Rice, Dal And Bachka: All About Bihar’s Humble Food Combination
Image Credit: Shutterstock, Rice, dal and bachkas.

The comfort food of many North Indian households happens to be dal chawal. For some others, it could be rajma chawal or the like. This reflects the intrinsic role of rice and lentils in the daily diet of most Indian cultures. As one moves towards the eastern side of the country, states like Bihar too enjoy lentil and rice combinations as a staple. However, the Bihari fare adds one more dish to the duo i.e. bachka. 

Any conversation about Bihari cuisine almost always highlights the famous litti chokha. While it is one of the most celebrated Bihari food combinations, there is another pairing that is more humble and rustic. This is the rice, dal and bachka trio. Rice is an important grain in many states of India, including Uttar Pradesh, Jharkhand, Chhattisgarh and Bihar. Another important aspect of this simple meal is the dal or lentils. Since India is replete with a plethora of lentils, this component can be varied from day to day. 

While dal and chawal sound quite wholesome itself, it is the bachka that adds a crispy touch to the dish. Bachka, for the unversed, is a Bihari cousin of the North Indian pakora. Traditionally made with soaked kala chana or black chickpeas, these are the mixed with besan or chickpea flour and chopped onions before being deep-fried. Also known as Tarua in Bihari, the bachkas are crispy and crunchy in texture. 

Served alongside rice and lentils, which are soft and mushy, these Bihari fritters lend the combination a delicious twist. Not just kala chana, the bachkas can also be made with vegetables like brinjal, pumpkin and potatoes. Thinly-sliced veggies are dipped in gram flour and deep-fried. While many parts of North India savour the pakoras during monsoon, these bachkas can be found in a Bihari household at any time of the year. 

Source: Shutterstock

Did you know that the Bihari bachkas are fried in mustard oil? Much like the Bengalis, the Biharis too cook several dishes in mustard oil. Hot and crispy bachkas are best made with overnight soaked kala chana. The chana are then mixed with gram flour, onions, spices like ginger, turmeric, curry leaves as well as green chillies. Mixed with water, they form a thick batter that that poured in small quantities in a kadhai with pre-heated oil. Once they turn brown, they are taken out and served with rice and dal. 

Another difference you’ll notice in these Bihari pakoras is that they are darker in colour than the regular fritters as they are fried for a longer time. There are no two ways about the charm of litti chokha but the rice-dal-bachka combination has a fan fare of its own that oozes the authentic flavours of the region.