Bisi Bele Bath – the Kanndigas answer to dal kichidi, but with so much more pizzaz! As a Bangalorean, you can’t escape this dish – every Udupi restaurant or darshni worth its salt, will inevitably list it on its menu. There is nothing more satisfying or comforting that digging into a plate of steaming hot (bisi) lentil rice (bele bath). The accompanying chips, mixture or boondi just adds to the heavenly experience. And to top it all off is Ghee…the mother of all flavour enhancers and my personal favourite fatty item 🙂
I remember Mummy making Bisi Bele Bath during the weekends for lunch. My vegetarian-turned Dad would relish this hearty dish, while all of us kids used to sulk because we wanted something more ‘cool’, like spring rolls or burgers. (Not that we didn’t eat every morsel of it because it was so tasty, but being dramatic is a family trait). Mummy always made the masala for the bisi bele bath herself, including making the tamarind paste that gave it the characteristic tang. While she cooked the rice and lentils in the pressure cooker, one of us kids had to run to the nearest bakery and pick up a packet (or two) of chips. This ritual we thoroughly enjoyed because we always bought more chips than necessary and that eventually meant chips for snacking in the evening, as we watched Chitrahaar on TV.
I make Bisi Bele Bath when I’m hungry for nostalgia. I might not make the masala or the tamarind paste myself, but the act of making something from my childhood, is a way of time travel to a place of simple joys. This is for you Dada.
Rules of eating Bisi Bele Bath in the Venkatesh household.
Thou shalt always eat the dish piping hot.
Thou shalt plop the Bisi Bele Bath on a large steel plate till it spreads out organically.
Thou shalt pour a generous amount of ghee on top.
Thou shalt use your hands to eat – or in my case, use chips as a spoon for each mouthful.
Thou shalt always take a second helping…at the least.