Saturday, September 22, 2012

Upvasache Bhagar - Jungle Rice at Prakash in Shivaji Park

- By Deepa Krishnan

One of the happy delights of the rainy season is that Prakash at Shivaji Park has their fasting menu in place. 
Prakash Upahar Kendra near Sena Bhavan
(this is the old location, new location is opposite this one).
There's usually a queue of people waiting for a table. So you'll have plenty of time to admire the beautiful art-deco grillework in the balcony above, while you join the queue! 

I went last week, mercifully before the crowd came in. And I ordered this wonderful thing called Upvasache Bhagar. 
My tiny portion of Bhagar. Everything at Prakash is super-tiny. Space at the blue formica tables is at a premium, so you are expected to share three to a bench. 
Have you tasted bhagar? It is light, nourishing and delicious. It is served with a slightly sweetned yoghurt, which sets off the green chilli spice in the bhagar quite nicely. Ideal for breakfast, especially if you don't like super-spicy things early in the morning. 

Bhagar (vari tandul) comes from the seed of a wild grass. It's often called jungle rice, although it is not really rice. It is a seed which grows widely in Asia. Since it is not a grain, by the complex rules of Hindu fasts, bhagar is among the list of permitted foods that you can eat in the fasting season. 
Photo of bhagar from Wikimedia Commons
To make upvasache bhagar, usually jungle rice is cooked along with rajgira (amaranth, yet another "permitted" seed). Boiled potatoes are also added to give it some mass. Crushed peanuts, green chillies, cumin, lemon, coriander and ghee - these are the things that make bhagar delicious. It is a simple recipe, and works very well.
Looks delicious already, doesn't it?
If you want to try making it at home, you can use this great recipe from The Cook's Cottage. At the risk of offending purists, I would suggest trying your own variations. If you are making it for 4 p.m. "tiffin", then increase the spice levels and serve with masala chai! I think it would taste great with peas and carrots added to it. Or even sauteed capsicum. I think saw a version online with bhopla in it, but I find the idea very yewww. 

For those who want the dish without the effort of cooking it, there's always Prakash. It's very close to my office, so please give me a shout and I'll gladly join you.

P.S. While you're there, try their thalipeeth as well. I'm addicted to it.
The thalipeeth at Prakash - spicy, fabulous, leaves your mouth tingling

9 comments:

Anuradha Shankar said...

I first thought it was some form of upma... looks really tasty and now I am tempted to try it out!!!

TaNuja said...

Both look new to me and yum at the same time

Akshay Iyer said...

The bhagar was a surprise! I am sure it would be a lovely experience if you could join me. I'm tempted to run there now.

Julie said...

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Raj said...

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Pinaki naik said...

Your Blog is Brilliant...Just watched you in Kunal's The Foodie and browsed for your blog.....
Everything you write brings back memories of my beautifully crazy Mumbai city and I can smell and taste the sights....And the piyush at Prakash....
Feeling Sooooooo Nostalgic and Missing Mumbai from far far away in New Zealand

Pinaki naik said...

Your Blog is Brilliant...Just watched you in Kunal's The Foodie and browsed for your blog.....
Everything you write brings back memories of my beautifully crazy Mumbai city and I can smell and taste the sights....
Feeling Sooooooo Nostalgic and Missing Mumbai from far away New Zealand

kiran pawar said...

I remember my mum(Aai) makimg bhagar n sabudana khichadi on fasting days. We used to tekl our mim that we too will fast along with her..just to eat the bhagar n khichadi..hehe..