Coming from the rice belt of India, the possibility of any festivity / celebration sans a rice dish is practically a zero occurrence to us. Or to any south Indian for that matter. Traditionally, south Indian lunches and dinners meant vegetable and bean dishes served with hot, steamed rice. Till this day, millions of Indian households eat at least a meal of rice everyday though work, time constraints, health consciousness and globalization of food has changed the food patterns / habits of people.
And so naturally, I thought of going with a rice dish - one of the popular vegetarian rice dishes, vangi bhath. Considering the frequency and love with which vangi bhath is prepared in my husband's family, this post is long due. Though vangi bhath is said to be from the state of Maharashtra, it is equally popular in the southern states as well. As the name suggests, eggplants are the star of this dish and a good quality vangi bhath powder is a must to turn it into a crowd pleaser.
The preparation of vangi bhath and the spice powder of course change regionally and here is our beloved version. Usually potato is not a part of vangi bhath and also the vegetables are not crisp fried. However I don't mind the frying part and extra calories since it makes the dish more yummier than sauteing eggplants that get mushier while mixing with rice.
This version of vangi bhath powder comes from a sister in law of mine and it absolutely perks up the dish. I am told by family and friends that I make a very good vangi bhath and the secret behind it is this powder. :) I usually double the ingredients, make extra powder in advance, preserve in an airtight container and refrigerate it.
Ingredients for the vangibhath powder:
1/4 cup chana dal
1 Tbsp coriander seeds
8 one inch cinnamon pieces
2 -3 Tbsp dry coconut / copra
10 dried red chillies (I used byadagi variety. If using hotter variety, reduce the chillies.)
* Dry toast the chanadal till it starts to turn reddish. Then add the coriander seeds, cloves, chillies and cinnamon and sauté for a few seconds.
* Remove from heat and cool them. Grind them along with the coconut to a fine powder.
1 cup sona masuri rice
3 violet colored baby eggplants - stalks removed and sliced thin lengthwise
1 big potato - peeled and sliced thin lengthwise
Oil to fry
3 tbsp vangi bhath powder (recipe above)
Salt to taste
2 - 3 tbsp oil, 1 tbsp chana dal, 1 tsp mustard seeds, few curry leaves and a handful of cashews
* Cook rice adding 2 cups of water in a pressure cooker or rice cooker and keep it aside. Let it cool a bit.
* Fry eggplant slices in hot oil on medium flame, until crisp and golden brown.
* Repeat the same with potato slices. Drain on absorbent paper towels and keep them aside.
* Heat oil in a kadai or a big non stick pot. Add the cashews and toast them till they turn golden brown. Remove them with a slotted spoon and keep aside. Add chanadal and mustard seeds to the same oil and sauté till the dal turns reddish. Then add curry leaves and the fried vegetables.
* Add the vangibhath powder and salt to the pan and mix properly so that the vegetables are well coated.
* Then add the cooked rice and mix well. Taste and adjust the seasonings if needed. Garnish with the toasted cashews.
* Serve with some papads / chips.