I am a pretty open minded cook. Don't you agree? I am always ready to experiment and try out new things.
But, there are couple of dishes I will never ever play around with. One of them is this dish. People use lot of tricks to make it quicker like using pressure cooker or cooking rice and dal together. But not me. I follow the same method that my mother followed all her life and I have been making it this way for more than 10 years now. You could use the store bought bisibelebhath powder if you wish, but the taste will not be the same. One of the readers requested for this recipe few weeks back. I made it finally and here is something that is from a kannadiga (People who are from the state of Karnataka in India are called like that) home.
One year back - Whole Wheat Bread
All ingredients are measured in standard measuring cups and spoons.
(Serves about 10 - 12 with another main dish)
Rice - 2 cups (Sona masoori or long grain rice. Don't use basmati)
Toor Dal /Split pigeon peas - 1 cup (See Notes)
Tamarind - a lemon size soaked in enough water and juice extracted multiple times
Salt - to taste
Turmeric - two generous pinches
Oil - 1 tsp
For the masala:
Chana dal / Bengal gram dal/ split chikpea - 5 TBSP
Urad dal / Black gram dal - 2 TBSP
Coriander seeds - 1/4 cup or 4 TBSP
Red chillies - 20 - 25 per taste (I use 1/3 of byadagi to get color and rest regular chillies)
Fenugreek seeds / methi seeds - 2 tsp
Cumin seeds / Jeera - 1 tsp
Black pepper corns - 2 tsp
Cardamom - 1 whole
Cinnamon - 2 sticks of 4" each or equivalent
Cloves - 10
Mace / Patre or Japatre in kannada - 4 - 5 blades
Nutmeg / Jakayi in kannada - quarter pea size (I used a big pinch of the powder since that is what I had)
Poppy seeds - 2 tsp
Dry coconut / Kobbari - 1/2 of one medium size or about 1 generous cup of gratings
Oil - 1 tsp
Oil - 1/2 cup (yes, no typo here. you can actually use more than this)
Mustard seeds - 1 TBSP
Peanuts - 1/2 cup or more
Red chillies - 2 broken
Curry leaves - couple of sprigs
In a big vessel, wash and rinse the toor dal / split pigeon peas. Fill it with about 6 cups of water. Add turmeric and oil and start cooking the dal. When it is cooking, start roasting the masala. In a saucepan, take all the ingredients mentioned in the 'For the masala' section except for nutmeg powder if using and poppy seeds. If you are using a chunk of the whole nutmeg, you can add that one too. Keep the flame to medium and keep stirring and roast them till you get a nice golden color on dals and the rest of the spices are toasted. Just before turning it off, add poppy seeds and nutmeg powder and stir for couple more seconds. Set aside to cool.
Now soak the rice in enough water. Take the spices you have toasted in a blender or a mixie jar and powder it finely. Add the dry coconut gratings and continue to blend. Add the tamarind water that you have extracted to make a fine but not too thick paste of the masala. When the dal is cooked but not mushy, add salt, the masala paste and stir. Add the remaining tamarind water you have extracted. Add enough water to make it thin like sambar/soup. You need about 10 cups of sambar or even more to cook the 2 cups of rice you have soaked in water. When it starts boiling, check for the seasonings and adjust if necessary. Rinse and drain the water from rice. Add rice to the boiling dal and spice mixture and keep stirring it. Whatever you do, don't leave the pot unattended. It will stick in no time and burn. When the rice is cooked, lower the flame and prepare for tempering.
In a saucepan, heat oil mentioned in 'For tempering' section. When hot, add mustard seeds. When they splutter, add red chillies, curry leaves and peanuts. When peanuts are toasted, add the whole mixture to the pot of rice and dal. Stir. Adjust the liquid if necessary. You can add some warm water to make it thin. When you ladle the bisibelebhath that you just finished cooking on to a plate, it should flow and cover the whole plate. It should be that thin. It gets thick within an hour of making. Serve with mixture or chips or any other fried condiment.
You can use 1:1 ratio of dal and rice. Many people do that. I prefer this since I am used to my mother's ratio. Many people add vegetables like peas, green beans, carrots, tomatoes and onions. Authentic recipe doesn't have it and I don't add them most of the times. I do add some veggies to it once in a while but never onions and tomatoes. Many people use fresh coconut instead of dry coconut. It is alright to do so if you can't get hold of dry coconut. You could use tamarind paste instead of extracting juice from tamarind yourself. In that case, use about 1 heaping TBSP of it.
I am sending this as an entry to Susan's MLLA-36 which is hosted by Aqua this month.