Masala Bhath is a delicious one-pot meal. It is a wonderful combination of vegetables and rice combined with lovely aromatic spices. This dish is a typical Maharashtrian specialty but enjoyed throughout India as well.
My grandmother was an expert when it came to cooking and this dish was no exception. Whenever we would visit, this dish was made. We would eat it with homemade papads (crispy thin lentil wafers), koshimbir (Indian salad) & taak (spiced buttermilk) - it was a wonderfully delicious & simple meal.
Freshly made masala is key to this dish and hardly takes any extra effort. Feel free to add your favorite vegetables to this dish such as potatoes, butternut squash, carrots, green peas, cauliflower, green beans… You could also add chickpeas for a boost of protein.
MASALA BHATH (Maharashtrian Spiced Vegetable Rice)
2 cups Basmati rice (or any long grained variety)
1 medium onion, finely diced
2-3 small green Thai chilies
2 bay leaves
2 black cardamom pods
½ tsp red chili powder, to taste
½ tsp turmeric (haldi)
½ tsp kala masala (aka goda masala or you can use garam masala or pulav masala)
1 tbsp masala bhath masala (see below*)
salt, to taste
2 cups of your favorite vegetables (trimmed, prepped & chopped)
2 tbsp yogurt
¼ freshly grated coconut (frozen is fine, thaw before use)
½ cup toasted unsalted cashews (or peanuts)
2 tbsp ghee
(or vegetable or canola oil)
freshly chopped cilantro leaves for garnish
*Masala Bhath Masala (spice mix)*
1 tbsp cumin seeds
1 tbsp coriander seeds
1 tbsp black peppercorns
½ tsp sesame seeds
1 cinnamon stick (about 2” in length, broken in pieces)
5-6 whole cloves
Wash and drain the rice thoroughly at least 1 hour prior to use.
In a small dry skillet on medium low heat, toast the cumin seeds along with the coriander seeds, black peppercorns, sesame seeds, cinnamon stick and cloves. Stir-fry until fragrant and lightly toasted. Be careful not to burn the spices. Remove quickly from the heat and let cool before using a spice grinder (or clean coffee grinder) to grind the spices into a fine powder. Set aside until needed.
Just before needed, trim and cut the vegetables into even size pieces.
In a large deep skillet or soup pot on medium high heat, add the ghee. When hot, add the onions & green chilies. Next, add the bay leaves & black cardamom pods. Now add the spices (kala masala, red chili powder, turmeric, the freshly made masala & salt). Stir well & let the spices cook for a few minutes before adding the rice. Mix well until combined and the rice is well coated with the fragrant oil (about 2-3 minutes). Now, add the vegetables and let cook for a few minutes. Then add 4 cups of water and bring to a good boil, cover and reduce the heat. Let simmer until done (around 15-20 minutes). Halfway through the cooking process, add the yogurt and nuts - carefully stir through the rice and vegetable mixture. The rice should be thoroughly cooked and the vegetables should be soft and tender. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and freshly grated coconut. Serve hot with papad, koshimbir and yogurt on the side.