Bisi Bele Bath Recipe
Bisi bele bath is a flavorsome, spicy and slightly tangy meal made with lentils, rice, mixed vegetables and a super aromatic spice powder known as bisi bele bath powder. Packed with plant-based protein, fresh veggies and plenty of South Indian flavors, this makes for a hearty and wholesome meal that will soon be your family favorite. It’s gluten-free, can be made vegan plus it’s easy to make! You can also make it in the instant pot!
About Bisi Bele Bath
Bisi bele bath is a traditional dish from Karnataka, a Southern Indian state. The term “Bisi bele bath” translates to “Hot lentil rice dish”. “Bisi” is a Kannada word meaning “Hot” (temperature), “Bele” translates to “Lentils” and “Bath” is a word that denotes a “gooey dish cooked by immersing the ingredients in water”.
This gooey goodness tempered with pure ghee is amazingly delicious and is hugely popular in the restaurants and tiffin centres of Karnataka.
Bisi bele bath is a regular food made in a lot of households in Karnataka. So each family may have a different recipe that uses many different ingredients.
Short grain rice, toor dal, tamarind, jaggery, carrots, peas, beans, bell peppers and bisi bele bath pudi form the base of most versions.
My recipe will help you make bisi bele bath that has the same flavors and taste as you find in any good restaurants and tiffin places in Karnataka, such as MTR. This recipe has been a huge hit in my home for the past 2 decades and we have never made bisi bele bath any other way. This is the ultimate recipe to make the best Bisi bele bath!
In this post I have also shared the recipe to make your own the spice powder. It is made by roasting various spices and lentils. These are then cooled and ground to a fine powder.
This spice powder is the main ingredient that builds your dish. If you do not have time to make your own bisi bele bath powder, you may use a store bought powder which is easily available in Indian stores.
I personally prefer the homemade powder and on occasions I have also made this with MTR powder which works well.
Bisi bele bath is a favorite with my family so I make it often in the instant pot too. I have shared 2 ways to make it in the IP. For more details my notes in the recipe card.
More Rice Recipes
How to Make Bisi Bele Bath (Stepwise photos)
1. I prefer to cook rice in pressure cooker. If you do not have a pressure cooker, cook rice and dal together or separately until the dal turns completely mushy. If using pressure cooker, rinse ¾ cup rice in a bowl. Then pour 1 & ¾ cup water. Place this bowl inside your cooker.
2. I cover the rice bowl with a plate. Then pour ½ cup toor dal to another bowl. Rinse well a few times and pour 1 cup water. Cover the dal as well. Pressure cook for 3 to 4 whistles on a medium flame. Both rice and dal must be soft and fully cooked.
Make Bisibelebath Powder
Skip this section if using MTR powder. These proportions work great hence I suggest sticking on to the quantity mentioned. These spices and lentils have to be roasted on a medium to low flame to get a deep color without burning. This gives a good color to the final dish.
3. While the rice cooks, Make the bisi bele bath powder. On a low flame, dry roast 1 teaspoon chana dal, 1 teaspoon urad dal & 4 red chilies (low heat variety) until dal turns golden.
Then add 1½ tablespoons coriander seeds, 1 inch cinnamon, 2 cloves & 1 marati moggu (optional). When they turn aromatic remove to a plate.
Add 1 pinch methi seeds & fry. When they turn aromatic, add 1 teaspoon cumin seeds and 1 tablespoon dried coconut (optional). Roast these until aromatic and turn off.
4. Cool them completely and add to a grinder jar.
5. Make a fine powder. Your bisi bele bath powder is ready. Set this aside. You can also make this in advance and store in a air tight jar for about a month.
Using the powder
6. Soak 3 tablespoons tamarind in half cup hot water. Set this aside to cool and prepare the vegetables.
7. Squeeze the soaked tamarind and extract the tamarind water. Keep 2 to 3 tbsps of this aside little. In case we need more it can be used later. Add ½ teaspoon salt, 1½ teaspoons jaggery and stir well until the jaggery dissolves. I prefer to filter it to a bowl to remove debris from tamarind or jaggery.
8. Add the ground bisi bele bath masala powder and mix well. Set this aside. Adding the dry powder directly to the pan usually ends up in lot of lumps. So I mix it well with the jaggery and tamarind water then pour it.
9. When the rice and dal are cooked. Mash the dal well. This gives a creamy & nice texture to the bisi bele bath.
10. This step is optional. Mix together rice and dal. Set aside.
Make Bisi Bele Bath
11. Add 1 teaspoon ghee or oil to a hot pan. When the ghee turns hot, add
- 8 shallots (or 1 medium cubed onion)
- ½ cup chopped carrots
- 4 french beans chopped to 1 inch
- ¼ cup chopped capsicum
- ¼ cup green peas. Then fry all of them on a medium high flame together for 3 to 4 minutes until the raw flavors goes off.
12. Pour 1 cup water to the pan and cook till the veggies are just done. Do not over cook, keep them slightly crunchy.
13. Pour the tamarind jaggery mixture to the pan.
14. Allow the entire mixture to boil for a while to bring out the flavors from the spice powders.
15. Then add the rice & dal to the pan.
16. Add 1 ¼ cup water to the pan. Stir and mix everything well. Taste test this and add more salt, bisibelebath powder, jaggery or tamarind as needed. Simmer on a low flame until slightly thick yet of pouring consistency. This is the right consistency of bisibelebath.
17. Heat 1 tablespoon ghee in a pan. Add 10 cashews, 1 broken dried red chili, ½ teaspoon mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to splutter, add 1 sprig curry leaves and 1 pinch of hing.
19. Pour this to the cooked rice dal and stir. Karnataka style bisibelebath is ready. As the name says bisi – meaning hot, this has to be served hot. It will thicken upon cooling, so to adjust the consistency you can pour some hot water.
Usually bisi bele bath is served hot with papads and a generous amount of ghee topped.
1.To make bisi bele bath, you can use store bought powder or make your own. MTR brand works the best. I am also sharing an easy bisi bele bath powder recipe that smells great and is aromatic to give that authentic touch.
You can also make this powder good enough for a month or two by following this bisibelebath powder recipe.
2.Rice and dal can be cooked together or separately. I like to make my dal mushy but not the rice, so i cook the rice grainy but fully cooked.
I also cook them separately so that the rice doesn’t get mushy but the dal is cooked to smooth which gives the creamy & smooth taste to the bisi bele bath. If you like to have both mushy, then you can cook rice and dal together.
3.Bisi bele bath is one of those special vegetarian dishes which is made even on occasions like festivals or when we have guests home. If you are making it for a crowd prepare the bisibelebath powder 1 to 2 days ahead. Make the dish very gooey as it thickens over time.
4. If it turns too thick after few hours. Then bring some water to a rolling boil, then add 1 tbsp ghee to it. Pour this to the bisi bele bath and stir. If needed heat it. This helps to bring the dish to right consistency. Avoid pouring cold water.
For more karnataka recipes you can check :
Instant pot Bisi bele bath
I have shared 2 methods for the instant pot version & both have been tested in a 6 Qt IP. I have tried making bisi bele bath several times in the instant pot following the one pot method shared in the recipe card. But the taste and texture is not the same as of the original dish. So I have shared a different method here below which comes close to the stovetop version.
- Soak tamarind in little hot water.
- Add rice, dal and 4 cups of water to the inner pot of the Instant pot.
- Secure the instant pot with the lid. Position the steam release handle to sealing.
- Press PRESSURE COOK OR MANUAL button and set the timer to 8 minutes.
- Once the IP beeps, press cancel and turn off. Wait for natural pressure release for 10 minutes. Then release the rest of the pressure manually.
- Meanwhile in a different pan heat ghee and fry cashews until golden. Remove and set aside.
- Add mustard, red chilies, curry leaves and hing. When the mustard pops, add onions and fry for 2 mins.
- Then add all the veggies and stir fry for a minute.
- Add bisi bele bath powder, salt, tamarind water & jaggery. Pour 1.5 cups water and mix well.
- Boil all of this until the veggies are slightly tender.
- When the pressure releases open the Instant pot lid and pour all of the veggies along with water. Stir well. Press SAUTE button and simmer for 2 mins until thick. If needed you can pour another half cup hot water if it is too thick.
- Taste and add more salt and ghee. Sprinkle coriander leaves. Garnish with cashews and serve bisi bele bath hot.
Bisi Bele Bath Recipe
For best results follow the step-by-step photos above the recipe card
Ingredients (US cup = 240ml )
Bisi bele bath powder or use 2 to 3 tbsps MTR powder
- 4 red chilli
- 1 inch cinnamon piece
- 2 cloves
- 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 teaspoon urad dal (skinned black gram)
- 1 teaspoon chana dal (bengal gram)
- 2 pinches fenugreek seeds (methi seeds)
- 1 ½ tablespoon coriander seeds
- 1 small marati moggu (optional)
- 1 tablespoon dried coconut (optional) or poppy seeds
for bisi bele bath
- ½ cup carrots diced
- ¼ cup green peas
- 5 french beans (or ¼ cup avarekalu)
- 8 shallots (or 1 medium onion) (optional)
- ¼ cup capsicum cubed (optional)
- 1 to 2 tablespoon ghee
- 1 sprig curry leaves
- 10 cashews broken
- 1 Pinch asafoetida (hing, use gluten-free if needed)
- ½ teaspoon mustard seeds
- 1 red chili broken (deseeded)
Make Bisi Bele Bath Powder (or use MTR powder)
- You can skip this section and just use ready made bisi bele bath. On a low flame dry roast red chilies, chana dal & urad dal until golden.
- Then fry coriander seeds, cloves, cinnamon & moggu. When they turn aromatic remove to a plate.
- Add methi seeds & roast. When the seeds turn aromatic, add in cumin and coconut.
- Next when these turn aromatic turn off and cool all the ingredients. Make a fine powder & set aside.
- Add rice to a bowl and rinse it well a few times. In a separate bowl wash dal a few times.
- Pour 1¾ cups water to the rice bowl & 1 cup water to the dal bowl.
- Pressure cook both of them in a cooker in pot-in-pot method for 3 to 4 whistles. The rice and dal must be cooked soft.
- While the rice & dal cooks, soak tamarind in half cup hot water. Squeeze it and filter to a bowl. Keep 2 to 3 tablespoons of this aside for later use.
- To the remaining tamarind water, add the bisi bele bath powder, jaggery & salt. Mix well to remove lumps. Set aside.
- Mash the dal to smooth and add to rice. If desired can mash rice as well.
How to Make Bisi Bele Bath
- Heat a pan with 1 teaspoon ghee & add the vegetables.
- On a medium high flame saute for 3 to 4 mins to bring out the flavors.
- Pour 1 cup of water and cook the veggies till they are ¾ done. This way they retain the crunchiness.
- Pour the tamarind mix and stir well. Allow it to boil for few minutes.
- Add the mashed rice dal and mix well. Next add ¾ to 1 ¼ cups water and stir well.
- Let the rice come to a boil on a medium flame. This takes around 4 to 6 mins.
- Cook till the rice reaches a desired thick consistency. Taste test this. If needed, add more tamarind water, salt and jaggery.
- Bisi bele bath usually turns thick upon cooling so remove it a bit early.
- Heat 1 to 2 tablespoons ghee or oil in a small pan.
- Add cashews and fry them until light golden. Then add mustard and red chilli.
- When the mustard splutters, add curry leaves. When the leaves turn crisp, add hing.
- Pour the seasoning over the bisi bele bath. Top bisi bele bath with a generous amount of ghee before serving. It is served hot with papad.
Instant pot Bisi Bele Bath
- Soak tamarind in half cup hot water.
- Press saute button on the instant pot and pour ghee or oil to the inner pot of the Ip.
- Then fry cashews until golden and set aside.
- Add mustard, red chilies, curry leaves and hing.
- When the mustard pops, add onions and fry for 2 mins.
- Then add all the veggies and stir fry for a minute. Add bisi bele bath powder, salt, half of the tamarind water & jaggery. (I usually mix the jaggery with tamarind water and filter both together)
- Mix well and pour 7 cups water. Add rice and dal. Stir well and scrub the bottom to deglaze.
- Press cancel button. Secure the instant pot with the lid. Position the steam release handle to sealing.
- Then press pressure cook button and set the timer to 9 minutes. Once the IP beeps, press cancel and turn off.
- Wait for natural pressure release for 10 minutes. Then release the rest of the pressure manually. Open the lid and stir well. Taste test and add more tamarind water, salt and jaggery is needed.
- Add additional ghee and sprinkle coriander leaves. If desired you can also make a fresh tadka and pour on the bisi bele bath.
- If using store bought Bisi bele bath powder, please use with caution. The spice level in the BBM powder varies from one brand to the other.
- Bisi Bele Bath usually thickens upon cooling. To bring it back to consistency, bring half to 1 cup water to a rolling boil. Stir little ghee and pour it to the bisibelebath and mix well. You can do this 1 to 3 times without altering the taste.
- I have shared 2 methods for the instant pot version & both have been tested in a 6 Qt IP. I have tried making bisi bele bath several times in the instant pot following the one pot method shared in the recipe card. But the taste and texture is not the same as of the original dish. So I have shared a different method above the recipe card which comes close to the stovetop version.
Alternative quantities provided in the recipe card are for 1x only, original recipe.
For best results follow my detailed step-by-step photo instructions and tips above the recipe card.
NUTRITION INFO (estimation only)
© Swasthi’s Recipes
Recipe first published in October 2012. Updated and republished in July 2021.
I’m Swasthi Shreekanth, the recipe developer, food photographer & food writer behind Swasthi’s Recipes. My aim is to help you cook great Indian food with my time-tested recipes. After 2 decades of experience in practical Indian cooking I started this blog to help people cook better & more often at home. Whether you are a novice or an experienced cook I am sure Swasthi’s Recipes will assist you to enhance your cooking skills.
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I have made so many of your recipes for authentic South Indian taste, so has my brother. I have been following you for the last 8 years. This BBB was out of the world, only I had to double up the masala powder for a stronger flavour. I am a strong advocate of home made masalas.
Thank you so much for being a long time reader and that makes me very happy. Yes you can adjust the amount of the masala to taste.
Your Bise Bela recipe is the tastiest and most authentic that I found. Especially your choice of vegetables. Several other recipes include eggplant, but I know that is a big “no no” for bisi bela. I also like your tips. Thank-you for the recipe.
Thank you Radhika. Happy you like it. Yes choice of vegetables is very important.
Unbelievable. So easy and just tastes like MTR BBB. Thank you for a detailed version Swathi.
So glad you like it Poornima. Thank you.
Thanks for sharing the reciep
You are welcome Jaishree
I just bought a packet of Marathi moggu and the largest piece is 5.5 inches and the smallest is 2 inches. Could you give us some indication of the size you have used or the weight of the piece you have used. Thanks.
For bisi bele bath you should use small marathi moggu. There are 2 kinds. The larger ones like you have are used whole for biryani. The small ones are used in bisi bele bath.
Can you tell something more about the spice marati mogul? What taste does it add to the powder and the dish? What other recipes can it be used for? Thanks.
You are an inspiration. I read your reply to Radha and made with brown rice. Turned out fantastic. No one could taste brown rice in it. Tried a lot of your recipes & all of them turned out yummy. Thank you.
Thank you so much Girija
Happy to know you all like it. FYI – You can also use millets and steel cut oats the same way.
Hello, My son in law loves bisi bele bath. So I tried it for the first time following your recipe point to point. It turned out very good and he loved it. Thanks
Which rice we have to use?
Glad to know it turned out good! Use any kind of rice. I generally use sona masuri or ponni rice. You can also use brown rice. But requires 1 hour soaking.
Love your recipes. This bisi bele bath is our favorite. Turned out very good.
Hi. Can we pack this for lunch box ?
Will it be very thick ?
How can I pack this for tiffin ?
It will be good if you pack in a insulated box. It becomes thick after cooling down. Make it slightly more runny and pack it when it is very hot.
Excellent recipe and came our really well. Thank you!
Glad to know!
Tastiest bisi bele bath I have prepared so far! Thank you for this ‘non-coconut’ recipe.
Glad to know!
Real taste of bisibellebath came out
Tried this tonight. Turned out great ?
Glad to know
Hi your bisibela bath receipe is very good I & my husband both tried together. Thank you ,please keep updating with these nice recipes.
You are welcome. Glad to know! Thank you. Yes sure will keep sharing
Can I use Tamarind Paste?
Yes you can
What should be the quantity?
It depends on how concentrated it is. You can add 1 tbsp first. Taste test and then add more towards the end.
Hi, can you please share recipe for millet bisi bela bath
Could you please repost the one-pot method (instant pot)? I made that several times & my family loves it. I started preparing it today and then couldn’t find the old recipe so it has been a bit of hit and trial. Hoping it turns out fine.
I have added it back to the recipe card. Hope that helps. Thank you
Can I add vegetable of my choice , like radish and raw mango?
Not sure how it will taste with radish and mango.
Carrots, peas, beans, capsicum are the most common ones used
I added too much tamarind and now it tastes like tamarind only. Please help. What do I do now?
Bring 1 cup water to a boil and add more bisibele bath powder and some jaggery. Allow it to boil for a while and pour it to the bisi bele bath
Thank you so much for sharing this wonderful recipe..I tried it today,It turned out great.I added pumpkin to it as well..Many thanks.
Glad to know it turned out good. Thanks much for the comment!