Bhat Bhaja (Bengali left over rice fry with veggies and spices)10:55 AM
My Maa has plenty of time saving kitchen tricks up her sleeve. Same goes for her ability to use up leftover dishes. Though I can not fathom the crisp chapatis that she fries up every other day for breakfast but pretty much follow her ideas for other things.
This bhat bhaja (bhat means cooked rice, bhaja is frying) is perfect to use up the short grain par boiled rice that most Bengalis eat on regular basis. For the uninitiated Parboiled rice is the result of a process where rice, still in its brown rice grain form is either parboiled or steamed and then dried in its husk. The milling process comes next. The resulting grains are lest brittle, yellow in colour and have more nutrients as the Thiamine moves from its husk to the grain. but this process also causes a gelatinisation of the starch in the grains and therefore par boiled rice are often thicker than regular milled white rice. (info:Wiki)
For definite reasons delicate flavours and spices do not work well with par boiled rice grains. You need to introduce bold flavours and taste to make them thrive in a dish. So when leftover Basmati or Dehradun rice could easily be turned in some delicately flavoured Tawa pulaos or Chinese style fried rice that just can not be done with par boiled grains. and here this recipe works brilliantly.
I got my love for vegetables from my parents and likewise my bhat bhaja has plenty of it. Right from potato, carrot, beans, peas, corns, cauliflower, broccoli, cabbage, capsicum...you can use any vegetable that would hold its shape even after a bit of frying. This dish is amazingly balanced in terms of nutrients, texture, taste and flavours. The rich flavour of cumin, tongue tickling taste of tomato sauce is perfectly complemented by the crunchy peanuts providing texture to otherwise soft rice.
When in doubt, when in loss of time I prepare this and serve either with some scrambled eggs folded in or topped with a poached egg to provide the necessary protein. With a thumbs up from my 5 years old this dish ticks all the categories for me.
Cooked rice: 3 cups
Onion: 1 medium
Potato: 1 medium
Chopped veggies: 11/2 cups (beans, cabbages, capsicum, peas...etc)
Tomato: 1 medium
Tomato sauce: 3 tbsp
Cumin seeds: 1/2 tsp
Cumin powder: 2/3 tsp
Turmeric powder: 1/4 tsp
Chili powder: as per taste
Oil: 2 tbsp+2 tsp
Eggs: 3 (optional) you can use chopped paneer or tofu instead.
Stock cubes: 2-3, optional but highly recommended for extra flavour. if using this go easy on extra salt.
Peel and thinly slice the onion.
Peel and chop the potato in matchstick shape, same with carrot and capsicum. Chops beans, cauliflowers etc in small pieces. Wash and keep aside.
Break the eggs in a bowl, add a pinch of salt and beat to break and mix.
Heat 2 tsp oil and pour the eggs in it. With a stardy spatula start breaking them to make scrambled egg. Fry them till firm and golden. Take out and keep aside.
Heat 1 more teaspoon of oil and fry the peanuts on medium till crunchy. set aside.
Heat the rest of the oil and flavour it with cumin seeds. When it starts to splutter add the sliced onion. Saute on medium flame for a couple of minutes and then add the chopped vegetables. If you are using capsicum, add them later, guess no one likes mushy capsicum. fry with some salt or the stock cubes sprinkled over on top for 4-5 minutes or till the potato is cooked through. Next comes the tomato. mix and cover for the tomato to turn mushy (3-4 minutes). Mix it vigourously before adding the spice powders.
Stir gently and cook the spices till the raw smell is gone before adding the tomato sauce. mix everything and then add the rice and scrambled eggs. keep the flame on low and gently mix everything together. Using a non stick kadhai helps a lot at this stage.
Keep stirring and cooking this on medium flame till everything coats the rice well. check the seasoning and finish off with the fried peanuts.