Different shapes, one taste -- dhikri, bagiya and bhakka

Food Issue 213 Aug, 2019
Text and Photo By Sanjib Chaudhary

Among several finger-licking dishes made from rice flour, dhikri, bagiya, and bhakka are popular, especially in the southern plains of Nepal. While dhikri, tubular and cylindrical in shape, is popular among the Tharus in Western Nepal, bagiya, which is flat, is a favorite among people living in Eastern Nepal. Bhakka, the round version, is especially popular among the Rajbanshis and others in Eastern Nepal.

While dhikri and bhakka are made by just shaping the rice dough and steaming it, bagiya is generally stuffed with lentils or mashed potatoes. Dhikri is prepared principally during the Magh or Maghe Sankrati festival while bagiya is prepared especially during the Deepawali festival.

Let’s see how bagiya is made:

The rice is soaked in water and ground in a dhiki, the traditional rice milling machine. These days rice mills have replaced the dhikis. However, flour ground in a dhiki tastes much better than that ground in a rice mill.

The flour is then sifted and fried. Warm water is mixed with it and it is kneaded enough to make the dough tender. Steamed lentils or mashed potatoes, spices, ginger and salt are added to the dough and it is shaped by hand into a round, and flattened with the palms at the middle while both ends are left protruding. Then they are steamed over a clay pot of boiling water.

The steamed bagiya is served with chutney or vegetable curry. In Eastern Nepal, the Tharus and others celebrate the Govardhan Pooja (the day following Laxmi Pooja) by worshipping their agriculture tools and cattle, and eating bagiya. Every household makes sure to prepare bagiya from the rice flour of newly harvested rice on that day.

As these dishes are made by steaming rice flour dough, all of them are not only delicious but also healthy. However, these tasty dishes are still struggling to find a place in eateries, although a few outlets have started selling bhakka, dhikri and bagiya in cities including Kathmandu, we are happy to say!