Bisebela bhath is a wholesome rice dish(bhath=rice dish) and it is a good one to hide the vegetables too as it will be a well mashed rice and it has lentils, rice and vegetables and makes a good one pot meal. I often make it in a slow cooker on a weekend and our brunch is ready without standing next to the stove for hours the next day.
I often wonder how to place Bisebela Bhath as a regional dish. It is famous in Karnataka as well as Kerala(Palakkad). Almost all the Palakkad men I have met know how to make BB-Bhath. N, makes excellent Bise Bela Bhath too, and often he takes over the task of making it. Point to note: His BB-Bhath will be served with dozens of dollop of ghee on top, mine will be without the ghee, hence the offer 😉
It is a very common dish served in weddings as well, and one of the combinations for a typical south Indian dinner for guests will be Bise Bela Bath and stir fried potatoes(aloo curry) with onion raitha.
Now this is real incident that happened with Bisebela bhath to me. Much before our wedding, when N was in the East Coast,one of N’s uncles visited him. And N made his ghee dripping version of authentic Bise Bela bhath (made with MTR powder, if I can say so). After enjoying all the glorious varieties of food made by N for Uncle K for a week, uncle K decided to email me to say how lucky I should be to marry someone who can cook!
He addressed the email to N, copying me on the same and after praising N for a couple of paragraphs, he ended it exactly with this line, forgetting in the enthusiasm that I was also on the mailing list 😀
” Dude, don’t cook like this when S asks you to, make something miserable and she will never ask you to cook again”.
Now by the time uncle K realized that he wrote that, it was already on our email group and poor N was caught and so he makes BBB the same way he made it for everyone else 😉
Ingredients for Bise Bela Bhath:
The list for the spice powder is quite a long one, you can either use MTR Bise Bela Bhath powder or you can use some arachu vitta sambar powder to sprinkle on top, after flavoring the rice with usual sambar powder.
Vegetables and Rice:
Pearl onions- about a dozen
Mixed vegetables( Carrot, Beans, peas, Potato, Drumstick, Suran, Taro root, Cauliflower, White Pumpkin, Gourds, Long beans)- any combination- 1 cup
Rice- 1 cup
Cooked toor dal- 1/2 cup
Sesame oil- 1 tbsp
Mustard seeds- 1 tbsp
Turmeric powder- 1/2 tsp
Curry leaves- few springs
Salt to taste
Asafoetida- 1/4 tsp
Tamarind – one Lemon size ball or paste 1/2 tsp
Sambar powder- 1 tsp
Special Spice Powder for BBB:
Chana Dal- 1 tbsp
Coriander seeds- 2 tbsp
Cinnamon stick- 1″ piece
Fenugreek seeds- less then 1/4 tsp
Dried red Chilies-6
Dried coconut- 3 tbsp
Toast the ingredients given under List 3 to a golden brown color (toast them one by one). Let them cool and grind it to a fine powder.
Finely chop the pearl onions. Chop other vegetables into any desired shape. Soak tamarind in a cup of warm water and extract the juice, discarding the pulp. Add another one cup of plain water to the tamarind juice. Keep aside.
Wash the rice under running water once.
Heat oil in a pan and add mustard seeds. When they splutter, add asafoetida and curry leaves. Once that sizzles, add chopped onions and stir fry well. Add salt and turmeric powder and when onions turn transparent, add all other vegetables, sambar powder and stir fry well.
Using a slow cooker:
In the slowest setting, slow cooker takes 8 hours to cook and on the fast setting, rice will be cooked in 3 hours.
In the slow cooker pan, add the cooked vegetables, cooked toor dal, rice, tamarind water and the spice powder. Slow cooker also needs more water than regular pressure cookers, and so if you use 1:3 ratio for rice: water, add almost double the quantity of water (here, I added about 6 cups including the water used for tamarind extract).
Cover the slow cooker with some kitchen paper towels,make sure that the paper towels will not fall in, but it extends to the rim of the cooker. Place the glass lid on top of this kitchen towel (so that the extra water- the steam from the cooking will not make the rice soggy). Switch on the slow cooker according to your desired time level.
If needed, you can mix them once while cooking. Do remember that every time you open the lid of the slow cooker, it adds 20 minutes more to the set cooking time.
Once the rice is cooked, turn the setting to keep warm. Lightly mash and mix the rice with vegetables. At this stage, just before serving, you can also saute some whole pearl onions in ghee and add it to the rice.
If you are planning to add onions at the end, skip the step where vegetables are stir fried in a pan, add all veggies, tamarind water, powders,rice and dal to the slow cooker directly and cook. Then, do the tempering with mustard seeds, onions(list 2) and pour it over the bhath before serving.
Serve the rice with a dollop of ghee on top, with potato chips, onion or cucumber raitha.
If you are using a pressure cooker, you can simply stir fry the vegetables in the cooker pan, add rice to it and cook like normal rice for 3 whistles.
Adding roasted peanuts and cashew nuts as a garnish is also another way to serve BBB.