Thursday, May 17, 2007

Masale Bhaat

by Priyanka posted at 5:32 PM 1 comments

Masale bhaat

Continuing with the Maharashtrian cuisine, here's the very traditional masale bhaat with veggies and coconut, courtesy of my mom. It is usually served with mattha (spicy buttermilk), tomato saar, kadhi (buttermilk curry thickened with gram flour and tempered with spices), or rassa bhaji (potato-tomato vegetable curry). Bhaat (rice) is an integral part of Maharashtrian food as is coconut. Depending on the region, you come from, the diet and use of spices varies. I remember how as a child, i used to hate anything with khobra (coconut) and kothimbir (coriander) in it. But these days, i hardly ever make a dish without the garnish. It gives a special flavor to the dish. Writing this recipe brings back fond memories of my early years in the U.S. I often visited a friend of my dad's, Ramesh uncle, in NY during weekends and holidays. He has an extended family of relatives and close knit family running business together- a very happy, wonderful family who never made me feel like an outsider. I still remember the first time i made masale bhaat and mattha for 20 people, afraid i would botch up. You see, i had never cooked for so many people and in someone else's kitchen too.They relished it the very first time and thereafter whenever i visited them, they would ask me to cook the same again. Whenever i make masale bhaat, i reminisce about the good old days and the fun that i had at their place.

I chanced upon this interesting information on the internet while researching about the gherkins. Gherkins, an integral part of masale bhaat were found in the Himalayas and first cultivated in India, from where its use spread to the other continents. Gherkins belong to the Cucurbitaceae family of gourds, squashes, cucumbers, pumpkin and melon to name a few. In the western world, a different larger variety is pickled to be relished with sandwiches.

Serves 4

2 cups of basmati rice
1 cup gherkins -sliced (tondli, tindora)
1 cup potatoes (cubed)
1/2 cup curd
1/2 tsp chili powder
1 tsp garam masala
3 cardamoms
salt and sugar to taste

For the tempering:
4 cloves
2 cinnamon sticks
1 bay leaf
2 tbsp ghee
6-7 diced cashews
10-15 raisins (optional)
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp turmeric
a pinch of asafoetida

For garnish:
1/2 cup fresh grated coconut
1/2 cup fresh coriander

1. Wash the basmati rice and mix it with 1/2 a cup of curd, chili powder, garam masala, salt, sugar and cardamom. Marinate it for 20-30 min.
2. Heat up ghee in a pressure cooker or a cooking pot. Add mustard seeds, and when they pop, add turmeric and asafoetida, cloves, bay leaf and cinnamon. Fry for a minute and then add cashews and raisins (i personally love raisins a lot, but you can omit it if you dont like it).
3. Add the gherkins and potatoes, saute for 2-3 minutes, add just a pinch of salt and then add the marinated rice mixture.
4. Add 4 cups of water (for every 1 cup of rice add double the amount of water) and cook it upto 2 whistles.
5. Garnish it with fresh coriander and coconut (a must for the masale bhaat- you cant omit it or you wont be able to enjoy the real flavor)

Comments 1 comments
Adhi Potoba said...

Somehow I only remember eating malale bhat at wedding lunches. And that, too, the sit down types. First a good blob of masale bhat followed by a spoonful of tup! Yummy!

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