Tahiri -Slow cooked Basmati Rice With Black Spices


Summer might be officially gone in many of the states but in my part of the world, 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 .Usually, its super lazy day with TV or book on the couch, comfort food to fill up and loads of chai.

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 grandmother’s tahiri which is one of my favorite things to make as the autumn sets in. Not missing the chance I got last weekend, this rice dish was our comfort meal. The best part being that it is a one pot meal, it has the perfect amount of spice and 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/papad 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 ground and eating it with tahiri.A mention of those winter lunches takes me back there and brings in the nostalgia of the food relished during those years and times spent with family.

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.These vegetables go so well with the warmth of black indian spices – cumin, black cardamom, black pepper, cloves and nutmeg .The spices are fresh ground into a paste and then rice & vegetable are cooked on along with the paste for long to bring about the depth of flavors. The result is a aromatic pot full of comfort.

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 cook together and finished via dumpukht cooking. 


Vegetable Tahiri/Tehri

Dum cooked basmati rice & tri of winter vegetables in a fresh ground spice psate of indain black spices.
Course Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine Indian
Prep Time 20 minutes
Cook Time 1 hour


  • Wide mouthed, heavy bottomed pot with lid/iron kadhai with lid, Cast iron griddle


Make the Spice Paste

  • 1 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2 tsp cumim seeds
  • 1 black cardamom, pods only
  • 1 tsp corinader seeds
  • 2 inch piece of fresh ginger
  • 4 cloves

For The Tahiri

  • 1/4 cup mustard oil
  • 2 bay leaf
  • 4-5 whole dried red chillies
  • 1 whole nutmeg
  • 10-12 cauliflower florets
  • 1 large potato peeled and  cut into 1/2" cubes
  • 1/2 cup peas
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced onions
  • 1/2 cup basmati rice washed
  • 1.5 cup water
  • Cilnatro, Ginger Julinnes etc to garnish


Make the Spice paste

  • Add all the ingredients to a blender and blend of a paste. Dont make too fine or too coarse paste. Set aside.

Make the Tahiri

  • Heat 2 tbsp Oil in the pot/kadhai. Add the cauliflowewr florets and potatoes and brown them for a few minutes. Take out in a plate and set aside.
  • Add the remainig oil to the kadai and heat up. Temper the oil with bayleaf, whole nutmeg and dried chillies.
  • Next, add the sliced onions. Cook the onions till they are nicely brown. About 5 minutes.
  • Reduce the heat and add the ground spice paste. Cook the onions with masala till you see oil seperating on sides.
  • At this point, add all the vegetables along with washed rice. Gently combine everything. Remove from heat & pour the water required for cooking the rice into the pot, add the salt and give everything a stir. Let the rice soak for 30 minutes.
  • Once the rice has soaked, place the kadai on medium stove. Cover the pot & bring to a boil, reduce the heat to very low, and let rice cook for 10-12 minutes (or the time required for your rice variety to get 95% cooked). Proceed to dum cooking as mentioned in the next step below.
  • While the rice is cooking, heat up a cast iron skillet or griddle ( large enough to hold the kadai ).Once the skillet is hot, reduce heat to very low, place the kadai over the skillet & let the rice cook for another 10 minutes on dum (indirect slow cooking technique).We want the bottom layer of rice to crisp up & get browned (almost). Dum cook for aboyt 25 minutes or longer depending on how crisp you want the bottom layer.
  • Once dum cooking is over, switch off the stove leave the kadai on griddle undisturbed for another 15 minutes.
  • Fluff up the rice, garnish with chopped cilantro & ginger julinnes. Serve with raita, pickle, papad etc.

62 thoughts on “Tahiri -Slow cooked Basmati Rice With Black Spices

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

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

  2. 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 🙂

  3. 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

  4. 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 =]

  5. Anita Menon – Mimi's Mama | Business Consultant | Food Blogger | Movie Reviewer | Writer | Co-author of 'My Beautiful Bahrain' | Aspiring Fashionista
    Anita Menon on said:

    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!

  6. 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!

  7. Angie@Angie's Recipes – Angie's Recipes is an interactive blog dedicated to sharing yummy & creative recipes, helpful cooking hints and tips. Enjoy your visit and spread the word!
    Angie@Angiesrecipes on said:

    Love bamati rice! This looks so great.

  8. Faith (An Edible Mosaic) – I’m Faith and I blog at www.AnEdibleMosaic.com where I share my recipe collection of international favorites and updated American classics, with an emphasis on seasonal dishes. I focus on real foods that sustain body and mind, bring people together, and make a house a home. Come check out my mosaic of recipes.
    Faith on said:

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

  9. 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…

  10. Natalie Ward – Andalucia – Cook Eat Live Vegetarian is where I share my seasonal vegetarian recipes with the world. I cook, I photograph, and I write about food. It's an obsession.
    Natalie on said:

    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??!

  11. 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.

  12. Delicious Everyday – Freelance food photographer & stylist. Portfolio at http://www.jenniferlschmidt.com Vegetarian food blogger at Delicious Everyday http://www.deliciouseveryday.com/
    Jennifer (Delicieux) on said:

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

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. Alessandra Zecchini – Auckland, New Zealand – Author, writer, journalist, food stylist and recipe developer, publisher.
    Alessandra on said:

    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.


  16. 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

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  18. Anna Johnston – Canberra – “I am a Fun Loving, Adventure Seeking, Enthusiastic, Super Positive Aussie Gal & creator of The Hospitality Guru! I’m a Chef, a Teacher, Trainer, Functions, Wedding & Event Architect; General Manager & all round Nice Girl who loves nothing more than great food paired with wonderful wines & beers.”
    Anna Johnston on said:

    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.

  19. 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 🙂

  20. Kelly @ Inspired Edibles – San Francisco Bay Area – Kelly Mulcair is an evidence based holistic nutritionist living in Northern California
    Kelly on said:

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

  21. 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!

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

  23. ali – Kenya – I was born on the hilly side of Kenya in a little town called Kitale. Little did the people around me know that I was going to be the best chef in my family. I was raised in a family that loves cooking and regards food and its preparation as the highlight of the day. My dad has been the inspiration in my cooking life, and his influence is reflected in my achievements and dish creations. I remember the first meal I cooked was plain fried eggs. At that time, I was only 6 years old and had just learned how to ride a bicycle. My father, being the great dad he is, took me to the kitchen and taught me how to make my own eggs. It really felt great. Thanks, Dad. With my passion for food I joined MyFudo™ as it brings to the table various delicious recipes and tastes. It also showcases all the trials and triumphs that we experience, and how these affect our culinary life.
    ali on said:

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

  24. 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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