There is something very calming yet exciting about strolling through a farmer's market on a beautiful Saturday morning. For me, that is. (My husband would probably tell you a whole different story). The spinach and herbs are reassuringly green. The apples are cream and red, the oranges are..well..orange. And there is this sense of everything being alright with the world. Watching an episode of the Daily Show/Colbert Report gives me the same feeling. But let me not digress..:) Nothing says Saturday to me better than picking a bunch of basil and mint and sniffing their unique 'greenness'. And sighing after sniffing.
And then the cooking.
Bhaath means 'cooked rice' and is a term commonly used in Karnataka, Andhra Pradesh and Maharashtra.
I think Bhaath differs from the (ubiquitous) pulao in that it allows for a more sludgy texture, unlike pulao which requires each grain of rice to be 'separate'..I have to admit, I started out thinking I was going to be making a green veggie pulao. But, since the only vegetables I had on hand were potatoes AND because, the potatoes took more time to cook than the rice, what was born was a more social, sticky dish which preferred to be called Aloo (potato) Bhaath
(adapted from Shilpa's recipe: http://www.aayisrecipes.com/2005/07/19/green-pulav/
1. Two medium sized potatoes (I used yukon gold potatoes), cubed (make them small, so they cook faster)
2. One onion sliced
3. Cilantro and mint leaves washed (I didn't really measure, but used enough to almost fill a small salad bowl- so maybe 1 cup of each)
4. 1 green chile
5. 2 bay leaves
6. A teaspoon of garam masala (you can use more or less)
7. A heaped teaspoon of chole masala (You can use any other powdered spices of your choice like corriander or cumin powder, as well. Or instead)
8. 2 teaspoons of oil (I used extra light tasting olive oil) and cumin seeds to season
9. two cups of rice (I used basmati rice)
Wash and soak the rice in water for 10 minutes. I soaked the rice and then proceeded to cut the veggies etc.
Grind the cilantro, mint leaves and green chile with a little bit of water to make a paste. Alternatively, you can skip grinding the chile and just chop it and use it while sauteing the onions. This will result in a less spicy dish.
Drain the rice.
Heat the oil in a pan and add a teaspoon of cumin seeds. Once the cumin seeds begin to sizzle, add the onions and the bay leaves. When the onions become translucent (I usually wait till they begin to brown), add the paste. Add the rice and saute for a few minutes, add the garam masala, chole masala and then the potatoes. You could cook the potatoes, for a few minutes in the microwave before hand to ensure they'll cook fast- I didn't. Or, you could add the potatoes first. Add four cups of water and salt. Close the pan and let everything cook. Check on the rice after 10 mins. If the water has been completely absorbed, but the rice and/or the potatoes aren't cooked, add more water, close the lid and continue to let it cook.
Once done- season with corriander leaves. If you are feeling especially indulgent you could add a little bit of ghee (clarified butter) on the top.
I made this on Sunday morning, thinking it would last for atleast two meals, for the two of us. Not only was I wrong, it was 'encored' and I had to make it again for dinner. It was less sticky this time around. To end with a cliche- Simple yet delicious!!