Bharta, bhorta in Bengali, is the Indian mash. A popular side, and an equally popular main sometimes, bhortas feature on Indian plates fairly frequently. While aloo bharta and begun/baingan bharta rule the roost, there’s a bunch of other veggies and even meats used to make these easy, flavourful dishes.
Here are five such recipes with basic staples like eggs and chicken, and special buys like pork, prawns, bacon and shutki that finger lickin’ good!
“Sunday ho ya monday, roz khao ande” with this quick whip recipe that takes 15 minutes tops.
Boil and peel eggs. Finely chop onion, green chillies, tomatoes and coriander leaves. Grate the boiled eggs into a bowl, and add the chopped ingredients. Season with salt, pepper and a little bit of sugar to balance the flavours and give it a light-handed mix. Drizzle some lemon juice and mustard oil, and garnish with roughly chopped coriander leaves.
Tip: If you want to have the bharta as a salad, replace mustard oil with olive oil or a little melted butter.
Chicken and ‘chingri’ bharta
If you can’t choose between your love for chicken and for prawns, this one is the perfect dish for you.
Marinate boneless chicken pieces (breast or thigh) with salt and lemon juice, and pressure cook till you hear one whistle and the steam is completely released and drain the chicken stalk (make sure to save it for your soups!). Devein prawns and marinate them with salt, turmeric powder and red chilli powder. In a blender, add boiled chicken and prawns together with a few green chillies and grind to a smooth paste.
Heat mustard oil in a pan, add whole dry red chillies and let them splutter before adding finely chopped onions, ginger and garlic and fry until golden. Add the chicken-prawn paste and some lemon juice, and saute for five to seven minutes. Check seasoning and serve with hot rice.
Tender pork cooked in pungent mustard oil, packs a flavourful punch. If you’re looking for some hearty food, this one is for you.
In a pressure cooker, add chopped pork, preferably boneless so that it is easier to shred, along with a pinch of salt, cloves from one whole garlic, few green chillies, one tomato cut into halves, whole black peppercorns, one bay leaf, little mustard oil, grated ginger, and roughly chopped onions. Cook the pork, which usually takes three to four whistles, and drain the stock. Take out the bay leaf, shred the pork finely and set it aside. Make a spice paste with the garlic, ginger, chillies, peppercorns and tomatoes.
Finely chop onion, garlic, tomato and green chillies, and grate some ginger. Heat some mustard oil, add the spice paste and cook till the oil separates and floats to the top. In the hot oil, temper a few whole black peppercorns, dry whole red chillies and slit green chillies before adding garlic and some grated ginger. Saute, and add the onions, cooking them till golden brown. Add the tomatoes and the shredded pork, season with salt and sugar, add a squeeze of lime and cook on high flame for five minutes, stirring continuously, sprinkling pork stalk as and when needed. Lower the heat and cover, to cook for another 10 minutes, occasionally stirring. Check seasoning, garnish with chopped red chillies and some mustard oil and have the pork bharta with hot rice.
'Shutki' bharta with a twist
'Shutki maach' or sun-dried fish
Summer calls for a special mango twist on favourite recipes. This spicy shutki bharta with some kancha aam is sure to become a seasonal favourite
Blanch shutki of your choice in lukewarm water with a pinch of salt and clean it. Once blanched, roughly chop and set aside.
Finely chop onion, ginger, garlic, green chillies, dried red chillies and coriander leaves. Grate some green mango and squeeze the juice of a lemon and set aside.
In a kadhai, heat mustard and add chopped dried red chillies, ginger and garlic. Once the ginger-garlic is golden brown, add chopped onion and fry till golden brown. Now add the chopped dried fish, green chillies, salt to taste and grated unripe mango and cook on a high flame for three to four minutes, stirring continuously and then cover and cook on a low flame for eight to 10 minutes, occasionally stirring and sprinkling water to avoid burning. Once the ingredients are cooked, add the lemon juice, a sprinkle of sugar, and coriander leaves. Check seasoning and give one last good stir. Drizzle a little mustard oil as you turn off the flame. Serve piping hot with rice.
Bacon and potato bharta
Bacon and aloo, the two perennial favourites, come together in this smooth mash recipe that is a hug in a bowl.
Boil and peel potatoes before mashing them to a fine consistency. Add a pinch of salt, some ground or powdered black pepper, finely chopped green chillies and a drizzle of milk. Remember, the paste has to be smooth and not runny, and full fat milk tastes better for this recipe.
Peel onions and a few garlic pods, and brush them with butter, also do the same for a whole unpeeled tomato and some whole dry red chillies. Roast on an open flame and cool them before chopping as finely as possible. Mix together with the mashed potatoes, cover and let it rest.
In a pan, brush some butter and add the bacon strips. Cook them according to preference and chop. Add to the mash along with a squeeze of lemon and freshly chopped coriander leaves. Your aloo-bacon bharta is ready to eat with gorom bhaat.