Bisi Bele Bath Recipe

by Sala @ Veggie Belly on September 29, 2011

..a guest post by Radhika of Just Home Made

I am driving cross country at the moment, and I’ve just seen Mt. Rushmore in South Dakota! As I trek across America, I am posting a series of essays about what I’m seeing, doing and eating. Read the first one here – A Vegetarian Road Trip Across America.

While I’m traveling, I’ve asked my friend Radhika to guest post today. I cant think of anyone more qualified than Radhika to share this Bisi Bele Bath recipe with you (one of my top 10 favorite Indian foods). Radhika is a brilliant cook, and her pictures are stunning. Make sure you check out her moutwatering creations on Just Home Made. Over to Radhika for her prized bisi bele bath recipe and a post full of tips, trick and clever shorcuts..

Guest posting for Sala has been on my mind for a while. When I learned of her cross country road trip and her need for guest posts, I jumped in to email my intentions. When she replied with a ‘Yes”, my joy knew no bounds…

Sala’s blog with perfectly lit beatiful photographs had me at the first look and I was hooked ever since. She has been a virtual guru to me right from my initial days of blogging even without her own knowledge. In fact, truth be told, the very first time I shot my DSLR camera in ‘Manual’ mode (for my Ghee post) was after I read her tutorial post on “How to take food photos with a bright, white, seamless background

I am ecstatic and honored more than that to be guest posting for you, Sala.. In the words of revered saint and composer Sri Purandara Dasa’s ”Kereya neeranu kerege chelli” (kannada) which translates to “Spilling the pond water to the pond”, I dedicate this post to you..

I couldn’t have suggested a better dish for this guest post than Bisi Bele Bath recipe. Until she responded with “I Love Bisi Bele Bath, I’d kill to get the recipe!”, I had no clue she likes it that much. What more do I say than Bisi Bele Bath it is?

Don’t ask me. But if you do, (we) Kannadigas take pride in our Bisi Bele Bath (also spelled bisi bele baath, bisi bele bhath, bisi bele bhaath) recipes which we undoubtedly consider as the queen of one pot meals. As with any authentic recipe, the perfect Bisi Bele Bath is quite elusive to many.

The recipe I am sharing with you here is the answer to my own quest for the perfect Bisi Bele Bath with an intoxicating aroma and a lip smacking taste after a lot of trials and nips and tucks to a number of recipes combined into one. Be prepared to lick your fingers!

Even though the ingredient list seems long, fear not – I promise you, a tiny bit of kitchen slavery will be well worth its value in gold when this trademark signature dish of Karnataka is done..

Did you know?

Byadagi Chilli is named after the town Byadagi in Haveri district of North Karnataka. Guntur is named after the city Guntur in Andhra Pradesh. Notice how both these red chillies come from places that have hot climates averaging at least 40° C ? (about 104°F)

Mace and Nutmeg come from the same tree; nutmeg is the seed of the tree whereas mace is the delicate lacey outer orange-red covering of the seed.

 Marathi Moggu (meaning bud in kannada) comes from the buds of silk cotton tree? Wonder why it is named after Marathi though?

What you won’t find in the authentic version

  •  Aromatic/Basmati rice - Like I have said for Pongal, stick to non-sticky short grain rice. Unlike Pulao or Biryani, we do not want rice to take center stage, but rather blend in with the lentils.
  • Veggies like brinjal, okra or radish – Feel free to add any veggie of your choice. If in the name of Bisi Bele Baath, you get to incorporate different veggies into your food I’d gladly say yes. But, when you make it for a guest or a friend, stick to the list to preserve authenticity. 
  • Cumin seeds in the seasoning
  • Cilantro
  • Onion
  • Ginger/garlic

Notes:

  • Byadagi red chillies aren’t available in all the Indian grocery stores. Substitute for Byadagi – any high on color and mild in heat variety will do. For Guntur- any high on heat (usually low on color) variety will do.
  • For larger quantities, remember lentil : rice - 1.5 : 1 and rice to water ratio of 1: 4 or 5
  • Mace (Javithri) much like cloves is best appreciated in small quantities. Use it more and it can overpower the aroma and taste of the spice mix
  • Some like to add potatoes. But, I’d rather not as potatoes tend to absorb all the spices, neutralize them and impart their raw earthy taste.
  • If you want to skip making the spice mix from scratch or don’t have the ingredients, store-bought MTR Bisi Bele Baath powder is good enough for instant gratification.
  • Marathi Moggu (Kapok Buds) are not available even in Indian grocery stores where I live, so I brought a small stash on my India visit. However, I recently found that they are sold online.
  • Before peeling Chayote squash, slice of the ends; rub the cut open end with the chopped slice until the white froth ceases. This takes away the bitterness, if any. 
  • Store leftover Bisi Bele Baath mix in an airtight container either in the refrigerator or in the freezer to keep the aroma fresh.

Bisi Bele Bath Recipe

served about 4

Printable Recipe

Ingredients
1/2 cup Rice (sona masoori or any short grain rice)
3/4 cup Pigeon Peas (Toor Dal)
1/4 tsp turmeric
1/2 large Chayote Squash or Kohlrabi (Knol kohl) peeled, small diced
1 large Carrot, peeled, cut into 2″ long, 1 cm thick pieces
handful Green Beans, ends removed and broken into 1″ pieces
1/2 cup Double beans or Butter beans or green peas or a mix
1/2 large Green Bell Pepper (Capsicum), seeds removed and small diced
1 small tomato, diced
lemon sized seedless tamarind (adjust as per taste)
1-2 tsp Rasam powder* home made or store-bought
3 tbsp Bisi Bele Bath powder (recipe follows)
2 tbsp grated dry coconut (copra) or desiccated coconut
4 tsp peanut oil
salt

Ingredients for seasoning
2 tbsp Ghee or peanut oil or a mix of both
1/2 tsp black mustard seeds
1/8 tsp asafoetida or hing
1/4 cup peanuts or cashews
4 curry leaf stalks

Ingredients for the Bisi Bele Bath Powder
12 Dried red chillies – Byadagi
4 Dried red chillies – Guntur
2 tbsp Coriander seeds (dhania)
1-1/2 tsp bengal gram (chana dal)
1 tsp black gram (urad dal)
3 kapok buds (marathi moggu)
2 cloves (lavang)
1″ piece cinnamon (chakke)
2 green cardamom (elakki)
1/2 ” piece – mace / javitri / jai patre
1/4 tsp fenugreek seeds
1/4 tsp white poppy seeds (gasa gase or khus khus)
2 tbsp grated dry coconut (copra) /desiccated coconut

*optional: If you dont want to use rasam powder as listed above, dry roast these as well:
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp whole black pepper
3-4 curry leaves

Method
Wash and soak tamarind in warm water for 10-15 mins. Skip this if using tamarind concentrate.

Wash rice well until water runs clear, drain and let soak for 10-15 mins. Soaking ensures rice to be cooked soft. When soaked, wash lentils until water runs clear. Cook lentils with turmeric and double the amount of water and rice with 2.5 times water in the pressure cooker for 3 whistles. Put lentils in lowest container. Alternately, cook lentils and rice on stove top separately until well cooked.

Meanwhile cook cut vegetables covered in a medium pot with just enough water. Add salt mid way and switch off when the vegetables are almost cooked but hold their shape well.

Squish soaked tamarind (if using) to a pulp. Discard leftover seeds and fiber.

While veggies, rice and lentil cook, in a kadai / thick bottomed skillet over medium heat, dry roast all the ingredients listed for the Bisi Bele Baath spice mix except fenugreek, poppy seeds and dry coconut, until fragrant and lentils turn golden brown. Remove onto a plate. Reduce the heat to low and dry roast fenugreek seeds and poppy seeds until fenugreek seeds turn golden brown. This will happen fast, so pay attention. Pour onto the plate with the other roasted ingredients. Switch off and dry roast dry coconut in the retained heat of the skillet until golden brown. If you are not using Rasam powder as listed above, optionally dry roast mustard, cumin and black pepper until mustard and cumin crackle and curry leaves crisp up. Remove onto the same plate and let cool. When roasted ingredients are cooled, grind them to a powder in a coffee grinder or a mixer and set aside. Do not open the lid, to keep the fresh aroma of the ground spices intact.

When cooker has cooled, whisk through the cooked lentils to mash well.

Heat oil in a heavy bottom pot and sauté diced green bell pepper. Add salt, diced tomato, stir and cook covered until bell pepper is cooked. Add the cooked vegetables along with the water, mashed lentils, rasam powder, salt, tamarind pulp and bring to a boil. Add rice to this and keep stirring to make sure it doesn’t burn at the bottom. Add more warm water to adjust the consistency if required.

Now add the freshly ground Bisi Bele Bath mix, stir well to break any lumps and simmer for 5-10 minutes. Check for taste and adjust tamarind, salt and spice mix. Switch off, sprinkle dry coconut on top and keep aside. Store the remaining Bisi Bele Bath mix in an airtight container.

For the tempering (seasoning), heat ghee/oil in a small kadai or saucepan over high heat. When the oil is hot enough, add mustard seeds. When they splutter, reduce heat to medium, add peanuts and stir until they crackle and turn a light brown. Now add asafoetida (hing) and curry leaves and sauté until curry leaves are crumbly crisp. Pour the tempering over on the piping hot Bisi Bele Bath, cover immediately to preserve the aroma and keep aside.

Serve hot drizzled with ghee and potato chips or Khara boondi on the side. Bisi Bele Bath tastes even better after several hours of making, which makes it a good candidate for a make-ahead meal.

Bisi Bele Baath shortcut method

Heat oil/ghee in the pressure cooker over medium-high heat and follow seasoning steps. Strain the peanuts and curry leaves and keep aside. To the seasoning, add diced bell pepper and turmeric and sauté for a bit. Add the remaining veggies and sauté, add diced tomato, salt, washed lentils, washed rice and stir well until rice turns opaque. Add tamarind pulp, rasam mix, Bisi Bele Baath mix, 5 cups of water and give it a good stir. Shut the cooker closed and cook for 2 whistles. When cooker cools, serve hot Bisi Bele baath with the fried peanuts and curry leaves. The only downside to this is some of the aroma is lost in the pressure cooking.

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Comments

comments

{ 27 comments… read them below or add one }

1 K.N.Vinod September 29, 2011 at 10:15 am

Lovely post with beautiful pictures!

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2 Shalini September 29, 2011 at 11:24 am

That is a fabulous recipe. Truly authentic and lovely clicks. Good luck with your cross country tour..

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3 Rinku Naveen September 29, 2011 at 2:22 pm

Lovely post ! Beautiful pictures..

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4 Rinku Naveen September 29, 2011 at 2:23 pm

Lovely post ! Beautiful clicks

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5 sudha September 29, 2011 at 11:51 pm

oh my ..loved ur post…and the desc..i m glad sala asked u to post this…:)…i love learning about the smaller details in a dish :)

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6 Radhika @ foodfor7stages September 30, 2011 at 12:29 am

One of my favorites too. This is such an informative post. I will definitely keep this for my reference.

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7 Kathleen Richardson September 30, 2011 at 6:31 am

Lovely recipe and photos. Thanks for guest posting and I intend to take a look at your blog.

By the way, Sala, the link to the info on how to take good food pictures does not work. Try again? I’d love to be able to read it!

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Sala @ Veggie Belly Reply:

I fixed the link, thanks for letting me know. Here it is anyway: http://www.veggiebelly.com/2010/08/food-photography-tips-tutorial-bright-white-seamless-background.html

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8 Deesha September 30, 2011 at 9:20 am

Aah what a dish n such beautiful pictures. YUMM

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9 Xiaolu @ 6 Bittersweets September 30, 2011 at 5:26 pm

Been meaning to try this for years! I love pulses.

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10 Hardluxeliving October 2, 2011 at 5:48 am

Ee blog nangae tumba santosha padathay. I really like your blog. Your bisi bele bath recipe almost makes me smell my childhood holidays in South India.

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11 Radhika October 3, 2011 at 1:33 pm

Sala,
It was awesome guest posting for you! Thank you for letting me do this :)

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12 Deepti Pawar October 4, 2011 at 1:34 pm

Lovely post! I was searching for something on these lines to make Bisi Bele Bhath from scrath at home. Glad to see this Guest Post here.

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13 Irene @ H.V.R. October 6, 2011 at 3:01 pm

Great blog! It contains a lot of ideas. I also love the pictures! Good luck to your travels. Hope to see more of it.

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14 Anushruti | Divinetaste October 7, 2011 at 12:12 am

One of my favourite one pot meals! Your notes add a lot of authenticity to this post! I feel like running to the kitchen to make this, I use my aunt’s recipe!

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15 Suzyq October 26, 2011 at 8:34 pm

So I went to the store to buy all the ingredients, most of which I did not have. I ended up spending 55.00, but it was so worth it. Of course I made a few mistakes along the way, but I figure trial and error are the way to learn. I absolutely loved this dish! The next time I make this, I will make the Bisi Bele Bath Powder the day before.

Since my cupboard is now pretty well stocked, I will now have to scour for other Indian recipes I would like to make. So if you have a recipe for Shrimp Poori, I will take it. There is a restaurant here in CT that makes it absolutely fabulous. There does not see to be many on the web, and the ones I have found do not seem inspiring. ;)

Again, thanks for the great recipe.
~ Sue

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16 shil November 30, 2011 at 3:07 pm

My bisi bele bath has never looked so good. THat’s looks so yum that I am going to try it tonight.

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17 Harini February 10, 2012 at 6:05 am

Now I cannot not stop singing “Kereya neeranu kerege chelli!” I read the post all the while humming!:) The bisi bele bath looks lipsmackingly good. One of my favourite dishes too.

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18 Jayanthi August 8, 2012 at 6:16 pm

Lovely post. Beautiful pics too:). Just a quick q though i do not have squash
But i do have white pumpkin,beans,carrots,peas and potatoes. Can i still
Go ahead and try the recipe?

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Sala @ Veggie Belly Reply:

Yes!

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19 Shree August 14, 2012 at 11:46 am

What a gorgeous recipe!! You girls are amazing. If I were BBB, I would be very proud of the care , respect, and attention to detail that Radhika has shown!!

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20 Ash November 10, 2012 at 8:59 am

I’m very impressed. Especially when you wrote on potato, I’m married to a North Indian and so I know how many dishes they spoil by adding potatoes into everything they cook. Glad to know somebody exists who possesses such fine detailed taste as I do.
Thanks for both the versions if the recipe.

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21 Anonymous November 27, 2012 at 1:40 pm

The presentation is beautiful, one of the better Indian food blogs. But like every other blog, just another recipe.
No original material for e.g.: What do you exactly mean by authentic? What lends food authenticity?

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22 livetoeat April 20, 2013 at 2:03 pm

Tried the recipe with some minor variations and it turned out delicious. Thank you!

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23 Renuka May 13, 2013 at 11:07 am

I prepared this recipe last weekend for a dinner party… It came out very well… Great balance of spices… The fragrances filled the entire home… I went a little low on chili peppers (my children eat milder food than typical Indian spice level) The depth and complexity of flavors was out of the world. It was the best bisi bele bath I ever made!!! We ate every last bit of goodness stuck to the serving vessel… As a cook, It is such a delight for me to watch. :) Thanks to your detailed recipe.
I started loving both Veggiebelly and JustHomeMade blogs.

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24 Aruna July 18, 2013 at 10:59 am

Amazing. This is the first time I tried making this. My mom made it when we had guests, but it looked so complex that I never tried. This turned out spectacular!
I must say, I cook from food blogs all the time, and I like yours best because the recipes are always so well explained and thorough. I think I’ve made about 30% of the entree recipes you have, and they are all great. Please keep posting:)
Aruna

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Sala @ Veggie Belly Reply:

Thanks so much you made my day! I’m so happy your mom made this for you!

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25 Jonathan Kandell August 10, 2013 at 1:28 pm

Where on line does one purchase Marathi mogghu? I’ve been searching for ages.

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26 Joy December 4, 2013 at 10:43 pm

I tried this yesterday, it’s well and truly authentic, it turned out so well, I ate too much, but itWas food for my soul as well as I was craving for something different to what we cook on a daily basis…thank you thank you, this recipe is foolproof seeing as i took some shortcuts,, couldn’t stop boasting about my “skills” yesterday :) ) I was very pleasantly surprised, it tasted great today, will make it again when I have visitors :)

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27 Ranjani Raj March 19, 2014 at 10:37 pm

Wonderful recipe.. looks so delicious and tempting.. i used to prepare bisibellabath.. but yours vary with some additional spices..surely will try this version..also first time on your space…you have amazing photography too.. keep rocking…

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