Bisi Bele Bath, meaning hot lentil rice, is a much loved dish of the Karnataka and surrounding regions of South India. In some parts of Karnataka it is also known as Bisi bele huliyanna which means hot lentil sour rice. The dish usually includes a range of vegetables. “Huriyanna” is sometimes written as “Huliyanna”.
There are many modern versions of Bisi Bele Huliyanna. As the name suggests it has to be served hot. It tastes best when spices are seasoned in ghee and it is served as soon as it is cooked.
The rice and dal can be cooked together or separately. We have cooked them together today but added the rice after the dal has been cooking for some time. Cooked separately, it is a great way to use up left over cooked rice and/or toor dal, and makes it a very easy dish to prepare.
Bisi Bele Huriyanna | Bisi Bele Bath
Typical vegetables include shallots, green capsicum, carrots, peas, green beans, potato, drumstick, tomatoes, and/or eggplant. Peel the vegetables where necessary and chop or dice them before cooking.
Today we have used yellow capsicum, shallots/onions, carrots, beans and peas, cut into 2cm lengths, approx 3 cups. Keep the capsicum and onions separate.
0.5 cup toor dal
0.5 cup rice – pooni or sona masori rice, or use basmati rice if that is what you have
0.5 tspn turmeric powder
1 Tblspn ghee
0.5 tspn jaggery
sea salt to taste
2 Tblspn tamarind pulp/water from soaking dried tamarind, or approx 1 tspn tamarind concentrate. As concentrates vary, add 0.5 tspn first, then add more if necessary
2.5 Tblspn coriander seeds
0.5 tspn cumin seeds
1 tspn channa dal
1 tspn urad dal
0.5 tspn fenugreek seeds
1 cinnamon stick
4 – 6 Indian dried red chillies, or to taste
pinch asafoetida powder
2 Tblspn coconut shreds, either dried, fresh or frozen, or use poppy seeds
1 -2 Tblspn ghee
1 tspn mustard seeds
1 branch curry leaves (12 – 14 leaves)
(optional) small handful cashew nuts, fried
(optional) Coriander leaves
(optional) fried Boondi
(optional) raw cashews toasted in ghee
To make the spice paste
Heat the ghee in a heavy frying pan or wok over a medium heat. Put in the dal and spices except for chillies. Stir roast for 8 – 10 minutes (don’t burn). Add the dried chillies and continue stirring and roasting for 2 – 3 minutes until the chillies darken. Remove spices to a plate. When they have cooled, grind them as finely as possible. Store in an airtight container. It can be stored for several months.
If using dried tamarind pods, prepare the tamarind pulp by soaking in hot water for 15 mins, then strain, forcing the pulp through the sieve and discarding fibres and pods. Retain the pulp and water, setting aside till later.
Cook the Toor dal in 6 cups water with the turmeric and 0.5 tspn ghee. Add the rice when the dal is 1/2 – 2/3 cooked, about 30 mins. After another 5 mins, add the beans, capsicum, carrots and peas and mix well. Continue to cook until rice and dal are cooked and the vegetables are tender, about 10 mins more.
While dal is cooking, saute the onions/shallots in 0.5 – 1 Tblspn ghee while stirring often until brown. It will take about 15 mins. Add to the rice and dal any time after the other vegetables are added.
When the rice and dal are cooked, add the tamarind and sea salt to taste, and mix well. Simmer for about 3 mins.
Add 4 tspns of the spice powder and the jaggery and mix well. Taste and add more spice powder if needed. Cook over low flame for 5 minutes, stirring often as the dish is quite thick now. Add more water if it is too thick.
For the tadka, pop the mustard seeds, in the ghee. As they stop spluttering add the asafoetida powder and then the curry leaves. After a few seconds, add the cashew nuts if using, then immediately pour over the bisi bele huniyanna.
Garnish as desired, serve and enjoy.
recipe notes and alternatives
1 – 2 Marathi moggu can be added to the spice powder.
To use up left over cooked rice and dal, simmer the vegetables until crisp-tender then add to the combined cooked rice and vegetables. Bring to a simmer and proceed with the recipe.