Panta Bhat is a delightful fermented rice dish from Bengal. Firstly, regular rice is cooked and its starch is removed. Then, the rice is soaked overnight to ferment, resulting in the delicious Panta Bhat.
Panta Bhat for sure is the food item for discussion now (when I am writing this piece). I have thought to write about this delicacy over the years and captured different pictures as well in the due course. However, I always wanted this particular write-up about Panta to be special, as special as the dish itself. Maybe that is why I have waited all these years.
Panta Bhat, the international sensation
This piece is thanks to Kishwar Chowdhury, a well-known figure in the culinary world. With her successful breaking of certain myths surrounding Masterchef Australia and culinary culture, she has gained much recognition. Cooking Bengali comfort food on such a prestigious platform takes courage, especially when it is being prepared for the finale. Her selection of dishes, particularly Panta Bhat (Bengali fermented Congee), has sparked much conversation. This dish is also known as Pokhala or Ponta bhat in Odisha, Poita bhat in Assamese, and a similar dish can be found in Kerala, known as Pazhan Kanji.
There are those who believe that Kishwar's dish is too simple for a show like Masterchef. This has resulted in the creation of memes about her choice. However, I ask, why not embrace our own culture and cuisine? Why not highlight lesser-known dishes? Kishwar did just that and her bravery deserves recognition.
Common People's staple food
Panta Bhaat is the go-to food for the masses, made by fermenting rice. It is a beloved dish in India, particularly in West Bengal, Odisha, and Assam, as well as in Bangladesh. Not only is it delicious, but it is also loaded with essential nutrients and is perfect for consumption in the specific environmental conditions of these regions.
The cooking process
Panta Bhat is a type of fermented rice. We cook regular rice and then discard the starch. We soak it overnight to ferment. It is way more nutritious than normal rice. We serve it with basic Aloo Bhate (aloo chokha), Begun Bhate, or Dal Bora, Daal Bhate, or with Kochu Shak or with Ilish Mach bhaja or Ambol.
Common details about Panta Bhat
It is way more nutritious than normal rice. Rich in Iron, Potassium, Calcium, Vitamin C, and B, fermented rice is wholesome.
We prefer to use parboiled rice aka Shiddho Chaal instead of Basmati or another fragrant variety of rice. As termed as common people's food, normal rice needless to say the practical option to select. In addition. the fine variety would not help in the process of fermentation. Moreover, the fragrance is not something you need when fermented rice is having its special aroma.
It is. The ghoti clan (people who have their origin in West Bengal) cooks it on the night of Saraswati puja and it is served on the very next day as part of the Shitol Shoshti Platter along with Gota Shiddho, Postor Bora, and alur Dum.
On the other hand, Bangal Clan (people having their origin in Bangladesh) cooks it on the night of Nabami during Durga Pujo and it is served on Dashami along with kochur Shag and Ilish Mach Bhaja.
In the Muslim household as well, this is served on Nababarsha and during the iftar along with different kinds of Bhorta in both India (West Bengal) and Bangladesh.
Both are almost the same as rice is the main ingredient in making Panta Bhaat and Pokhala. In both recipes, rice is fermented. However, Pokhala is fermented with sour curd as well in Odisha (dahi pakhala) while we mostly ferment panta with water in Bengal
This food is ideal to beat the summer due to its cooling properties.
Panta Bhat, a traditional Bengali dish, is made by fermenting cooked rice. To prepare it, the starch is removed from the rice, which is then left to soak overnight. The end product is the comforting and delicious Panta Bhat.
To make Rice
- 200g Parboiled Rice (it is a variety of rice; here I am not referring to steamed rice as I am going to mention the process of boiling the rice below)
To make Panta Bhat
- Steamed rice
- 3 Green Chilis (optional)
- Take pafboiled rice (a variety of rice) and wash it thoroughly 2-3 times.
- Now discard the water and soak the rice in water for 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, bring 2 liters of water to a boil.
- Once the water started boiling, add soaked rice and fully cook the rice just the way you make steamed rice.
- Once done switch the flame off and discard the entire water while the rice is hot.
- Give the rice standing time to be at room temperature.
- Meanwhile take a clean pot and half fill it with plain water.
- Transfer the rice to the pot containing the water and mix thoroughly.
- Now cover it with a lid and place it at a hot pace for 8-10 hours.
- This time is needed for fermentation.
- While fermenting, you can add a few green chilies or a piece of tamarind to accelerate the process. This for sure is optional.
- Once fermetated, transfer the rice from the water to a bowl.
- Do not discard the water and serve it as a side dish.
- Heat 1 Tbsp. Mustard oil and fry 2 Red chilies along with a few cloves of garlic.
- Top the rice with the fried chilies, and oil, add a few green chilies, onion, salt and serve it cold.
- You can serve it with the options I have mentioned.
- Purchase parboiled rice to make the perfect Panta bhat.
- You need at least 8 hours to ferment the rice. Needless to say, plan ahead.
- Prep Time: 5 min
- Standing time: 8 hours
- Cook Time: 30min
- Category: Main
- Method: cooking
- Cuisine: Bengali
- Serving Size: 125g
- Calories: 166
- Sugar: 0g
- Sodium: 5mg
- Fat: 66g
- Saturated Fat: 10g
- Carbohydrates: 35g
- Fiber: .5g
- Protein: 50g
- Cholesterol: 0mg
Keywords: Panta bhat recipe, bengali panta bhat, debjanir rannaghar
Bengali Comfort food recipes
- Potol Bata aka Potol Bhate
- Begun Pora
- Aloo Posto
- Aloo Potol Diye Macher Jhol
- Shukto a Bengali delicacy | Bengali Mix-veg Shukto Recipe
- Mangshor Jhol (also known as Bengali light Mutton curry)
- Aloo Gosht Recipe (Bengali Muslim style)
- Postor Bora | Bengali Poppy Seed Fritters
- Gota Sheddho
- Shorshe Bata Diye Macher Jhal (also known as Bengali style Fish in Mustard-based Curry)
- Kumro diye Ilish Macher Jhol (also knwon as Hilsa fish curry with Pumpkin)
- Kacha Aamer Ambol (also known as Amer Tawk)
- Chingri diye Pui Metuli Chorchori
Have you tried the Bengali Panta Bhat recipe from Debjanir Rannaghar!
Do let me know how it came out. Also, I would love to see a picture of the same which you can share here on email@example.com. Meanwhile, on Instagram, you can use my hashtag #debjanirrannaghar and in addition, you can tag me at @foodofdebjani.