One dish that needs absolutely no introduction is the much popular Bisi- Bele Bhath. A literal translation of which would mean “Hot-Lentil- mixture”. The lentil here could be Toor Dal if making BBB( short for Bisibele bhath) with rice, or Moong daal if making it with Avalakki( beaten rice/Poha). Though ‘Hot’ BBB tastes the best, we would wait to eat it cold in the evening, when all the spices would have sunk in.
No marriage in our family would be complete without BBB, as the main course at one lunch/dinner session. BBB still remains one of the popular picnic dishes paired with the equally famous Mosaranna( Curd rice). It was also the most favorite topic of conversation at several work lunch discussions, with me being the only kannadiga, and my collegues from other parts of India:-).
There are several recipes for BBB available over the internet, and I bet each of them tastes great and unique. As I said before, try a different recipe each time, and stick with the one you love. There are also ready made BBB powders and pastes available in Indian stores. I personally feel, nothing can beat the taste of freshly made BBB paste.
Ingredients( makes 4 servings)-
1. Rice( Any rice will do, but Sona mussorie or Basmathi is best)- 1 cup
2.Toovar Dal- 3/4 Cup
3. Diced Vegetables( cut into 1X1 inch pieces)- 2 Cups, can include- French beans, potatoes, carrots, Bell peppers, choyote squash, etc.
4. Peas OR lilva( Avarekaalu) OR Double beans- A fistful
5. Chopped Tomato( optional)- 1
6. Oil or Ghee- 2 TBsp
7. Turmeric Powder- 1/2 Tsp
8. Tamarind paste- 1 Tsp or a water from a lemon sized ball
9. Fresh grated coconut- 2 TBsp
10. Mustard Seeds- 1 Tsp
11. Curry leaves- 1 Sprig
12. Red Chillies- 2 broken for tempering
13. Asafetida- 1/4 Tsp
14. Salt – To taste
15. Fried Cashewnuts- 10 to 15
Roast the following ingredients with a drop or two of oil and powder them with the nutmeg –
1. Channa Dal- 1 TBsp
2. Urad Dal- 1 Tsp
3. Coriander Seeds- 2 Tbsp
4. Star Anise- 1/2 broken( optional)
5. Cinnamon- 2 inch stick
6. Cloves- 2
7. Cardamom- 1 whole
8. Nutmeg powder- 1/4 Tsp
9. Red chillies- 5 to 6 broken
Wash the Toor daal and cook in a pressure cooker with the turmeric powder and a spoon of ghee/oil, for only one whistle. If cooking without a pressure cooker, use a thick bottom pan, and cook till the dal is almost done. Wash the rice. Add the rice and the vegetables to the cooked dal, add 2 cups of water, and some salt and cook together in the cooker for 2 whistles. If cooking in an open vessel, cook with the dal till the vegetables are just done, but not mushy.
In the meanwhile, grind together the masala powder and the fresh coconut to make a thick paste. Take the dal-rice- vegetable mixture in a thick bottom vessel. Add the masala paste, tamarind paste and salt. Add water if necessary to make the BBB the consistancy you want. It gets thicker when it cools.
Check for seasoning. Make a tempering of mustard seeds, curry leaves, red chillies and asafetida in ghee/oil. Add to the BBB. Serve hot topped with some ghee, Boondi or potato chips and some raitha and experience the lovely taste of our Sweet Karnataka.