Bisi bele bhath roughly translates to hot lentil rice. This dish comes from the southern Indian state of Karnataka. It is a complete meal by itself since it has all food groups, and is simple to prepare too.
One of the best cooks of this is my neighbor in Bangalore. She makes every year for Diwali, as good food is a must for any religious event in India.
I haven’t had a better Bisi bele bhath than my neighbors, so I use her spice mix recipe. It has never failed to please my guests and family.
To make one quart pot of rice, about 6 servings, you will need:
2 cup cooked rice — You can use brown or white long grain rice. For this dish the rice does not need to
be cooked as you would do for fried rice or pulav, where the grains have to be separate. In fact, make it
a point to really cook it well with more water than you would normally use. I like to add an extra half cup
of water. The rice should be soft.
1 cup cooked split pigeon peas (toor dal) or lentils
1 cup vegetables of your choice — Beans, carrots, peas, potato, or cauliflower are my typical choices
2 Tbsp ghee — separate into two equal portions
Salt to taste
Curry leaves — 10 to 12
Cashews — handful
1/2 Cup water
If rice and lentils are not already cooked, cook them first until they are well done.
Heat one tablespoon of the ghee in a 2 quart pan over medium heat. Add the (optional) curry leaves. When they begin to sputter, proceed to add the vegetables, one at a time beginning with those that will take longest to cook. Otherwise, if you are not adding the curry leaves, simply heat the ghee for about a minute before adding the vegetables.
Fry the vegetables, stirring occasionally, until they begin to soften but are not fully cooked.
Add the cooked lentils and the cooked rice. Stir in the bisi bele bhath powder
and salt to taste. Mix well. Add half a cup of water, and let it cook for 10 minutes or until the water is absorbed by the rice and lentils.
Taste to see if you need more spice mix or salt and that the vegetables are fully cooked.
Lastly, heat the second tablespoon of ghee. Briefly toast the (optional) cashews until they become golden brown. Drizzle the melted ghee and cashews over the rice.