Masale Bhat (Spiced Rice)

Masale bhat in Maharashtra is a meal fit for kings! It has it's place secured in all the weddings and celebrations. Back home in childhood I remember my Mom making a large pot of masale bhat whenever guests were coming over for a meal. Traditionally it is made by roasting and grinding fresh spices such as whole peppercorn, coriander and cumin seeds and adding a bunch of whole spices such as cloves, star anise and adorned with whole roasted cashews. It is also not uncommon for masale bhat to be made with Tindora vegetable. 

Now a days however I take many short-cuts such as substituting cauliflower for hard-to-find tindora, using prepared goda masala instead of roasting and grinding fresh spices and altogether skipping on whole spices as we share most of our meals with our 1-year old and it always worries me having whole spices in her food.  It is still very tasty - and when served with a yogurt dip or raita, it is still a meal fit for kings :)

I am a big fan of one pot meals. There are times for more elaborate preparations but on many days in our household a simple one pot meal is what stands between grabbing that phone for a greasy takeout or a quick healthy meal prepared at home.

The way I prepare Masale Bhat is not technically with one pot - I do use two pots, one to saute veggies and rice and the second one being rice cooker; however there is really no reason why you couldn't saute in the rice cooker pan or use a pressure cooker for both the steps. Another advantage of this dish is that it is a generic fridge cleaner - I make this dish many Friday nights when all we have in fridge are various remaining ends and scraps of veggies from the week.
Recipe: Masale Bhat
Serves: 8
Ingredients:
2C basmati rice
5C water
3Tbsp canola oil
1/2tsp mustard seeds
pinch of asafoetida
1tsp cumin seeds
5-6 curry leaves - torn into pieces
1tsp turmeric powder
1.5tsp goda masala (substitute garam masala if you don't have goda masala)
2 sticks celery - finely chopped
1 small japanese eggplant - finely chopped
1 small head of cauliflower - cut into small florets
1/2 red bell pepper - chopped finely
1 small zucchini - shredded
handful of chopped green onions

optional whole spices:
2 bay leaves (optional)
couple of whole cloves, coriander seeds and one star anise (optional)

Recipe:
  • Soak rice in water while you prep the veggies
  • Prep all the veggies and heat oil in a non-stick pot.
  • Add mustard seeds and asafoetida powder. When mustard seeds start popping, add cumin seeds, cloves, bay leaves, coriander seeds, star anise (if using) and let roast for a few minutes. 
  • Add turmeric powder and all the veggies except red bell pepper, zucchini and green onions.
  • Add goda masala, mix well and let cook for 5mins uncovered on medium heat.
  • Drain water from rice and add rice to the pot - let cook for another few mins.
  • Transfer rice mixture to a rice cooker; add water, zucchini and red bell pepper.
  • Add enough salt to taste and turn on the rice cooker.
  • When the rice is cooked, add green onions as garnish
  • Serve hot with raita.
If you don't use a rice cooker, you can cook covered in a large pot until rice is well cooked - depending on the cooking time listed on your rice box.

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