Place of origin
Indian State(West Bengal)
|Cookbook:Panta bhat Panta bhat|
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Panta bhat (Bengali: পান্তা ভাত; Assamese: পান্তা ভাত; Pàntà bhàt) is a lightly fermented rice-based dish consumed in Bangladesh and the eastern Indian states of West Bengal and Assam. Panta means "soaked in water" and bhat means "rice". This dish of leftover rice soaked in water to prevent spoiling, is generally served with salt, onion and chili.
Panta bhat is especially popular in rural areas. It is usually served as breakfast, though noon or evening consumption is not uncommon. A similar dish consumed in the Indian states of Orissa and Chhattisgarh is known as Pakhal, Pakhala or Pakhal Bhat. In Assam, where it is sometimes called Poitabhat, offering Dudh Panta (milk with stale water-soaked rice) is a part of the marital ritual.
Among Hindu Bengalis, it is consumed during the Ranna-Puja (Bengali cooking festival). In Bangladesh, it is a part of the Pohela Boishakh (Bengali new year festival) festivities. On that day it is consumed as breakfast by urban people. Panta is also served at high-end eateries in Bangladesh, where Pan Pacific and Radisson hotels serve it, and West Bengal.
An Assam Agricultural University study found that 100 gm of panta bhat, fermented for 12 hours, contains up to 73.91 mg of iron, while for the same quantity of fresh rice contains only 3.4 mg. 100 gm panta bhat also contains up to 303 mg of sodium, 839 mg of potassium and 850 mg of calcium, while fresh rice contains 21 mg of calcium.
According to a study (Henry et al.), panta bhat is often contaminated, with almost 90% of the samples containing fecal coliforms with a median count of 3.9 log cfu/ml. The contamination was more in the rainy season. Numbers of faecal coliforms increased 10-fold when there was a delay of more than 4 hours between preparation and consumption; 90% of the samples were eaten more than 12 hours after preparation. In cases of diarrhoea this stale rice is not to be served to the patient. According to another study (ILSI 1998), fermentation improves the bioavailability of minerals such as iron and zinc as a result of phytic acid hydrolysis, and increases the content of riboflavin and vitamin B.
Panta bhat contains a small amount of alcohol as a result of fermentation. When the conditions of preparing panta bhat — keeping rice soaked overnight in water — were simulated in the laboratory, the rice was found to be inoculated with veratridine, a steroid-derived alkaloid.
There are many variations of the dish but a common one is made by soaking cooked rice in water overnight. Rice is boiled the usual way. Then fen or starch is strained away. Rice is cooled in air temperature for 3-4 hours. Then cool water is added in a way that about an inch of water rises above the rice. Rice is covered, generally with a light piece of fabric. 24 hours later Panta Bhat is ready.
Care must be taken to cover the dish during the long soaking to avoid contamination. In the morning, the soaked rice is usually eaten with salt, lime, chili (either raw or roasted) and onions (sliced or whole) mostly for flavor. Water is discarded before consumption, and sometimes edible oils may be added. Shutki mach (dried fish), dried left-over daal, bhorta or mashed vegetables (like begun bhorta or aloo bhorta) or machher jhol (fish curry), especially shorshe ilish (ilish cooked with mustard seeds), is often consumed along with panta bhat. Milk curd may also be consumed with the dish.
Pokhalo differs from panta bhat in seasoning and yoghurt are sometimes added prior to the fermentation process. This cold and wet food, is suitable for summer mornings, but in winter dry foods, such as Chira (flattened rice) and Muri (puffed rice) are more preferred.
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