Bisibelebath With Cauliflower

Busy making bisibelebath
Busy making bisibelebath

At least in South India, the possibilities with rice are limitless. As a people, we would shrivel up and die without rice. But it’s a bad, bad, bad thing as we all know. Filled with carbs, aggravates diabetes, contains very little nutrition and works well only if you’re tilling the fields or building houses.

Cauliflower Rice is perfect for the modern-day couch warmer (didn’t want to say potato) since it digests easily and doesn’t convert from sugar to fat.

Bisibelebath is a meal-in-a-dish and I found a way to get a fairly decent version, I think. An ode to the state that’s been my home now for over 20 years.

Carb count: 500 grams of Cauliflower Rice contains 25 grams of carb. The veggies all add up to less than 10 carbs. The spices have none. You can feed between 4 hearty and 6 delicate eaters. That’s 9 carbs per serving. Whaddya say about that?


You’ll need:

The rice:

One head of cauliflower, about 500 gms, broken by hand into florets, including the stem.


The dry masala:

1 tsp methi seeds

1 tsp cumin seeds

10 peppercorns

1 tsp coriander seeds

2 dried red chillies

1 small stick of cinamon

3 cloves

3 cardamoms

1 tsp poppyseeds

2 heaped tbsp fresh grated coconut


The dhal:

3/4 cup thoor dhal


The rest:

2 tsp oil

4 tsp ghee

½ tsp mustard seeds

½ tsp cumin seeds

Leaves from 2 stalks of fresh curry leaves

12 shallots, peeled and halved

1 tomato finely chopped

50 gms finely chopped, de-seeded capsicum

1 tsp sambar powder

1 tsp coriander

¼ tsp turmeric powder

A pinch of asafoetida

50 gms each carrots & beans,

15 gms tamarind, soaked in about a cup of boiling water and set aside

Salt to taste


How to:

The rice:

Boil some water in a large sauce pan, and when the water is bubbling, drop the florets in so they’re covered. Leave them in for exactly five minutes. Remove and drain thoroughly in a colander.

Grate the cauliflower into rice-like bits either in a food processor or by hand.


The dhal:

Soak the dhal in about two cups of water for say, ten minutes. Cook on a low fire till soft and mushy. Set aside.


The dry masala:

Dry roast all the ingredients and take them off the flame before the coconut burns. Cool and then grind into a coarse powder.


The rest:

In a large pot, heat the oil and the ghee together. Add the mustard and cumin seeds stirring till they all pop. Add the curry leaves and the asafoetida, fry for a bit.

Now add the shallots and fry them till they’re brown but not burned. Add the squooshy veggies (the tomatoes and the capsicum) and fry for a bit.

Then add the sambar powder, coriander powder and turmeric powder, stirring and frying till the masala looks well incorporated.

You’re ready for the carrots and beans which you’ll fry till they wilt.

Then add around 4 cups of water and bring the veggies to a boil. Cover and simmer for a while until the veggies are all well cooked.

Add the soaked dhal, the tamarind water and stir.

Now add the dry masala, stir again, adding a little more salt than you normally would (since the cauliflower will be added later). Seal the pressure cooker and wait for two whistles.

Open the lid carefully and stir the mix well, checking for salt. Since this is a ‘gooey’ dish, make sure there’s enough water so that once you add the cauliflower, it doesn’t all dry out.

Now slowly add the cauliflower stirring constantly until it’s all gone.

Wait till it cools down a bit before serving.

You can add an extra teaspoon of ghee on top to give it that zing.

Aside: Normally, you cook the rice and dhal together in the pressure cooker, but cauliflower falls apart if you cook it too much.


Serve with:



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