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
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…
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
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