Steamed in Rice or ‘Bhaaté’

In Bengali, mashed steamed vegetables are called ‘Bhaaté. The term literally means ‘In Rice’. It must have originated because very often these vegetables were traditionally steamed in the same pan in which the rice has been cooked. Mashing these steamed vegetables – assorted vegetables or any particular vegetable along with a dash of Mustard Oil or Ghee (Indian clarified butter), the Bhaaté creates a delicious and a healthy accompaniment to plain white Rice and Daal (lentils). Bhaaté or Mashed Vegetables of Aloo/Potatoes, Kumro/Pumpkin, Ucche/Bitter Gourd etc are very popular. Add to the Mash a bit of chopped green chillis or onions, may be some fresh coriander leaves, a little dash of Mustard Oil and a bigger dash of Kasundi, a pungent mustard sauce used as a dipping (specially for another Bong favourite – Fish Fry)  and a quasi side-dish is ready!

Bhaaté is also called Makhaa (literal meaning – squashed or mixed) but I prefer to address by the former as the latter meaning connotes a lot of mess. Bhaatés make me absolutely nostalgic. I have got the strongest holiday memories of Bhaatés. When we would return from vacations and holidays and my Mum would be too tired to stir up anything in the kitchen, she would just steam a whole lot of vegetables and put the Daal/lentils (usually Masoor or Moong Daal) in a soft white cloth and tie it up and cook them all along with the Rice. Occasionally, she would put eggs into the crowd as well for boiling. And our lunch would be plain Rice, Daal, vegetables and the boiled eggs – all mashed up with a pinch of salt and dollops of butter or a generous spoonful of Ghee! The simplest recipe and the simplest meal – but absolutely divine.

Well, I am so glad today that ‘take-aways’ or ‘home-deliveries’ were not in fashion in those days and my Mum had to stir up something even when we came home tired. I am not a selfish or an inconsiderate daughter. Just thinking whether my childhood memory of a topic like Baahté would at all exist had there been such frequent ‘take-aways’ or ‘home-deliveries’ when I was growing up!

Our 2 year long stay in Germany has made me realise that you can have an entire blog dedicated to Potatos. Though Potatos do play a very important role in Bengali Cuisine, it’s not a topic for mass hysteria as it is in Germany. Hence the Bong Aloo Bhaaté with some add-ons would always satisfy my German friends as I would introduce the dish as their very own Kartoffelpüree in der bengalischen Weise gekocht (mashed potato cooked in the Bengali way)!

Following are the characteristics of all recipes doling out of our little hands, big hearth
♥ Easy to cook
♥ Regular canned products off the shelf may be used (However, we advocate using fresh products)
♥ Goes well both as a regular or party dish
♥ Children can easily help in making the dish (My two little sous-chéfs are aged 8 and 3 years!)
♥ And lastly, guaranteed to be tasty!

As I re-create the Mashed Potato Bengali Style/ Aloo Bhaaté with French Mustard Paste in the age of Microwaves and French Fries…

Mashed Potato Bengali Style/ Aloo Bhaaté

Category – Vegetarian Side-Dish ; Cuisine type – Bengali Fusion

For the printable recipe→

Serves 1-2 persons

Preparation time – 20 minutes (microwave -10 minutes; mashing, garnishing and the additional frills – 10 minutes)


1 Big Potato

For Garnishing
Mailler’s Moutarde D’Ancienne/ Mustard Paste – 1 tbsp (You may use less if you don’t like the pungent mustard paste but definitely do use a Mustard Paste which has these seeds and is not a smooth paste)
Freshly grated coconut/ dessicated coconut – 3 tsp
1/2 Onion – sliced
Coriander leaves – 1 bunch, finely chopped (you can reduce/ increase the amount as per individual preference)
Mustard Oil – 1 tsp
1/2 Green Chilli (optional) – chopped finely
Salt as per taste

The journey as captured by my camera, starting with the ingredients…

Boiled Potatos, Freshly Chopped Coriander leaves, Sliced onionsMustard Paste, Mustard Oil, Green Chillis, Dessicated CoconutMustard Paste, Mustard Oil, Green Chillis

Method of Preparation

– Boil the Potato (Takes about 5 minutes in the Microwave for 1 Potato but do make sure that it is covered with enough water so that the boiled potato doesn’t become hard-crusted)
– Hand-mash the Potato, do not purré in the blender (we want this coarseness!)
– Add Mustard Paste, Mustard Oil, onion slices, grated coconut, chopped green-chillis (optional) to the mash and mix it further
– Make the mash into a mini Potato ball
– Roll the Potato ball slightly over the grated coconut

My endless experiments of photographing this journey can be found here.

Both the Z-SISTERS love the part where we are making the Potato Balls. I tell them stories of how Big Z used to make snowballs from all the snow lying on our terrace when we lived in Germany. Here living in Dubai I cannot replicate that snow (until and unless we pay through our nose and visit Ski-Dubai, the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East and that too inside a shopping mall!) but we could at-least add the ball-making experience into my Middle-Eastern Moments. So what if there’s no snow ball – there’s always a Bengali’s Aloo Bhaaté or a German’s Kartoffelpüree or a Frenchman’s Purée de Pommes de terre to do the honour. But remember – no throwing at each other – leave that job to the snowballs!

Unblogging it all… Ishita

Other Recipes 
Cumin Beetroot Cold Salad – A Summer Salad
Mango Lentil Soup/Aam Dal – The Summer Combat
Daal Maharani Befitting the Queen (And Also Us)
Sikarni Raan/Marinated Lamb Shank from Yak & Yeti
Purple Haze Yoghurt With Purple M&Ms
Easter Egg Curry Cooked By Easter Bunnies!
Icecream Rasgulla with Blueberry Sauce Inspired by Holi

Written by IshitaUnblogged

A Culinary Travel Blog by a Bong Gourmet. From Dubai, Kolkata & the world beyond, street food to fine dining, recipes to chef talks, it pens down experiences. With 2 kids in tow!


    1. Ya Malou – you should try. I am very fond of Filipino food – especially crazy about Bikol Express, Torta, Mutton Caldaretta. Infact Bengalis make lots of preparation with some green leafy vegetables which I think you call ‘Alugbatti’ (spelling I’m not sure). And soon I’ll add a typical Bengali dish prepared by Filipina hands…:)

  1. I think it’s time bangla cuisine goes international. U r doing it ishita. Really feel proud. The variety of spices involved is mindboggling. Especially for veg items- mustard, cumin, onion seeds, methi, five spices and what not.

    1. Hey thanks. Traditional Bengali cooking is pretty cumbersome and may not be palatable to everyone. hence am choosing simple ones which can be molded to different palates. I do want to present them in a very international way. Hope I succeed…Fingers Crossed!

  2. Such an awesome post about a similarly awesome side dish like ” aloo bhaate” !!! Only you can achieve such a feat🙂
    I stay wid two roomies and alas moms not here to cook for me. So aloo bhaate is wat saves my soul a number of times. Bhat, dal and aloo bhaate! Wat else does one need on a hot , summery day?

    1. Wow! So you must be a real expert in making Aloo Bhaaté. Why not turn into gourmet by adding some extras here and there? And if you manage to tell ‘the story so far’ I can always add those suggestions. And call it the Soul Mash this time as it has saved your souls so many times… what say?

      1. hmm.. well sometimes for variation, what i do is fry the mashed potatoes in mustard oil along with cumin seeds, onion and red chiilies (those dry ones)..or green whatever.Of course then I do not add Kasundi. Have you ever tried that??

    1. Thanks so much. So did you post the ‘Vortha’ recipe – will check ASAP… am looking forward to some recipes ‘opar banglar’! My in-laws are from Bangladesh and I get surprised by what my Mum-in-law turns out… will drop in soon and go through more of your posts as well:)

  3. Well done Chhotai. Despite my deep devotion to alu Bhate I could never imagine such research work. Keep up the good work!
    Buddha mesho…

    1. Budha Uncle – I feel so houred that you read my posts and infact feel very proud that you enjoy reading them as well. Never in my dreams did I think that you’ll read about Aloo Bhaaté and enjoy that as well.

      If I have to make Bengali Cuisine palatable to all, we have to take the easiest ones which already has many other variations in other countries and cultures… and some research work then has to go in. ki bolo?

    1. Actually my Uncle also commented saying as a child they used to have this ‘choka’ a lot when they were kids – strange that in Gujrati as well as Bengali the terms are even same. Again, nothing surprising as Gujrati cuisine is quite similar in many ways to Bengali Cuisine – specially the sweet factor!!!

  4. Ishita – this looks to wonderful to be this easy! I love the simplicity and how it can be altered based on how many you are feeding. Economical too. Wonderful!

    1. Now we are heading towards a very nostalgic path. After I posted this on Facebook I was a bit skeptical about my friends – an article on Aloo Bhaaté(???) – but would you believe that this post garnered more attention and interest than any other post I’ve ever done (amongst friends). The Rice has to be ‘Gobindabhog’ etc etc – stirred up quite a lot of emotions and nostalgia it seems:)

      1. i can imagine the reactions of non- bongs on bhaate?? wen i was wrking in a BPO, me and a bong frnd of mine were discussing about bong foods and we took a long breath everytime we took an authentic bong cuisine’s name! even the simplest food and most found in any bong household – baigun bhaaja was described by us as if its the best thing one can ever have! actually it is! anyway, back to the incident! a trainer heard our conversation and asked me about the bhaate! i had to explain her everything! she actually said, “you’ll eat it??” i was furious! being a typical bbong, i had to prove that even an alloo bhaate can be very very very tasty, i made her some, bought it to work and gave the entire dabba to her! she relished it to the core! n there was my point in proving! bong food is tasty even in the simplest form! God! i have actually wriitten a mini blog-post here!😛😛

        1. I can imagine… let’s see how the simplest dishes can entice people to Bengali Cuisine. I really don’t profess to have the best and authentic recipes – for me the journey to capture a moment or strike some nostalgia is more important… BTW loved the interaction… Next few posts have nothing to do with Bengal… hope that doesn’t deter you from dropping in:)

          1. i am definitely dropping in cuz like any other bong, i am quite fond of good food, travel experiences and creative writings! and m sure of getting either of it in the next few posts if not Bengal!😛

  5. Wow, your post reminded me of my mom’s lazy days too😉
    I love aloo makha (I use the other word since that’s how we say it at my home). In fact whenever it is prepared at home we both (my sister and I) use the makha to create castles and other sculptures first before our mom shouts at us to eat the thing and not play with it. We have grown up but our hearts remain child-like.🙂

    1. Ria – just couldn’t write about the creative things that we too used to make with this makha! Wasn’t sure whether readers who are not aware of the stuff will understand the sentiments… you bring back lots of memories – we also used to make round small balls – each representing individuals – named ‘Oga’, ‘Boga’, ‘Khoga’… hope am not humiliating myself in the blogosphere!

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