Monday, January 14, 2008

Recipe: Bisi Bele Bhath

I have spent more time now in Karnataka than in my native Kerala that it would be unpardonable not to write about authentic Karanataka cuisine. What other recipe can be more authentic and originally Karnataka than the now world famous Bisi Bele Bhath? Bisi Bele Bhath in Kannada means hot dal and rice. It is simply that. Perhaps originally it was only hot rice and dal. Now it has progressed to a complete filling meal with dal, rice and all sorts of vegetables.
In our earlier years in Bangalore, we lived in a largely tambram area and hence did not have much contact with the native Kannadigas. The only bisi bele bhath we tasted were at the wedding receptions, which on those days were mostly conducted in dim choultries and food served on greasy plates. The bisi bele bhath served was too spicy for us and hence I never attempted to learn the recipe. Moreover our handsome and charming younger son never liked the food served on such occasions, so much so, even before we set out, he would ask us, “are they serving food in banana leaf or kozhakozha plate(greasy plate)”. So most of the time if it were kozhakozha plate, we just came away for our curds rice at home. It was only after I knew my best friend Veena, who is an authentic Kannadiga to the core, that I got to taste the delicious homemade bisi bele bhath and ever since it has become a favorite of not only of all at home but of all our guests also. They often say,”The bisi bele bhath served at the hotels is so spicy, your bisi bele bhath is very tasty”.
Here then is the recipe for the bisi bele bhath masala powder. It may be made in advance and kept in air tight jars so that bisi bele bhath can be prepared in a jiffy any time.
Ingredients for the masala:
Dhania: 100gms
Red chillies : 100gms
Chana dal(Bengal gram dhal): 100gms
Urad dhal: 100gms
Dry copra: 100gms
Cinnamon : 10 gms
Marathi moggu: 5 pieces
Cloves: 1 tsp.


Dry roast all the ingredients except copra separately (as each one will turn pinkish at different temperatures) to a pink color or until a nice aroma emanates from them. Grate the copra and add to the fried ingredients. Grind to a fine powder and store in air-tight jars.
The quantity of red chillies may be increased or decreased according to personal taste.
Making of Bisi Bele Bhath
Bisi Bele Bhath is a very versatile dish and any vegetable can go into it. Though many people don’t use ladies fingers and brinjals (which would turn mushy when cooked) I would say any vegetable would add that extra taste to it. So use any vegetable you like.

The following quantity will suffice for 6 servings.
Carrot: 50 gms
French beans: 50 gms
Green peas: 50gms
Knol khol: 1 small
Cauliflower: few florets
Potato: 1 medium
Double beans: 50gms
Cabbage: 50 gms
Chayote : 50gms
Tomato: 150 gms
Curry leaves : few sprig
Coriander leaves: few
Fresh coconut: 2 tbsp.
Tamarind : marble size or
Tamarind paste: 1 tsp.
Fresh ground nuts: 2 tbsp.

Rice : 1cup
Toor dal: 1 cup
Bisis bele bath powder: 2 tbsp.
Turmeric powd: 1 tsp.
Jaggery : 20gms.
Salt to taste
For garnish
Ghee: 1 tbsp.
Mustard seeds: 2 tsp.
Red chillies: 2 nos.
Cashew nuts (optional) : few
Hing : 1 tsp.
The whole meal can be prepared in a pressure cooker in one go. That’s how I do it.
Soak the ground nuts in water for 2 – 3 hours. Wash and Chop all vegetables to 1” squares. Shell peas and double beans. Wash and drain the rice and dal.
Soak the tamarind in ½ cup of warm water.
Unlike the other “mixed rice preparations” the bisi bele bath should be well cooked and should be in a semi solid consistency.(kozhayae in tamil).Accordingly add 3 cups of water for each cup of rice, 2 cups of water for each cup of dal and one cup of water for each cup of vegetables.
Boil water according to the above proportion in a pressure cooker and add all the vegetables, soaked ground nuts, rice, dal and turmeric powder and close the pressure cooker. Put the weight on when steady steam comes out of the weight valve and cook for 3 whistles. (I usually reduce the heat at the first whistle and allow another whistle in reduced heat and switch off the stove).
Allow the pressure cooker to cool. Open the lid and check if the rice is cooked well and there is enough water content. If not add one more cup of water and boil, adding the jaggery, bisibele bath powder and salt. Extract the juice out of soaked tamarind and add to the boiling rice. Add half the ghee also to the mixture. Boil for 5- 10 mnts stirring well taking care not to burn the contents (this happens because the contents are very sticky). Add the fresh coconut gratings. Switch off the stove and add a few springs of curry leaves.
For garnishing:
Heat the remaining ghee in a pan. When the ghee is hot, add the hing powder, mustard, cashew nuts, broken red chillies and few curry leaves. When the mustard stops spluttering and the cashew nuts turn to a pink color, add the contents to the prepared rice. Garnish with finely cut coriander leaves .
Serve with chips, papad or vadam

Enjoy Pongal with Bisi Bele bhath.



Sumitha said...

Ammupatti I guess these pics are copied from your blog

Mansi said...

This is the most difficult kind of rice for me to cook:) but my husband loves I need to give it a try:)

Ammupatti said...

Thanks much Sumitha

I have taken up the matter with eastern spices.

Happy sankranthi

Ammupatti said...

Hi Mani Desai

It is very simple.Prepare the masala in advance. Cut your favorite vegetables and cook bisi bele bhath in a jiffy.

Happy cooking!

Anonymous said...

Dear Mami,

I am a big fan of your blog and appreciate all the thought and effort that you put into it. I have not attempted any recipe so far as we are Kerala Iyers and the traditional recipes are similar to how we cook at home. I love reading about the history behind our traditions and learn some thing new every time I visit your blog. It also makes me feel very nostalgic because Ammupaati was what we called our beloved great grand mother.

Please continue your terrific service to the younger generation.



Aparna Balasubramanian said...

A Very Happy Pongal to you and your family.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ammupatti,

I'm a 25 year old malayalee girl who is also your namesake. I just stumbled across your blog today and absolutely loved it. I'm trying to talk my MIL, a telugu Brahmin, into doing something similar for us. Thank you for the inspiration.


Ammupatti said...

Hi anonymous

Best wishes for your endeavour.

Anonymous said...

Dear Ammu Patti,

Looks Delicious... One question - what is Marathi Moggu?


Ammupatti said...

Hi Sindhu

Will taste delicious also.

Marathi moggu is a type of spice, which looks a little bigger than a clove.

Anonymous said...

my dear ammupatti
you ven't mentioned how much tamarind and how much groundnuts in your recipe. please enlighten

Vidhya said...

Whenever I read your blog, I remember my patti. She belongs to Nochur (palakkad Dist.) She used to tell me a lot of stories about her life in Nochur. If time permits visit my blog and leave your comments. Here I am posting the receipes of my patti and my Mother in law, which I tried

Ammupatti said...

Hi Kayen

I suggest you read the blog again

Ammupatti said...

Hi vblogger

I shall certainly visit your blog.

Best wishes

Anonymous said...

hello dear ammupatti
i followed ur advice and re-read the recipe. sorry for the last comment. actually that the day i was reading it in a hurry coz i had a fast reader sitting next to me.

Anonymous said...

Dear Mami

i just read your bisi bele bath recipe. i would like to share this with you - the colours of the various vegetables used is bright when you just cook it in an open pan and not in a pressure cooker. whenever i tried to cook using the pressure cooker i had to list out the vegetables to my husband. They became so soggy.

My husband is from palakkad and i am from thanjavur. So its always been difficult with the food. We always have arguements about the difference in food styles. Now i know where to look up and clarify my doubts.


Ammupatti said...

Hi Chitra

Happy and peaceful cooking now that you know where to look up when in doubt.

The trick to get the vegetable cooked crisp in a pressure cooker is by controlling the time of cooking.


Anamika-The Nameless said...

Thanks for your recipe. I tried it and it worked!! I like it when I have recipe like a chemistry lab expt. There are measures given accurately and you just put them together!! :)

I find umpteen sites giving 100,000recipes!!some of them are really crap! I have a problem with consistency and feel the necessity to stick to recipes which gave accurate methods and measures!

thanks for your recipe once again!

Unknown said...

It is impossible, I believe, to get "Marathi moggu" in USA (and India!). It's described as looking like a vanilla bean, with lots of little black seeds in it (though tastes bitter). Is there any other spice we could substitute?

Ammupatti said...


I do not know about USA, but it is available in India, especailly in Bangalore, where I live. Vicky had written sometime back that it is known as Caperbuds.I would always say that if that is not available, you can still prepare tasty bisi bele bhath with all the other ingredients. Non-availability of a single ingredient has never been a deterrent to me in my day to day cooking.

Happy cooking!

Anonymous said...

Hi Ammupatti,

My husband loves Bisisbelle bath from the indian veg restaurant. But my son has coconut allergy and he likes this one very much. So I would like to know if i substitute some roasted nuts, will it give the same taste?

Thank you very much, Smitha.

Gayathri said...


Thanks for the amazing bisi bele bath recipe. I also love the rest of your blog; it brought back wonderful memories of my childhood when we used to celebrate deepavali and pongal. I hope you continue to write prolifically.
Best wishes.

Ammupatti said...

Hi Gayatri

Thanks. I shall try.

Happy Pongal

Poornima Magadevan said...

Thank you for the nice recipe. My husband loves bisi bele bhath. Your mix idea will come handy. Can you please tell me how long can I preserve the mix? I would make it based on how long I can store as I make this dish atleast once a week. Love your blog. It has helped me gain good appreciation from my husband. Thank you mami.

Ammupatti said...

Hi Poornima
If you follow the procedure correctly the mix can be stored upto 4 months in room temperature and upto a year, if refrigerated.

Happy cooking!

Poornima Magadevan said...

Thanks Mami. Do we get Marathi Moggu in Chennai?

Ammupatti said...

I am sure it must be available in Chennai as well.

Kavitha said...

Hi Ammupatti,

Just stumbled upon ur piece on Bisi Bele Baath. Nice write up :) Although I'd have to disagree with you on one thing! You mentioned that adding any vegetable gives it a special taste. I do not think so. Ridge gourd, cauliflower, cabbage, etc all make it taste like a regular rice and sambar. for it to have a special Bisi Bele Baath feel, keep the vegetables to a bare minimum, ideally beans, tender peas, onion, tomato, very little potato etc. The higher the number of vegetables, more difficult it is to really enjoy the flavor of BBB :)

Preetham said...

eDwibahshi's Japa Puspa is prepared from over fifty ayurvedic herbs, spices and minerals, that are enriched with abundant benefits that boost immunity, making it a powerful herbal remedy
hibiscus flower powder