Eat Like A Bong With 'Bengali Bhate'
Image Credit: Bengali platter with bhate, Image Credit: Elisa's Cooking Recipes@ YouTube

If you are in Bengal or wish to taste authentic Bengali food, then nothing can beat 'bhate'. It isn't a dish but a cooking method in which vegetables, lentils, or pulses are steamed or boiled. Afterwards, they are mashed into a smooth texture, and often a dollop of ghee or mustard oil, chopped onions, fresh coriander leaves and green chillies are added. A few also use kasundi or mustard sauce. The word bhaté"- literally translates as 'in rice'. Perhaps, the origin has its roots in the traditional practice of cooking or boiling the vegetables in the same vessel the rice was cooked. Thus, it won't be wrong to say that Bengali cuisine is incomplete without bhate. Bengalis are a race renowned for their culinary traditions and eating habits around the globe. The region's cuisine drew inspiration from the British, Dutch, French, and Mughals who landed there. 

Coming back to bhate, it's that effortless dish perfect for the days when one feels lazy to cook or time constrained. Bhate is also a staple during the days when the culture restricts indulging in fried and spices-laden food. For example, the period following a death in the family. Among all, alu bhate (mashed potatoes) tops the list. A typical reference can be mashed potatoes served on our sizzlers platter. There are other vegetables too, commonly used for it. A few popular options are okra, sweet pumpkin, bitter gourd, ol or Elephant foot yam, kochu or taro etc. 

Let's learn about three vegetables for preparing Bengali bhate.

Alu bhate

As the name suggests, it's made with alu or potatoes. After boiling them, they are peeled and smashed. Ensure that there are no lumps. Don't use the blender; it should be hand mashed. According to your taste preference, use mustard oil (for pungent aroma) or pure ghee for a subtle flavour. Add chopped onion if using mustard oil. For the ghee variant, mash a green chilli and add some chopped fresh coriander leaves. Roll the mixture into medium size ball. 

Ol bhate, Image Credit: Rannarbanna @Twitter

Dhendosh (okra) bhate

It is one of the healthiest ways to eat okra. Instead of pressure cooking the vegetables, steam them in a wok with water. The head of the okras should be removed. One can give a centre slit (length-wise). Ensure they aren't over-boiled, or else they will turn overtly slimy. Once cooled down a bit, hand-mash them and season with mustard oil, green chillies, and salt to taste. You can add a teaspoon of kasundi too. 

Kumro bhate

Kumro, or sweet pumpkin, is a favourite vegetable among Bengalis. They can dish out any delicious delicacies using it. Kumro bhaate is one of them. There is no laid-down recipe to make it. The method changes according to one's choice of taste and availability of time. The basic step is to peel the pumpkin and chop it into medium cubes. Then the pieces are boiled but not overcooked. It should be mushy, not watery. A fancy process is to mash the cooked pumpkin and then temper it with black cumin seeds, chopped onions, green chillies and season with salt. A few add kasundi to suffuse a pungent flavour into it. 

Indulge in an easy-peasy Bengali bhate recipe and thank us later.