Panta bhat

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Panta bhat
Panta Ilish.jpg
Panta Ilish - a traditional platter of Panta bhat with fried Ilish slice, supplemented with dried fish (Shutki), pickles (Achar), dal, green chillies and onion - is a popular serving for the Pohela Boishakh festival.
Course Main course
Place of origin Bangladesh
Indian State(West Bengal)
Main ingredients Rice, Water
Variations Pakhal, Poitabhat
Cookbook:Panta bhat  Panta bhat

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.[1][2] It is usually served as breakfast,[3] though noon or evening consumption is not uncommon.[4][5] 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.[6]

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.[1][7][8] Panta is also served at high-end eateries in Bangladesh, where Pan Pacific and Radisson hotels serve it,[9][10] and West Bengal.[11]


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.[12]

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.[13] In cases of diarrhoea this stale rice is not to be served to the patient.[14] 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.[15]

Panta bhat contains a small amount of alcohol as a result of fermentation.[16] 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.[17]


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.[18]

Care must be taken to cover the dish during the long soaking to avoid contamination.[19] 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.[20][21][22] Water is discarded before consumption, and sometimes edible oils may be added.[23] 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.[24]


  1. ^ a b "Customs and Traditions". The Bangladesh Rice Foundation. 2007. Retrieved 2007-12-11. [dead link]
  2. ^ "The Tiger of Bengal". Dawn Magazine. 2003-11-09. Archived from the original on 2007-07-13. Retrieved 2007-12-11. 
  3. ^ Enamul Haq, Food habits, Banglapedia
  4. ^ Census of India (Volume 3, Part 6, Issue 3), 1961, Office of the Registrar General, India
  5. ^ Ananya Roy, Calcutta Requiem: Gender And The Politics Of Poverty, page 81, Pearson Education India, 2007, ISBN 9788131712993
  6. ^ Bīrendranātha Datta, A Study of the Folk Culture of the Goalpara Region of Assam, page 137, University Publication Department of Gauhati University, 1995
  7. ^ Sambaru Chandra Mohanta, Pahela Baishakh, Banglapedia
  8. ^ Tanvir Hafiz, Out with the Old, Daily Star (Bangladesh)
  9. ^ "Corporate Watch", Fiancial Express, 2012-04-13
  10. ^ "Pan Pacific Sonargaon to celebrate Pohela Baishakh", The Bangladesh Monitor, 2014-06-05
  11. ^ Bong Connection, The Telegraph (Kolkata)
  12. ^ Smita Bhattacharyya, "Ferment rice for a healthy morsel", The Telegraph, 2011-08-04
  13. ^ Brian J. B. Wood , Microbiology of Fermented Foods, page 796, Springer, 1997, ISBN 0-7514-0216-8
  14. ^ India Ministry of Health and Family Welfare, Indian Market Research Bureau, UNICEF & United States Agency for International Development, Diarrhoea in Rural India: A Nationwide Study of Mothers and Practitioners, page 54, Vision Books, 1990
  15. ^ Marie T. Ruel, Can Food-Based Strategies Help Reduce Vitamin A and Iron Deficiencies?, International Food Policy Research Institute, Washington, D.C., December 2001
  16. ^ Dr. Syed Nasrullah, Liberalising alcohol policy, Daily Star (Bangladesh), 2003-08-15
  17. ^ Hans Riemann, Food-borne Infections and Intoxications, page 266, Academic Press, 1969
  18. ^ The Agricultural Journal of India (Volume 11), page 189, Government of India, Central Publication Branch for the Imperial Council of Agricultural Research, 1916
  19. ^ Wood, Brian J.B. (1985). Microbiology of Fermented Foods. Springer. Retrieved 2007-12-11. 
  20. ^ Akhter Hameed Khan, The Works of Akhter Hameed Khan, page 288, Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development, 1983
  21. ^ Debates: official report (Volume 2, Issues 16-30), page 1092, Pakistan. National Assembly, 1966
  22. ^ Akhter Hameed Khan, The Works of Akhter Hameed Khan (Volume 1), page 288, Bangladesh Academy for Rural Development, 1983
  23. ^ Narendra S. Bisht and T. S. Bankoti, Encyclopaedic Ethnography of the Himalayan Tribes: R-Z (Volume 4), Page 1336, Global Vision, 2004, ISBN 9788187746959
  24. ^ Paul Oswald Woolley, United States Office of International Health & United States Agency for International Development, Syncrisis: the Dynamics of Health, page 23, U.S. Office of International Health, Division of Planning and Evaluation, 1976