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Bisibila bath (rice with lentils and vegetables) is

Bisibila bath (rice with lentils and vegetables) is served at House of Dosas in Hicksville. (March 7, 2012) Photo Credit: Newsday/Erica Marcus

Last night at House of Dosas in Hicksville I had a new dish (for me): bisibila bath. This is a specialty of the Karnataka region in Southwest India and, translated from the Kannada language, means “hot lentil rice,” a pretty good description — though hot in this case means spicy. It was tender and soupy, highly aromatic, and punctuated by chopped vegetables.

While eating I had the impression that bisibila bath was like a very loose risotto. (In the Veneto, risotto is often prepared to be all’onda, “on the wave,” as opposed to al dente.) But after doing some research I see that it is a far more complicated dish. It starts, as so many Indian dishes do, with spices being toasted in a pan to bring out their full flavor. Then vegetables, lentils and rice join in, water is added and everything is left to simmer into tenderness. Meanwhile, another batch of spices plus coconut and more lentils are toasted and then ground to a powder. This is added to the finished dish to slightly thicken it and, I guess, to “kick it up a notch.” (Click here for a video recipe.)

There are so many things to love about Long Island’s great ethnic restaurants, not the least of which is the opportunity to travel to another culture while still only three miles from the Long Island Expressway.

House of Dosas is at 416 South Broadway, Hicksville, 516-938-7517.

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