Bisibela bath

Another iconic dish, this time from the state of Karnataka. Like all my recipes, this one is also my family’s version of bisibela. My mother used to make this on Sundays and after a lunch which included her bisibela, roast potatoes, vadam and tayir pachadi, you would need at least an hour long siesta. It is rich, flavourful, totally decadent and absolutely delicious.

The secret to this dish lies in the bisibela masala and I am including the recipe for the home made masala, which is the only way my mother would make it (no store-bought masala for her). I also prefer to make my own masala.

Rice – 1 cup
Tuvar dal – 1-2 cup
2-3 cups of chopped vegetables like potato, green beans, carrots, chow chow, white pumpkin etc.
Onion – 1 large, chopped
Raw peanuts with skin – 1/2 cup
Mochai or any other beans – 1/2 cup
Tamarind pulp – size of a large lemon
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida – 1/4 tsp
Khas khas – 1 tsp
Ghee – 6-8 tbsp
Curry leaves – 15
Salt – to taste

For the masala
Coriander seeds – 4 tbsp
Chana dal – 3 tbsp
Urad dal – 1 tbsp
Dried red chillies (round) – 3-4
Byadagi red chillies – 5-6
Fenugreek seeds – 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
White Til – 1 tsp
Black pepper – 1 tsp
Cinnamon sticks – 2 – inch long pieces
Cloves – 6
Coconut (dried) – 2 tbsp

Dry roast the masala ingredients and grind into a fine powder when it has cooled down. This masala can be stored in the fridge and used later also.

Make tamarind water (2 cups) with the tamarind and set it aside. In the pressure cooker, cook the dal, rice, chopped vegetables, peanuts, mochai and turmeric powder with enough water so that it cooks well. I used 5 cups of water for this quantity. In a large pot add two tbsp of ghee, pop the mustard seeds, khas khas and asafoetida. Next, add the curry leaves and onions. Fry till translucent and then add the tamarind water. Add salt and allow tamarind water to cook until the smell of raw tamarind is gone. Some people add some jaggery also so that the bisibela has a somewhat sweetish taste. However, my mother never did and I follow her recipe. Mash the vegetables and rice well and add it to the pot, stirring well. Add the dry masala powder and remaining ghee to taste and mix well. Serve hot with appalam/vadam, roast potatoes and a pachadi.  Serves 6.

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