Though technically it is a sweet rice made using sugar, the addition of lavanga (cloves) and keshar (saffron) elevates the humble rice to heavenly heights. Sakhar bhaat is simple, uncomplicated, and delicious; Maharashtrian food at its best.
I used raw sugar instead of regular white sugar, which gave it a light brown colour and totally masked the colour imparted by the saffron. As this wasn't the familiar colour of sakhar bhaat, I added some more saffron. In the process, went a little overboard and ended up with something that looked more like keshari bhaat (saffron rice) than sakhar bhaat.
The original recipe is from Kamalabai Ogale's Ruchira, a definitive cookbook of Maharashtrian cuisine. Read more about Ruchira here.
1 cup Basmati rice, washed and drained
1 tbsp ghee
1 ¼ cup sugar and a little more than ½ cup water for the paak (sugar syrup)
4-5 lavanga (cloves)
¼ tsp cardamom powder
8-10 cashewnuts, halved
a good sized pinch of keshar (saffron) strands, soaked in a little milk or water
1 tsp lime juice (optional)
Heat the ghee, when hot add the cloves and cook till the colour of cloves starts changes (don't let them burn).
Add the rice and sautee a bit.
Add two cups water and cook the rice.
When the rice is cooked, gently spread it in a plate and let cool.
Combine the sugar and water. Let the mixture cook till you get a thick syrup. You know the paak is done when a drop of paak put on a metal plate holds it shape and doesn't run. This is referred to as a golibunda paak.
Add the lemon juice (if using), saffron, cardamom powder, cashews, and the rice to the syrup.
Cover and cook till the water evaporates.
The rice tastes better the next day, after all the flavours have had a chance to mingle.
The Regional Cuisines of India (RCI) was started by Lakshmi of Veggie Cuisine. After Tamilian and Andhra cuisine, it is now the turn of Maharashtrian food.
This another entry from me for RCI: Maharashtrian Food hosted by Nupur.