Bhaate-Bhat (Bengali Mashed Vegetables and Rice)


Test Kitchen-Approved

Author Notes: Bhate-bhaat is a dish unique to Bengal in the Eastern region of India. A mélange of vegetables such as potatoes, green bananas, and squash are cooked, separately, until soft and mashed with onions, mustard oil, and cilantro. It was also a special meal my father made when he had to fend for me unexpectedly, without my mother.

Bapi, as I called my father, would go looking for whatever we could piece together for our special bhate-bhaat, with vegetables ranging from spinach to cauliflower, pumpkin to taro to green banana. The potatoes were usually a given. The vegetables were made separately, carefully mashed with the appropriate seasonings, and shaped into small balls so that the servings included a little of everything.

We would add red lentils, usually cooked in a cheesecloth in the same pot as the rice, and my father’s special touch was to add eggs to the pot towards the end, ensuring that they cooked to a semi-soft yolk, something he referred to as “quarter-boiled." It has taken me becoming a parent twice over to understand the importance of such precision in food rituals.

In this dish, the amount of oil, chile, and lime juice can be adjusted to personal taste.
Rinku Bhattacharya /Spice Chronicles

Serves: 4

Ingredients

  • 3/4 cup red lentils (masuur dal)
  • 3 or 4 Yukon Gold potatoes, quartered
  • 1 pound butternut squash, peeled, seeded and cut into large pieces
  • 1 pound trimmed spinach or baby kale leaves
  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup basmati or kalajeera Rice
  • 2 tablespoons clarified butter or ghee, divided
  • 2 tablespoons mustard oil or extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 1 medium red onion, finely chopped and divided
  • 2 or 3 tablespoons finely chopped cilantro, divided
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or to taste
  • 2 or 3 green chiles, minced and divided
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice (optional, to taste), divided
In This Recipe

Directions

  1. Place the red lentils in a small pot with about 1 cup water, bring to a simmer, and cook for about 15 to 20 minutes, until the lentils are soft and the water is absorbed. You should be able to mash the lentils into a paste.
  2. Bring 3 pots of water to a boil on the stove for the potatoes, squash, and spinach (or, alternatively, cook the vegetables one at a time). Boil the quartered potatoes until soft, about 7 to 8 minutes. At the same time, boil the butternut squash in a separate pot until soft.
  3. Blanch the spinach leaves and set aside. (You could also blanch these in the pot you've just cooked the squash in.)
  4. In the meantime cook the rice in a pot of plenty of boiling water (as you would pasta), for about 20 minutes. At the last five minutes of simmering, add in the eggs. Remove the eggs and set aside. Drain the rice.
  5. Mash the lentils with about 1 1/2 teaspoons each of the oil and clarified butter. Add in some chopped red onion, cilantro, salt, green chile, and about 2 teaspoons of lime juice and mix well. Repeat with the cooked potatoes and cooked squash (you can either add lime juice or omit it—I prefer to leave the lime juice out of the potato and squash mashes so that only one component, the lentils, are citrusy).
  6. Heat the remaining oil and add in the remaining onions and chiles. Add the blanched greens and salt and sauté until all the moisture is absorbed.
  7. To serve place some rice in the center of the plates, and surround with mashed lentils, potatoes, spinach, and squash.
  8. Peel the eggs, carefully cut them in half, and place on the plates. If you are feeling indulgent, add another dollop of clarified butter. Enjoy!

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Indian|Butternut Squash|Cilantro|Lime Juice|Rice|Vegetable|Fall|Spring|Summer|Winter|Entree

Reviews (9) Questions (1)

9 Reviews

Delayna February 20, 2018
This dish is now the go-to dish at our house on a Saturday night or when it's cold outside, or when something has happened that is sad for us and we need something comforting. The challenge for me is always making sure the egg does not get too hard!
 
marsiamarsia March 20, 2017
About the "green chiles" in the ingredients: can you name an example of the ones that you would choose for this recipe? Serranos? Jalapeños? Or could they be milder chile peppers?
 
Meg N. March 8, 2017
This is just what I needed. I added some fresh grated turmeric to the potatoes for an extra kick. Thanks, Rinku!
 
Marcelline February 16, 2017
This is so very simple, yet so good. I made this for dinner and it was so satisfying and filling.
 
Author Comment
Rinku B. February 17, 2017
So excited to hear!
 
Delayna February 14, 2017
We have a new favorite. I used what we had in the fridge: zucchini, yams, spinach, lentils and red onions...young folks who do not normally eat vegetables ate them today!
 
Author Comment
Rinku B. February 17, 2017
I have never tried zucchini, good to hear.
 
S. R. February 13, 2017
Made this tonight, it was delicious. I left out the eggs just because we don't eat eggs. I especially loved the red lentils. Will definitely make this again
 
Min L. February 8, 2017
What a hard work in time and heart-warming results that vegan of Vegi ingredients using efforts came from ! Delicious food .... Look great!