Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Bisi Bela Bath (Bisi Bele Huli Annam) - Karnataka Special - Aromatic Hot Lentil Rice

Bisi Bele Bath is a wonderful mixture of cooked tuvar dal, mashed rice and vegetables in ghee-roasted n ground spices. And Onions! Mini-Onions. Ghee-Roasted :) Coconut - also ghee-roasted! Yes, I beg to differ when I hear someone mention Bisi Bele Bath as an equivalent of Sambar Rice. I agree, it does look like sambar rice, but take a spoonful of BBB and you can't stop! It's just heavenly! :)  Sambar rice is just another everyday food, that's all.  <Sorry, Sambar, I know I come to you more often...bcoz u r easier! >

I have beautiful memories of Bisi Bela Bath. Amma prepares it extremely well and even my ammamma asks her to make it when she comes. Its her kai vaakku :) Her recipe is often sought-after in the family but now, I'm letting the cat out of the bag!  I do not know if I was successful in reproducing that exact taste, but it was somewhere close.

Mini-Onions - The queen of this recipe!

Bisi bela bath has a long list of spices, each of which plays a role in enhancing the taste of this dish. The addition of roasted coconut, ghee-roasted mini-onions, a collection of veggies like potatoes, carrots, beans...

Vegetables, chopped ready

Now, on to this Hot lentil Rice recipe...Some quick pointers -

  1. Mini onions are undoubtedly the *Star* of the recipe. If there aren't enough of them, I don't think it qualifies to be called "Bisi Bela Bath".
  2. Ghee :)  Drool ...
  3. Enormous amounts of cooked and mashed toor dal (lentil)
  4. Lots of veggies - potatoes & carrots are a *must*, but less in numbers, individually, compared to mini-onions.  You can also add some red onions (quartered), especially if there aren't enough of mini-onions.
  5. Mash both rice and cooked dal and add some ghee and mash well together using a potato masher, before mixing with the prepared Bisi Bela Sambar.

What I Used -

Mini Onions - about 25
Potatoes - 2
Carrot -1
Beans - 12
Chayote (Chow-Chow ) - 1 

Rice (Ponni or any normal variety that can get mashed well) - 1and 1/2 cups
Tuvar Dal / Toor Dal - 3 + 1 handfuls  => To be pressure-cooked
Grated Coconut  - 2 handfuls
Ghee - 1 tbsp + 1 tbsp + 2 tbsp
Tamarind - 1 lemon sized ball (or equivalent paste)
Turmeric powder - 1/2 tsp
Sambar powder (Home-made or any good brand) - 2 tsp (I use Ambika's)
Salt - to taste
Vanaspati /Dalda - 2 tbsp

Spices - To Roast and Grind

Dhania (Coriander seeds)  - 1 tbsp
Channa Dal (Kadala paruppu) - 1 tbsp
Red chillies (Dry) - 5 nos.
Cumin seeds (Jeera) - 1 tbsp
Fenugreek (Methi / Mendayam) - 3/4 tsp
Fennel / Saunf (Sombu) -  1 tsp
Clove (Grambu) -3 nos.
Bay leaf -  1
Cinnamon - 1 stick (or 3/4 tsp powder)
Poppy seeds (KasaKasa) - 1/2 tsp
Asafoetida (Hing) - 1/4 tsp
Black pepper corns - 8 nos.
Curry leaves - 2 sticks

How To -

Take a deep pan, heat 1 tsp of ghee and fry all the whole spices listed. Add grated coconut finally and roast until it turns a bit reddish. Take care not to blacken any of the spices or the coconut. Set aside on a bowl/plate and let cool.  Later, grind to a coarse powder.

In the same kadai, pour another teaspoon of ghee and roast mini-onions until they turn a little more pinkish and glossy.

Fry the chopped veggies next.

Add salt, turmeric, sambar powder and tamarind extract. (Soak tamarind in 1 cup warm water and extract the juice, discarding the strands and seeds).  Cook for 6-8 minutes until the raw smell vanishes.

Add the ground powder (of roasted coconut and spices). Mix well and cook for 5 minutes.

Roasted n ground spices
Mash the cooked dal and 3/4 th of it to the boiling sambar. We shall use the remaining 1/4 th of dal with the rice and mix the sambar with it in the final stage (like paruppu sadam and sambar over it, just like in childhood days!)

Cook until you see a frothy layer on top. That's about 7 minutes. Now, the Bisi Bela Sambar is ready. Garnish with fresh coriander leaves(cilantro) if you wish.

Final steps, but very important though - Mash rice well  while adding ghee and some dalda to it. Mix the mashed dal with this rice. Then, add ladlefuls of prepared samber to rice-dal mixture and mix well. Take care not to mash cooked veggies. They should be seen and we should enjoy the crunch they give, while relishing the dish. That's it :)

Bisi Bela Bath

Bisi Bela Huli Annam

I served these with deep-fried tapioca papads (Maracheeni appalam)

Tapioca papads
Some Cucumber Raitha would also be good to pair with this Aromatic Hot Lentil Rice.
Bisi Bela Bath definitely makes a satisfying Sunday brunch :) You may even want to take the afternoon nap after this wonderful meal!


  1. looks interesting "You may even want to take the afternoon nap after this wonderful meal! "

    -- plans ready for sunday ! :)

    - Kirthika NC

  2. My fav. rice, looks delicious. I cook almost every fortnight.

  3. you are making me drool. It is my family fav. But I prepare it once in a while since getting a shambhar onions here is difficult. Love your dish.

  4. A classic recipe so well explained n presented! Will save it to try :)

  5. Thank you friends! Glad to know this is a favorite for many of us:)

  6. Hai DV the rice looks very tasty.Love it Thanx for stopping by and the question u asked in my blog is DV we call Indian Yellow cucumber

  7. delicious dear..U have made it perfectly..Love to make this..New follower here...

    Do visit my blog too

  8. So this is how you make bisi bele bath? I had no clue. I only keep seeing it in menus here.

  9. Just the ghee roasted coconut and onions are enough to make me drool! This sounds amazingly tasty! :)

  10. That is our family favo, looks yum with those papap!

  11. That looks great Divya:-)Yummy and healthy one pot meal:-)Must be a great combo with Tapioca pappad:-)Where do we get that pappad in Singapore?

  12. perfect n mouthwatery version..thanks for sharing dear..;)

    Tasty Appetite

  13. My hubby's fav rice preparation :-)It's been ages since I had some tapioca papads (sigh!)

  14. Looks yummy and wonderful. Have a nice day

  15. Thanks, folks, for the lovely comments! :)
    @Ramya: I bought these in India and brought them here. Mustafa, being the one-stop store, should stock Tapioca papads as well, I think.

  16. By the time I reached the last picture, i was craving for a plate of this deliciousness :)

  17. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  18. We have had the pleasure of reviewing "Tease your tastebuds" and I'm pleased to inform you that your blog has been included to Indian Cooking Blogs at

    Team at Indian Cooking Blogs


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