Instant Pot Bisi-Bela-Huli-Anna (Spiced Tamarind Lentil Rice)

Srilatha Main Dish, South Indian Leave a Comment

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BisiBelaHuliAnna
Bisi-bela-huli-anna is a signature dish of Karnataka cuisine. I have split the name to explain what it means. In Kannada (language spoken in the state of Karnataka), bisi means hot, bela means lentil (paruppu/dal), huli means tamarind/puli, and anna means cooked rice. The name pretty much gives you the recipe in a nutshell! It's a wholesome dish that has starch, protein, fat, and vitamins in the form of vegetables. Since I started using the Instant Pot, this has become a much simpler dish as it involves just one, at the most 2 (to fry the spices and toast), pots to wash. This is an involved recipe and the list of ingredients could be intimidating at first, but if you plan and get organized, it really is a simple dish to make and enjoy for a couple of days! On to the recipe now!
Course Main Dish
Cuisine South Indian
Prep Time 15-30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Base: Grains and Legumes
  • 1 cup rice, such as basmati I typically use white basmati, feel free to sub with millets or brown rice
  • 1/2 cup toor dal plus a pinch of turmeric powder
  • 1 small lime sized Tamarind pulp soak in warm water
  • 3 tsp Salt
Spices To Roast And Grind To A Paste
  • 2 tbsp toor dal or toor and chana dal, combined
  • 3 tbsp coriander seeds/dhania + 1 tsp fenugreek
  • 2 inch piece cinnamon stick + 5 cloves cinnamon and cloves are a must in this recipe
  • 1 pinch kalpasi optional ; See notes
  • 3-4 pieces marati moggu optional; see notes
  • 1/2 cup fresh/frozen, thawed coconut
  • 8-10 dry red chilies use less or substitute with kashmiri chilies for less heat
  • 1 sprig Curry leaves
Tempering
  • 1 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Hing
  • 1/4 cup raw or dry roasted peanuts
  • 1-2 dry red chilies
  • 3 tbsp ghee or ghee+oil mixed
Vegetables
  • 2 cups assorted, chopped vegetables Almost any vegetable can be used (except maybe broccoli)
Course Main Dish
Cuisine South Indian
Prep Time 15-30 minutes
Cook Time 20 minutes
Servings
servings
Ingredients
Base: Grains and Legumes
  • 1 cup rice, such as basmati I typically use white basmati, feel free to sub with millets or brown rice
  • 1/2 cup toor dal plus a pinch of turmeric powder
  • 1 small lime sized Tamarind pulp soak in warm water
  • 3 tsp Salt
Spices To Roast And Grind To A Paste
  • 2 tbsp toor dal or toor and chana dal, combined
  • 3 tbsp coriander seeds/dhania + 1 tsp fenugreek
  • 2 inch piece cinnamon stick + 5 cloves cinnamon and cloves are a must in this recipe
  • 1 pinch kalpasi optional ; See notes
  • 3-4 pieces marati moggu optional; see notes
  • 1/2 cup fresh/frozen, thawed coconut
  • 8-10 dry red chilies use less or substitute with kashmiri chilies for less heat
  • 1 sprig Curry leaves
Tempering
  • 1 tsp Mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp Hing
  • 1/4 cup raw or dry roasted peanuts
  • 1-2 dry red chilies
  • 3 tbsp ghee or ghee+oil mixed
Vegetables
  • 2 cups assorted, chopped vegetables Almost any vegetable can be used (except maybe broccoli)
Instructions
  1. To start, measure all the spices and ingredients. Start with the dal in the Instant Pot (IP), with 3 measures of water, and a pinch of turmeric.
  2. Extract tamarind juice from the pulp, to make roughly two cups
  3. Start with the toor dal in the IP - I cook it for about 15 mins under pressure (sealed), then release the pressure - to do this, using a stick/ladle, turn the valve into vent position quickly, away from your face. Once it releases the steam, the IP can be opened safely. Dal:water in 1:3 ratio, with a pinch of turmeric powder.
  4. While the dal is cooking: Get the vegetables ready - shallots, carrots, beans, wash and soak the rice in water to immerse it
  5. After releasing the pressure, open the IP, add the vegetables, tamarind extract, rice, salt, and water. Ratio of rice:water 1:3, add about 1 cup of water for vegetables.
  6. Cover, select "Rice" setting on the IP display, cook in sealed position
  7. While the rice is cooking, toast the masala ingredients in a bit of oil: start with cinnamon, cloves, kalpasi, marati muggu if using, and then add the dal, fenugreek, coriander seeds, and chilies, and finally coconut. Cool and blend into a thick paste adding a bit of water as needed
  8. Open the IP after releasing pressure, add the ground masala, and cook without sealing/pressure for about 5-7 minutes to let the flavors be absorbed
  9. Open, and temper as usual! Bisibela in one pot (except for roasting spices and tempering) is ready!
Recipe Notes

Grains: I have given the recipe using white/basmati rice. You may substitute with millets of your choice such as pearl millet, or quinoa. Or use half and half (rice + millets) to make it healthy, while not feeling deprived of rice.

Vegetables: Feel free to use any combination of vegetables you may have on hand. My most favorites are shallots and drumsticks (moringa stem, not the leaves), as they both impart a lovely flavor to the dish.

Kalpasi: This is a kind of fungi that's used a lot in Chettinad cuisine. It's not easily available in the US. I found it in Bangalore.  I have also made it without this spice for years, but using it definitely adds a flavor dimension.

MarathiMoggu:

Another spice that I only found in Bangalore in any store, I love adding this to this as well as my vangibaath. But you can make it without it as well.

This is indeed a wholesome,  one-pot meal that incorporates all the food groups and is a crowd pleaser. Easily scalable (just increase everything proportionately using this as a base to serve 4-6 people), it's a great main dish for parties.

My recipe is a blend of tips and tricks I learned from my Kannadiga friends, my mom, and cousins. If you do make it, would love to see photos of it!

Instant Pot Recipe - Updated:

I have not included detailed instructions for pressure release and settings on the IP. If you're used to cooking in IP, you most likely know how to do all that. A separate post on IP may be posted if needed, but there are thousands of IP usage instructionals on the interwebs. I didn't want to reinvent the wheel 🙂

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