When the summer’s heat reaches over the point of bearable, we need something to cool us down. And while nimbu paani does the trick, a very common dish known as panta bhaat is also served. Panta bhaat (fermented rice) is a perfect healthy summer meal and is a very common household dish in the Eastern parts of India. This is a very popular dish in rural Bengal and they eat it as breakfast almost every day.
The simple dish created waves in the culinary world when Masterchef contestant Kishwar Chowdhury served it with a side of ‘alu bhorta’ and marinated fried sardines topped with a salsa of onions, coriander and other veggies. The homely dish has a cooling effect on the body and farm labourers used to prefer it to cooked rice. However, it was never exactly seen as fine dining so when it appeared in the finale of the show, everyone was a bit surprised.
This fermented rice dish has many names, poita bhat (Assamese), pakhala bhat (Odiya), pazhaya sadam (Tamil), geel bhat (Bihar), chaddannam (Telugu) and pazhamkanji (Malayalam), and is quite popular around Asia. Each has its own version. Usually, the soaked rice is kept overnight so that it gets slightly fermented. This soaked rice is then served with a little mustard oil, lentil fritters, onion, green chilli and lemon (missing gondhoraj), the next day.
5 Delicious Fermented Rice Recipes To Try
1. Rice Kanji
Rice kanji is a good old traditional recipe used by our older generations to keep a healthy gut. It is usually served when one has an upset stomach or is feeling under the weather. This tastes very similar to curd rice and is equally refreshing.
Preparation Time: 7 minutes
Cook Time: 3 minutes
- ½ cup of cooked rice
- 1 cup of water
- ¼ cup of curd (dahi)
- ¾ teaspoon of salt or as required
- 1 tablespoon of fresh coriander leaves
- ½ tablespoon of coconut oil
- ¼ tablespoon of mustard seeds
- ¼ teaspoon of cumin seeds (jeera)
- ½ teaspoon of urad dal
- 1 teaspoon of curry leaves
- ½ teaspoon of green chillies
- 4 tablespoons of onion, finely chopped
- 1 teaspoon of ginger
- ½ teaspoon of hing
- Soak ½ cup of cooked rice in ½ cup water in a clay pot for about 10-12 hours or overnight.
- The next day, transfer fermented rice to a blender and blend to smooth paste.
- Transfer blended rice into a mixing bowl.
- Whisk ¼ cup of homemade curd and add to rice paste and stir well. Preferably add slightly sour curd as it tastes better.
- Now add salt to taste and mix well.
- In a tadka pan, heat coconut oil, add mustard seeds, jeera, urad dal, chopped curry leaves, chopped green chillies and fry well.
- Add chopped onions and fry till it turns light brown and turn off the stove.
- Now add in grated ginger, hing and mix well.
- Pour temper over the prepared rice kanji.
- Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve.
2. Panta Bhaat
This recipe is a loved dish by the older generation for its simple ingredients. It is considered a staple breakfast diet in rural areas and is also very popular during Bengali New Year; it is usually served with a few side dishes.
Preparation time: 5 minutes
- 2 cups of cooked rice
- 1 onion, finely sliced
- 1 lemon
- 1 tablespoon mustard oil
- Salt as required
- Take the cooked rice in a bowl and cover it with cold water. The water should be at least a cm above the rice. Cover it with a plate and leave it overnight.
- Finely slice your onions and lemon wedges. Serve the panta bhat with sliced lemon wedges, sliced onions, mustard oil and salt.
- Don’t throw the remaining rice water. The water is the best part since it has all the nutrition and the tanginess.
- If you want, of course, fry a fish alongside and have it. There are a variety of ways to have it. Some even have it with tamarind instead of lemon wedges. So go ahead and experiment and try various flavours.
3. Kuzhi Paniyaram (Fermented Rice Balls)
They look similar to idli, but the dish itself is very very different. It is crispy on the outside and soft, fluffy on the inside. It is a loved snack all over South India, and pairs well with chutney and sambar.
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cook time: 7 minutes
- Water as required
- 200 grams of urad dal
- 1/2 teaspoon of fenugreek leaves (kasuri methi)
- 4 teaspoons of refined oil
- Salt as required
- 1/2 teaspoon of mustard seeds
- 2 small onions
- 4 green chillies
- 500 grams of rice
- 20 curry leaves
- 1/2 teaspoon of cumin seeds (jeera)
- Take a large bowl and add urad dal, fenugreek seeds and rice to it along with a little salt. Soak this mixture in water and leave it overnight to ferment.
- On the next morning, drain out the excess water and pour the mixture into a grinder. Grind it well and add 1 teaspoon of water to form a smooth batter, then transfer it to a bowl.
- Now, on a clean chopping board, finely chop the onions and curry leaves and keep them aside.
- Next, take a pan over medium flame and heat oil in it. When the oil is hot enough, add curry leaves, cumin seeds, mustard seeds, onion and green chillies to the pan and saute them well.
- When the ingredients are done, turn off the flame and add them to the bowl that has the batter in it.
- Then, take a special paniyaram pan over a medium flame and grease the holes with oil. When it is well greased, pour the batter into the holes and drizzle oil over the edges. Now, cover the lid of the pan and allow it to cook for 5-7 minutes.
- When the balls have risen and have turned into a fluffy ball, turn off the flame. Scoop out the balls and transfer them to a serving plate.
- Pair it with coconut or mint chutney and enjoy the warm treat!
4. Rice Dosa
Another South Indian delicacy, dosa is a staple breakfast dish! It pairs well with chutney and sambar and can have a variety of fillings!
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
- 1 cup white short-grained rice
- 1/3 cup of split urad dal
- 1/8 teaspoon of ground fenugreek (methi)
- 1/2 teaspoon of salt
- Cover the rice with a few inches of water, and soak for 3-6 hours. In a separate container, also soak the dal for 3-6 hours.
- After soaking, drain the dal and scrape it into a blender. Grind until smooth and frothy. You will need to add a few tablespoons of water to assist with the blending.
- When the lentils are smooth, drain the rice and add it to the blender as well. Grind again, adding water as necessary. You want it to be fairly smooth, though the rice will make the mixture a bit grittier, which will add to the texture of the dosa.
- Scrape the ground lentils and rice from the blender and into a glass container for fermenting. You can use a bit more filtered water to help get any remaining ground rice and lentils from the bottom of the blender. The batter should be about 3 cups (rice, lentils and water.)
- Mix in the fenugreek. Cover the container with a tea towel and leave it somewhere warm to ferment for at least 12 hours or up to 48 hours. The dosa batter is officially ready when it has doubled in size, but you can be flexible on this to fit your schedule. The longer it goes the more sour it will be.
- Add salt to the dosa batter, stirring gently to keep the bubbles. May need to add a bit more water. It should have a thick pouring consistency.
- Heat a frying pan on medium heat. Brush on a thin layer of oil in your pan. Then ladle 1/4 cup of batter into the pan and spread it around with a spoon to make a thin layer.
- The dosa is cooked when the bottom side has started to brown and the top side is dry. You can either serve it like this or flip the dosa over to lightly toast the other side. You want the dosa to be fully cooked, but still soft enough to fold and roll.
- Serve fresh and hot with your choice of fillings.
This dish feels like you’re biting into a soft, fluffy cloud of rice. And you can never go wrong with a plate of idli dunked in sambar with a side of chutney.
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cook time: 10 minutes
- 1 cup of urad dal
- 2 cups of idli rava
- 1 teaspoon salt
- Oil to grease
- In a large bowl, soak 1 cup of urad dal for 4 hours.
- Drain off the water and transfer to a blender or grinder. Blend to smooth and fluffy batter adding water as required.
- Transfer the batter to a large bowl and keep it aside.
- Now in another bowl take 2 cups of idli rava. Rinse and drain the water 2-3 times, until the water runs clear. Then squeeze off water from idli rava and add to urad dal batter. Mix well till it’s combined properly.
- Cover and rest in a warm place for 8-10 hours or till the batter ferments and doubles.
- After 8 hours, the batter should double, indicating well fermentation with air pockets present.
- Add 1 teaspoon of salt to the batter and mix gently without disturbing the air pockets.
- Scoop the batter into an idli plate greased with oil.
- Place in a steamer and steam for 10 minutes on medium flame or till a toothpick inserted comes out clean.
- Finally, soft idlis are ready to serve along with chutney and sambar.
Fermented rice dishes are very common, especially around Asia. Indonesia, Malaysia, Philippines, Thailand and Vietnam have their own versions. It is a part of our unique culture.
If you’ve been having fermented rice dishes since you were a kid, with your dadi/nani‘s generation recipes, you must already love it. And if you haven’t tried the humble panta bhaat yet, try our recipe for a mouthwatering introduction to the Indian dish that found its place on the culinary global map.