Masala Bhaat

Masala Bhaat

My husband's grandmother, fondly known as Sangli Ajji in the family, was an exceptional cook. She cooked all the meals with great finesse, expertise and cleanliness.

I had heard many stories about her meticulously stocked store room filled with grains, flours, dry fruits and all the delicacies made by her. This room was always locked and no one was allowed to enter it except my father in law, in the good old days when my in laws were newly married.

Known to rule her home with an iron hand with a very strict demeanour, she was always prim and proper with not a hair out of place and the neatly pleated saree only added to her dignity. Contrary to her imposing personality, I warmly remember her today, as she always had the most wonderful smile for me.

Her Raghavdas Laddus (made with besan and rava) were legendary and unsurpassed and if I ever write a book someday, I will surely include the recipe in it. And so was her Sakhar Bhat (saffron infused sweet rice) and her vegetables cooked with the most amazing spice combinations, at times simply flavoured, yet spectacular!

When she was nearly ninety she came home with her caretaker and cook Ramu, to teach me how to make Raghavdas Laddu and Sakhar Bhaat.

This Masala Bhaat recipe belonging to Sangli Ajji has been in my mother in law's family for generations and is cooked on all special occasions and festivals.

Many a time it is also a part of everyday meals. Masala Bhat can be made with a variety of vegetables like brinjals or eggplants, ring gourd, peas, cabbage and capsicum.

Maybe it is hard to replicate the ways of the women of a bygone era, but it is easy to remember them and revel in the comfort of nostalgia by replicating their recipes.

I will always remember Sangli ajji through her smile, her recipes and her pearls, which were passed on to me by my mother-in-law when I was expecting Hari. These golden yellow pearls are the best I have ever seen and a jeweller told me that these golden yellow pearls are very hard to find these days. The pearl choker with the emerald bead was even worn by Sangli ajji's mother, making it more than 150 years old.

Masala Bhat is very easy to make and yet has a sublime taste resulting from the spices in goda masala. Goda masala, is quite easy to make and is quite handy to have, to flavor different kinds of rice and vegetable preparations. It has been a savior to me when I have wanted to make a quick rice dish with the available vegetables in my stock.

Masala Bhat can be served for lunch or for dinner and can be a part of an elaborate festive menu. It goes particularly well when puris are made on a celebratory occasion. At other times, serve it simply with a salad and yogurt or raita. I assure you that this would make for a gratifying meal.

When it comes to cooking food for my family, I find that the purity of organic ingredients makes all the difference. Visit my recipe page to check out all the recipes created by me as a part of the Organic Mantras Initiative. And you can stay connected with 24 Mantra Organic on Facebook and Instagram.

Masala Bhat


1 ½ cups basmati rice

5 to 6 baby potatoes, peeled and cut into halves

½ cup peas

½ cup ring gourd, sliced

10 to12 cashews, cut into halves

3 tbsp oil or ghee

¾ tsp mustard seeds

¾ tsp cumin seeds

¾ tsp yellow asafetida powder

½ tsp turmeric powder

½ tsp red chili powder

2 tbsp goda masala powder

3 cups water

5 to 6 kokum leaves (if dry, soak in water)

1 tbsp jaggery

2 tsp salt


Wash and soak the rice in water.

Peel and cut the potatoes, shell the peas and slice the ring gourd. Cut the cashews into halves if using.

In a pressure cooker, heat the oil or ghee. Once its hot drop in the mustard seeds and after the mustard pops, lower the flame and add the cumin seeds, followed by the spice powders- asafetida and turmeric.

Add the cashews if using and the vegetables and cook for 3 to 4 minutes. Put in the red chili powder and goda masala powder and the drained rice and mix nicely. Add the water, kokum leaves, jaggery and salt.

Cover and cook until the first whistle. Turn off the heat.

After the pressure drops, take off the lid and allow the steam to escape for 2 o 3 minutes. This helps the rice grains to firm up.

Fluff with a fork lightly and serve hot with your favourite raita or curd.

Serves 4


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18 thoughts on “Masala Bhaat

  1. Great to have this recipe….one request can you please post the Goda Masala recipe of Ajji as the spices differ from family to family…I want your Goda Masala recipe…..please….

  2. Hi Anushruti,

    Thanks for sharing the most authentic style Masala bhath. It looks so delicious and mouthwatering.

    Please clarify if the recipe for Goda masala powder same as your Ajji's masala powder recipe. If not, request to share the recipe for Goda Masala Powder.

    Thanks in advance!!

  3. Dear Anu,pretty pearls and mouthwatering recipe. Kindly post the recipe for goda masala as well. Is ring gourd the same as tendli?

  4. I cannot describe in words about how beautiful this post is and how much I savoured each paragraph you wrote along with these beautiful pictures. I kept reading it over and over again because I feel it came from your heart. Ajji's recipe has to be tried. I can't wait to prepare this for my parents. Beautiful photos as always and look at those divine pearls. It's more precious when it's handed over from generation to generation. I remember my mother telling me she sold the gold that my grandfather had made for her. How my sister and me frowned and yelled at her day!! it felt like we lost a part of him somehow 🙁

  5. Wow!!!
    New post ….so early :))
    "Sangli Ajji" amazing personality …
    Anyway Happy Basant Panchami to u and ur loved ones

  6. Shruti- I have updated the link for the goda masala. It was posted many years ago. 🙂

    Ramya- You are absolutely right. You can use the same masala. It's great to know that you remembered it. 🙂

    Jinny- Have updated the link for the masala. Yes, ring gourd and tendli are the same.

    coralcrue- That's heartbreaking. Many Indians are into that habit. Some of my family members have done that too. But my mother-in-law has preserved her heritage very nicely and I'm grateful for that as she has passed on many family heirlooms to me.

    Mira- Yes. 🙂 Too many posts to do and too little time. Hopefully I can make many posts this year.

    Lalitha- Goda masala is a special spice mixture used to flavour dals, curries and rice dishes. Please follow the link above for the recipe.

  7. Lovely post! and mouth-watering recipe! I truly treasure the old and very happy to find one such recipe so authentic! Beautifully narrated. One small note, adding rice with all the other ingredients is missing.

  8. Hi Anu!

    What a delightful post!
    And what a co-incidence I made a similar dish yesterday and
    ended up breaking my resolution of only salad for dinner 🙂

    In the above recipe at what point do you add the rice ? Do you stirfry with the Masalas.

    Would love to see you dressed up in a similar saree and those pearls.

  9. Hi Anushruti..very beautiful post..brought back so many memories of my dotting grandparents too..still feel a vacuum wen we remember their grand ways,be it feeding people or loving them..I really do appreciate the way you have made an effort to present our vast,versatile and rich Indian culture..all the best for your future endevours..
    Could you please suggest some place or link wer I can get cast iron utensils especially will be of great help as it's difficult to find one..
    Thanking you again..

  10. R'sMom- Thanks for your kind words. If you see my instagram feed, you will find a lot of pics where I'm wearing a saree. I have included the stage at which rice has to be added. And yes, only salad resolutions are meant to be broken. 🙂

  11. Pooja- You are very kind. You can find cast iron vessels in small shops located in large market places of towns and cities in India. Just ask around and someone will definitely guide you.

  12. Beautiful memories, photographs, and narration. What else we need to eagerly read and try the recipe! Very interesting and nostalgic one.

  13. hi anu…
    so excited to try this recipe….thank u so much..2 things..
    in delhi we cant get kokum leaves.whats the replacement? and tendli is ivy gourd..still not clear what is ring gourd..could u please upload a pic of the same…

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