There’s more to rice than just bhaat, pulao, dosa, khichdi or biryani. This humble ingredient is easily one of the most versatile grains we have. Nearly every region has a dish which boasts of rice in some form or the other. Here are some lesser known dishes which bring out the best of this staple food.
This spicy cabbage and onion dosa is a popular Konkani side dish with coarsely ground rice as the base. Shredded cabbage and onions provide just the right amount of crunch, but the mixture can be customised as well. Drumstick leaves, colocasia (arbi patta), basella or Malabar spinach, and pickled bamboo shoots are commonly used. Sanna polo also often doubles up as breakfast and is paired with chutney.
For many Goans, patoleo is the highlight of festivals such as Ganesh Chaturthi or Sao Joao. Rice paste is smeared on turmeric leaves, stuffed with a coconut-jaggery mixture and steamed. Turmeric leaves are believed to have medicinal properties and give the patoleos a unique taste and aroma. The rice pockets are made without any oil, which makes them extremely healthy as well.
Sanpiau is a popular snack commonly found at roadside stalls in Mizoram. Rice porridge is served with fresh coriander paste, crushed black pepper, spring onions, fish sauce and rice powder. Contrasting textures and flavours come together to form a well balanced and filling dish.
Small rectangle of deep-fried goodness is how bidiya is often described. This traditional sweet in Chhattisgarh is made using rice and wheat flour. Interestingly, no sugar is used while kneading the dough. The rectangular bites are dipped in sugar syrup after being fried, which makes it mildly sweet.
Red rice and millets such as ragi, bajra and foxtail millet are combined to make a nutritious and protein- rich powder. This is usually made into laddoos using ghee, nuts and dry fruits. Kids are given these laddoos as a healthy snack or dessert. Sathu maavu porridge also works well as homemade food for infants.
Bhangui is a popular sticky rice dish made in households in Tripura. Flavourful gobindabhog rice, which is also popular in West Bengal, is used to prepare the dish. Sundried rice is mixed with ghee, ginger, garlic and onion, and boiled in banana leaves. This cooking method helps retain nutrients and gives the dish a distinctive taste. Bhangui is paired with meat and fish dishes.
Doodh puli pitha is a traditional Bengali sweet prepared to celebrate Makar Sankranti. Rice and date palm jaggery (nolen gur) are the stars of this dish. Spindle-shaped rice flour dumplings (known as puli) are stuffed with a coconut and palm jaggery filling. They are then cooked in thickened milk, either plain or sweetened with nolen gur. This dessert is a must-try for foodies who feel that Bengali sweets are all about sondesh.