Oats Bisi Bele Bath/Spicy, Savory Indian Oats Recipe

Oats Bisi Bele Bath is a healthy twist to the traditional dish from the state of Karnataka (in south India).  Typical bisi bele bath is a spicy lentil-rice-vegetable risotto like mixture, flavored with a special masala powder called bisi bele bath powder (readily available in Indian stores or you can make your own). Adding oats instead of rice raises the nutrition level of this exotic and aromatic rice dish a notch.

The first time I had tasted this most loved rice dish from Mysore and Bangalore area in Karnataka was during my stay in Denver, Colorado.  During the 70s and 80s, the Indian community in this beautiful city of Denver in picturesque Colorado was very small.  Being originally from Mangalore, Karnataka, we generally socialized with people from that state, generally called “Kannadigas”or sometimes “Kannada Koota”.

The menu at most of the dinner parties we attended had typical food from Karnataka; rice with saaru (tomato based soup usually eaten with rice), mosaranna (yogurt rice), some Indian flat breads with a spicy Indian curry, maybe something deep fried like Aloo bonda (spicy mashed potato fritters) or masal vadai (lentil fritters) along with the quintessential main dish with rice, Bisi Bele Bath!

I still remember the huge bowls of steaming hot spicy bisi bele bath with lots of vegetables and crunchy nuts in every bite. I fell in love with it instantly, not so my husband, although he did eat it then. After our return to India and with a few years of fun times in New Delhi, we finally settled in Mysore only to realize that bisi bele bath is the most revered dish here!

Initially, I used the ready made bisi bele bath powder easily available locally, but then finally got around to making my own.  Most of the spices, you will have in your pantry and making this fresh masala powder is so easy, you will never use store bought again. Ever since then, my husband enjoys this nutritious one pot dish often and now I have made different versions of it using poha (flattened rice) and now oats instead of regular rice.

I am sure lots of you do consume oats regularly for breakfast as a healthy beginning to your day, but have you tried it in any savory dish like oats bisi bele bath for lunch or maybe in a dessert like oats payasam/kheer or even in a cookie like oats and dates cookies?  With oats, lentils and lots of vegetables, it is a complete healthy and nutritious meal in itself along with a salad, plain yogurt or some crunchy potato chips on the side.

Do try this south Indian gem of a dish (with no onions and no garlic) and I am sure you will love this healthy option as also the simple rice based bisi bele bath. Vegans can omit the ghee used and use only oil.

Let’s get to the recipe:

Oats Bisi Bele Bath/Spicy, Savory Indian Oats Recipe

Oats Bisi Bele Bath/Spicy, Savory Indian Oats Recipe

Ingredients

    Ingredients for bisi bele bath:
  • 1 cup oats
  • ½ cup toor dal/yellow lentils/pigeon peas
  • ¼ cup chopped carrots
  • ¼ cup chopped green beans
  • ½ cup cauliflower florets
  • ¼ cup fresh green peas
  • 3 tablespoons bisi bele bath powder (recipe below)
  • 2 teaspoons tamarind paste/or a lemon sized tamarind soaked in water
  • ½ teaspoon turmeric powder
  • ¼ teaspoon hing/asafetida
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves
  • 2 tablespoons oil
  • 2 to 3 tablespoons ghee/clarified butter
  • Salt to taste
  • Ingredients for bisi bele bath powder:
  • 3 tablespoons coriander seeds
  • 2 teaspoons urad dal
  • 2 teaspoons chana dal
  • 2 teaspoons jeera/cumin seeds
  • 4 to 5 cloves
  • 4 to 5 marathi moggu
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 2 to 3 pieces cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon methi seeds/fenugreek seeds
  • ½ teaspoon hing/asafetida
  • 5 to 6 dry red chillies
  • ¼ cup grated coconut
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves

Instructions

    To make bisi bele bath powder:
  1. In a large saucepan, dry roast all the spices (except coconut, red chillies and curry leaves) on a medium low pan for about 3 to 4 minutes till lightly roasted and you get a nice aroma. Keep aside.
  2. In the same pan, roast the coconut, red chillies and curry leaves for a few minutes till the coconut is lightly browned.
  3. Mix both the spices and coconut mixture and make a fine powder in a coffee grinder or blender. Keep aside. (This can be stored in the refrigerator for about a month or in the freezer section for up to 3 months).
  4. To make the oats bisi bele bath:
  5. Cook all the cut vegetables in a pressure cooker (for 2 whistles) or in a saucepan with plenty of water.
  6. Pressure cook toor dal for 3 to 4 whistles till soft and well cooked.
  7. Roast the oats in a dry saucepan for a few minutes on medium low heat (this prevents the bisi bele bath from becoming sticky after cooking).
  8. Squeeze and extract tamarind pulp from the soaked tamarind; keep aside.
  9. Now, in a large saucepan, heat oil and 1 tablespoon ghee. Once they are hot, add the mustard seeds. As soon as the seeds start to splutter, add curry leaves and hing.
  10. After a few seconds, stir in the cooked vegetables along with the water in which it was cooked, turmeric powder, salt to taste and cooked dhal. Squeeze the tamarind pulp to get tamarind water; add this tamarind water to the mixture. If you are using tamarind paste, add it now.
  11. Mix well and once it comes to a boil, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of bisi bele bath powder and give it a good stir. Add more water if necessary.
  12. Now, when the vegetables and spices are well mixed, and the mixture comes to a boil, add roasted oats and stir well. Add about more water (about 1 cup) and give it a good mix.
  13. Do a taste test and add more tamarind, salt or bisi bele bhath powder is needed.
  14. Stir in 1 tablespoon of ghee and mix well.
  15. For additional crunch, roast few cashew nuts or peanuts in a little hot ghee and add to the oats bisi bele bhath. Mix well.
  16. Serve hot savory, spicy, south Indian oats bisi bele bhath with additional ghee along with potato chips, boondis (crispy deep fried chickpea batter balls), curd etc.
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How to make Bisi Bele Bath with Step-by-Step Method:
To make the bisi bele bath powder:

  • In a large saucepan, dry roast all the spices in a saucepan (except coconut, red chillies and curry leaves) on medium low for about 3 to 4 minutes till lightly roasted and you get a nice aroma. Keep aside.

  • In the same pan, roast the coconut, red chillies and curry leaves for a few minutes till the coconut is lightly browned.

  • Mix both the spices and coconut mixture and make a fine powder in a coffee grinder or blender. Keep aside. (This can be stored in the refrigerator for about a month or in the freezer section for up to 3 months).

To make the oats bisi bele bath:

  • Soak tamarind in 1/2 cup of water for about 20 to 30 minutes.

  • Cook all the cut vegetables in a pressure cooker (for 2 whistles) or in a saucepan with plenty of water.

  • Pressure cook toor dal for 3 to 4 whistles till soft and well cooked.

  • Roast the oats in a dry saucepan for a few minutes on medium low heat (this prevents bisi bele bath from becoming sticky after cooking).
  • Squeeze and extract tamarind water from the soaked tamarind; keep aside.
  • Now, in a large saucepan, heat oil and 1 tablespoon ghee.  Once they are hot, add the mustard seeds.  As soon as the seeds start to splutter, add curry leaves and hing.

  • After a few seconds, stir in the cooked vegetables along with the water in which it was cooked, turmeric powder, salt to taste and cooked dhal. Add extracted tamarind water to the mixture.  If you are using tamarind paste, add it now.
  • Mix well and once it comes to a boil, add 2 to 3 tablespoons of bisi bele bath powder and give it a good stir. Add more water if necessary.

  • Now, when the vegetables and spices are well mixed, and the mixture comes to a boil, add roasted oats and stir well.  Add more water (about 1 cup) and give it a good mix.

  • Do a taste test and add more tamarind, salt or bisi bele bath powder as needed. Cook for about 3 to 4 minutes till it is well cooked and soft.
  • Stir in 1 to 2 tablespoons of ghee and mix well.
  • For additional crunch, roast few cashew nuts or peanuts in a little hot ghee and add to the oats bisi bele bath. Mix well.
  • Serve hot savory, spicy, south Indian oats bisi bele bath with additional ghee along with potato chips, boondis (crispy deep fried chickpea batter balls), curd etc.

  • Enjoy!!

I am sharing this with: #FiestaFriday  |  #Funtastic Friday  |  #FoodFriday  |  #SaucySaturdays  |  #RecipeoftheWeek

For more south Indian dishes, try:

South Indian Lemon Rice

Vangi Bhat/Brinjal or Eggplant Rice

Coriander Semia Pulao/Coriander Vermicelli Pulao

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