Tahiri -Slow cooked Basmati Rice With Black Spices

                                            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
  • 1 bay leaves
  • 2″ cinnamon stick
  • 2 black cardamom, cracked open (substitute with 5 green cardamom)
  • 1 piece nutmeg
  • 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
  • Salt to taste
  • 2.5 cups water (or as required for cooking your rice variety, check package instructions)
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Chopped cilantro for garnish
Note:- Cut the potato & cauliflower florets such that they cook perfectly in the time it takes rice to cook.
Spices to be soaked in 1/2 cup water for 30 minutes:-

  • 2 tbsp whole black peppercorns 
  • 4 -5 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

Method:- Pick & wash rice 2-3 times under running water. Set aside. Thaw the peas if using frozen. Tip the soaked spices above into a blender jar & churn to make a smooth mix. We dont want a too fine or too coarse textures, just ensure that the black pepper seeds are crushed properly.Transfer to a bowl & set aside.
Heat oil in the pot /kadhai on medium. Once the oil is smoking, add the sliced onions. Cook the onions till they are light brown. About 8 minutes. Next, reduce heat to low & add the bay leaves, cinnamon stick, nutmeg, black cardamom & the ground spice mix to the pot.
Cook the spices & paste with regular stirring till you see oil separating on sides of the pot. About 6-8 minutes. At this point, add the vegetables along with washed rice to the pot. Gently combine everything to mix well.Remove from heat & pour the water required for cooking the rice into the pot, also add the 2 tablespoons oil, give everything a stir,add salt to taste & let the rice soak for 15 minutes.
Once the rice has soaked, transfer the pot to medium heat. Cover the pot & bring to a boil, reduce the heat to very low, and let cook for 10-12 minutes (or the time required for your rice variety to get 95% cooked). Turn off the heat, gently fluff with a fork & leave to steam on its own over the stove for another 5-8 minutes, undisturbed.
While the rice is steaming, heat up a cast iron skillet(enough to hold the cooking pot)on high.Once the skillet is hot, reduce heat to very low, transfer the rice pot over top of the hot skillet & let the rice steam for another 10 minutes on dum (indirect slow cooking technique).We want the bottom layer of rice to crisp up & burnt (almost). 
After 10 minutes, fluff up with a fork ,garnish the rice with chopped cilantro. Serve with plain yogurt/raita & salad.
Note:- Traditionally, the sides of the pot are sealed with the help of dough to ensure tight seal between the lid & pot rim, to trap the steam & aroma within the pot..you can do so if you want. 
Enjoy & Thanks for stopping by!
Linked to Rice Bloghop #rice love


  1. Mmmm.. Delicious tahari! I love spiced and flavorful rice that umps the appetite. My first taste of tahari was after marriage :D

    Tell me about the weather! It’s been 90s far too long in Florida!!!!

  2. Deepa says:

    basmati rice looks to be delicious and mouthwatering.

    Hamaree Rasoi

  3. i love spicy rice dishes..! the rice looks perfect with all those long grains and dark spice!

  4. Delicious!! It looks and sounds great! stunning photos too…will make it when I am craving some spicy rice next time :)

  5. Tanvi, this rice dish looks fantastic…so fragrant and so tasty with all the yummie spices. The pictures are awesome as always.
    Hope you are having a fantastic week :-)

  6. ushnish ghosh says:

    Dear Tanvi
    How are you? Here after a long time , I have to get out of face book soon…it is a nuisance for me. Your introduction feels ones heart and then one has to rush to the kitchen to cook and fill the tummy too.
    I never made this dish but ate few times. WIll make soon. What is this Garam masla you have used? I am very scared of Garam masalas as the ingredients varies from person to person with very different flavor .. Anyway it is not a mater of concern as long as this dish is concerned.
    Have a nice week

  7. This looks absolutely delicious! I haven’t cooked with basmati rice in a while, thanks for reminding me of what I’m missing out on, wonderful post, lovely photos, thanks for sharing =]

  8. Yum. Really delicious! Awesome clicks as always

  9. Wow flavourful yummy rice and beautiful clicks

  10. Really delicious and mouth watering!!! As always awesome photos that make the food come alive :)

  11. I am sucker for bamati rice, so your wonderful dish makes me drool! Really magnificent.



  12. This dish sounds and looks so tempting! Yum!

  13. Love Tahari.. The photos look gorgeous.

    P.S made the date-fig ladoo. came out fantastic. will take a pic and post on twitter. Thanks!

  14. I love tahiri and can survive on this meal for long. love your version.

  15. I’m a big fan of tahiri. My MIL makes it so well. Love yours too! Great clicks tanvi!

  16. I’m always crazy about rice. I can’t live without rice which is why I think I’m chubby. This looks really delicious. I am learning a lot of Indian food name here. Today was Tahari. :-) Always in love with your photos and details. So much fun observing how you capture each items. Always superb work Tanvi!

  17. Wat a flavourful one pot meal,looks super inviting and complete..

  18. You pictures are absolutely divine !! <3

  19. Ah… Comfort food for fall! beautiful clicks and equally mesmarising write-up.

  20. Love bamati rice! This looks so great.

  21. basmati rice – YUM! i love these spices here! totally submit your rice recipe to our #ricelove bloghop :D so others can find your post too :) have a great day tanvi!


  22. Very temting. I know my hubby would love it since he loves rice dishes a lot! Looks Great and the pcitures are awesome.

  23. Wit all the spices there, I’m sure your rice must be very aromatic and delicious. Love it!

  24. Lovely! I’ve never used spices soaked in water. That must be interesting. This dish looks so soulful!

  25. Thanks so much everyone for the kind words. Love you all :)

  26. Delicious!!!
    I love Tahari, I did a post too on tahari which thanks to my web host guys I lost due to database issue and have to restore…
    Yours look so wonderful and beautiful pictures…

  27. This is one of my all time favorite rice dishes. Lovely presentation!

  28. This sounds delicious, you’re kind of making me pray for rain. You paint such beautiful pictures with your words that I am transported to that cot in your grandmother’s vegetable garden with you. I am intrigued by the indirect cooking method, two pans? Really??!

  29. I may never have had this before, but it looks like comfort food to me! It’s getting colder here and I could certainly curl up with a bowl of this. I love the spices…so warming.

  30. Congrats on being featured on Food Buzz, that’s awesome!! This sounds absolutely fantastic. Love the photos.

  31. Congrats on Foodbuzz top 9!

  32. I’ve never heard of tahari before, but it looks fantastic and so comforting. Congratulation on being featured in the Foodbuzz top 9!

  33. This looks absolutely delicious! Love the recipe, love the pictures. Congrats on making the Top 9!

  34. Your perfectly cooked and intensely flavored rice is a treat to behold! Lovely :)
    Devaki @ weavethousandflavors

  35. Love one pot meals- so easy and flavorful. And I love spicy dishes. Will surely be trying this!

  36. Your dish is flat out gorgeous, as always! Congrats on making Foodbuzz’s Top 9. It’s still in the 90’s here in Austin as well but no sign of rain even though we desperately need it. I’m hoping we both get some nice, cool fall weather soon!

  37. The rice is perfectly cooked and the green peas adds color. Looks very beautiful!

  38. Congratulations on making the Top 9!! The photos are so beautiful and I love your background stories. They really make the recipe so much more relatable and delicious. Have a great weekend!

  39. Amazing! those rice looks like mini pastas in length. This one sounds new to me and I’m willing to prepare my own version of it.

  40. This looks really nice, I am learning (slowly and trying not to burn the pan!) to cook basmati with spices, it is very satisfying and so yummy, also all good for me (vegetarian!). Lovely post.


  41. Tanvi,
    Congrats on making Top 9!
    This dish look very delicious,spicy and aromatic!

  42. I happen to make the best basmatti rice evvvvvvva, but its a very simple version. I’d love to be able to make something more elaborate like this. Beautifully done, fabulous spice combinations!
    *kisses* HH

  43. Absolutely drooling over here, Tanvi. I wish I had something more polite to say but I can’t help myself, this makes me hungry!

  44. Oh yum! This look something I want for dinner tonight!

  45. looks great Tanvi and your photos keep getting better and better

  46. Tanvi I love everything about this post, dish, clicks, your write up ..everything.. Now wishing to dig into that bowl of aromatic rice.

  47. Looks amazing. How beautiful your photography is Tanvi. I’m so hungry, could go a giant bowl of your gorgeous food right now. :) Particularly love the shot of the spices used. Very exotic looking.

  48. Oooh, What a gorgeous dish, Tanvi! I love bastami rice and the addition of those wonderful spices are making my mouth water. Simple irresistible. Looks and sounds deliciously adorable :)

    BTW, I’m loving every single click :)

  49. Thanks so much everyone for stopping by & the encouraging words.

  50. Oh, look at those spices… and your photography is always so exquisite Tanvi; I just want to dive in! Delicious looking dish.

  51. beautiful pictures, delicious rice!

  52. Never heard of tahiri before but I’m already hooked… looking at your images that spell comfort from all angles. I wanna dig in right now without going to the trouble to cooking it myself. But alas, you live 7000 miles away!

  53. lovely! I love basmati rice, even more so than the everyday jasmine rice we eat in our family :)

  54. Tahiri sounds absolutely wonderful. And I love the nutmeg that’s added in this dish. This is one dish I can’t wait to try out for myself.

  55. Tahiri makes such a great alternative to biryani. Great post Tanvi! Have so much to catch up with. xo

  56. I came back for a second look :)

  57. Looks yummy!! the basmati rice looks like one to be made on a sunday family dinner. Looks really good. Nice blog :)

  58. Lovely clicks and a flavorful recipe!

  59. This looks so delicious. I’d been looking for a good Tahiri recipe for a while now. My roommates mom use to make it and I hadn’t eaten in in ages. Definitely going to try this. Definitely!!!


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