmeric- 1 teaspoon
- Jaggery- 1 inch piece or sugar- 1 tablespoon
For the lentil rice:
- Rice – 1 cup
- Toor daal- ½ cup
- Groundnuts- ½ cup
- Onion- 1 medium ( cut into thin slices)
- Carrot – 1 medium sized ( clean, peel and dice into big cubes)
- Potato- 2 big sized (clean, peel and dice into big cubes)
- French beans– 3 to 4 inches long pieces, around ⅓ cup
- Brinjal- 1 medium sized clean and dice into big cubes)
- Cucumber- 1 medium (clean and dice into big cubes, do not remove peel)
- Drumsticks- 2 thick fleshy ones preferably ( cut into three inches long pieces)
- Red pumpkin- 10 to 12 diced cubes
- Soak ½ cup tamarind in 3 to 4 cups water.
- Wash rice and daal. Add 3 times the water to this rice daal mixture, grounduts, sliced onions, ½ teaspoon turmeric, 1 teaspoon salt and pressure cook for 2 whistles,simmer the flame for ten minutes and switch off the flame.
- In another small cooker, wash all the vegetables (other than drumsticks and pumpkin) i.e, carrots, brinjal, cucumber, potato and beans, add ½ cup water , ¼ teaspoon salt and pressure cook. Switch off the flame just before the first whistle goes off.
- In a sauce pan, add sufficient water to boil drumsticks and pumpkin. Give them a roaring boil for five minutes and switch off the flame. You can cook the pumpkin with the skin so that its doesn’t become excessively mashed up in the final dish.
- In a big wok, add 3 to 4 tablespoons oil, bay leaves, mustard seeds, hing, dry red chillies, curry leaves.
- Squeeze out all the tamarind pulp into the soaked water, add the water to the oil pan.
- Make a thin paste out of sambar powder, roasted dry coconut and roasted pathar ke phool with sufficient water in a small blender jar. Add this paste to the boiling tamarind water .
- Add grated jaggery to the pan.
- Add all the vegetables with their cooked water into the boiling tamarind water mixture. Add cooked rice-daal , give a good stir.
- Adjust salt according to taste.
- Serve it with spoonfuls of desi ghee drizzled and some roasted papad or chips!
For one pot cooking:
- In a pan, heat oil add mustard seeds, turmeric, hing, red chillies, curry leaves, tamarind water, bring it to a boil.
- Add sambar powder+dry coconut powder+roasted phool paste. Allow the mixture to boil well.
- Then add rice , daal sliced onions, groundnuts and all the diced vegetables except pumpkin and drumsticks as they will get mashed up.If you want to use them bo
- Pressure cook for two whistles, switch off the flame.
- Serve with loads of ghee and rice papads/ chips.