Saturday, September 10, 2011

Masala Bhat (Indian Vegetable Rice)

As a carboholic I of course love me some rice. Now, I know I've spoken about how I love pasta, but rice was my first true love. From the time I was taking my first steps I already knew the rice water ratio of 1:2. I can't emphasize enough just how faithful I have been to rice. While occasionally I do like some versatility, I always come back for some rice. Rice has been there for me through the good times and bad. Ready and waiting for me after a rough day.  When people started talking bad about rice, blatantly stating it wasn't good for you and to only eat protein, I didn't listen to those naysayers. (Rice, I got yo' back!) Whether salty or sweet, whether plain or mixed with vegetables and nuts, I love you rice.

Ok, enough of my PDA with rice. Moving on.

Masala Bhat is an Indian dish common to the state of Maharashtra. From reading literature on the Internet, it is something commonly served at Maharashtrian weddings. (I never knew this!) If you have ever been to an Indian restaurant, it is similar to Rice Pulao, except that it has some different flavors. Growing up I ate this dish quite often. My mother would make different variations with different vegetables. That's one of the things that I love about this dish, I basically just use whatever vegetables I have on hand and there is always a full container of rice in the pantry. This is another one of those meals I make when I'm desperate to cook something and I haven't been to the grocery store. (I always have carrots, peppers and tomatoes in my fridge for times of crisis.)

Masala Bhat and I have had a tempestuous relationship. We've had some serious arguments. Sometimes they've gotten a little heated. You see, as I've said, I've known the rice water ratio all my life, but when you start adding vegetables into the mix, things start heating up, literally. I've often struggled with the amount of water to use. I've never had a written recipe for this, I just talk to my mom on the phone while making this dish. (Maybe this is where I went wrong?) Well, this past week, while talking to my mom on the phone, I learned where I went wrong. I was cooking the vegetables on high heat losing all the water I added, instead of cooking it on low heat and letting the vegetables release more'll get the gist of this when you read the recipe.

Bambino and I both love this dish. Hubby refers to it as Vegetable Biriyani (Another Indian rice dish), which I guess it basically is. I make it quite often for lunch for me and Bambino.

I have no link to an original recipe, but this recipe comes from my Mama, an authentic Indian cook.

1 Tablespoon vegetable oil (Most Asian foods don't use olive oil)
1 small onion, chopped
1 clove garlic, chopped
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon jeera powder (Can be substituted with 1/2 teaspoon cumin and 1/2 teaspoon coriander)
1 teaspoon grated ginger
1 teaspoon salt
1 carrot, chopped
1 green or red pepper, chopped
1 cup chickpeas (If using canned, about half a can)
1/4 cup cashews
1/2 cup rice
1 cup water
5 sprigs cilantro


1. Heat oil in a non-stick skillet on medium high. Add onions and garlic and saute until browned.

2. Add carrot, green peppers, chickpeas and cashews. Saute with onions and garlic.

3. Add turmeric powder, jeera powder (or substitute), ginger, and salt. Continue to saute.

4. Add 1/2 cup of water. Lower heat to medium low. Cover until vegetables are all cooked.

5. Add in rice and 1/2 cup water. Bring to a boil then simmer on low and place top. Cook until rice is cooked and all water is absorbed.

6. Cut up cilantro and place on top. (Thanks, anonymous commentator, I had forgotten!)

Tip: If you find that your rice is not cooked, but the water is absorbed, add 1/8 cup of water, bring it to a boil and then cover and simmer until water is absorbed. Continue doing this until rice is cooked. 

Note: You can put any vegetable you want in here. Sometimes I use cauliflower, green beans and even eggplant. It all depends on what is in the fridge. 

Amateur Cooking Difficulty Scale: 5
This is actually a pretty simple dish to prepare, but I've had some struggles with the water which is why I raised the score to a 5.

I recently found out that you can make this in the pressure cooker, so the next time I make this dish that's the technique I plan to use!

Update 12/1/2011: Just made the dish in the pressure cooker and it came out perfect in regards to the rice:water ratio. Definitely going to stick to making it in the pressure cooker!

1 comment:

  1. Yummy to my tummy.

    Taste good with ghee(butter), sprinkle some shredded cocoanut and cilantro.