Assamese Fermented Rice (Poita Bhaat)
Poita Bhaat or fermented rice is a simple frugal dish that was eaten during the hot summer months by the farm hands, before going out to work in the rice fields. It was a natural coolant, helped to keep the body temperature cool, kept the gut healthy and besides the fermentation increased the nutrient content of the humble plain rice manifold, rich in vitamin B12 and worked wonders for dehydration. A perfect summer meal with the minimal of fuss. Mostly , this is eaten simply seasoned with salt, mustard oil, some chopped onion and chillies. But, it is often seen that small fish is fried and served along with aloo pitika (mashed potatoes) or with a varied range of pitikas (mashes) and chutneys as I did.
The Aloo Pitika
Another common accompaniment is "Khoroli" or fermented mustard. It gives a wonderful piquant kick to the tangy rice; a perfect combination. The Assamese Poita Bhaat never adds milk or curd to the rice- its just plain water that is allowed to sit overnight in a earthen bowl or sometimes even in a iron kadhai. Like I said this is a frugal meal without any fuss. One ate the rice and drank the gruel and went to the fields to work.
I introduced this dish to my kids and as they grew up, they learnt to appreciate the taste and flavour of this simple traditional meal and somehow also connected them to their roots. The flavours get enhanced even better if the fermentation is done in a earthen pot but a glass bowl works equally well.
Here 's to a healthy and cooling summer gruel that is healing and tastes wonderful too.
If you try this recipe, we would love to hear your feedback.
Connect with us on Instagram @kashmirinath.