Thursday, January 30, 2020

My Memoirs of Masale Bhaat

When I was a kid, I used to eagerly wait for marriage invitations to my grandmother so that I too could attend the ceremonies with her - the major draw being the delicious food served on such occasions. At that age, I used to tag her everywhere that she went, be it some kitty party of hers (they used to call it bhishi..remember anyone?)  or any other social function.

Well, coming back to the main point, I used to love eating at these Maharashtrian weddings in the lates 80s and 90s when food was still served in a pangat* and not as a buffet. The feast used to be a truly authentic local Maharashtrian taat*. In our Indian culture, food is not just a means to satisfy one's hunger, it is a culinary science to nurture ones' body and a artistic feast for our senses as well. Take a look at the taat below to understand what I mean.

First to be served on the taat was a piece of lemon, salt, chutney, pickle and koshimbir (salad/raita) on the left side. This was followed by some fried items like papads, and batata bhajis.  Paatal bhaaji (gravy vegetable), sukhi bhaji (dry vegetable, usually boiled potato), usal, tomato saar or amti (dal) would be served on the right. A delicious combination of varan, bhaat and sajuk tup would be served in the centre to be eaten first. This was followed by other main courses like puris or polis (roti), masale bhaat , taak or mattha (buttermilk) served one after the other, ending of course with desserts like jilebi or shrikhand. This used to be the usual menu in those days and utterly lip-smacking it used to be!

*Pangat - A row of people sitting down for a meal
*Taat - Plate.

Credits: This Thali pic is from Hotel Shreyas in Pune for a visual representation of my description above




Masale bhaat is a must in all the Maharashtrian traditional wedding or festive feasts.  It is a fragrantly spiced rice complete with vegetables like ivy gourd, peas, or mixed vegetables and can be had as a one-pot dish as well. Served with raita, papad, or tomato saar, it truly stands out as a festive meal. 

I was sorely missing the authentic masale bhaat for quite some time now. All the recipes that I tried to google online were close but never the one that I was looking for. However, I turned lucky soon after I moved to Pune. A few weeks ago, I visited my college friend, Mugdha, for a lovely lunch at her place and was quite wowed by the masale bhaat she had prepared. Its perfect texture, fragrance and spices all transported me to my good old childhood memories :)

Here is the recipe for Tondliche Masale Bhaat (Bramhani recipe - No-onion, No-garlic version):


Tondli ghatlela Masale Bhaat

Recipe for 2-3 people:

Ambe Mohar rice (or any other short grained rice. I used Indrayani) - soaked for 30 minutes - 1 cup
Tondli (ivy gourd) - thinly sliced, 200 gms
Goda masala (similar to garam masala) - 1.5 tsps

For the phodni/tempering
Oil - 1.5 to 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds - 1 tsp
Curry leaves
Asafoetida/Hing - a pinch
Haldi - 1 tsp
Chilli powder - 1 tsp or more as per your taste
Ginger - grated or finely chopped - 1 inch

Jaggery - to taste (can skip as well)
Salt - to taste
Water - 2-2.5 cups
Grated coconut & Chopped Coriander leaves - for garnish
Ghee - for serving

Method:

Start with tempering the oil with mustard seeds, hing and curry leaves in a pressure cooker or a heavy-bottomed pan. Do not skimp on the oil here in this step as it can make or break the dish. To this tempering add the haldi, sliced ivy gourd, ginger, chilli powder and fry it for a couple of minutes. Next, add the soaked rice and mix it well in the oil. Make sure the oil coats the rice grains well.

To this add water, goda masala, jaggery, and salt to taste. Cover the vessel and allow the rice to cook well. If pressure cooking, then give around 4-5 whistles to make sure the ivy gourd is cooked well.

Garnish with coriander leaves, grated coconut and serve it with home-made ghee and lots of love. Enjoy the simple deliciousness!










2 comments:

  1. Mouth is watering and as usual amazing narrative.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Shelza! I will make it for you when you visit me in Pune :)

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