I love bisibelabath, or bis-b as it is fondly referred to in our home. I always ate it and thought it must be such a difficult recipe to make. I asked my M-in-law to teach me her bis-b recipe when she came over, and as with all her recipes this one is easy and turns out amazing every time. The vegetables with a sour tamarind taste all cooked in the spice blend flavoured with krambu (cloves), aelaka (cardomom), and lavangam (cinnamon), mixed with rice and daal - definitely a comfort food for me. I usually make an extra quantity of the spice mixture so on lazy days I can utilize that, frozen toor daal, and rice made in the rice cooker to whip up bis-b in a flash. Frozen vegetables work perfectly for this as well.
1 cup rice, 1/2 cup toor daal, 1 tsp turmeric, 2 cups of diced vegetables (cauliflower, beans, peas, carrots, lima beans, yams, radish, pearl onions, potato, tomato), juice of 1 golf ball sized ball of tamarind, 1 tsp heaping of mustard seeds, a few curry leaves, 1 tbsp of cashewnuts, 2 tbsp of ghee
2 heaping tbsp channa daal, 2 heaping tbsp coriander seeds, 2 cloves, 2 cardomom pods (seeds only), 15 dried red chillies, 1 tsp cinnamon, 1 tbsp of dry grated coconut OR 1 heaping tsp poppy seeds
1. Cook the rice and toor daal. You can cook them together in a pressure cooker, or separately.
Rice: Water - 1:2, Toor Daal: Water - 1:2. You can add a pinch of turmeric to the daal while it is cooking.
2. In a large pot, heat a little oil and saute the pearl onions until they caramelize slightly.
3. Add the remaining vegetables and salt them. Add the tamarind juice, and cover the vegetables with water and simmer.
4. Toast the spices on medium heat until golden brown and they release their aroma. Grind them in a spice grinder.
5. Add the spice mixture to the pot and continue to simmer until the vegetables are cooked and release a nice aroma.
6. Add the rice and the daal, and mix together. Add salt.
7. Splutter the mustard seeds in ghee, add the curry leaves and roast the cashewnuts in the ghee. Add this to the rice mixture.
8. You can add as much ghee to your taste.
Serve with a yogurt and tomato pachidi on the side.
Verdict: I took this dish to a dinner party the other night, and my friends liked it a lot. They did find it a bit spicy (they were not Indians). So I recommend reducing the chillies for people not used to the spice. My personal taste is HOT!.