Amidst cakes, candles, balloons & an untuned rendition of ‘Happy Birthday to you’ by aunties & uncles, the true star of the show was a delicacy close to my heart, bisibelebath. I travel back many years to a simpler time as I remember going to my cousins birthdays and we were served many helpings of this dish compulsorily glorified with oodles of ghee( clarified butter) and a side of crispy, spicy potato chips. My maternal aunt, who learnt this from her sister in law taught me to make it from scratch and since then, a lot of occasions, festivities & simple rainy Sundays even, have been made memorable. Standing first among the traditional dishes of Karnataka, there are obviously several versions and cheats that make the rounds. I swear by this recipe because it promises authenticity by imparting a perfect balance between the spicy, the sweet & the tangy.
If you can spare time & a little patience, I urge you to try this recipe. Not because it’s in the blog, not because it’s a family treasure but mainly because it’s a glimpse into the world of traditional Bangalorean cuisine.
In Kannada, Bisi means Hot, Bele means dal and bath is a rice based dish. Basically it is rice and dal cooked together with a heaping amount of veggies, mixed with a magical spice powder mix (recipe for which I will share with you today ) and tempered with ghee (a must!!), aromatic curry leaves & mustard seeds. Mine uses vegetables like beans, carrot, capsicum and avarekalu but there are others like white pumpkin, pigeon peas/togarikaalu, knol-knol & onion that make for a medley of flavours. Personally, for me, when it comes to veggies, “the more the merrier”, has been the mantra and this dish allows me to implement that.
Bisibelebath is a sort of glorious comfort food and if you have the spice mix ready then it doesn’t take much time to make either. Today I’m sharing with you a dish from the heart of Karnataka. I hope you try this recipe and I would love to know what you think about it! Thanks!



For Bisibelebath Powder

Less than 1/4 cup of Urad Dal
Less than 1/2 cup Channa Dal
1/2 cup packed Dhaniya/Coriander Seeds
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
1/2 tsp heaped Methi seeds/Fenugreek seeds
1/2 tsp heaped black Peppercorns
A pinch of Hing/Asafoetida
1 Marathi Moggu
2 Cloves
1″ Dalchini/Cinnamon
25 Byadgi Chillies
5 Guntoor Chillies
1/2 cup dry grated coconut
1 tsp oil
For Bisibelebath
3/4 cup Rice
3/4 cup Toor Dal/Split pigeon peas
1 cup heaped beans, chopped to 1″ long
1/2 cup carrot , chopped to 1″ long
1 capsicum/bell pepper, chopped into cubes
1 tomato, chopped into cubes
3/4 cup avarekalu/val lilva
4.5 cups water
A pinch of turmeric
3-4 tsp of oil
1/2 tbsp thick tamarind paste
2 tbsp heaped jaggery, chopped
Salt to taste
For tempering
1 tsp mustard seeds

3 tbsp groundnuts
1/2 tsp ghee
12-15 curry leavesMETHOD
`1.. For the Bisibelebath powder-
-In a thick bottomed kadai/pan, add oil and once it’s heated add all the ingredients for the spice mix except the coconut. On a low flame, fry until the lentils turn golden brown. Pour onto a large plate.
-In the same kadai, fry the coconut until golden brown and put off the stove.
-Let the roasted ingredients cool in room temperature. (do not mix the coconut with the remaining ingredients)
-First, grind the lentil & spices mix into a coarse powder in a mixer. Add coconut into the mixie jar at this point and grind to a fine powder. Mix well with a spoon and the Bisibelebath powder is ready.
2. Pressure cook rice, toor dal, beans, carrot, avarekalu, with a pinch of turmeric, a few drops of oil and 4.5 cups of water. Put off the stove after 2 whistles.
3. In a large kadai/deep bottomed dish, add oil and once it’s heated, add the chopped capsicum. Season with salt. Once it’s almost done add the chopped tomatoes and cook till they are soft.
4. In a bowl, mix  heaped 1/2 cup of Bisibelebath powder with 1 cup of water and add this to the kadai with capsicum and tomato.
5. Next, add the cooked rice-dal-veggies, tamarind, jaggery and salt.Add another cup of water and mix everything together ensuring that the rice and dal is uniformly coated with the spices. On low heat, let the bisibelebath simmer for about 5 -7 minutes, then put off the stove(Add another half cup of water only if the bisibelebath becomes too thick)
6. Make the tempering by heating a tbsp of ghee/clarified butter (or oil) in a small pan /tadka pan. To this add groundnuts, mustard seeds, hing. Let the mustard seeds and groundnuts splutter, then add curry leaves and put off the stove.
7. Add the tempering to the Bisibelebath and mix well. Serve hot.NOTE:
1.Store the remaining powder at room temperature in an airtight container.
2. This can be served with fried snacks or a simple onion raita.
3.Cashews can be used instead of groundnuts for the tempering. But, in this case, fry the cashews in ghee first, remove them from the kadai and then temper the mustard seeds, hing & curry leaves.

Be sure to check out my other blogs on art & travel,
Divya’s Art Room
The Travel Bug Bit Me

10 thoughts on “#Bisibelebath

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