Bisi bele bath

Bisi bele bath is very famous in Karnataka for one pot vegetarian rice dish. Bisi bele bath in Kannada means hot lentil rice. Bisi means hot, bele means lentil or dal, bath means a dish made of rice. This dish is a blend of dal and rice with freshly roasted spices and vegetables. In restaurants and at home, everyone prepares Bisi bele bath with freshly ground masala or readymade store bought. In rice dish, bisi bele bath is one of my favourite dishes because of its taste and aroma.

Bisi bele bath is similar to sambar rice. The only difference is in the masala. For both, freshly ground spices masala is prepared but different ingredients go in apart from khus-khus (poppy seeds) and the dry coconut (copra), which is used in the bisi bele bath but not in sambar rice. One important ingredient that I have added in this is Marathi mogu (badi laung), which is added in bisi bele bath. In Karnataka, you get byadgi dry red chillies, which gives good colour, I have used Kashmir chillies instead. In Chennai, it is known popularly as sambar rice. I used to have this dish only in restaurants, but one of my friends was kind enough to share this recipe. From that time I am preparing Bisi bele bath as per my taste.

Preparation time: 15 mins (excluding soaking time)

Cooking time: 45 mins

Cuisine: Karnataka

Spiciness: Medium

Serves: 4



  1. Rice - 3/4 cup
  2. Peanuts – 2 tbsp
  3. Water - 3 1/2 cups
  4. Lentils or dal

  5. Toor dal (split pigeon pea) - 1/2 cup
  6. Turmeric - 1/2 tsp
  7. Water - 2 1/2 cup
  8. Dry tamarind – small lemon size
  9. Hot water – 1 cup
  10. Vegetables

  11. Potato - 1
  12. Carrot - 1
  13. Drumstick - 1
  14. Beans – 12
  15. Green bell pepper - 1
  16. Brinjal - 1
  17. Peas (frozen) - 1/4 cup
  18. Shallots (sambar onion) - 15
  19. Water - 3 cups
  20. Additional water - 1cup
  21. Turmeric powder – 1/4th tsp
  22. Gur (jaggery) – 11/2tbsp
  23. Coriander leaves – 1/4th cup(chopped)
  24. Bisi bele bath powder/ dry roast powder

  25. Oil - 2 tsp
  26. Hing - 1/4 tsp
  27. Coriander seeds - 2 tbsp
  28. Chana dal - 2 tsp
  29. Kashmir dry chillies – 5 to 6
  30. Marathi moggu – 1(long)(optional)
  31. Cinnamon stick - 2 inch
  32. Poppy seeds(khus-khus) - 1 tsp
  33. Cloves – 6(small)
  34. Methi seeds - 1/4 tsp
  35. Dry coconut(copra) – 20gms or 3 tbsp
  36. Tadka / Tempering

  37. Ghee - 3 tbsp
  38. Mustard seeds - 3/4 tsp
  39. Dry chillies – 3(optional)
  40. Hing – 1/4tsp
  41. Cashew nuts - 12 to 15
  42. Curry leaves - 12 to 15


    There are 4 steps to make bisibelebath

    a. Cooking the rice and lentil

    b. Cooking the vegetables with masala powder

    c. Combining rice, lentil and vegetables

    d. Tempering with ghee

  1. Cut drumstick 3inch size and chop all the vegetables except shallots (sambar onion) as a whole and keep it aside.
  2. Split the cashew nuts to halves. If you want you can use them whole as well.
  3. Soak tamarind in hot water 30minutes. Squeeze the tamarind with hand, strain and keep the pulp (tamarind water) aside.
  4. Wash the rice and dal; soak in water for 30 minutes. Drain and keep it ready.
  5. I have added peanuts (can add raw or roasted without skin) while soaking the rice in water.
  6. Cooking the rice and lentil

  7. Boil lentil/dal with water and turmeric powder in a pressure cooker or a vessel with little 1/2tsp of oil, to avoid froth. After cooking the dal to soft and mushy or mash it well and keep it aside. Do not add salt while boiling dal.
  8. Cook the rice also in the same pressure cooker or a separate vessel with adequate water and when it is cooked, keep it aside. The rice should be over cooked and soft.
  9. Roast the spices (Bisi bele bath Masala/powder)

  10. Heat a pan with oil, when hot add coriander seeds, dry chillies, chana dal and other spices one by one for Dry Masala roast. Keep stirring and roast well.
  11. Add khus–khus, hing and grated coconut in the end. You can even roast one by one separately. Roast them on low flame and keep stirring to avoid burning.
  12. Allow to cool and grind to a fine powder or little bit coarse.
  13. Cooking the vegetables with masala powder (Bisi bele bath powder)

  14. Take a bigger vessel or wider vessel; add all the vegetables one by one except peas and bell pepper, add 3 cups of water and boil or suate vegetables in 2tsp oil first for 3minutes, then add water, cook for 10minutes by closing the lid.
  15. Add tamarind water 1cup and turmeric powder boil for 7minutes.
  16. Add the fresh grounded masala powder, additional water, mix well cook for 15 minutes, until rawness of tamarind disappears.
  17. Cook with the lid closed and on medium flame until the spices are cooked well and you get a good aroma of sambar.
  18. It is like preparing sambar without lentil, the masala mixture has to be cooked well, and then only add the dal and rice.
  19. Combining rice and dal

  20. Add the dal, peas and bell pepper mix and cook for 5 minutes on medium flame.
  21. Add the rice and gur, mix well.
  22. At this stage, more liquid will be there; later the rice is going to absorb all.
  23. Simmer the flame and let it cook for about 12 to 15 mins until the masala and flavours are well absorbed by the rice.
  24. Stir occasionally, so that it does not stick to the bottom and get burnt.
  25. Tempering

  26. Add ghee in a kadai or vessel, when warm add mustard seeds, dry chillies, curry leaves and cashew nuts, cook until cashew changes to golden brown, add hing and switch off.
  27. Pour on the bisi bele bath, mix well, close the lid cook for 5minutes and switch off. At this stage can add few coriander leaves, mix well with the rice mixture. Let it rest for 10minutes with lid closed or serve immediately.
  28. Drizzle some ghee again on it while serving. Eat Bisi bele bath with crisps or fried potatoes. Some serve it with boondi mixture and raitha also. I have served bisi bela bath with papad, raitha and mixture.
  29. Forget the calories and enjoy the dish to the fullest.


  1. If you want the rice to be whole, then do not overcook the rice.
  2. Use ponni rice or sona masoori rice or parboiled rice not basmati rice.
  3. Add required amount of water and according to the consistency you want. The texture should be smooth and like porridge.
  4. Reduce chillies if you want this to be less hot or you want to give this to children.
  5. If the tamarind you use is quite dark then add a little bit more of turmeric powder to get the right colour.
  6. Can use any vegetables you like as per your taste.
  7. Can use fresh coconut instead of dry coconut.
  8. If adding ready made concentrated tamarind paste – 11/2tsp to 2tsp as per taste, add water 1cup additional.
  9. You can adjust the quantity of ghee as per your taste and requirement.
  10. If you think that the water quantity is more when you mixed the rice and dal, need not worry, it will get absorbed in the end and when it gets cold it becomes dry. The sambar rice has to be liquid and rice has to be soft, melting in your mouth.