matar bhaat 4

This dish of fluffy, buttery rice with peas alongside a bowl of kadhi encapsulates everything it means to be Gujarati. Ever been to a Gujarati wedding? If so, you’ve probably eaten this before. You’ve heard me say it a hundred and one times before but I know I’ll be saying it again and again; hot, sweet, sour, savoury, fresh and aromatic. These are the flavours of matar bhaat and kadhi and the flavours of Gujarat. I’ve eaten these dishes so many times that a fillet of Sanjana probably tastes similar. That’s not an invitation- you know very well that this is a vegetarian blog.

Well, you get the picture. Hot, sweet, sour… blah, blah, blah.

 
This is a remembered recipe passed on to me by my idol, my mum. She taught me her father’s recipe for matar bhaat and I personally challenge you to unearth a better version of the dish. I’m positive that Nanabapu’s recipe is probably being served to the Rishimunnis (those having reached enlightenment) up in the fluffy, white clouds of heaven. Very cool.
Forget marshmallows, angel cakes and artisan breads; this matar bhaat recipe is as light as air.
 
matar bhaat 3

 

 

(serves 6)

Ingredients

170g fresh peas, washed and shelled with both the inner and outer membranes removed (you could also use mange tout with a handful of frozen peas)
350g white basmati rice
300g new potatoes, washed and quartered
¼ tsp turmeric
2 ½ tbsp ghee
2 tsp cumin seeds
8 curry leaves
¼ tsp asafoetida
2 tsp salt (or to taste)
700ml boiling water

Method

1. Gently wash the rice around 5 times in cold water. This will help to remove some starch and give you perfect fluffy rice. Leave the rice to soak in a bowl of cold water for 30-40 minutes and drain before you need to use it in step 3.

2. Boil the potatoes in salted water with ¼ tsp turmeric added for colour until al dente. Drain and set aside.

3. Heat the ghee in a large non-stick pan (one that comes with a lid). Add the cumin seeds, curry leaves, asafoetida and peas. Sauté for a few minutes then add the rice. Combine gently until the rice is coated in the ghee and spices.

matar bhaat 2

4. Add around 700ml boiling water, 2 tsp salt and the boiled potatoes. Bring to the boil. The water should come up about ½ an inch to an inch above the surface of the rice.

5. Turn the heat to low/medium and cover the entire surface of the rice/water mixture with a piece of tin foil. The foil should just sit on top of the contents of the pan so that the steam doesn’t escape.

6. Cover the pan with a lid and leave on a low/medium heat for 10-15 mins. I would suggest checking the rice after 10 minutes. If it is almost, but not quite done, turn the heat off and put the foil and lid back on for a further 5 minutes. The rice should finish cooking perfectly in the steam.

7. Inhale the beautiful earthy, sweet scent of the steaming rice. Note: Don’t burn your face.

8. When your rice is perfectly cooked, allow it to cool for a little while and then gently separate the grains with a fork.

matar bhaat 5

I never had the teeth to sample Nanabapu’s famous matar bhaat (pah! Not like I would have really needed them!) but I’m sure he would have given this recipe two thumbs up!

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