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Bisibelabath in Instant pot

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Bisi-bela-huli-anna – translated literally means hot lentil tamarind rice. This is a very popular dish from Karnataka state of India. It is offered as a main course and quite a wholesome dish. The dish has several steps and I remember it as a delicacy when my mom used to make it while we were growing up. It usually showed up probably once in 3-4 months due to the elaborate process. With the advent of Instant pot, I was able to reproduce this dish with simpler steps without compromising on its unique flavor profile. First off this dish is made with white rice and Tuvar dhall or Pigeon peas. I modified it and used Brown rice, quinoa and Tuvar dhall in equal proportions. Instantly you bring the carb content down and also increase the protein content. Red rice can also be used, adjust water according to cooking instructions. A variety of vegetables is used and these include potato, carrot, green beans, peas, sweet potato and eggplant. By using a large quantity of vegetables the overall health benefits of this dish is further enhanced. My attempt is to keep the ratio of vegetables and grains the same. Use your favorite combination of vegetables but sticking to traditional ones retains the taste authentic. Seasoned with fresh ingredients such as garlic, ginger, green chillies, cilantro and curry leaves – you can see how the dish is very aromatic and appetizing. One of my favorite ingredients to use off late has been fresh turmeric root. Available just like ginger, I shred it and use it in a lot of Indian recipes. The unique flavor is simply divine. Sesame oil is a must for this dish which is liberally used. The dish is cooked completely in the Instant pot as a one pot meal. The freshly made seasoning powder is added at the end of the process and served hot. The consistency of the dish will be similar to kichdi or risotto. As it cools down, it will thicken. This dish can be made quite spicy and I like to serve it with a mixed vegetable yogurt sauce or raitha and something crunchy like plaintain chips. Ofcourse chips should be treated as an indulgence !

This dish also freezes very well and I always make double batch and freeze for a cold winter night supper.

Dont let the process or the number of ingredients scare you from trying out this dish. Once you attempt it, trust me, you will find this a go-to dish for a complete one pot meal. The seasoning powder can be made in advance and also stored in the pantry for couple of months.

Variations –

1. I use tamarind paste which is readily available in Indian stores. Some of my favorite brands are Lakshmi and Splitz. These pastes are cooked so can be used as is. If you are using fresh tamarind and juicing it, adjust the water proportion accordingly .

2. Spice mix – If in a hurry I use readymade Sambar powder in the place of fresh spice powder, it comes out almost the same. One brand which is very good is MTR Sambar powder. I am ofcourse pampered and my mom makes and sends it from India !

3. In the ingredients list 3, not all of them are necessary, make this dish with even 1-3 items and it will all work out fine.


Bisibelabath recipe


1. To season in oil –

  • Seasame oil – 10 tsps
  • mustard seeds – 1 tsp
  • channa dhall – 2 tbsps
  • red raw peanuts – 2 tbsps

2. Herbs and such –

  • Onion – 1 small chopped
  • Garlic – 1 pod chopped
  • Ginger – 1 inch piece shredded
  • Green chillies – 2 finely chopped (I used 1 habenaro)
  • Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
  • Pepper blend – 1/2 cup

3. Carbs and proteins –

  • Brown rice – ½ cup
  • Quinoa – ½ cup
  • Tuvar dhall – ½ cup

4. Vegetables –

  • Potato, carrot, green beans, peas – finely chopped – total 2 cups
  • Tamarind paste – 2 tsps

5. Spice seasoning – Roast and Powder coarsely –

  • Coriander seeds – 1 tbsp
  • Channa dhall – 1 tbsp
  • dried red chillies – 3
  • Cinnamon stick – 1 medium size
  • Cloves – 4 pieces
  • jeera, black pepper, methi seeds – ½ tsp each
  • Asafoetida powder – ¼ tsp


  1. Start Instant pot on Cooking mode and set at 30 minutes – each pot works differently so follow your pots directions.
  2. Add all the ingredients in list 1 and fry till mustard splatters.
  3. Add ingredients list 2 and fry for 2-3 mins.
  4. Next add ingredients list 3 and 4 and mix well. Add 4.5 cups of water. Add 2 tsp of tamarind paste. Season with salt.
  5. Put the Instant pot on pressure cook and cook for 20 minutes.
  6. Let it cool down after timer is done for another 20 minutes.
  7. Meanwhile dry roast the ingredients in list 5 and grind coarsely after cooling.
  8. Open the Instant pot carefully after ensuring pressure has subsided completely. Add the spice powder little by little and mix well until well incorporated. Add few more tsps of Seasame oil if needed and mix well.

3 thoughts on “Bisibelabath in Instant pot”

  1. This time of year, life moves at lightning speed. It seems to be the nature of the season- a gradual revving, building towards the holidays. Days become shorter, colder and our appetites change as well. We start to crave cozy, heartier, comfort food recipes, warming both body and soul. I love this recipe because it satisfies all your winter cravings while nourishing the body with healthy vegetables. And this luxurious vegan recipe tastes even better the next day!

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