BisiBelaHuliAnna (Hot Dal Tamarind Rice)

Srilatha Main Dish, South Indian Leave a Comment

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BisiBelaHuliAnna
Bisi-bela-huli-anna is a signature dish of Karnataka cuisine. I have split the name to explain what it means. In Kannada (language spoken in the state of Karnataka), bisi means hot, bela means lentil (paruppu/dal), huli means tamarind/puli, and anna means cooked rice. The name pretty much gives you the recipe in a nutshell! It's a wholesome dish that has starch, protein, fat, and vitamins in the form of vegetables. Can be a one-pot dish if cooked the traditional way, but for ease and quickness, I cook the rice and the dal separately and add to the pot in which the tamarind is boiled with vegetables and spices. So, mine is kind of a 3-pot meal, but takes a lot less time. This is an involved recipe and the list of ingredients could be intimidating at first, but if you plan and get organized, it really is a simple dish to make and enjoy for a couple of days! On to the recipe now!
Course Main Dish
Cuisine South Indian
Prep Time 15-30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Base
Spices To Roast And Grind To A Paste
Vegetables
Course Main Dish
Cuisine South Indian
Prep Time 15-30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Base
Spices To Roast And Grind To A Paste
Vegetables
Instructions
  1. Cook rice until very soft, I pressure cook for an extra two minutes, for a total of 10 minutes. Cook toor dal (1 measure of dal to 3 measures of water)
  2. Extract tamarind juice from the pulp, to make roughly two cups
  3. While the rice and dal are cooking, chop all the vegetables. For today, I used carrots, beans, shallots, and kohlrabi
  4. Gather the spices for roasting
  5. Boil the tamarind extract with the vegetables, with 2 tsp of the salt
  6. Heat a heavy bottom pan/kadai and when fairly hot, add a tsp of oil. Start with the cloves, cinnamon, and the kalpasi and marati moggu if using
  7. When the spices are fragrant (frying in the oil will release the aroma in all these spices), add the toor/chana dal, coriander seeds and roast for a few seconds; when they turn slightly reddish gold, add the chilies
  8. Saute for a few minutes, taking care not to burn them. Add the coconut and the curry leaves
  9. Toast until the coconut looks deliciously toasted, and your whole kitchen smells wonderful
  10. Let cool and using a blender, blend into a paste, adding water as needed
  11. Now it's time to assemble and finish. Add the spice paste to the boiling tamarind extract, and cook for about 3-5 minutes
  12. Add the dal and cook for another two minutes
  13. Add the cooked rice, and mix everything gently; add the remaining salt and mix. The dish should be fairly liquidy, and will solidify a bit when cool.
  14. Let it cook for a few minutes on low heat, check often to make sure the rice and dal are not sticking to the bottokm; in the mean time, heat the same pan used to roast the spices, and add the tempering oil/ghee mix; add the mustard seeds, chili, and when the mustard seeds pop, add the peanuts and fry
  15. Pour this mix over the dish
  16. Turn the heat off; the dish tastes best after it rests for about 20 minutes, even better the next day
  17. Serve with fried papad, and/or a cucumber/onion/tomato raita, and extra ghee drizzled over the top
Recipe Notes

Although it's similar to sambar in the sense that it has the same building blocks (dal, tamarind extract, and spices) to call it sambar rice, especially in front of a Kannadiga would be a grave insult, and will likely result¬†in you never being invited again ūüôā

Jokes aside, this dish is a favorite of my son, and he requests it every time he comes home. He likes mine, his aunt's, and a friend's version, and has told each of us that ours is the best!

As for vegetables, feel free to use any combination of vegetables you may have on hand. My most favorites are shallots and drumsticks (moringa stem, not the leaves), as they both impart a lovely flavor to the dish.

Kalpasi: This is a kind of fungi that's used in Chettinad cuisine, and in this dish, and I found it in Bangalore. It's not readily available in Indian stores in the US. I have also made it without this spice, but using it definitely adds a flavor dimension.

MarathiMoggu:

Another spice that I only found in Bangalore in any store, I love adding this to this as well as my vangibaath. But you can make it without it as well.

This is indeed a wholesome, (possibly) one-pot meal that incorporates all the food groups and is a crowd pleaser. Easily scalable (just increase everything proportionately using this as a base to serve 4-6 people), it's a great main dish for parties.

My recipe is a blend of tips and tricks I learned from my Kannadiga friends, my mom, and cousins. If you do make it, would love to see photos of it!

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