One-pot meals were among the hottest pandemic food trends, but they’ve actually been around for ages. While a sensible one-pot quinoa meal can get you through busy work weeks, a dum-style biryani is one for long weekends. Bengali cuisine, too, has its share of one-pot wonders, which can be the ultimate comfort food. Who hasn’t enjoyed a bhaat ghoom after a plateful of phena bhaat or skipped work to feast on some steaming hot khichudi on a rainy day?
My Kolkata shares some age-old Bengali one-pot recipes that are delicious and easy to cook:
Phena Bhaat (or Bengali Rice Congee)
A hearty phena bhaat with a side of ghee or dollops of butter can be the start of a great day. During winter, this congee (or rice porridge) can be prepared with an assortment of seasonal veggies, but you can also make a simpler version with the all-season alu or some pumpkin.
Phena Bhaat is usually made with gobindobhog rice and it’s still a staple in many Bengali households. Throw in a boiled egg and you’ve got yourself the one-pot meal of champions.
- Gobindobhog rice: Half cup (or as per requirement/ remember the ratio of water and rice must be 1:2)
- Potato: 1 large, chopped into cubes
- Pumpkin: 4 medium-sized pieces
- Papaya: 4 small pieces
- You can add leafy veggies as well
- Put all the ingredients in a pressure cooker. Add salt and water. After a whistle, turn off the gas. Serve hot with ghee, butter and green chillies
Traditionally served in summer with a savoury side of alu chokha, some onions and green chillies — the paanta bhaat is cooked rice that is soaked in water and fermented. It is considered to be more nutritious than rice since it has more micronutrients.
- Cooked rice ( preferably sheddho chaal)
- Onion: 1 medium-sized
- Green chillies
- Ferment the rice in water overnight. Serve it with raw onion and green chillies
This one-pot wonder can brighten up a gloomy day in no time! Usually served with crunchy veggie fritters, alu bhaja or papad, the humble khichudi never disappoints.
- Sheddho chal: 1cup
- Masoor dal: Half cup
- Potatoes: 2
- Turmeric powder: ¼ teaspoon
- Green chillies: 3
- Mustard oil: 4 tablespoons
- Ghee: 1 tablespoon
- Onion: 2 medium-sized, chopped into big pieces
- Potato: 3 medium-sized, cut into halves
- Ginger: Paste/sliced, 1teaspoon
- Whole garam masala: 10 grams
- Bay leaves: 2
- Whole red chillies: 3
- Whole cumin seeds: Half teaspoon
- Cumin powder, coriander powder, turmeric powder: 1 teaspoon each
- Garam masala powder: 1 teaspoon
- Take rice and lentils in a bowl, wash in cold water a couple of times and soak for half an hour or more. Drain excess water. Heat a kadai or pressure cooker, pour oil and heat it on medium-high heat
- First, fry the potatoes in oil. Then add bay leaves, dry red chillies, cumin seeds and whole garam masala. As they pop up, add onions and fry. Add ginger. Next, add the rice and lentils and stir a little on medium flame. Add potatoes and stir. Then add the tomatoes and stir
- Add all the powdered masalas (except garam masala), salt and sugar and stir. Add green chillies. Add the required amount of water. Cook it for 20 to 30 minutes and stir it at regular intervals. For a pressure cooker, four whistles should work
- Add ghee and garam masala
Alternate method: You can also make khichudi with moong dal and atop chaal. Skip the onions and garam masala. You may add cauliflower and peas.
Bhate bhaat is a popular Bengali dish made with boiled vegetables and rice. The vegetables are boiled with rice or grilled on fire and are then taken out of the rice and mashed with either mustard oil or ghee. Other ingredients include onions, green chillies, and tomatoes or lemon juice.
- Potato: 1, big
- Ghee: 1 tablespoon
- Black pepper powder (freshly ground): Half teaspoon
- Salt to taste
- Pick the potato with a fork from all sides. Do not peel its skin. Add ghee, salt and black pepper powder and make a paste. Put this paste on the potato (make sure all the sides are covered properly). Take a bread grill and put it on the gas oven. Prick the potato with a fork and put it on the grill. Grill the potato evenly from all sides. When the fork comes out of the potato easily, it’s done. Mash it well and serve it with boiled rice
The rustic Khuder Bhaat is a much-loved meal in rural areas. It’s usually made with grains that get broken during the production of rice and are known as khud. Khuder Bhaat is usually made with potatoes, garlic and even some leafy veggies.
- Khuder chaal: Half cup
- Potato: 1 big
- Garlic: 1 full
- Palong shaak (spinach)/ laal shaak (red amaranth): 7 to 8 leaves
- Green chillies: 3 to 4
- Salt to taste
- Clean the rice and soak it for some time. Peel the potato and cut it into big dices. In a handi or kadai, add the rice and all the vegetables including the whole garlic. Add salt and water. After the rice and vegetables are boiled, serve it hot with some mustard oil. The garlic cloves are to be taken out after it is boiled and mashed into the rice