Featured on Food Buzz Top 9Summer might be officially gone in many of the states but in my part, the temperatures are still in nineties.Though the sun sets early now & morning sun has started to feel cozy and relaxing, days are still quite sunny & hot. However, it rained last weekend. We hardly get any rains out here, I think the last bit was long back in May, so whenever it comes pouring down, its time to rejoice in my house.Usually, its super lazy day with TV or book on the couch, comfort food to fill up and loads of chai which I enjoy while sitting beside the window as rain drops rattle against the glass. Thats one corner of the house which keeps me alive amongst the gloom from cloudy skies in the rest of the apartment, especially when I m alone.
I literally wait for the summer to end to make some dishes.The wet & cold weekend (yup the temperatures dipped to 64 ),made me crave my grandmom’s tahiri which is one of my favorite things to make since the autumn sets in to the finish of winter. Not missing the little chance I got last weekend, this rice dish was our comfort meal. The best part being that this is a one pot meal, has the perfect amount of spike to it, is loaded with satiating goodness of starchy vegetables and leftovers taste all the more better! Just few minutes of preparations & you are all set for a soul satisfying meal.It really need no side dish even coz its so much flavorful on its own, just a bowl of plain yogurt or green chutney/pickle will be more than enough. If you really want to indulge, add a dollop of cold butter or ghee over the steaming bowl of rice, let it melt and find its way right to the bottom on its own & you are good to go! The best part about this dish is the bottom burnt layer of rice which is achieved by a technique called dumpukht (see recipe).
My best memories of eating tahiri are of Sunday lunches when we sat on charpai(cot) under the bright winter sun amid the home-grown decor of winter vegetables in my grandmother’s vegetable garden. I remember picking up fresh stalks of young garlic and onions right from the soil and eating it with tahiri. The taste of unwashed, organic stuff was unmatched.I am a survivor of such homecooked authentic Indian dishes.A mention of these winter lunches still takes me back there, of the food relished during those growing years, times spent with family amid laughter & gossip.
The trio of vegetables that go into tahiri which is a speciality dish of state of Uttar Pradesh (UP) is standard – white potatoes, cauliflower & peas.Called by the same name, this dish is quite similar to a non vegetarian rice recipe popular in south indian states – where it is made with minced meat.These vegetables go so well with the warmth of black indian spices – cumin, black cardamom, black pepper, cloves, nutmeg & cinnamon. The spices are fresh ground into a paste and then rice & vegetable are open cooked on low heat along with the paste for long to bring about the depth of flavors. The result is a aromatic pot full of comfort- the rice is not hot but has the right amount of spice kick for soothing the senses.
Tahiri is not pilaf, its cooked low & slow by a technique called dumpukht or indirect slow heating. What differentiates it from biryani is the fact that unless you make kacchi biryani, the rice & meat/ vegetables are separately half cooked, layered & then cooked to perfection. In tahiri, rice & vegetables cook start to 95% doneness in the spicy broth and finished via dumpukht cooking. I hope all these techniques make sense :)
Utensil Required : A wide mouthed, heavy bottomed pot with lid/kadhai with lid
Ingredients (Serves 4)
- 1/4 cup oil (canola/vegetable/any unflavored oil)
- 3/4 cup thinly sliced red onions
- 2 bay leaves
- 2″ cinnamon stick
- 2 black cardamom, cracked open (substitute with 5 green cardamom)
- 3/4 cup peas (fresh or frozen)
- 3/4 cup cauliflower florets
- 1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes
- 1 cup basmati rice
- 1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg
- 1/2 tsp garam masala
- Salt to taste
- 2.5 cups water (or as required for cooking your rice variety, check package instructions)
- Chopped cilantro for garnish
- 2 tbsp whole black peppercorns
- 4 whole dry red chillies (adjust to tolerance)
- 1 tsp whole cumin seeds
- 1/2 tsp whole coriander seeds
- 4 whole cloves
- 2 ” fresh ginger shoot, peeled & crushed roughly