Spicy sambar rice

Bisibelebath or spicy sambar rice is one of my favourite dish from childhood.

Bisibelebath in Kannada means hot lentil rice. Bisi means hot, bele means lentil or dal, bath means a dish made of rice.

I used to have this dish only in hotels as my mom did not know about this dish. But when I was in college, one of my friends shared this recipe. From that time I am making this.

I have made little changes from this recipe to adjust to my taste. I made this dish a little more spicy, with more masala and the rice will be more mashed type. But it is up to you, how you want. You can use any vegetable you like. In this bisibelebath recipe I have added few spinanch leaves as well. The vegetables that you can add are carrots, beans, orange pumpkin, drumsticks, raw banana, peas, potatoes, brinjals and capsicum (any colour). Try to avoid vegetables like okra because of its slimy texture.

This dish is a blend of dal and rice with freshly roasted spices. When cooked this dish gives a fantastic aroma and the tastes awesome. One important ingredient that I have not added in this is Marathi mogu (badi laung), which is added in bissibelabath. I used to call this as sambar rice as the masala in it are similar to sambar. In Chennai, it is known popularly as sambar rice but the ingredients here are slightly different.

This is a one pot dish. In this dish you have vegetables, rice, dal and spices. Therefore, no need of any side dish for this. I like to eat bisibelebath with crisps or fried potatoes.

To maximise the flavours drizzle with ghee when you serve and also use ghee for the tadka or seasoning. If you are health/calries conscious, use oil instead of ghee.


  • Salt - as per taste
  • Tamarind paste (concentrated) - 1 1/2 tsp to 2 tsp
  • Rice

  • Rice - 3/4 cup
  • Water - 2 1/2 to 3 cups
  • Lentils or dal

  • Toor dal (red gram) - 1/2 cup
  • Water - 2 1/2 cup
  • Vegetables

  • Orange pumpkin - 1/4 cup
  • Carrot - 1
  • Brinjal - 1
  • Peas - 1/3 cup
  • Beans - 1/4 cup
  • Drumstick - 1
  • Potato - 1
  • Spinach leaves - 1 cup
  • Ladies finger (optional) - 4
  • Dry masala (1)

  • Oil - 2 tsp
  • Coriander seeds - 1 tbsp
  • Cumin seeds - 1 tsp
  • Fennel seeds - 1 tsp
  • Black pepper seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Mustard seeds - 1/2 tsp
  • Chana dal (Bengal gram) - 1 tsp
  • Curry leaves (optional) - 10
  • Cloves - 5
  • Cinnamon stick (1/2 inch size) - 2
  • Green cardamom - 4
  • Grated coconut - 4 tbsp
  • Dry chillies - 5
  • Dry masala (2)

  • Roasted chana (putanae) - 2 tbsp
  • Poppy seeds (khus –khus) - 1 tsp
  • Raw rice - 2 tsp
  • Grated fresh coconut - 2 tbsp
  • Tadka or seasoning

  • Oil - 2 tbsp
  • Mustard - 3/4 tsp
  • Cumin seeds - 3/4 tsp
  • Dry chillies - 2
  • Chana dal - 1 tsp
  • Urad dal - 3/4 tsp
  • Shallots - 1/2 cup
  • Final tadka

  • Ghee - 3 tbsp
  • Cashew nuts - 12 to 15
  • Curry leaves - 12 to 15


    There are 4 steps to make spicy sambar rice

    a. Cooking the rice and lentil

    b. Roasting and making masala powders

    c. Cooking the vegetables with spices

    d. Mixing the rice, lentil and vegetables

  • Chop all the vegetables and keep it aside.
  • Split the cashew nuts to halves. If you want you can use them whole as well.
  • Cooking the rice and lentil

  • Boil lentil/dal with water in a pressure cooker. After cooking, smash it well and keep it aside. Do not add salt while boiling dal.
  • Cook the rice also in the same pressure cooker with adequate water and when it is cooked, keep it aside. The rice should be over cooked and soft.
  • You can even boil the rice and the lentils together in a pressure cooker with adequate amount of water (6 cups)
  • Roasting and making masala powders

  • Heat a vessel and add oil. When it gets warm roast coriander seeds, dry chillies, chana dal and other spices one by one for Dry Masala (1). Roast them well. Add khus–khus and grated coconut in the end. You can even roast one by one separately. Roast them on medium flame and keep stirring to avoid burning of the spices.
  • After they cool grind them into a fine powder. If some of its powder is a little coarse, its okay.
  • Take a pan and roast other ingredients for Dry Masala (2). Roast them until the colour changes lightly.
  • Grind them into a fine powder and keep it aside.
  • Cooking the vegetables with spices

  • Take a bigger and wider vessel and add oil. When it gets warm, add mustard, cumin and other ingredients for tadka and roast well until the sambar onions are lightly brown and are roasted well in the oil.
  • Add all the vegetables one by one and roast for 3 to 4 mins and add 4 to 5 cups of water, tamarind paste (or juice) and turmeric powder. Boil for 15 to 20 mins.
  • When the vegetables are almost cooked and the water is reduced, add Dry Masala (1) and mix well. Cook with the lid closed and on medium flame until the spices are cooked well and you get a good aroma of sambar. The sambar should be ready in 15 mins.
  • Mixing the rice, lentil and vegetables

  • When the sambar is ready, add the cooked rice and dal and mix well.
  • Simmer the flame and let it cook for about 10 mins until the masala and flavours are well absorbed by the rice.
  • Stir occasionally, so that it does not stick to the bottom and get burnt.
  • If you require water again, add 1/2 cup, otherwise do not add. We do not want to make it too watery. But if you see my bisibelebath, it is a little soft and watery. There are two reasons - one I like it a little watery and second when it cools down, it becomes thick.
  • Add Dry Masala (2) and mix well. Simmer for 5 to 10 mins with the lid closed.
  • Do the last seasoning or tadka in ghee. Heat a vessel, add ghee and when it gets warm, add cashew nuts and curry leaves. Roast well until the cashew nuts are light golden in colour.
  • Add tadka, mix well and switch the heat off.
  • You can put some chopped coriander leaves as well.
  • Drizzle some ghee again on it while serving. Eat bisibelebath with crisps or fried potatoes. Some serve it with boondhi and raitha also. Forget the calories and enjoy the dish to the fullest.


  • If you want the rice to be whole, then do not overcook the rice.
  • The ratio of rice to lentil can be 2:1. I have even used equal proportions and work well. So, you can use anywhere between 2:1 to equal proportions.
  • Add required amount of water and according to the consistency you want. The texture should be smooth and like porridge.
  • Add water if you think its very dry.
  • Reduce chillies if you want this to be less hot or you want to give this to children.
  • If the tamarind you use is quite dark then add a little bit more of turmeric powder to get the right colour.
  • If you want, you can avoid the additional Dry Masala (2).
  • You can adjust the quantity of ghee as per yoiur taste and requirement.
  • I have used basmati rice. If using ponni raw rice, then the water required for cooking will be different. Use water according to the rice you want to cook.
  • If you think that the water quantity is more when you mixed the rice and dal, cook it for some more time until you get the consistency you need.

Copyright © 2013 www.oceanofrecipes.com. All rights reserved.