Bisi bele bath

Bisi bele bath was a speciality dish prepared in the kitchen of Mysore palace a few centuries ago, and it is still a popular rice dish in Karnataka. It is a hearty meal prepared by stewing rice, lentils & vegetables along with a spice powder in tamarind juice just like sambar sadam, or kadamba sadam or kootanchoru, a counterpart in Tamil cuisine. This Karnataka specialty dish is made flavourful by adding fresh peanuts along with other vegetables, a unique flavorful spice powder made with the distinctly aromatic Marati moggu (kapok bud) as the star ingredient, and also by adding the spices tempered in ghee. It is divine when spicy bisi bele bath is served hot (as the name [bisi means hot] suggests) & viscid and hence perfect meal for the cold winter nights.

bisi-2 Bisi bele bath
               Hot bisi bele bath & warm curd rice for winter nights

Bisi bele bath is usually garnished with crispy kara boondhi (fried chickpea flour pearls) and served with raitha (yogurt salad) & appalam (fried lentil disc), but some may like to serve with stir-fried potatoes or potato chips.

bisi-1 Bisi bele bath
               Lunch with Bisi bele bath, appalam, kara boondhi & thayir pachadi

Generally bisibele bath is prepared as a one-pot meal by cooking all the ingredients using pressure cooker or InstantPot, but I prefer to cook each component separately and mix them at the end as it is essential to keep the rice & lentils mixture viscous and the vegetables chunky. So I have cooked the rice & lentils separately in a pressure cooker, steamed the vegetables, and saute shallots in ghee to make this dish more palatable. Now I have prepared bisi bele bath using bamboo rice to make it even more special and nourishing, and the recipe is as below.

Bisi bele bath Recipe:

bisi-3 Bisi bele bath
Bisi bele bath using bamboo rice


Main ingredients: 
Rice (I used bamboo rice/ moongil arisi)1 cup
Red gram (toor dal/ thuvaram paruppu)1/2 cup
A lemon sized tamarind 
Jaggery1 tsp
Turmeric powder1/4 tsp
Asafoetida powder1/4 tsp
Salt1 and 1/2 tsp
basic-ingr Bisi bele bath
Vegetables: (cut into medium sized chunks as shown below)
Broad beans (avarakkai)
Fresh pigeon peas (thuvarai)
Green beans
Raw mango
Raw banana
Dried peanuts (soaked for 4 hours)
Shallots (sambar vengayam)
bisi-veggies Bisi bele bath
Bisi bele bath vegetables
Ingredients for the spice powder: *
3 Byadagi Chillies***
4 Salem chillies
Black gram (ulundham paruppu)
Bengal gram (kadalai paruppu)
Malli vidhai (dhania)
Black pepper
Fenugreek seeds
Cumin seeds
Poppy seeds
Dry coconut
2 cardamom
2 cloves**
1/2″ cinnamon**
1 Marati moggu

*Since all the ingredients are used mainly for flavor, we can just use them in very small quantities so that the entire spice powder can be used in one go.

** Some, esp. Tamilians, may not enjoy the strong flavors of spices in this rice dish somewhat similar to sambar sadam, so cinnamon & cloves may be considered optional but I highly recommend the mildly-flavored Marati moggu that lends an authentic flavour.

***I used Byadagi chillies for deep red color & flavor and Salem chillies for heat.

bisi-belabhath-masala Bisi bele bath
Bisi bele bath masala ingredients
For tempering: 
Ghee2 tbsp
Mustard seeds1 tsp
Cashew nutsas desired
Curry leaves2/3 sprigs
bisi-tempering Bisi bele bath

Mise en place:

Cooking rice & lentils:

I soaked the bamboo rice for 3 hours, pulsed for few seconds for the ease of cooking, and then pressure cooked rice & lentils separately.

cooking-ricelentils Bisi bele bath

Steaming vegetables:

cooking-veggies Bisi bele bath

Bisi bele bath masala:

First I dry roasted all the tiny ingredients (to prevent them getting burnt) along with cardamom, cinnamon, cloves & Marati moggu, and then roast the remaining ingredients (except dry coconut) in little oil. Finally all the spices are ground into a powder.

bisi-masala Bisi bele bath

Cooking bisi bele bath:

  • Heat a large heavy bottom pan with 1 tbsp of ghee in medium flame.
  • Add shallots and saute for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add turmeric powder & asafoetida powder and fry for 2-3 seconds.
  • Pour tamarind juice (1 to 1.5 Ltr), bring it to a boil in high flame, and cook the shallots in medium flame by keeping the lid on.
  • When shallots are cooked, add mashed rice & lentils and stir in until combined.
  • Add steamed vegetables, spice powder, salt & jaggery, and mix them gently.
  • Keep the pan covered in low flame for few minutes allowing the aroma of spice powder nicely infused with the mixture.
  • Now prepare the tempering with remaining ghee and add into bisi bele bath.
  • Serve immediately after garnishing with chopped coriander leaves & kara boondhi.
bisibele-bhath-recipe Bisi bele bath
Bisi bele bath recipe

Tips & Tweaks:

  • We can make this dish simple by using just shallots alone (ie. with fewer or without vegetables).
  • Generally it is prepared with carrot, beans, potato , shallots and fresh peas, but I like to add as many vegetables as possible. We can make this dish wholesome & delicious by adding drumsticks, raw mango, raw banana, broad beans, capsicum, sweet potato & other tubers, etc.
  • I prepared bisibele bath by mixing various components mainly to get the right texture, but if we cook all the components together in one shot using pressure cooker, we need to be little careful with the amount of heat & cooking time to prevent it getting stuck to the bottom of cooker.

66 comments on “Bisi bele bathAdd yours →

  1. when you added raw mango and raw banana, are they for the flavor or nutrition? I imagine if it is ok to add up other fruit, such as dry pineapple, or fresh cranberries? ^^

    1. Yes, it is mainly for adding the sour flavor, but I’m afraid that the sweetness of pineapple or any other fruits with sweet & sour flavor would change the flavour of this dish completely. We are actually looking for spicy but slightly tangy bisibelebath. 🙂
      Thanks, Miss.Oscar, for your time and comment.

    1. Thanks, Kristen! We are all fine here, hope you are all in good health and great spirits in this really crazy time.

    1. Yes, they both are same in many aspects, but have entirely different aroma. Hope you like to try this sometime.
      Thank you.

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