Rice Free Bisi Bele Bhath
The other day, I had my friend Shamala and her husband Bachu over for dinner. Both have diabetes and Shamala doesn’t eat rice.
I decided to make bisi bele bhath, the famous one-pot meal of rice, lentils and vegetables from Karnataka.
Kind of ironic since Shamala doesn’t eat rice, right?! Well, in my kooky version, rice is replaced with diabetic friendly pearl barley and pearl millet (bajra).
Now I make bisi bele bhath (with rice) quite often and, if I am allowed to boast a little, today’s diabetic friendly version is just as good – if not better – than the traditional one. The best part, it got full marks from Shamala and Bachu who loved it.
some of the words I would use to describe bisi bele bhath: comfort food, crowd friendly, healthy, nutritious, balanced, delicious, satisfying
A couple of points on the vegetables and spice mix used in this recipe.
You can use any vegetables of your choice but avoid sticky ones like okra.
The traditional recipe does not call for onion or garlic so I have not included them either.
For the spice mix, I have used MTR bisi bele bhath masala. If you can’t get hold of it or want to make your own powder at home, click on this link and have your pick from the list of recipes.
Serve this with some savoury boondi or potato wafers/chips/straws and a dollop of ghee.
I didn’t serve any starters, just some Bombay mix with beer and wine. But I did make a diabetic friendly dessert which is coming up next!
3/4 Cup tuvar dal (pigeon pea)
1/4 Cup pearl barley
1/4 Cup pearl millet
1 Tablespoon fenugreek seeds
1 Green pepper
4 Ripe tomato
100 Grams french beans
100 Grams shelled green pea
1 Large carrot
1 Small head cauliflower
1 + 1 Teaspoon turmeric powder
1 Tablespoon rasam powder (optional)
2 Tablespoons bisi bele bhath powder
2 Tablespoons tamarind paste
1 Tablespoon mustard seeds
A large pinch of asafoetida
15-20 Curry leaves
1 Tablespoon oil
Boondi to sprinkle on top
Ghee to drizzle on top
- Wash and soak the tuvar dal, pearl barley and pearl millet along with fenugreek seeds for 6 hours.
- Add 1 teaspoon of turmeric powder and salt to taste and boil the lentil and grains till they are soft and mushy. You can either do this in a pressure cooker or on stove.
- Now prep the vegetables.
- Chop the cauliflower into bite size pieces. Use the leaves and stalk if tender.
- Wash the green pea.
- Top, tail and cut the french beans into 1 inch pieces.
- Scrape, wash and chop the carrot into bite size pieces.
- Wash, de-seed, de-core and chop the green pepper.
- Wash and chop the tomato.
- Break each cashew into two.
- Heat the oil in a large pot.
- When it is hot, lower the heat and add mustard seeds.
- Once they start crackling, add the asafoetida.
- After about 10 seconds, add the curry leaves and stir for 30 seconds.
- Next, add the broken cashew and stir for a couple of minutes till the nuts turn a shade or two darker.
- Now, add the chopped green pepper, cover and cook for about 3 minutes.
- Uncover, add the chopped tomato, salt to taste, cover and cook for about 5 minutes.
- Uncover and add the chopped cauliflower, french beans, carrots and peas.
- Add the rasam powder (if using), turmeric powder and salt to taste.
- Mix well, cover and cook for about 15 minutes till the vegetables are tender.
- Uncover and add the boiled lentil and grains.
- Add the bisi bele bhat powder and tamarind paste.
- Add about 2 cups of water.
- Mix everything thoroughly.
- Bring to boil, lower heat, cover and cook for about 15 minutes.
- Uncover, check for salt, spices and tamarind. If you feel it needs any of these, add a bit more according to your taste.
- Serve hot with a dollop of ghee and a sprinkling of savoury boondi or potato chips/wafers/straws .