“Chhana chai, didi? Chhana chai? Ek dom tatka.” The chhana wala would call out every morning. And Didi would invariably oblige. Chhana was her weakness, and so was helping all those street vendors who came hollering every morning. They knew Didi would always buy.
When Didi was done making Chhanar Dalna, some chhana would still remain. And with all that extra chhana, she’d make this bhaate. A steamed goody made by mixing equal quantities of poppy seed paste, fresh chhana, chopped red onions, chopped green chillies, and a generous dash of mustard oil. And if little sister Bipasha was visiting her in her Shantiniketan home, Didi would make sure she made a tiffin-boxful just for her!
Didi would serve her specially made Chhana-Posto Bhaate to little sister with plain white rice. She loved watching Bipasha mix little dollops of the bhaate into the shaada bhaat, deftly using her fingers to mix everything and eat with satisfaction writ large on her face. There were times little sister would give big sister’s maachher jhol a miss and finish all her rice with the delicate-tasting bhaate. That’s how much she liked it. And why not!
Ingredients for Bidisha Didi’r Chhana-Posto Bhaate are:
4-5 tablespoons poppy seeds/posto, made into a coarse paste
Equal quantity of fresh, homemade paneer/chhana, crumbled lightly
1-2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion
5-6 green chillies, finely chopped
Generous dash of mustard oil + extra while serving
In a steel tiffin box, mix everything together – the posto, chhana, onions, green chillies, salt and drizzle the mustard oil. Close the lid of the box and keep in a pressure cooker. Fill the pressure cooker with a cup or two of water. Make sure you don’t cover the tiffin box with water.
Mix the bhaate, add an extra squirt of mustard oil if you want to and serve hot with plain white rice. The addition of the chhana to the posto adds a lot of creaminess to this bhaate. Its a great recipe for vegetarians who’d get protein from the paneer. We loved this new bhaate for its unique and simple flavours.
(Bipasha and big sister Bidisha both live in the US. Little sister often visits Didi in Princeton, New Jersey just to eat her Chhana-Posto Bhaate. Thanks to the two sisters for sharing this recipe. Its for keeps.)