Bisibela Bath (BB), a one pot meal of spiced rice, lentils and veggies, is a comfort food native to my hometown, Bangalore. I got this recipe from my sister S, an incredible cook (I’m one of her biggest fans), who picked it up from my cousin J, another astounding cook (yes, I come from a family of foodies, for us food is love ), who begged it off her land lady, a native of Karnataka, who learnt it from her mother, who had all her life watched her own mother (my cousin’s land lady’s grandmother) cook. That’s as far into the history of this recipe I could get.
Though this recipe has exchanged hands and traveled through time it has remained unaltered and unscathed because, according to me it is just perfect! The first time I tasted this recipe was during my first trimester while pregnant with N. I was visiting my sister then, and struggling with my mood swings and extreme nausea. I’d sworn off all foods until, my sister, trying her best to cheer me and coax me into eating (bless her patient heart!), placed this hot bowl of steaming BB with hot potato wafers, in front of me. If you have ever been pregnant or known of any woman pregnant, you might be able to guess what happened next, right? WRONG!!! Instead of running for the pot to do what all nauseous pregnant women do, I gulped down the whole bowl and asked for more!!! Yes, that’s how perfect this recipe is!
BB can be served with a number of things. Boondi Raita, with spicy hot potato wafers, with Tomato Onion Raita or just plain by itself, drizzled with a little bit of ghee (clarified butter).
2 cups of rice
1 cup tuvar dal/ lentils (pigeon pea)
3 cups mixed vegetables chopped small (peas, carrot, beans, double beans, potato, groundnuts (a must), kohlrabi)
4- 5 tomatoes
1 large onion sliced fine
1/2 tsp cinnamon clove spice mix
10 -15 dry red chilies (these should be the kind that are not too hot, allowing you use a large number to give color to the dish and not make it too spicy)
2 tbsp whole coriander seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
tamarind, the size of lemon, soaked and removed off its paste
5 to 6 sprigs of cilantro and curry leaves
1 tsp black mustard
big pinch asafoetida
2 tbsp dessicated coconut (optional)
Cook rice separately.
Pressure cook dal and all the vegetables.
Dry Roast red chilies and coriander till crisp and grind it to a fine powder.
If adding coconut, dry roast it to a golden brown and grind it along with the above powder.
Heat a little oil in a pan add mustard seeds and curry leaves, add onions and sauté it till done.
Add all the ground masala,cinnamon clove spice mix, turmeric, tamarind paste and cook till the oil separates, add fresh chopped cilantro.
Add this mixture to the cooked vegetables and add salt to taste
Finally add in the rice and mix it all up.
Serve with spicy potato chips, or any form of yogurt salad.