Made with rice, lentils, a spice blend, vegetables and a tempering, Bisi Bele Bath in Karnataka is a delicious one-pot dish with a rich history. Nutritious and loaded with flavours from authentic Karnataka cuisine, Bisi Bele Bath is a must-have staple. Here’s everything you need to know about the dish.
Indians are known for their love of grains like rice and one-pot dishes like Khichdi. But while Khichdi is a household staple many enjoy eating, Bisi Bele Bath from Karnataka—its more underrated but flavour-packed counterpart—deserves to be equally celebrated. A traditional rice-and-lentil one-pot dish from Karnataka, Bisi Bele Bath is now popular not only in its state of origin but also across the country and the world. Simple, yet loaded with flavoursome ingredients, Bisi Bele Bath in Karnataka should be a staple across India just like Khichdi is.
Here is everything you need to know about Bisi Bele Bath in Karnataka and beyond.
1. Introduction to Bisi Bele Bath
Bisi Bele Bath in Karnataka is a blend of rice, lentils, aromatic spices and vegetables in a single pot, making it a balanced and nutritious dish rich in protein, fibre, essential vitamins and minerals. To call Bisi Bele Bath in Karnataka as comfort dish wouldn’t be an understatement as no matter what your mood or health status, you can easily eat and enjoy this dish. Bisi Bele Bath is made quite like Khichdi in the sense that the rice and lentils are first cooked together until soft. A Bisi Bele Bath powder is then used to add flavour to the dish.
What makes Bisi Bele Bath even more alluring is the fact that no matter what the season, you can always tailor the dish to include seasonal vegetables. From beans and peas to carrots and bell peppers, all vegetables you have access to can be added to Bisi Bele Bath in Karnataka. Many people also add cashew nuts and peanuts to add a bit of crunch to the dish. The addition of regional ingredients like tamarind pulp, curry leaves and mustard seeds also adds to the flavour of the dish. In short, Bisi Bele Bath in Karnataka is not just a one-pot dish but a reflection of the region’s cultural and culinary diversity.
Video Credit: YouTube/Hebbars Kitchen
2. Exploring the Types of Bisi Bele Bath
Bisi Bele Bath is a traditional rice-and-lentil dish from Karnataka that has been around for centuries now. Today, there are many varieties of Bisi Bele Bath in Karnataka and beyond. Here are some such types of Bisi Bele Bath that you should know about.
Traditional Bisi Bele Bath: This classic version of Bisi Bele Bath is prepared by first cooking the rice with peanuts and spices, the toor dal with water and turmeric powder and then adding an assortment of vegetables, Bisi Bele Bath powder and a tempering of mustard seeds, curry leaves, asafoetida, cumin seeds and chillies in.
Temple-Style Bisi Bele Bath: Bisi Bele Bath in parts of Karnataka is also served as a temple offering or Naivedhyam to the gods. Made without onions, garlic and other Tamasic ingredients, this Bisi Bele Bath is loaded with dry fruits and nuts and very few vegetables.
Mysore Bisi Bele Bath: In the Karnataka city of Mysore, Bisi Bele Bath is prepared in a slightly sweeter and less spicy way. The use of ghee to add richness to the dish is also rampant in Mysore Bisi Bele Bath.
Bengaluru-Style Bisi Bele Bath: In the capital city of Karnataka, Bengaluru, Bisi Bele Bath is also prepared with less spices and chillies to ensure that the dish can be enjoyed by a wide range of people. As a cosmopolitan city, Bengaluru’s customization to Bisi Bele Bath makes absolute sense, especially since many tourists are also introduced to the dish while here.
Tamil Nadu-Style Bisi Bele Bath: In the neighbouring state of Tamil Nadu, Bisi Bele Bath is often prepared with the same range of rice, lentils and vegetables. But, the tempering used here often includes chana dal, urad dal along with the curry leaves, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and asafoetida.
3. Techniques Behind Authentic Bisi Bele Bath
At first glance, Bisi Bele Bath is a simple dish made of rice, lentils, vegetables, a spice mix and a tempering. However, making an authentic bowl of Bisi Bele Bath involves mastering a number of techniques. Here are some such techniques behind Bisi Bele Bath.
Cooking The Rice And Lentils: Unlike in a Khichdi, the rice and lentils for Bisi Bele Bath are cooked seperately and then mixed together to create the perfect consistency according to an individual’s taste preferences. Often, peanuts are added to the rice while cooking, while turmeric powder and salt is added to the Toor Dal.
Preparing Bise Bele Bath Powder: The unique spice blend of Bisi Bele Bath powder lends it with authentic tastes and flavours. Spices like dry red chillies, coriander seeds, cumin seeds, fenugreek seeds and black peppercorns are dry roasted and then ground to a fine powder to make this spice mix which can be stored away.
Cooking The Vegetables: When it comes to the vegetables added to Bisi Bele Bath, it is always recommended that you go with seasonal produce. Vegetables like carrots, beans, peas, tomatoes and capsicum are usually added to Bisi Bele bath. Adding cashews, raisins and peanuts can also add a bit of crunch to the dish.
Tamarind Pulp: Did you know that apart from having spicy notes, Bisi Bele Bath also has an underlining dash of tanginess derives from tamarind? Tamarind pulp is usually added to Bisi Bele Bath after the rice, lentils and vegetables are mixed together to add a hit of sourness.
Tempering: The traditional and delicious tempering of oil or ghee, mustard seeds, cumin seeds, asafoetida and curry leaves is usually added on top of the Bisi Bele Bath. Many people also add dry red chillies to this tempering.
4. Bisi Bele Bath's Historical Connection to Karnataka
Bisi Bele Bath in Karnataka literally translates to “hot lentil rice”, and while the exact origins of the dish are debated, it is commonly regarded to have been around for centuries in the region. According to historian KT Achaya, Bisi Bele Bath is probably a variation of a dish called Kattogara from 10th Century, which was made with rice, ghee, salt and garlic. Others believe that Bisi Bele Bath was born in Mysore Palace as an easy-to-digest meal with cashews, dried coconut, mustard seeds and cinnamon.
It is also believed that Bisi Bele Bath originally did not have any vegetables added to it. Instead, the Mysore royals ate it with a side of vegetables. However, as the dish travelled beyond Mysore Palace and reached the common man’s kitchen, the addition of vegetables was popularised by farmers who had access to the freshest produce of the season. No matter what its exact roots, Bisi Bele Bath is a symbol of Karnataka cuisine’s rich history and culture.
5. The Aromas and Tastes of Bisi Bele Bath
A one-pot dish prepared with rice, lentils, unique spices, seasonal vegetables and a delicious tempering, Bisi Bele Bath in Karnataka offers a symphony of aromas, flavours and textures, making for an enticing sensory experience despite being a very simple dish. At first glance, Bisi Bele Bath may seem like just another variation of Khichdi to you, but the aroma of the tempering made of curry leaves, mustard seeds, cumin seeds and asafoetida sets it apart immediately.
A single bite of Bisi Bele Bath in Karnataka proves that instead of a mushy mess that Khichdi can usually turn into, this one-pot dish is more al dente thanks to the addition of fresh vegetables. The subtle tang of tamarind and the heat of the Bisi Bele Bath spice powder makes it even more alluring as a dish. A simple dish that does not necessarily require any sides but is always elevated by poppadoms and pickles, Bisi Bele Bath is a must-have for those in Karnataka and beyond.
6. Bengaluru's Top Bisi Bele Bath Spots
Want to taste Bisi Bele Bath while in the capital city of Bengaluru? Here are some top spots to try out Bisi Bele Bath in Bengaluru.
Mavalli Tiffin Rooms, Indiranagar: This eatery with multiple branches across Bengaluru is known for its authentic South Indian and Karnataka cuisine dishes, including a plate of mild yet delicious Bisi Bele Bath. The place is always crowded, proving just how popular the food here is.
Veena Stores, Malleshwaram: This standalone store in Malleshwaram is much-loved by locals for its delicious plates of Bisi Bele Bath and other local favourites like idli and chutney, medhu vada and khara bath.
Halli Mane, Malleshwaram: Another Malleshwaram eatery known for authentic South Indian dishes, this place makes incredible Bisi Bele Bath in a traditional setting. Served on banana leaves and enjoyed with ghee on top, this one is a must-have.
Palmgrove, Mahatma Gandhi Road: An old-school spot with a mean Bisi Bele Bath, this place is famed for more than this rice-and-lentil dish. All the Karnataka cuisine dishes here should be savoured with equal gusto.
Maiya’s, Jayanagar: Always packed with eager crowds of foodies, the Bisi Bele Bath at this eatery is a delicious treat. If you are here for a breakfast, then enjoy a traditional Bisi Bele Bath as well as other rice dishes here.
7. Bisi Bele Bath's Global Appeal
Bisi Bele Bath may have been born in Karnataka, but today, its flavours and popularity transcend the borders of the state and the nation now. Since Bisi Bele Bath is a nutritious, vegan dish packed with flavours, it is universally recognised as a comfort food of choice for people with all sorts of food preferences. What’s more, because it includes seasonal vegetables, Bisi Bele Bath can be easily customised to suit your needs no matter where in the world you are. A humble yet flavour-packed dish to eat, Bisi Bele Bath epitomised culture, heritage and nutrition in a single bowl.