Bisi Bele Baath from scratch | for Sala of Veggie Belly

Hot Lentil Rice : A must try signature Bangalore dish

[bee-see bay-lay bath; Kannada]

After the first blogiversary, what can be better than a guest post on a classic signature dish for a special person? I’m sure all of you are well acquainted with Sala Kannan of Veggie Belly.Incredibly talented Sala needs no introduction; her photography speaks no less than a thousand words along side her diverse vegetarian and vegan recipes from all over the world that she’s discovered traveling at least 36 countries so far. 
Guest posting for Sala had been on my mind for a while. When I learned of her cross country road trip and her need for guest posts, I jumped in to email my intentions. When she replied with a ‘Yes”, my joy knew no bounds…
Sala’s blog with perfectly lit beautiful photographs had me at the first look and I was hooked ever since. She has been a virtual guru to me right from my initial days of blogging even without her own knowledge. In fact, truth be told, the very first time I shot my DSLR camera in ‘Manual’ mode (for my Ghee post) was after I read her tutorial post onHow to take food photos with a bright, white, seamless background
I am ecstatic and honored more than that to be guest posting for her. In the words of revered saint and composer Sri Purandara Dasa’s “Kereya neeranu kerege chelli” (kannada) which translates to “Spilling the pond water to the pond“, I dedicate this post to you, Sala..

I couldn’t have suggested a better dish for this guest post than Bisi Bele Baath. Until she responded with “I Love Bisi Bele Baath, I’d kill to get the recipe!”, I had no clue she likes it that much. What more do I say than Bisi Bele Baath it is?
Don’t ask me. But if you do, (we) Kannadigas take pride in our Bisi Bele Bath which we undoubtedly consider as the queen of one pot meals. As with any authentic recipe, the perfect Bisi Bele Bath is quite elusive to many.
The recipe I am sharing with you here is the answer to my own quest for the perfect Bisi Bele Baath with an intoxicating aroma and a lip smacking taste after a lot of trials and nips and tucks to a number of recipes combined into one. Be prepared to lick your fingers!
{ Tamarind fruit in shell among other ingredients}
Even though the “things you’ll need” list seems no short of a long list of unheard or mystical ingredients, I promise you to fear not – a tiny bit of kitchen slavery will be well worth its value in gold when this trademark signature dish of Karnataka is done..
In case you didn’t know
Byadagi Chilli is named after the town Byadagi in Haveri district of North Karnataka. Guntur Chilli is named after the city Guntur in Andhra Pradesh. Notice how both these red chillies come from places that have hot climates averaging at least 40° C ? (about 104°F)
Mace and Nutmeg come from the same tree; nutmeg is the seed of the tree whereas mace is the delicate lacey outer orange-red covering of the seed.
 Marathi Moggu (meaning bud in kannada) comes from the buds of silk cotton tree? Wonder why it is named after Marathi though?

What you won’t find in the authentic version
  •  Aromatic/Basmati rice – Like I have said for Pongal, stick to non-sticky short grain rice. Unlike Pulao or Biryani, we do not want rice to take center stage, but rather blend in with the lentils.
  • Veggies like brinjal, okra or radish – Feel free to add any veggie of your choice. If in the name of Bisi Bele Baath, you get to incorporate different veggies into your food I’d gladly say yes. But, when you make it for a guest or a friend, stick to the list to preserve authenticity. 
  • Cumin seeds in the seasoning
  • Cilantro
  • Onion
  • Ginger/garlic
  • Byadagi red chillies aren’t available in all the Indian grocery stores. Substitute for Byadagi – any high on color and mild in heat variety will do. For Guntur- any high on heat (usually low on color) variety will do.
  • For larger quantities, remember lentil : rice – 1.5 : 1 and rice to water ratio of 1: 4 or 5
  • Mace (Javithri) much like cloves is best appreciated in small quantities. Use it more and it can overpower the aroma and taste of the spice mix
  • Some like to add potatoes. But, I’d rather not as potatoes tend to absorb all the spices, neutralize them and impart their raw earthy taste.
  • If you want to skip making the spice mix from scratch or don’t have the ingredients, store-bought MTR Bisi Bele Baath powder is good enough for instant gratification.
  • Marathi Moggu (Kapok Buds) are not available even in Indian grocery stores where I live, so I brought a small stash on my India visit. However, I recently found that they are sold online.
  • Before peeling Chayote squash, slice of the ends; rub the cut open end with the chopped slice until the white froth ceases. This takes away the bitterness, if any. 
  • Store leftover Bisi Bele Baath mix in an airtight container either in the refrigerator or in the freezer to keep the aroma fresh.

Please head over to Sala’s blog for the Bisi Bele Baath Recipe

For your convenience, here’s a quick Printable Recipe

Also, Come join the fun at the My Baking Addiction and GoodLife Eats Holiday Recipe Swap sponsored by Le Creuset – I’m sending Bisi Bele Baath to the list of One Pot Meals!

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