Poita Bhat used to be a popular meal option in Assam households. It is a healthy way of eating rice which is slowly losing its charm on the dining tables loaded with breakfast cereals, greek yoghurt and gluten-free cookies. A strong principle of good nutrition is eating what grows around you. And rice holds a prestigious position as a widely consumed grain across the country. In the Northeast of India alone, there are thousands of varieties of rice. This is the food that is easiest for your body to digest.
So let’s talk about ‘Poita Bhat’, a cooling food that will help you to beat the scorching summer heat. Traditionally, people in Assam eat Poita Bhat during Bohag Bihu. It is served to all the family members during lunch accompanied by an interesting custom of waving the person eating it with a hand fan, which signifies that summer is around the corner.
The process of making Poita Bhat is pretty simple. You can soak the cooked rice overnight in normal water, sufficient enough to soak the entire rice. The next afternoon you can have the rice in your lunch without discarding the water. Sounds boring? Well, you can make it incredibly mouth-watering by adding some lemon juice, mustard oil, salt, boiled potatoes or fried potatoes with onions and fresh green chillies. You can also add some kharoli (mustard paste), kothal guti pitika (mashed jackfruit seeds), and bengena pitika (smoked brinjal). You can do the permutation and combination as per your taste buds. And the ultimate bliss lies in sipping the water at the end.
But is it really healthy? Are you supposed to eat leftover food?
Well, eating habits in the present are evolving without acknowledging the traditional and important things from our roots. Fermentation is an ancient technique adopted by our ancestors to practice sustainable eating habits. Refrigerating and reheating leftover food is a westernised concept of food preservation. Needless to say, the rise of lifestyle diseases like diabetes, thyroid and high blood pressure owes a lot to poor eating habits.
From a nutritional perspective, fermentation enhances the bioavailability of essential nutrients and minerals such as iron and zinc. Poita Bhat is also considered a rich source of vitamin B12. Ayurveda considers this meal as ‘pitta pacifying, meaning it has a cooling effect on the body. The fibre content will keep you full and provide energy to function throughout the day. And if you have gut issues like constipation and acne, subscribe to this recipe today.
The best things in life are simple. Rice is one of the nutritious grains we Northeasterners are blessed with. This humble and harmless grain has gained a bad reputation for weight gain and insulin spike. But eating it the right way is the key to extract maximum benefit out of it.