Paanta Bhaat | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 09, 2019 / LAST MODIFIED: 12:00 AM, April 09, 2019

Paanta Bhaat

What makes a dish of leftover rice soaked in water special?

A meal of leftover rice soaked in water overnight. Sounds familiar? Rice has been the staple food in many parts of the world, including Bangladesh, for so many years. In Bangladesh, paanta bhaat plays a huge part in the festivities of Pahela Baishakh.

The process is simple; you make the rice, and ferment it in water overnight. The next morning, it is served with salt, sliced onions, green chilies and a squeeze of lemon. On Baishakh, however, paanta bhaat is incomplete without a deep fried hilsa fish and few bhortas. This delicacy is served in an indigenous earthen plate known as the shanki. The best part of it is that it’s easy to digest.

How did eating leftover fermented rice become a thing? The old-timers will point towards necessity. In the absence of refrigerators, cooked rice was probably soaked in water; great for farmers in a hurry to get to their field. It is a time-honoured dish to feed to people suffering diarrhoea. The liquid is easily digestible, and the salt in it is good for you.

 

DEEP FRIED ILISH (BHAJA ILISH)

Ingredients

8 pcs Hilsa fish

1 cup onion, julienne cut

7-8 green chilies, slit

¼ tsp turmeric powder

½ tsp red chilli powder

½ cup oil

Salt to taste

Method

Cut and wash the fish properly. Take the onions, salt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, green chillies and oil in a pan. Rub well with your fingers. Pour some water on your fingers and carefully place the fish pieces over the onion mixture. Cook on very low heat for ten minutes. Turn the fish carefully and cook for another 5 minutes. Serve with paanta bhaat.

 

KACHKI MACCHER BORA

Ingredients

1 cup kachki fish

¼ cup grated potatoes

2 tbsp gram flour

½ cup grated onion

½ tsp grated garlic

1 tsp red chilli powder

½ tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp chopped green chillies

1 tbsp chopped coriander leaves

Salt to taste

Oil for deep fry

Method

Wash the fish properly. Apart from the oil, add all the ingredients to the fish and mix. Now heat oil in a pan, and deep fry the boras until golden brown. Serve it hot.

 

KUCHO CHINGRI BHORTA

Ingredients

250g shrimp

5 green chillies

3 medium sized onions, sliced

2-3 clove garlic, sliced

2 tbsp mustard oil

Salt to taste

Method

Clean and wash the shrimp. Let the water drain. Heat oil in a pan. Fry and transfer the fried shrimp onto a plate. In a same pan, add green chillies, red chillies, onions and garlic. Fry till golden brown and set aside. Now grind all the ingredients. Mix in the salt and coriander leaves. Mix well and serve.

 

DRIED FISH CURRY (SHUTKI BHUNA)

Ingredients

1 cup dried fish

1 cup onion, sliced

1 tbsp garlic, sliced

1 tsp red chilli powder

½ tsp turmeric powder

4-5 green chilli

½ cup oil

Salt to taste

Method

Clean and cut the dry fish. Wash properly with hot water. Heat oil in a pan. Add onions, garlic and fry them until brown. Then add red chilli powder, turmeric powder, salt and two tablespoon of water. Stir well cook for few minutes. Add dried fish, green chillies and little water. Cover and cook for 10 minutes or until all the water evaporates. Remove from heat and serve.

 

TAPIOCA LEAF PASTE (KOCHU PATA BHARTA)

Ingredients

250g kochu pata

1 tsp salt

3 green chilli

1 tsp kalojeera (fennel)

2 tsp mustard oil

Mustard seeds

½ tsp turmeric powder

Method

Remove the middle portion of the stem and cut the stem into small pieces. Cook the leaf with some salt. Cover it and simmer gently for 5-6 minutes. Now grind it into smooth paste with the kalojeera, mustard seeds, and green chillies. Heat oil in a pan and pour the paste. Add turmeric powder and salt. Stir continuously. Remove from heat when it starts to come together, and  serve hot.

 

Food prepared and photographed by Sobia Ameen

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