Speaking to Sneha Saikia a few hours ago, both of us agreed there were so many things to be learned from the cuisine and culture of lesser known Indian states, but which are usually ignored by most of us in favour of the familiar. During the conversation, we stumbled across Poita bhat, an Assamese/Bengali/Bangladeshi summer favourite, and I confessed I’d never eaten it, but had wanted to do so for a while. After hanging up, the vision of a bowl of poita bhat lingered on such that I had to make something similar for lunch. Here’s the summer rice dish Cherie and I ended up eating for lunch.
When you’re making and eating this, ensure the stock is diluted; it mustn’t take away from the dish as a whole. Also, do remember to chill all the ingredients. The fun part about this dish is, it uses absolutely no oil, is refreshing (chilled plus lemon, mint and cucumber), has loads of texture (cucumber, leaves, chana) and a spot of intense flavour should you wish it (pickle). Add a green chili and you should be set!
Cherie and I enjoyed every morsel and felt satiated without any heaviness at all. Do tell me how it turned out!
Chilled Summer Rice Bowl
- Rice, boiled, drained and chilled.
- Dal, boiled, drained and chilled.
- Cucumber, peeled and diced.
- Mint leaves, washed, chopped and chilled.
- Coriander, washed, chopped and chilled.
- Chana, boiled, drained and chilled.
- Lemon, halved.
- Gongura or other pickle.
- Chicken stock, diluted and chilled.
- Mix a measure of rice and half a measure of the dal, place in a bowl.
- Mix the cucumber, mint, coriander and chana. Place at one side of the bowl.
- Smear a bit of the pickle on the side of the bowl.
- Place the lemon along the side of the bowl; to be squeezed over prior to eating.
- Pour in some chilled chicken stock, till you can see it.
- Serve your summer rice bowl chilled.
- Replace the chicken stock with vegetable stock or other liquid you find refreshing, diluted and chilled jaljeera for instance. Remember to dilute whatever you use, else the dish won’t come together.
- A dash of mustard oil will give it a little more character.