Friday, November 21, 2008

Bisi Bele Bath, an essay

Bisi Bele Bath is mouth watering delicacy, typically prepared in the south Karnataka region. Not to say, only prepared here, but this full-of-wonder delicacy originated from south Karnataka region. The delicacy because of its mouth watering powers has moved away from the origin and can now be seen around in all corners of the world.

The literal translation of the name would sound something like “Hot lentil cooked mix”. For westerners and easterners (meaning to the east of India, people live there also.), who probably thought this some kind of a “Bath” as in “the daily activity of watering our body”. It is not!!! This “bath” is a Kannada term which means some sort of a “cooked mix”.

As the name suggests, the dish has to be served hot and savoured hot in a hot afternoon of summer to appreciate the finest elements of the dish. Bisi Bele Bath is made by cooking rice, lentils, some vegetables (any) with a very special masala (grinded mixture of spices) all at one go. Yeah!! All at one go. It just doesn’t sound simplistic explanation of how it is made, It is that simple. Even the spices used are very easily obtained and the masala can be prepared quickly.

It seems, Bisi Bele Bath was invented for the purpose of what cooks term as “Quickie”. Whenever a cook, (for those guys who are thinking house wives, think modern!) doesn’t want to put effort to prepare a dish. He just puts everything in a vessel and cooks Bisi Bele Bath. Simple!!!

No! No! No! Never get disappointed and say, “Oh! This is another quickie, I have seen them all”. No mates, this is what makes the dish special. Though it’s a quickie, the “balance of spices” and the mix, is so special that any person in the world will invariably love this. This provides such a height of sensual pleasure while eating, which can just be equalled by another well known quickie.

Bisi Bele Bath is one of the rare dishes, which touches the sensitive spots of all the pleasure points of the body. To explain a few,

Tongue: The mix of masala, rice, vegetables and lentils creates a bubbling water effect on the tongue. The chemical composition of masala is such that, the taste mixes with the liquid in the tongue and stays mixed for atleast 2 hours. This is unless, you do not do the stupidity of drinking coffee in between.

Nose, eyes, skin: The hot (as in hot) and hot (as in spicy) Bisi Bele Bath, typically creates an effect at the bottom of the nose. This in turn, runs water down the nose. The effect is also transported to eyes, which makes them water as well. The same effect is also reflected to the roots of the skin cells. This pushes the skin to water as well. This well rounded watering of all senses in the face is typical of good “Bisi Bele Bath”. Some of the blessed souls even say “No other dish creates this effect” and twirl there tongue in a funny way. The learned and knowledgeable seers have termed this as "Bisi Bele Bath" effect. It seems, the whole seer community of the ancient India couldn't relate the effect to anything else, and hence decided to name the effect after its creator.

Ears: The hot and hot spice effect is also propagated to ears. This increases the blood flow to the ears, and creates a pleasure paralleled by only one other activity under the sun.

For getting the best pleasure, Bisi Bele Bath needs to be had on a hot summer day in tropical climate. For the best effects, Bisi Bele Bath should always be had with minimum of one Spoonful of ghee sprinkled on the dish.

You might be already thinking! (If not? Start thinking now.) Where do you get this wonderful sensual stuff? Where you get good Bisi Bele Bath depends on the place, caste, religion, age, energy, money etc. etc. For the benefit of the general people, will try to explain the hierarchy of the best Bisi Bele Baths.

Top 1: Madhava Brahmin, a sub-sect in the Brahmin caste is uniquely known in this world for there ability to cook mouth watering Bisi Bele Bath. The cooks of the Madhava Mutts (sub-sub-sect grouping area) have the best balanced recipe of this delicacy. It has been kept as the best secret in the Mutts from time immemorable. Needless to say further, go find a friend who is Madhava Brahmin and force him to celebrate any occasion in the Mutt.

Top 2: Mavalli Tiffin Room, MTR, which is restaurant, has the next best Bisi Bele Bath in the world. If you start thinking, oh! A restaurant, an easy find. Guess what? It is not an easy thing to get an after seat for lunch in this restaurant. But the knower will always say, "for Bisi Bele Bath, any amount of hard ship you go through is worth the effort".

Top 3: Any restaurant/fast food in the south Bangalore area would be provide you with a very standard Bisi Bele Bath.

Top 4: Get yourself invited for lunch in any of the “Karnataka” family. Its worth to have a friend just for Bisi Bele Bath.

Top 5: Ready made mix of MTR brand Bisi Bele Bath is available in most general stores in India and all Indian stores abroad. You just need to micro-wave it for having the delicacy.

Heil the pleasure of Bisi Bele Bath!!! Long Live Bisi Bele Bath.

-- Madhukar Hebbar


Anonymous said...

Though I liked the "Madhva" bias (Top 1: Madhava Brahmin), I was unable to appreciate the "South Bangalore bias (Top 3: Any restaurant/fast food in the south Bangalore area), for the finding Bisi Bele Bath. I have nothing against South Bangalore but am pretty sure this fine dish is available all over Bangalore (Urban and Rural) and probably even at different places outside Bangalore in Karnataka.

Last but not the least: a mouth water blog post indeed!!!

Prasad said...

3 points.
1) 'Bath' is not cooked mix. It means Rice and is applicable through out India east or west
2) The lines on nose watering and all the anatomy around it was gross and distasteful
3) the best BBB you would find in Hotel Ramprasad. Offcourse you need to be there before 11am on tuesdays else its no more Besi

Keep Walking!

VidyaShankar Harapanahalli said...

Good mouth watering artcile :-) May your romance with Besi Bele Bath and other well known thing... may lost long :-)

VidyaShankar Harapanahalli said...

Hebbar, as I told you, your BBB reminded me the famous essay by George Orwell - A Nice Cup of Tea. Here is link to the article :

Keshava said...

Hmmm, en Maga, Bisi Bisi BBB thinthaane ee article baredyaa hege:-), truly mouth watering. Even I like BBB 2 the core.

Madhukar Hebbar said...

As usual thanks for all your comments and love for the article :-)

Sudhakar said...

idanna vodtha iruvaga naaligeyalle neeru barta ittu. WOW

Hmmm Nice Article hebbar.

ITS ALL TIME Favourite for all of us..

Critic said...

Bisi Bele bath is my favorite dish. My wife knows this and whenever we are invited for lunch/dinner by any close friends/relatives, she calls them to prepare Bisi bele bath :-)
And another interesting trivia is I am an expert in preparing bisi bele bath. In USA, my friends used to visit my home just to eat bisi bele bath prepared by me.

Ananda Teertha said...

not to forget the contributions made by Rayara matas in making this recipe the most preferred one.

for me the best BBB's are @ Vyasaraja Mutta in a gandhi bazar and sriradaraja mutta @ raghavendra colony and @ MTR.

still remember how we ate on the way to chikmagalur, courtesy Mayya