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
All thanks to Kishwar Chowdhury this piece is here. The lady who for sure needs no introduction at this point in time. The lady who very successfully break certain myths about culinary culture and for sure about Masterchef Australia. It takes courage to cook the epitome of Bengali comfort food on a platform like Masterchef Australia especially when the dish is being cooked for the finale. There has been a lot of talk about her selection of dishes and especially Panta Bhat aka Bengali fermented Congee. Bengali Panta bhat is known as Pokhala or Ponta bhat in Odisha, Poita bhat in Assamese. A similar dish is available in Kerala as well, known as Pazhan Kanji.
According to some, it is too plain for a platform such as Masterchef! Does it really? Memes are being made about her choice. I am asking why? Why not celebrate our own culture? Why not promote our own food? Last but not the least, why not come up with the underrated dishes? Kishwar Did that and I salute her for her courage.
Common People's staple food
Common People's staple food, Panta Bhaat is the fermented form of rice. In India (mainly in West Bengal, Odisha, and Assam) and also In Bangladesh this dish is the epitome of comfort food. This is loaded with nutritional content and ideal for eating in the specific environmental zone we live in these particular areas.
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 the 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 being 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 being 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 the recipes, rice is being 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.
- Total Time: 8 hours 35 minutes
- Yield: 2 Portions 1x
Panta Bhat is a comforting Bengali of fermented rice. We cook regular rice and then discard the starch. After that is soaked overnight to ferment.
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)
- 2 Green Chili
- 2 Lemon Wedges
- 2 Onion
- 2 fried dry chili and the oil used for frying the chilli (Option 1)
- 1 bowl Aloo Chokha / Aloo Bhate ((Option 2)
- 5-6 Daal Bora ((Option 3)
- 2 Ilish Mach Bhaja (Option 4)
- 1 Bowl Kochu shager Ghonto (option 5)
- 1 bowl Daal Bhorta (option 6)
- 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.
Avinash Patnaik says
Nice write up on Panta bhata & its cultural significance but please do a research about other cuisine as well pakhala is Odisha is also rice fermented in water ...dahi pakhala is another version among various versions of pakhala that's being served in a odia household
I think you haven't read it properly. Pakhala is mentioned there and the cooking process as well.
Chaudhury Shoaib says
Excellent presentation ...
M Singh says
It is really disappointing to see that after kishwar's presentation of panta bhat in master chef Australia, all the news paper has started addressing it as bengali panta bhat. And after some years it will be declared as bengali food. Where the truth is the idea of panta bhat has been borrowed from odisha by Bengali people. If you will go through the history, this fermented rice was introduced in Lord Jagannath temple of Puri Circa 10th cen. I wish there will be no battle on fermented rice between Odisha and other states. It really hurts the sentiment of Odisha people when news will reportedly mention it as bengali panta bhat.
How about reading a bit more and getting your facts right? It will not harm you in long run (hopefully). Panta bhat for sure is Bengali, Pokhala is not :).
Prakashbir Sen says
PANTA BHAT ALSO SERVED ON THE LAST DAY OF BHADRA MONTH,THAT DAY IS CALLED ARANDHAN,GENERALLY IT FALLS ON BISWAKARMA PUJA. IT IS CELEBRATED BOTH GHATI (WEST BENGALEES) AND EAST BENGALEES.IT IS NOT MENTIONED.
Thanks for letting me know. will update the post. Though I am a Ghoti, Arandhan has never been part of the customs at home.
Sumita Choudhurry says
Thank you Debjani. Splendid as always. Good ref for gen ahead .