Panta Bhat or Soaked Rice
Panta bhat might be the commonest dish in Bengali cuisine, which is prepared from leftover food alone. Although, panta means “soaked in water” and bhat means “rice”, it is simply a preparation of lightly fermented rice. The leftover rice is soaked in water overnight and usually eaten in the morning the next day with green chili and salt (some like to add roasted dry chili and onion as well). It generally tastes sweet and sour (actually it acquires the sourish taste only due to the process of fermentation so it is more sour than sweet) and is, especially, a very popular – and essential – breakfast during the summers in the rural areas. Apart from that, another specialty of Panta Bhat is that it is one of the main dishes in the festivities of Ranna Pujo (literally, “cooking festival”) and Poila Boishakh (Poila Boishakh is the first day of the Bengali calendar) celebrated by Bengalis on both sides of the border, that is, West Bengal and Bangladesh respectively.
And it is not only very, very easy to make but it also has nutrients like riboflavin and Vitamin B and minerals such as iron and zinc, all essential and vital to good health and energy (which is also the reason why it is so popular in the rural areas).
Chili – green chili or roasted dry chili
Soak the leftover boiled rice in water overnight at room temperature to ferment. The rice should be ready by the next day, soft and mushy (well, during the summers, it takes only a night to ferment the rice at room temperature here). Add salt to taste and chili.
Shukno Daal or Dried Red Lentils
To begin with, “Daal” (actually pronounced dahl) is the Bengali word for lentils. “Mushur Daal” is Red Lentil. Daal is a thick stew prepared from pulses and a staple dish in India, Bangladesh and Pakistan. It is literally made every day for lunch or for dinner in these parts of the world.
The popularity of Daal lies not so much on the fact that it is easy to prepare but it is mainly because of it’s rich contains in protein that it is a part of peoples’ regular diet here.
In the commonest preparation of Daal, it is at first boiled in water with a pinch of turmeric, then salt is added, and finally, a fried garnish at the end makes it ready to serve. Dried Red Lentils, that is, Shukno Daal is simply prepared from leftover daal. The leftover daal is cooked over low flame so as to dry up the water and your Shukno Daal is ready in two minutes. Panta Bhat and Shukno Daal, especially, make for a very delicious meal.