bisi-bele bāth – revisited

13th April 2018

I thought I would revisit some of my favourite recipes, which I make weekly and update our personal preferences. This is one dish I love to eat in the cooler months (which in Sintra is the most part of the year).

Once I start eating a warm bowl of Bisi-Bele Bāth, a feeling of being present warms and soothes the system, satisfying all six tastes.

~ waiting for Spring

bisi-bele bāth

preparation time – 1 hour

serves 3 – 4 

This dish nourishes the body and suits all constitutions. It is recommended to consume in the colder months. During warmer months, it will be heavier for the body. People with vata disorder or digestion problems should not consume it very often.


½ cup/100g toor dal

6 cups/1½ litres water

1 medium/80g carrot

1 medium/110g potato

1 cup/80g cabbage/green beans

½ cup/100g white basmati rice

10 curry leaves

1 heaped Tbsp/15g jaggery/brown sugar

1 heaped tsp fine rock salt

1 tsp tamarind paste

1 tsp ghee

¼ cup/30g frozen green peas

¼ cup coriander leaves, chopped 

sambar-coconut paste

¼ cup/20g dried unsweetened coconut

1 heaped Tbsp/18g sambar powder (moderately spiced)

1½ cups/375ml water – divided

for the voggarane 

2 tsp ghee

¼ heaped tsp black mustard seeds

⅛ heaped tsp asafoetida powder

⅛ heaped tsp turmeric powder


1.  Cut the vegetables into small uniformed pieces. Measure out remaining ingredients – set aside.

2.  In a medium saucepan, wash the dal until water runs clear, drain, then add water, bring to boil, skim off any foam which accumulates on the top and simmer for 5 minutes.

3.  Add the vegetables, reduce heat to maintain a rapid simmer – simmer rapidly until the dal starts to soften – depending on the type of dal – approximately 15 minutes.

4.  Rinse the rice and add to dal, along with the curry leaves – rapidly simmer for 20 minutes or until the rice is sufficiently cooked. You may need to add more water.

prepare the sambar-coconut paste 

5.  In an upright blender, place the coconut, sambar powder and pour in 1 cup water  – blend on high for 1 minute.

6.  Pour into the dal, adding ½ cup water to swish the blender clean – simmer for 5 minutes, adding more water if needed.

7.  Turn off the heat, add jaggery, tamarind, salt, ghee and green peas.  Stir, cover and allow to sit undisturbed for 5 minutes. The bisi-bele bath will thicken as it sits.

prepare the voggarane

8.  In a small pan over medium heat, add the ghee and mustard seeds; when the seeds turn grey and pop, add the asafoetida and turmeric, swishing the pan around to allow the spices to fry evenly – add to bisi-bele bath.

9.  Add coriander, taste, adding more salt, sambar powder, sweetener or tamarind.

To serve, spoon into bowls with a scoop of yoghurt and a drizzling of melted ghee.

Goodness shared by Stacey


7th December 2017

This is a dish I make after the Wednesday morning Yoga class when Lior is away as he usually prepares the Ayurveda meal for that day. It is much appreciated and is a wonderfully, soothing warm first meal. Pongal is favourable for all seasons, especially in the cooler months.  I serve it with tamarind gojju, steamed greens and seasonal fruits.

~A wintering garden ~


Serves 4 – 6

If wanting to make this a simple, cleansing first meal after a day of fasting omit the cashew nuts. Use only white rice as any other whole rice will change the overall flavour. 

ingredients :

1 cup/200g white basmati 

1 cup/200g moong dal, split

10 cups water

2¼ flat tsp fine rock salt

1 cup/80g dried shredded coconut

¼ cup finely chopped coriander

voggarane :

½ cup ghee – melted

1 heaped tsp whole black peppercorns

10 cashews nuts

1½ tsp heaped cumin seeds

¼ heaped tsp turmeric powder

¼ flat tsp asafoetida powder

20 fresh curry leaves

to serve :

tamarind gojju

steamed broccoli


1.  In a saucepan, wash dal several times until water runs clear, drain, then pour 10 cups water into a saucepan and bring to boil, reduce heat to maintain a rapid simmer. (Do not cover the pot, this allows certain impurities or energetic imbalances to be eliminated.)  You may need to skim off any foam which accumulates at the top at the beginning of boiling. 

2.  Simmer for 20 – 30 minutes. May need to add more water, depending on the preferred consistency of your Pongal.

3.  While waiting for the rice and dal to cook, roughly grind peppercorns in a mortar and pestle and break the cashew nuts in half and half again. Measure remaining spices for the voggarane and chop the fresh coriander.  Set aside.

4.  When the rice and dal have softened sufficiently, turn off heat and stir in salt, dried coconut and fresh coriander. 

Voggarane :

5.  Heat a small pan over medium-heat, add ghee and the ground peppercorns and cashew pieces. Stir once, then allow the ghee to heat and the peppercorns to fry and cashews to turn golden – 2 minutes.

6. Turn off the heat and quickly add cumin seeds, asafoetida, turmeric and curry leaves – in this order. Allow to fry for 30 seconds, swishing the pan around, allowing spices to fry evenly.

7.  Pour the voggarane into the rice and dal, mixing well.  You may need to swish the pan out with a little hot water to get all the remaining spices.

8.  Allow to sit for 5 minutes for the flavours to be absorbed before serving. Enjoy as is with a spoon of ghee or my prefered way of serving Pongal is with a tamarind gojju and lightly steamed greens. 

Goodness shared by Stacey

idli – a fermented and steamed Indian rice cake

5th March 2012


I just arrived back from India from our yearly retreat with our teacher.  It was a wonderful time. The teaching was a continuation from last year on ‘Ayurveda and Yogic Ideal Living’ and focused on the way we eat, what we eat and how this impacts our mind, body and emotions for our spiritual journey.

Food, because we take it directly into our bodies on such a consistent basis, is one of the most powerful ways to make a change in our physical and mental state.   A suitable approach to food will support our inner journey and will influence other people to bring much-needed love, service and peace through our own sense of joy and self-contentment.

We all have minor symptoms of ‘disease’.  Aches and pains, tension, upset stomach, skin rashes, mood swings occasional cold and flu.  Some of us have a constant stream of these, others just have them every now and then.  All these things just don’t happen to us; we have an active hand in creating them by the choices we make in our daily lives.  How we exercise, how we cope with stress, what we eat –  especially how we eat!  Snacking, for example, causes a lot of disturbances to our digestion by adding undigested food to partially digested food.  Due to this, food which enters into our bloodstream is the main source of our mind disturbances and body diseases.

So experiment and go a whole day of being conscious of eating only when you feel hungry and reflect on how you feel and how little food you actually need and notice how eating usually comes from a place of boredom and/or emotional needs!   It is a difficult one, I know!  Usually our body needs 3 – 4 hours to digest the previous food, however, we seem to be constantly putting in food, regardless of whether the previous food has been digested or not.  

I find taking the time to prepare two meals a day which is based on whole grains, seasonal vegetables and fresh produce helps in making that step towards a healthier body/mind for practice. It keeps me satisfied long after eating and I am less inclined to snack.



Makes about 40 idli, with two days preparation


1 cup brown rice (short-grain is good, but long grain will work)

1 cup white basmati rice or arborio rice

1 cup white lentils (urad dal)

½ Tbsp fenugreek seeds

filtered water

½ tsp rock salt

oil/ghee to grease the moulds

to serve

ginger coconut chutney



1.  Wash well and soak the rice in one bowl with just enough water to cover – set aside.

2.  Wash well the dal with the fenugreek seeds, and soak in another bowl with just enough water to cover – allow to soak for 6-8 hours.

grind the batter

3.  Drain both separately and reserve the water.

4.  Grind the dal with the fenugreek, adding just enough water to be able to grind. Do not make it too watery.  This is very important for idlis.  Grind until soft and foamy, then pour into a large bowl.

5. Now, grind the rice with the reserved water, using only a little to allow it to grind.  Remember do not make it too watery, just enough to be able to grind.  Continue to grind the rice until smooth.

Grinding dal separately will make it fluffy, resulting in excellent fermentation.  It will also volumes the batter when fermenting.

6.  Combine both the batters, add the salt and mix well.  Mix the batter with your clean hands.  The body heat from your hands will help kickstart the fermentation.  Make sure there is enough room in the bowl for the fermentation to take place.  It should double in size.


7.  Cover the bowl loosely and place in the warmest spot in your home – allow it to ferment overnight.  Ideal idli batter fermentation is around 90F /32C.  In colder climates, the batter may take up to 18 hours to ferment.

The batter should have doubled in size.

to cook

8.  Grease mold with ghee, then pour three-quarters full into each mould (they will rise) and steam for 12 – 15 minutes.  Try not to overcook them.  Allow to rest for 2 minutes before scooping them out of their moulds.

For the true Indian traditional experience, serve them on a banana leaf with a spicy rasam fresh coconut chutney and finish with a sweet version of a drizzle of ghee and maple syrup.

Goodness shared by Stacey

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