We (meaning my mom) make the masalapowder for this at home from scratch and nothing can beat that taste but making it is a long, drawn out process and you need access to various 'exotic' spices. So instead I suggest you get your hands on a packet of the Bisi Bele Bhath Masala powder which will make do to begin with. They'll be easily available at Indian stores. The MTR brand is the most well known. If you can't find the Bisi Bele Bath Masala powder then the Vanghibath Masala Powder will do just fine as an alternative.
There are various styles of making this dish, our method follows... The recipe may look long but it's really a very easy dish to make.
Bisi Bele Bhath
1 C Rice
3/4 C Toor Dal (split yellow peas)
2 C or more mixed, diced veggies - Potato, Carrots, Beans, Broccoli, Capsicum (Green Bell Peppers), Peas...
1 Onion sliced
5-6 cloves Garlic (optional)
3-4 Tomatoes Cut into medium chunks
1 T Tamarind Paste
2 t Bisi Bele Bhath or Vangibhath Masala Powder
3-4 T Oil (coconut oil makes it extra yum!)
2 Dried Red Chillies (broken into half)
Juice of 1 Lemon
Cook the rice and toor dal together with plenty of water till very soft (a pressure cooker would make things easy).
Meanwhile chop and slice all the mixed vegetables and cook them separately (I like baking and grilling them for about 7 minutes with salt and oil sprinkled on in the microwave using the combi option but boiling them in salted water is fine too).
Slice the onion and dice the tomatoes and keep them aside separately.
Heat oil in a large saucepan or wok for about 30 seconds or so till it's hot (but don't overheat). Add a dash of mustard seeds, they will immediately crackle so be careful and cover the pan with a lid till the crackling is done. Quickly add a pinch of turmeric and a pinch of asafotedia. Then add the curry leaves. Finally add the red chillies and immediately add the garlic and the onions. Fry till the onions are transparent and slightly browned.
Sprinkle the masala powder and stir. Add 1-2 C water, the tamarind paste and salt to taste. Mix well, cover and simmer the veggies in the masala on a medium flame for a couple of minutes.
Pour in the cooked rice and dal and mix well. Add more water if required. Let everything simmer together for a few minutes.
Finally mix in the chopped tomatoes and mix. Turn off the flame.
After about a minute, squeeze the lemon juice over the Bisi Bele Bhath and mix well.
Serve hot by itself or with soy yogurt (plain, unsweetened) and a few potato chips for the crunch.