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What I am sharing with you today is probably my most favourite food in the whole world. Gola Bhaat. Food I would kill for if someone was keeping me from it. A dish, which when made, is my sole sustenance until there is no more to be had. It is something I am uncharacteristically fastidious about – the rice must be just so, and the golas must be mixed in it exactly like that, with precisely this much green chutney and that much lemon juice and just the right amount of tadka. Assembling it is an art. And eating it, I get the pleasure an artist must get while looking on a perfectly rendered  painting.

But of course, that’s just me being a nutcase. I will still eat it of course even if it doesn’t meet previously stated standards! THAT is how much I love it. Tanmoy is a recent Gola Bhaat convert too, so much so, that when he read the first draft of this post and discovered he did not feature in it, he had me rectify the ommission. Apparently, if there’s Gola Bhaat, he has to be around.

You know how other Marathi mothers make gajar halwa and puran poli when their kids visit? Well, mine makes Gola Bhaat for me. It is a family recipe. I’d call it Maharashtrian cuisine, but it’s not really made all over Maharashtra. It seems to be a speciality of the Vidarbha region. My mother has been making it forever, but somehow, I’ve never seen it made anywhere but at home.

Now, don’t let all the fuss I am making mislead you into thinking that it requires great skill or labour. It is really very easy to make. And for all the fastidiousness, it is a rather imprecise, individualistic preparation. Cook the separate components – the rice, the golas (or the spicy besan nuggets), the green chutney and the tadka – and then mix them in a proportion that most appeals to your taste buds. Don’t pay any attention to how I mix it. Each person does it their own way. How? Read on.

Prep Time : 45 mins
Serves : 6-8

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WHAT YOU NEED:

For the Gola Bhaat:
2 cups Basmati Rice
3 cups Coarse Besan / Chickpea Flour (the kind used to make laddoos, not the fine one)
2 tbsp Oil
1 tbsp Salt
1 tsp Turmeric Powder
1 tsp Red Chilli Powder (or to taste)
1/2 tsp Baking Soda

For the Chutney:
2 cups Coriander, torn
10-15 Green Chillies
3-4 cloves of Garlic
2 tbsp Lemon Juice

For the Tadka:
1/2 cup Oil
10-15 cloves of Garlic, coarsely chopped
1 tbsp Mustard Seeds
1/2 tsp Asafoetida / Hing

WHAT YOU DO:

  1. Combine the rice with 3 cups of water and cook in a rice cooker or sauce pan. Avoid using a pressure cooker. The grains of the cooked rice should be separate and not sticky. Once ready, drain excess water if any and spread out the rice on a shallow tray to cool.
  2. In a large bowl, mix together the chickpea flour (besan), baking soda, salt, red chilli powder and turmeric powder. Add two tbsp oil and mix well with your hand.
  3. Slowly add water and knead into a dough. Sprinkle some water on the dough and let it sit for 10 mins. Keep the surface of the dough wet.
  4. Make small balls from the dough. You should get around 15 balls.
  5. Steam the golas (balls) for about 15 minutes, until done. I used a rather low-tech method for steaming. See notes below. Set aside to cool once ready.
  6. Using a grinder, grind the coriander, chillies, garlic, and lemon juice to make the chutney.
  7. To make the tadka, heat the 1/2 cup oil in a small sauce pan. Once hot, add the mustard seeds, asafoetida and chopped garlic and cover immediately to avoid the oil from splattering. Remove from heat.
  8. To serve, ladle rice on to plate, crumble a couple of golas on top and drizzle a spoonful of tadka on it. Add some chutney, add a dash of lemon juice and mix well, using you hands.

MY NOTES:

If you do not have a steamer for the golas,  heat water in a large saucepan and place a metal sieve on top. Place the dough balls in the sieve and put a lid on it. Rudimentary, but works like a charm.

Add as much or as little chutney and lemon juice when mixing it up. Like I said earlier, it all depends on how you like it.

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