'Pakhala Bhata' is popular among the Odia's because of the typical climate of Odisha. Its use brings some relief from the usually hot climate in the summer season. It is the cooked rice which is partially fermented in water. Research shows that in the fermented rice the lactic acid bacteria breaks down the anti-nutritional factors in rice, resulting in an improved bio-availability of micro-nutrients and minerals such as iron, potassium and calcium. Consumption of Pakhala is usually avoided in extreme cold climates, especially in the the winter.
Raw or parboiled rice (arua or usuna chaula)
(Old rice is preferred
Please avoid flavored varieties like Basmati)
Salt to taste
Curd (for preparing 'Dahi Pakhala')
'Pakhala Bhata' in simple terms, is the soaking of the cooked rice in water. However it has several variants. The basic principle is to slightly ferment the cooked rice in order to derive its added nutritional benefits.
(1) SAJA PAKHALA: It involves cooling of the cooked rice to room temperature, after draining out the water. Then water is poured into the pot containing the cooked rice. It can then be instantly served by adding a pinch of salt.
(2) BASI PAKHALA: If the cooked rice is fermented overnight before being served it is called Basi pakhala. After preparing Saja Pakhala as mentioned above, just leave the cooked rice soaked in water, in an earthen pot overnight. The rice gets partially fermented causing a slightly sour and sweet taste. A pinch of salt is to be added before serving.
(3) DAHI PAKHALA: Plain yoghurt (curd) is added to the Saja Pakhala prepared out of the freshly cooked rice. It is done to derive a sour taste without fermentantion of the rice, as in case of Basi pakhala. However some people prefer adding yoghurt to Basi Pakhala also.
(4) CHHUNKA DIA PAKHALA:
This is when Saja or Basi Pakhala is tempered with "chhunk". For preparing the Chhunk heat a pinch of oil on a pan. Then add mustard seeds, curry leaves and dry red chili and saute it. Thereafter add this Chhunka into the Pakhala bowl. You may also add some curd, if you prefer. But don't forget to add little salt before serving.
You may see a video of the recipe of Pakhala at the following link.