Dal (Lentil) Dishes · Indian Vegetarian & Vegan · Rice Dishes

Khichdi Recipe (Dal Khichdi)

Khichdi or Kitchri is an easy indian comfort meal made with rice and lentils. It is super simple to make, healthy and nourishing to the body. I grew up eating many kinds of khichdi made with a combination of different kinds of lentils and rice but this version made with red lentils and rice was made quite often.

Depending on how much time you want to spend, you can make khichdi either in an instant pot, pressure cooker or make it slow cooked. I go for the slow cooked version mostly because I like the consistency and the creaminess of slow cooked khichdi, however, any way you choose to make it, like most lentil & rice dishes, it is super hearty and an absolute comfort food.

What is Dal Khichdi?

Every cuisine has its comfort food, and khichdi is one of the most loved comfort food for Indians. It could be the health benefits (ease of digestion) or how easy it is to make, khichdi is very popular in indian homes.

Khichdi is made by boiling rice and lentils (red lentils or mung lentils or chana/urad lentils etc) together with turmeric and salt. Sometimes few spices are added and well as depending on how different homes like it, vegetables like potatoes or peas are also added. Everything is cooked till it resembles a runny porridge and is often tempered with garlic or cumin seeds and served warm.

Khichdi is considered as one of the most healing or restorative foods as per Ayurveda. Lentils are superfoods that can balance all the dosas (shortcomings) in the body. Due to ease of digestion and how minimally spiced khichdi is cooked, it is considered one of the best foods for people have gut issues.

What are the Ingredients Needed to Make Khichdi?

You need very basic ingredients from your pantry. Lets discuss them one by one :-

Lentils :- In this recipe, I used Masoor Dal or red lentils since this was the most common type of khichdi that was made in my home. However you can easily swap the red lentils with yellow moong dal or split green moong dal. If using yellow moong dal, dry roast them slightly before using, it gives a nice flavor.

Rice :- For the best consistency of the khichdi, I suggest using any starchy short grain rice. I use gobindbhog/kalijeera rice and it is easily available in Indian stores. However, my grandmother used to use tukda basmati rice which is simply broken grains of basmati rice. I don’t find it here at my indian stores but if you do, go for it. Please don’t use brown rice since its husky and takes away the smooth texture of the khichdi.

Ghee :- Use ghee for cooking khichdi as well as for making the tempering. Ghee is one of the most healthy fats and helps in maintaining gut health a well as enhance the taste of this simple dish. You can see recipe of my homemade ghee here. However for plant versions, you can simply use neutral oil.

Spices :- While the khichdi cooks, I spice it simply with minced ginger, hing, turmeric powder and black peppercorns. Before serving, I make a tempering of garlic, cumin and red chili powder (optional).

You can also use bay leaf, clove or cardamom to add more flavor.

How To Make Dal Khichdi?

Slow Cooking Method :-

Start by simply tempering and then boiling the lentils and rice together to a heavy bottom pot. Once boiling, reduce the heat to low and cook covered for 25-30 minutes or longer depending on how long it takes for grains to cook. Keep stirring often, it makes the khichdi creamy by breaking down the starches of the lentils and rice.

Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker Method :-

Temper and add the lentils and rice to the IP or Pressure cooker with 3 times the water to begin with. Close the lid and pressure cook. For the quantities mentioned in the recipe, on medium heat, it takes about 8 minutes in an Instant pot and 3-4 whistles in a pressure cooker. Let pressure release naturally in both cases, add more water an cook a little to adjust the desired consistency and then proceed to adding tempering.

How to Serve Khichdi?

In most homes, khichdi is served with pickle, papadums, and slightly tart yogurt. In Bengali cuisine, then serve it with omelete and fried potatoes or vegetables (bhaja). You can also make a simple potato curry like this one here and serve alongside. Chutneys and a quick salad also pairs quite well.

Variations of Dal Khichdi :-

Masala Khichdi :- Saute 1/3 cup of chopped onions with the ginger and add 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder and 1/4 tsp red chili powder (or to taste).

Vegetable Khichdi :- Add 1 to 1.5 cups of mixed vegetables to make vegetable khichdi.

Spinach Khichdi :- Add 1/2 cup of finely chopped or torn spinach while the khichdi is boiling.

Few tips and tricks while making khichdi :-

  • Always start with a optimum quantity of water at the beginning as noted in the recipe. Later as needed or depending on the consistency you desire, add warm water and mash the khichdi.
  • Don’t add too many spices. Khichdi should tastes of lentils and rice and its supposed to be a mellow dish.
  • You can add 1-2 chopped green chilies to the tempering that goes on top if you like to add a little heat to khichdi.
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Khichdi Recipe (Dal Khichdi)

Khichdi is an indian comfort food made with red lentils and rice. It is warming, vegetarian protein rich and nourishing for the body.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time30 mins
Total Time35 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 2 tablespoon ghee
  • 1 teaspoon minced ginger
  • 1/4 teaspoon hing powder
  • 2-4 black peppercorns
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion
  • 1 cup split red lentils
  • 3/4 cup short grain rice, (I use gobindbhog)
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)
  • 4-5 cup water (depending on desired consistency)

For the Tempering on top

  • 2-3 tablespoon ghee
  • 7-8 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder (or to taste)

Instructions

  • Rinse the lentils and rice at least three times or until the water runs clear. Add to a bowl and pour 3 cups of water and let soak for 30 minutes.
  • Heat ghee in a heavy botton pot with lid(or IP or Pressure cooker).
  • Add minced ginger, hing and black peppercorns to the warm ghee and saute for few seconds. Add the onions and cook them for a couple minute until translucent and starting to turn light brown.
  • Add the soaked lentils and rice along with the water. Sprinkle turmeric powder. dd another cup of water. Stir well and taste the salt. Adjust salt.
  • To slow cook :- Bring to a boil, cover and let cook for 20-35 minutes until lentils and rice are soft. Stir often and mash using back of spoon while the khichdi cooks. Adjust consistency with warm water as desired. Add tempering before serving and mix. Serve warm.
  • To cook in Instant Pot or Pressure Cooker :- Close the lid and pressure cook. For the quantities mentioned in the recipe, on medium heat, it takes about 8 minutes in an Instant pot and 3-4 whistles in a pressure cooker. Let pressure release naturally in both cases, add more water an cook a little to adjust the desired consistency and then proceed to adding tempering.

Tempering

  • Heat up ghee in a small sauce pan and on slow heat brown the garlic. Add cumin seeds and crackle. Switch of the stove and add the red chili powder. Add to the Khichdi.
Rice Dishes

PANEER MOTI PULAO

Fragrant and delicately spiced basmati rice adorned with fried paneer kofta(balls) that are covered in edible silver & gold warq(leaf) to resemble ‘moti‘ or pearls. This pulao is easy to make and tastes of green cardamom & cloves with a tang of yogurt in every bite.

Pulao/Pilaf is easy one pot comfort food for anytime. They are quick to make and can be served on their own or with curries and lentils. In indian cuisine, there are hundreds of ways to make and serve pulao. From weeknights to weekend pulao to pulao recipes for special occasions, we have it all. Pulao is less labor intensive than layered rice dishes like biryani and that makes it really handy for anytime.

What is Moti Pulao?

Moti translates to pearl in Hindi and originally small, melt in the mouth ground meat kofta (balls) are added to pulao along with birista (browned onions), cashews and dry fruits. To make the meat balls resemble shiny pearls, the kofta are coated in edible silver or gold after cooking. This recipe comes from the kitchens of the nawabs where the royal cooks arduously spent hours to come up with culinary masterpieces to please their king. If you happen to look at the nawabi/awadhi cuisine, you will find luxirious and delicate flavors in the dishes. Not a lot of strong spices (masalas) are used- many of the dishes use lot of nut pastes, ghee, yogurt, mik sweet smelling spices like cinnamon and cinnamon and mild kashmiri chilies. The same theme is carried forward in this dish. There are not strong spices or any fresh ground masalas, the rice cooks to be mellow and is served as one of the dishes among many.

How to make Moti pulao?

I take inspiration from the traditional nawabi technique and make a vegetarian version with paneer koftas. In order to make moti pulao, the first step is to the make the birista or fried browned onions which form an important component of its taste profile unless you decide to use store bought fried onions(which is totally fine!) Once the browned onions are ready and while they cool down,I move on to making the pulao, which basically begins by tempering the ghee with few whole spices, followed by more onions & garlic, green chilies and them making a base of plain yogurt and then cooking the rice in it. While the rice cooks, you can work on the paneer kofta – deep fry or air fry them and then add them on the fluffed pulao.Finish the pulao with saffron, and serve. If you go with a little planning, the different steps of this recipe can be done methodically and you will be really efficient in the kitchen. Read the recipe to understand how I go about it. You can serve moti pulao with any spiced curry. It goes well with green chutney and salad as well.

Few things to keep in mind when cooking Moti Pulao

  • If you want, make the kofta with minced chicken or mutton/lamb keema.
  • Don’t go overboard with spices. I dot use powdered spices at all. Just a few whole spices are enough to season the rice, its not supposed to be too masaledaar.
  • If you want color to your rice, use a little red chilli powder for reddish hue.
  • Dont skimp on the ghee. The pulao will be sticky.
  • Always use a wide and heavy pan to cook the pulao. The thinner the layer of rice as it boils in rice, the grains won’t break and fluffier the rice will cook. I use my 12 inch pan with lid.
  • You can make mixed vegetables koftas or add a few vegetables like peas or carrots for a variation.

A few questions that I can think of :-

Can I use any other rice than basmati rice? – Yes definitely. However, this is such a royal dish and if you making it for special occasions like Diwali, I would go for basmati rice only.

Can I avoid deep frying the paneer kofta? You can air fry or shallow/pan fry the paneer kofta. I would go for latter since I feel that air frying makes them dry.

My rice sticks, why do you think? There could be two main reasons for rice to stick or break. First is that you used less oil/ghee. Pulao needs a proper amount of fat to cook fluffy. If you skim on ghee, the pulao will be sticky and taste like steamed rice. Second reason could be that you did not let the rice rest after cooking. It is super important, fluff the rice attest 15-20 minutes after it has rested.

I don’t like biting into a whole spices, can I tie them in a bag? Ofcourse. But make sure that you use muslin to tie the spices so that they flavors can permeate properly into the rice.

Other pulao recipes to check from blog :-

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Paneer Moti Pulao

Fragrant and delicately spiced basmati rice adorned with fried paneer kofta(balls) that are covered in edible silver & gold warq(leaf) to resemble 'moti' or pearls. This pulao is easy to make and tastes of green cardamom & cloves with a tang of yogurt in every bite.Serve with green chutney and/or spiced curry.
Prep Time30 mins
Cook Time40 mins
Total Time1 hr 40 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4

Ingredients

For the Birista (Fried Onions)

  • 2 large onions, halved and sliced (not too thick or thin)
  • Oil for deep frying

For the Pulao

  • 3/4 cup basmati rice
  • 1 +1/4 cup water (adjust depending on rice quality)
  • 4 tbsp ghee
  • 4 green cardamom
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3-5 cloves
  • 1.5 tsp cumin seeds
  • 6-8 black peppercorns, whole
  • 2-3 Thai bird green chillies, slit
  • 1 small onion, thinly sliced
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/3 cup whole raw cashews
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt, beaten
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 10 strands saffron, soaked in 2 tbsp milk
  • Pomegranate arils, fresh mint, cilantro etc for garnish

For the Paneer Kofta

  • 1 cup crumbled paneer
  • 1/2 cup grated boiled potato
  • 1.5 tbsp cornstarch (see notes)
  • 1 tsp chopped ginger
  • 1-2 thai bird green chilies, finely chopped
  • 1/4 tsp cardamom powder
  • 1 tbsp coarse powdered cashews
  • 3/4 tsp salt
  • Edible silver or gold leaves
  • Oil for frying (same that you used for frying onions)

Instructions

Make the Birista (Fried Onions)

  • In a heavy kadai or wide skillet, heat oil on medium hit and deep fry the onions till they are light brown in color. Fry on ow heat so that the onions are crisp. Drain on a paper towel and spread them. Let cool. They will crisp up more as they cool. Set aside.

Make the Pulao (Start while the onions are frying)

  • Wash the rice 2-3 times in running water and soak them in 1.5 cup of water. Keep near.
  • In a heavy pot with lid, add the ghee and let it heat up. Make sure that the ghee is not too hot or smoky. Temper with all the whole spices – cardamom, peppercorns, cloves, bay leaf and cumin seeds. Saute for 30 seconds and add the green chilies and cashews.
  • Fry the cashews for a minute or so till they are pale brown and then add the onions. Cook onions for 3-4 minutes til they soften a bit but aren't not browned.
  • Lower the heat to low and add the yogurt to the pot. Immediately whisk for a minute or so else the yogurt will curdle. Add sugar and salt and cook the yogurt masala for about 2 minutes till you see small bubbles of fat appearing but don't cook for too long.
  • Add the soaked rice along with water to the pot, stir to combine everything. Taste and adjust the salt of the water to make sure that its sharp salty, this ensures that rice will be well seasoned.
  • Bring to a boil, cover and turn the stove to low for about 12-14 minutes for rice to cook and absorb the flavors. While the rice cooks, you can proceed to make the paneer kofta (recipe below).
  • Onde95 percent of the water is aborbed, open the lid of the pot and drizzle the soaked saffron. Don't mix. Immediately cover and let the rice cook completely for another 5 minutes.
  • Take off stove and let the rice sit undisturbed for about 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork, plate and decorated with warm paneer kofta, fried onions, extra nuts, fresh herbs etc. Serve.

Make the Paneer Kofta (Moti)

  • You can use the same oil that you used for frying onions to fry the paneer kofta. Just make sure to strain the oil once to get rid of any burnt onions particles. Heat up the oil on medium.
  • In a large bowl, add all the listed ingredients except the silver/gold leaf.
  • Using your hands, squish and mix everything nicely to form a smooth dough. Take a smallD portion, roll into a ball and add to oil, if its not spreading, procee and make small koftas.
    If the kofta spreads, add another tablespoon of cornstarch, mix and then form the koftas.
  • Fry up all the koftas on medium heat until golden on all sides.
  • Drain on a paper towel and once cool to touch, cover the koftas in gold or silver warq. Add to the pulao as mentioned the instructions above.
Indian Streetfood & Indo Chinese · Rice Dishes

Paneer Tawa Pulao

Tawa pulao could essentially be indian equivalent of asian fried rice. Leftover rice sautéed on high heat with vegetables, protein and spices, what’s not to love! Tawa pulao is a popular street food in western parts of India(Mumbai) and its one of the best ways to use up leftover rice in my opinion. Together with green chilies, fresh herbs, vegetables and pav bhaji masala, it makes for one delicious and quick weeknight dinner especially if you have cooked rice ready to go.

As the name suggests, tawa pulao is made on tawa -a flat round pan which is popular in indian cooking for making rotis, shallow frying, making savory cheelas and roasting as well. Indian tawa are heavy and usually made of iron but you can use your cast iron skillet for this recipe. If you have a wide mouthed, heavy iron kadai that will work perfectly as well. We are sort of tossing everything similar to fried rice so a wide & heavy pan and pre prepared ingredients are the key. The idea is to cook on a constant high heat- similar to how we stir fry in asian cooking and a non wide skillet or wok won’t do the job properly.

All you need is leftover rice, some blanched or steamed vegetables and protein for this recipe. My husband said, I added by Delhi touch by adding paneer :), but if you have leftover chicken tandoori or tikka, you can use those as well. You can leave out the protein altogether and make these just with vegetables.

I like to spice up the pulao with pav bhaji masala, however you can use any spice blend that you like – dry tandoori masala (my recipe here), sambar powder or garam masala can be perfectly used. The use of a spices along with a paste of ginger, garlic and green chilies lends a smoky umami flavor to these rice and with creamy, milky soft chunks of paneer they taste super delicious. Cooking on super hot tawa lends the rice slightly crispy, vegetables are charred and the spices get smoky. All and all a super flavorful dish which is perfect for quick family dinners. Serve the pulao with raita, green chutney and achar.

How to make Tawa Pulao?

You will need a heavy tawa. I like using my 12 inch cast iron griddle but you can simply use iron tawa or wide iron kadai (one that’s heavy). Making tawa pulao is very much like making fried rice. You have to work fast once you start so make sure that the ingredients are ready to go. Prepare the blanched vegetables, shallow fry the paneer, keep the chopped onion, garlic, ginger and chilies ready. We will add everything step by step (as outlined in the recipe) and add the rice at the last and stir fry on high heat.High heat is important to make sure that the rice does not turn mushy. Few of the rice grain might break but that’s okay. It is important to start with cold rice so that they do not stick to each other. I start by making a quick masala of onions, tomatoes, ginger garlic and green chillies. Then I sauté the paneer and vegetables for a bit to warm them up before adding the rice and pav bhaji masala and tossing it up all together.

A few things to be kept in mind when you make tawa pulao:-

  • Always use cold rice. You can use leftover rice or if you are cooking fresh, let them cool down completely and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using.
  • Use a wide and heavy tawa. This ensure that the rice crisp and don’t get mushy. Heavy tawa ensures that heat is constant. I usually avoid non stick pans because they change the texture of rice.
  • Keep the vegetables and all other ingredients ready. These pulao takes about 10-12 minutes start to finish and having everything ready to go makes sure that we get the right texture without overcooking anything. Don’t use raw vegetables except those which cook quickly or can be eaten crisp (like peppers or corn). Blanch the carrots, peas(if using fresh) or green beans if using.
  • Shallow fry the paneer chunks before adding or use them as it is. One good tip is to cut the paneer and vegetables to roughly the same size.
  • You can use leftover chicken tikka or shredded tandoori chicken as well in this recipe. It tastes amazing.

Paneer Tawa Pulao

Popular indian street food style rice pilaf/pulao cooked on a hot skillet or tawa with vegetables, paneer chunks and spiced with pav bhaji masala.
5 from 1 vote
Prep Time 10 mins
Cook Time 15 mins
Course Main Course
Cuisine Indian
Servings 4

Ingredients
  

  • 3 tbsp oil
  • 2 tbsp butter
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/3 cup chopped onion
  • 2-3 green chilies, roughly chopped , adjust to taste
  • 3 garlic cloves, roughly chopped
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, roughly chopped
  • 1.5 cup vegetables (use vegtables that you like, I used blanched carrots & green beans, peas, bell peppers)
  • 5-6 tbsp tomato puree(simply blitz 2 small tomatoes in a processor) or use 1/4 cup store bought tomato puree
  • 1/4 tsp sugar
  • 1/2 cup paneer chunks, shallow fried if you like
  • 1 tbsp pav bhaji masala , adjust to how strong you like the spices
  • 1/2 tsp hot red chili powder , adjust to taste
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups cooked rice, cold
  • Chopped cilantro

Instructions
 

  • Keep all ingredients ready. Using your mortar and pestle, piund the ginger, garlic and green chilies to a coarse paste.
  • In a heavy bottom cast iron skillet or tawa, on medium high, heat up oil, crackle cumin and add the green chillies, ginger and garlic paste and cook for 30 seconds.
  • Add the onions next and cook for 2-3 minutes till onions begin to brown.
  • Then, add all the chopped vegetables at once and sauté them around till you see them starting to char. On medium high heat it takes about 2-4 mins.
  • Then add the tomato purée & sugar. Cook for about 3 minutes untill ou see oil starting to seperate but dont saute too much.Add the cubed paneer. Add turmeric, red chili and pav bhaji powder as well and cook everything for another 1 to 2 minutes.
  • Add the cold rice, sprinkle salt and stir fry the rice with everything else for 3-4 minutes. Finish with chopped cilantro. Serve.

Notes

  • Always use cold rice. You can use leftover rice or if you are cooking fresh, let them cool down completely and refrigerate for at least 1 hour before using.
  • Use a wide and heavy tawa. This ensure that the rice crisp and don’t get mushy. Heavy tawa ensures that heat is constant. I usually avoid non stick pans because they change the texture of rice.
  • Keep the vegetables and all other ingredients ready. This pulao take about 10-12 minutes start to finish and having everything ready to go makes sure that we get the right texture without overcooking anything. Don’t use raw vegetables except those which cook quickly or can be eaten crisp (like peppers or corn). Blanch the carrots, peas(if using fresh) or green beans if using.
  • Shallow fry the paneer chunks before adding or use them as it is. One good tip is to cut the paneer and vegetables to roughly the same size.
  • You can use leftover chicken tikka or shredded tandoori chicken as well in this recipe. It tastes amazing.
Tried this recipe?Let us know how it was!

Rice Dishes

Zucchini & Shrimp Tamarind Rice

This tangy rice dish combined with sweet in-seaon zucchini succulent shrimp is a beautiful choice for summer dinners. You can grind and store the spice powder (podi) ahead and with some leftover rice, it is quick to make and makes for a delicious light summery meal. Pair with papads(lentil crackers) or fried potato sticks (I have a recipe here) for a rounded meal.

South indian cuisine has quite a lot of flavored rice recipes made with dry powdered spices, curry leaves and a sour agent (tamarind or tomato or lemon). Tamarind rice is a popular recipe and it has a few variations. Some recipes mix the cooked rice with tamarind paste and stir fry (I make this version), the other recipes cook the rice in tamarind and spices flavored water.

Tamarind rice is a beautiful combination of rice flavored with fresh ground spices. I add fleshy sweet zucchini and shrimp to make it a meal perfect for summer dinners. This recipe is an inspiration from traditional south indian tamarind rice. While its not authentic, my family loves it.

If you do not want to use tamarind, use lemon juice or tomato puree instead. It all works great if the spice powder is done right. This is a good recipe for summer evenings when we all need a quick and satisfying meal. The best thing is that these rice can be eaten room temperature making them great for lunchboxes.

A few things to be kept in mind :-

  • Cook the rice a few hours or a night before. Cold rice won’t break when you mix it with the spices and stir fry.
  • Try to grind the spices fresh for a better taste or max 1-2 days ahead and store in an air tight container.
  • I use thick tamarind pulp, dont use watery tamarind else the rice will turn wet.
  • Add any vegetables that you like- peas, yellow squash and spinach go well.
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Zucchini & Shrimp Tamarind Rice

Inspired by south indian tamarind rice, this spicy tangy rice with fresh zucchini and shrimp makes for a great summer meal.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 lb extra large shrimp, cleaned, tail on
  • 4 tbsp oil (divided)
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 1 tbsp garlic, chopped
  • 8-10 curry leaves
  • 2 thai bird, slit (adjust to taste)
  • 2 to 2.5 cup cooked rice
  • 3 tbsp tamarind pulp (not paste)
  • 1 tbsp jaggery
  • 2 tbsp roasted cashews
  • 1 medium zucchini, diced
  • 1 tsp salt

For the Spice Powder (makes extra)

  • 6 dried red chillies
  • 1 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 2 tsp black mustrad seeds
  • 2 tbsp white urad dal
  • 1 tbsp chana dal
  • 6-8 black peppercorns
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds

Instructions

  • Lighly dry roast all the ingredients for the spice powder in a skillet. Cool slightly and grind to a powder(not too coarse or super fine).Keep ready.
  • In a wide skillet (12 or 14 inch), heat up 1.5 tbsp oil on low medium heat. Once oil is warm, lower the heat and layer the shrimp and sprinkle a little salt. Cook 2-3 minutes each side. Once orange and cooked through, transfer to a plate.
  • Now we have to work quickly. Add the remaining oil to the skillet and heat on medium. Add the onions and lightly brown them. Next add curry leaves and let crisp a bit.
  • Next add the zucchini, green chilli and garlic and saute them for 1-2 minutes taking care that zucchini isnt too soft.
  • Add the tamarind pulp and jaggery next and quickly mix for 30 seconds or so. Add the rice and cashews to the skillet. Sprinkle 2 tbsp of the spice powder that we made along with salt. Also add a little splash of water if you feel that rice is getting too dry.
  • Stir fry for 3-4 minutes until warmed through and slightly crisped.
  • Serve immemdiately with papadams.Enjoy!
Rice Dishes

Kale and Paneer Pulao

A healthy, fragrant and easy paneer(indian cheese) and kale pulao that is perfect for lunchboxes and quick meals.It tastes great a room temperature and keeps well for 2-3 days without changing its taste.Serve it on its own with salad, papad and raita or combine with tikkis or kebabs.

Paneer is an excellent source of protein for vegetarians and in this recipe I combine it with blanched kale – another powerhouse of nutrition. The combination of dark leafy greens, ghee crisped paneer, buttery rice and aroma of spices in each bite makes this pulao irresistible. You can add vegetables like peas, spinach or greens beans instead of kale if you wish. If you want to make it vegetarian, use tofu or any plant protein in place of paneer and skip the yogurt (finish with a little lime juice instead).

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Kale & Paneer Pulao

A nutritious, fragrant and easy pilaf made with ghee crisped paneer and leafy kale.
Prep Time15 mins
Cook Time25 mins
Course: Main Course
Cuisine: Indian
Servings: 4

Ingredients

  • 1 bunch kale (5-6 stalks)
  • 7 oz paneer, cut into cubes or triangles
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1/4 cup cooking olive oil
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 4 green cardamom
  • 2 shallot, thinly sliced (or 1/3 cup sliced red onions)
  • 1 tbsp ginger garlic paste
  • 1 tsp tumeric powder
  • 1 tsp red chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 2 tbsp full fat plain yogurt ,beaten
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 1 cup basmati rice washed and soaked for 20 minutes
  • 1.5 cup water (or as needed for your rice brand)

Instructions

  • Blanch the Kale Leaves – Discard the stems of the kale and wash the leafs thorougly 2-3 times in water. Next, add the leaves to a boiling pot of water and let cook for 5 minutes. Immediately add the kale to ice water. Let cook completely. Once cooled, chop into bite size. Keep ready.
  • Prepare the Paneer -Add ghee to a cooking pot or shallow pan and on low heat, crisp up the paneer on both sides. Transfer to a plate.
  • To the remaining ghee, add the cooking oil and let heat up.
  • To the warm oil, add the whole spices and let crackle. Add the sliced shallots next and brown lightly for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the ginger garlic paste and brown for 30-40 seconds on low medium stove.
  • Add the powdered spices next alomg with yogurt and saute continously for a minute or so else the yogurt will curdle. Let cook for couple minutes till you see oil seperating on seeds. Add the chopped kale next and saute everything for a minute or so.
  • Add the soaked rice, salt and paneer to the masala along with water. Mix well and taste the once, the water should taste salty else rice wont be flavorful.
  • Bring the water to a boil, cover the pot and let cook on slow heat till the water is absorbed. Takes about 10-15 minutes.
  • Switch off the stove, dont open the lid immediately. Let the rice pot sit undisturbed for 20 minutes.
  • Gently fluff the pulao and serve.

Notes

  1. You can add vegetables like peas, spinach or greens beans instead of kale if you wish.
  2. If you want to make it vegetarian, use tofu or any plant protein in place of paneer and skip the yogurt (finish with a little lime juice instead).
Rice Dishes

Gud Ke Chawal (Jaggery Rice)

Jaggery sweetened rice perfumed with spices. A traditional north indian rice dish which is made during winter months. Though I like to consume jaggery all year round, but growing up it was mostly available during colder months- jaggery is a powerhouse of nutrients particularly iron and keeps the body warm during winters.

I wasn’t too fond of these sweet rice growing up. It was a bit naive of me but as I grew up I started to appreciate these traditional and unique recipes more and more. There is a specific reason behind the selection of spices and the addition of sweetners as per the season. When done right, a warm bowl of jaggery rice is soul satisfying. Being refined sugar free and also not being overly sweet, my recipe will not leave you feeling guilty of sugar overload.

The recipe is very simple and uses 4-5 basic ingredients which you can find in your pantry. Rice, Jaggery, ghee, spices and nuts of your choice is all you need. The only tricky part is to make sure that the rice remains soft after cooking in jaggery syrup. For that, don’t overcook the syrup. The syrup is ready when the jaggery melts, immediately take it off the stove, we dont want any string consistency or anything. Secondly add the boiled rice while its still hot to the syrup. If the rice gets cold they won’t cook properly and will become hard.

These rice taste much better after resting for a bit and they taste better the next day so do plan a bit of leftovers(you can double the recipe if you wish).

Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 2-3)

  • 1/2 cup long grain basmati rice
  • 4 cups water
  • Pinch of salt
  • 110 gms jaggery (dont use powdered or grated jaggery)
  • 2 tbsp water
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 3 cloves
  • 5 green cardamom pods
  • 1/3 cup almonds
  • 1/4 cup golden raisins
  • 1/3 cup sliced coconut (use any nuts of choice)
  • Pinch of grated nutmeg(optional)

Method

Wash rice under a stream of water 2-3 times. Soak the rice for 25 minutes.

Once the rice has soaked, set the 4 cups of water to boil in a large pot.

Meanwhile, in a sauce pan, add the jaggery along with 2 tbsp water and put on low stove to melt. The jaggery will melt in 5-7 minutes, just stir it once or twice to make sure that its not sticking to the bottom. Once melted, immediately take off the stove, dont let boil. Keep the syrup warm.

To the boiling water, add pinch of salt and add the soaked rice (after discarding the water in which you soaked them). Stir the rice gently once or twice and on medium heat let the rice boil. We have to boil the rice till its 90% cooked. The rice variety I use takes about 8-10 minutes(time will vary depending on quality of your rice). To check the doneness of rice, take a grain and try to pinch it between your thumb and finger, it should not break easily rather spread and feel almost cooked.

While the rice is boiling, in a wide pan, add the ghee and let it melt. Keep the stove on low and once the ghee has melted, add the bayleaf, clove and cardamoms to it. Saute the spices on low heat for 30 seconds taking care not to burn them.Add the coconut slices, almonds and raisins next and saute for 30 seconds taking care not to burn them. Carefully, add the warm jaggery syrup (it might splutter). Keep the stove on low so that syrup dosent boil.

Strain the cooked rise using a sieve and immediately add to the pan. Using a spatula gently fold the rice with the syrup taking care not to break the rice. Once all the rice is covered in syrup, cover the pan and let simmer for 20-25 minutes on low heat until all the syrup is absorbed. You will see that the bubbles will settle down and the rice will be shiny from ghee. Switch off the stove and let the rice sit covered for 15 mins.

Add a fresh grate of nutmeg(optional), fluff using a spatula or fork and serve warm. It taste good with a dollop of creme fraiche 🙂

Enjoy!

Rice Dishes

Yakhni Pulao


For a long time, I was tricked into thinking that Yakhni pulao is biryani. Most of my family, still, for some reason refers to it as biryani but its not. This is not a layered rice dish, it is a pulao. Yakhni is ” broth” and this dish is basically basmati rice cooked in a delicious made-from-scratch meat broth.

South asian broths have much more depth of flavor due to use of spices. I dont pressure cook the meat, I let it simmer for couple of hours or more depending on the quantity. Slowly the meat releases its flavor into the water along with those of the spices and herbs. The delicious yakhni is full of body and I remember mom would ladle it into teacups and give us to drink as it is as a soup.So comforting on a cold night. You can do the same if you are not in mood for a pulao.

A delicious yakhni needs bone in meat or chicken and time! There are no powdered spices and all the flavor comes from whole spices, dried chilies, ginger and garlic. Caramelizing the onions well before cooking the rice is another important step, do not rush it, brown the onions nicely, they add not only to the taste but also to the color of the pulao.

This recipe is one of my most family’s most oldest. It was cooked winter long and it is a great way to feed big families or when entertaining. You can serve it with a light chicken curry or any side but I really just like it with plain raita.

Recipe

Ingredients (Serves 4)

For the Yakhni

  • 1 lb bone in mutton or chicken, cleaned
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1.5 tsp black peppercorns
  • 2-3 bay leaf
  • 2 whole black cardamom, slightly cracked
  • 2 cinnamon stick
  • half nutmeg
  • 7-8 garlic cloves, peeled
  • 2 inch fresh ginger, peeled
  • 1/2 onion, roughly chopped 8-10 dried chillies
  • 1 tsp salt
  • 2 cups water

For the Pulao

  • 1 + 1/4 cup basmati rice
  • 1/4 cup oil
  • 1.5 cup sliced onions
  • Red chili powder to taste
  • 1 tsp shah jeera
  • 2.5 cups liquid (yakhni topped with water)
  • Salt to taste
  • Cilantro, raita, ginger jullienes etc to serve.

Method

Step 1 Make the Yakhni (Spiced Broth)

Add everything listed under yakhni to a dutch oven. Cover the pot and set on a medium high stove and bring to a boil. Once boiling, lower the heat and simmer for 1.5 hours till the meat is fork tender but not falling apart. You can do the same thing in an instant pot or pressure cooker but slow cooked yakhni is something else 🙂 Meat releases its own juices and water as it will cook so don’t add much water in the beginning. Also please keep in mind that the cooking time of meat will depend on how small or big the cuts are. So adjust accordingly.

Once the meat is cooked, switch off the stove.Pick out the meat pieces using a spoon into a medium bowl and cover the bowl with a cling film to make sure that the meat does not dry out. Set a large colander over another large bowl and drain the yakhni in there. Dont be tempted to mash the ginger or garlic or onions, else the yakhni will lose its soupy texture. Discard the things in the colander.

Yakhni is ready. You can enjoy it as it like a soup when while it is warm with few squirts of lemon and scatter of fresh cilantro. Add a few pieces of cooked meat to make it more filling.

If you make a pulao, follow step 2 below. Keep in mind that do not make the yakhni a day ahead, the taste changes so its best to make it a couple hours before when you want to serve as soup or make a pulao.

Step 2 Make the Pulao

Wash the rice 2-3 times under a running stream of water. Soak the rice for 20 mins in enough water.

Measure the yakhni. The variety of rice I use needs double amount of liquid to cook. So I needed 2.5 cups of liquid to cook the rice. I got 2 cups of yakhni from the recipe above and I added 1/2 cup water to it.

In a wide shallow pot, (I use my braiser) or you can use a kadhai or a 12 inch pan, add the oil. Once the oil is warm, add the sliced onions. On medium heat, brown the onion. It takes about 8-10 minutes but do not rush this process.

Once the onions are dark brown, add the red chilli powder to oil along with cumin seeds and saute for 30 seconds. Add the meat to the pan and stir around with the onions for 3-5 minutes on medium heat. The meat will brown a little, once so, add the soaked rice(discard the water in which you soaked) along with yakhni (+water). Mix gently and taste the salt in the liquid, it should be sharp salty at this stage else adjust it, this makes sure that your rice comes out properly seasoned once cooked.

Cover with a lid and set the rice to cook on medium high heat, once you see that the liquid is bubbling, reduce the heat to the lowest and let cook for 20-25 minutes until all the liquid is absorbed and the rice is soft. Switch off the stove and let the pot sit undisturbed for atlest 10-12 minutes.

Uncover and using a rice spoon or a small plate, fluff up the rice from once side. Yahni pulao is ready.Serve as you wish. Taste amazing next day.

This recipe can be easily doubled. Just adjust the cooking times for both rice and meat in that case.

Enjoy!

Indian Mithai & Desserts · Indian Streetfood & Indo Chinese · Rice Dishes

Zarda – Sweet Saffron Rice

Sinfully Spicy : Zarda /Meethe Chawal , Sweet Saffron RiceA little while away, I got this immense craving to gorge on these sweet saffron rice. It was sparked by the sticky rice pudding that we relished a night before that day. Usually, if you follow me on Instagram or here on the blog, you would have noticed that there is more savory than sweet in my feed. I had this huge sweet tooth in my teens, but somehow it faded away as I grew older. There are certain things I enjoy, a delicious chunk of homemade gulab jamun and a moist slice of butter cake, but usually sugar doesn’t get me too too excited. Only when there is a good enough reason to make them, I retort towards making desserts at home. Buying a single serve slice from our favorite bakery almost always seems to be a superior option than baking and frosting a whole 9 inch round which will then lurk at me in the refrigerator for whole week. Its a bit too logical for some of you who swear by regular dessert making but that’s how I think.

Sinfully Spicy : Zarda /Meethe Chawal , Sweet Saffron RiceAnyhow, that same night, chatting over a Thai food takeout, we delved into discussing new year traditions growing up. My husband recollected coconut sweet balls & rice pudding, both made with palm jaggery, a typical in east indian homes and I could only think of my grandmother’s zarda, only about it. That night, I must have dreamed  about it. The little puffy, steamy bubbles that surface on the top layer when a pot of  basmati is slowly boiled, or of the sniff of saffron which after filling each nook and corner of our big kitchen reached out to those sitting in the verandah through two large, dark brown windows with green painted grille. Next morning this sweet saffron rice was the only thing I could think of. Out of nowhere, in the middle of summer, but I just had to recreate those memories.

Each year, every year at the dawn of the first day of the year, I woke up to a quiet house with busy kitchen. BadI mummy (my grandma) standing right infront of the stove, rice boiling on one side and aroma wafting through a pot of simmering whole milk to which cloves, cardamom and nutmeg had been added. These blonde looking rice, she remarked were an incoming of prosperity into the house. In those days, we lived in a joint family and with few guests added on the new year eve along with distribution to all house help, the quantity of zarda to be cooked would be thrice the amount than usual. Speckled with ground cardamom and streaks of strong-smelling kashmiri zaffran(saffron) all through it, a bowl of it was so delicious garnished with a handful of nuts or raisins. Much like today, in those days saffron was exuberantly priced, so it came to life in cooking a few dishes on special occasions only. New Years day was one.

Sinfully Spicy : Zarda /Meethe Chawal , Sweet Saffron RiceMy mom got me these little packs of saffron from India a couple of weeks back, a delicate virgin variety of this spice, it is sharp and strong. A few strands is what it took to turn rice into a golden looking treat. This recipe can be easily made vegan by using full fat coconut or cashew milk and substituting any neutral oil in place of ghee. Try using a long grain basmati rice and be watchful during cooking period for separated, fluffy grains. I have included a few notes in the recipe which will help making this sweet rice delicacy an easy task.

Sinfully Spicy : Zarda /Meethe Chawal , Sweet Saffron Rice

Ingredients (Serves 3-4)

  • 1 cup long grain basmati rice
  • 1 green cardamom, break open
  • 3-4 cups water to par boil the rice
  • 1 tablespoon ghee (substitute with coconut oil for vegan)
  • 1 cup whole milk (use unsweetened cashew/full fat coconut milk for vegan)
  • 3 tablespoon ghee (substitute with coconut oil for vegan)
  • 2-3 green cardamom, break open
  • 2 cloves
  • 1 heaping teaspoon good quality saffron
  • 1 generous pinch of fresh ground nutmeg
  • 3/4 cup granulated sugar (can go upto 1 cup)
  • 3 tablespoon roasted, unsalted nuts (almonds, pistachios, cashews) + more for garnish
  • 2 tablespoon golden raisins + more for garnish

Notes

  1. Use good quality spices in this recipe.
  2. Different varieties of saffron have different sharpness and strength. Adjust the quantity depending on the brand you are using.
  3. To make the zarda more rich, instead of using roasted nuts, you can fry them in a small pan in 1/2 tablespoon of ghee and add on top.

Method

Wash the rice under running stream of water 2-3 times until the water runs clear. Soak the rice for 45 minutes in enough water (add a green cardamom to it) required for parboiling. You can soak rice in the same pot that you will use for cooking.

Once the rice has soaked. Parboil the rice until 80% cooked (takes about 10 minutes).The cooking time will depend on quality of rice.  To check the rice, take a grain and press it between the index finger and thumb. The rice grain will we brittle (break easily) and you will feel & see hard whitish bits in the center of the grain. Once the rice has parboiled, immediately drain it and gently mix a tablespoon of melted ghee in the warm rice.

 While the rice is boiling, add milk, 3 tablespoon ghee, cardamom and clove to a small pot and set it to simmer on a medium low flame. Let milk simmer for 5-7 minutes on low heat and then put the stove off. Once the milk has cooled off a bit and is warm(not hot) to touch add sugar, saffron and nutmeg to it. Let sit.

In the same pot in which you parboiled the rice, add the warm spiced milk sugar mixture. Very gently add the drained rice to the milk. Add the nuts and raisins. Cover and let cook on medium low heat for 10-12 minutes until all the milk is absorbed and the rice is completely done. Put the stove off.

After 15-20 minutes of sitting, gently fluff the rice with the help a fork.Garnish with more nuts and raisins if you want.

Serve warm or at room temperature.

Appetizers & Snacks · Breakfast Dishes · Indian Streetfood & Indo Chinese · Indian Vegetarian & Vegan · Rice Dishes

Roasted Flattened Rice & Spiced Sweet Peas (Chivda-Matar)

Sinfully Spicy : Roasted Flattened Rice With Spiced Sweet Peas (Chivda Matar) #indianMany times, it really takes a beating to make favorite foods from childhood healthier. I don’t know. I always feel that childhood could absorb all that gluttony of sweets, fat and carbohydrates. Not that now my metabolism won’t permit, but my mind seriously watches goes into my system. When I was changing this recipe of fried chivda(flattened rice), a favorite snack from my years of growing up and an immensely popular street food in the northern parts of india,usually served in soiled newspaper cones, I wanted the flattened rice to make the same crackling cripsy sound between my teeth as it should  but did not want to sink it down in a pool of hot oil. I wanted that rich salty grease from it to drown my tastebuds and coat the roof of my palette but did not want to witness the flakes swimming and popping inside oil. Not really.

Sinfully Spicy : Roasted Flattened Rice With Spiced Sweet Peas (Chivda Matar) #indian

Sinfully Spicy : Roasted Flattened Rice With Spiced Sweet Peas (Chivda Matar) #indianYou know sometimes, you might feel that the close-to- perfect meals that you see on this blog are easy and I work wonders like michelin chefs in my home kitchen,but truth be told, on few days, there are bundles of failures and wastage (eeeks) associated with experimenting while cooking .It happens al the time with me, I dream of something and the reality of the finished dish is not so awesome. Anyhow,while I turned to my try-new-things idea, out came the cookie sheet and on the lines of making granola, I set out. I tossed the flattened rice in tablespoons of oil and actually used all the patience I could muster at that ungodly hour of the night to lay it in a single layer. I might have gone  a bit too far by actually trying to separate each and every rice flake from the other with help from chopsticks under the dim night kitchen lights. Hmm. Into a low oven for under half an hour and out came the baking sheet. My fears came to life when the rice did not look or smell up to the mark, not like I dreamt it to be. I would not categorize it as inedible but the long story short, the granola procedure failed me.The count of  beating went another notch up. Some other  time,I told myself and retired to bed.

Sinfully Spicy : Roasted Flattened Rice With Spiced Sweet Peas (Chivda Matar) #indianThen another day, in the bright of the noon, I took out the trusted cast iron skillet, heated oil to smoky and sizzled rice flakes in it and then with a lot more patience on my side, watchfully, slow roasted the chivda, stirring it continually with fork to a crispy goodness, sniffing it, observing how the toasted brown to a bowlful, one which crinkled in the mouth and coated the tastebuds with salty fat. I got it.

Sinfully Spicy : Roasted Flattened Rice With Spiced Sweet Peas (Chivda Matar) #indianWhen we were kids, 5 pm foods were the best.No jokes. From piping hot samosas and jalebi from the neighbourhood halwai (sweets vendor) or instant noodles from neon yellow pouches, curry puffs and puddings, fruit shakes to potato balls, it was real fun everyday to see mom, badi mummy(my grandma) and aunts cook up new things for us.This chivda (flattened rice) is one from those days. During the spring and early summer season, fresh peas were tossed in cumin and green chillies and served along side. The rustic, mish mash snack plate of sorts is a burst of textures – sweet, salty, smoky and hot. The chaat masala and bits of ginger combine with the sweetness of those peas to make up a pleasing bite. I could never get the same taste with frozen peas, you need to make this before the fresh pea season lasts. Whats more? Its gluten free, vegan and tad healthy. Go make some. Now.

Sinfully Spicy : Roasted Flattened Rice With Spiced Sweet Peas (Chivda Matar) #indian

 Printable Recipe

Both the components of this recipe can be done ahead. Roast the chivda (flattened rice) and store it in air tight jar for up to a week. I usually make the peas 3-4 hours ahead (they have better flavor if they sit for a while) and warm up later but you can totally make them when ready to serve.

Ingredients (Serves 4-5)

For the Roasted Chivda (Flattened Rice)

  • 4 tablespoons of oil
  • 2.5 cups thick poha (flattened rice, available in any indian/pakistani stores)
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon sugar
  • Optional  – add any nuts or seeds of choice, peanuts, cashews, raisins, sunflower seeds etc

For the Spiced Peas

  • 10oz (about 280 grams) shelled fresh peas, blanched
  • 2 tablespoon oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped onion (from 1 small onion)
  • 2 tablespoons minced fresh ginger (about 2.5″ piece of ginger)
  • 1/2 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  • 2-3 Thai green chillies (or adjust to tolerance)
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala 
  • salt to taste
  • 1/4 teaspoon chaat masala (skip if you do not have, and add fresh lemon juice to taste)
  • 1.5 teaspoon fresh lemon juice (or to taste)
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro (from 4-5 stalks, optional)

Method

Roast the Chivda

In a wide, cast iron skillet (I use my 10″) , heat up the oil to the point that it about to smoky. Put off the stove. Take a fork in one hand and start adding the flattened rice with the other, continuously stirring else it will burn. Add all of the rice, and stir so that all the flakes are coated in oil. Add the salt and stir to combine. Return the skillet to stove and on low heat, let the rice toast up. Keep on stirring it a lot of times, else it will burn and you will see that the flakes start to change color. You will smell a nutty aroma too. It takes about 8-10 minutes on low heat for the rice to completely roast and turn pale brown. This time will depend on the variety and thickness of flattened rice you are using. Adjust.

Once the flattened rice has roasted, let it cool down completely. Transfer to an air tight jar. Use a clean, dry spoon to serve it. Store up to a week.

Make Spiced Peas

In a wide pan, heat up the oil on medium heat. Once heated, temper the oil with cumin seeds and wait for them to crackle.Add the chopped onions to the pan and let the onions cook till transculent.Don’t brown them.Next, add the chopped ginger & green chili to the pan and cook for 2-3 minutes.

Add the blanched peas next along with garam masala and salt to taste. Stir to combine and let cook on medium heat for 3-4 minutes.

Add the chaat masala and chopped cilantro next and stir fry on high heat for 3-4 minutes, continuously stirring.Take care that the peas do not turn mushy.

Put off the heat, add fresh lemon juice.

To serve, plate up the roasted chivda and spicy peas. Add 1 teaspoon of granulated sugar on top along with a sprinkle of red chili flakes. Enjoy with a cup of chai.

Thank you for stopping by!

Stay Spicy.

 

Rice Dishes

Chana Pulao (Spiced Chickpeas & Rice Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita



Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)

Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)All I think of at the first sight of pomegranates in the grocery stores is to fold the plump ruby jewels with sweetish velvety yogurt and pair the raita with some kind of a spicy pilaf. To me, pulao/pilaf is a very ‘to taste’ thing in indian cuisine. It is like an assortment of things with any sort of grain, mostly rice in our case – quick, one pot but hearty. On days when mom was not in much of mood to cook, she would make some kind of a pulao – with vegetables, beans, dried lentil nuggets or chicken. There would be pickles, salad and raita to serve along.

Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)

Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)Come November and the knock of winter winds brought with itself a sudden rush of green and fresh produce in the vegetable bazaars of Delhi.After long, humid and harsh summers,the next few months presented a respite and a chance to indulge in cooking and eating.On few Saturdays I would accompany mom to the sabzi bazaar. Wrapped in my favorite pashmina shawl, we walked out of the house for an early evening stroll and later to purchase vegetables for the week.Those few hours were spent inhaling the crisp autumn air and watching how the nip in the air got people out of their homes, the pleasing sights of street food carts beaming with everybody, eating, chatting and sharing a quick snack with families.We stopped here and there to get buy and bargain fresh eggs, bread and dairy before reaching the sabzi bazaar.Most of the faces at the bazaar were known, for it has been a place of trade between the same set of people for decades.

Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)Mom would patiently listen to household stories of few sabzi wallas(vendors), of their children not studying at school or the gas prices going up. Few complained about government not doing much for the poor and few praising their farms for such fine produce. In India, such is a way of life, so may day-to-day people slowly connect to your life and you do not even realize, it is how the society operates.I always loved to tag along with her for grocery trips just to observe how she would choose vegetables – touching them, sniffing a few, closely inspecting each piece below the flickering bulbs on the stalls of thela-wallas (street vendors with wooden wheeled carts),she took her time to select. If few of the vendors were in a mood, they would slice off a couple of apples or pluck few greens and let her taste before buying.Thick,dark-skinned capsicum to yellowish cauliflower heads to fragrant methi (fenugreek) and soa (dill) bunches to ruby kashmiri anar (pomegranates) and apples, each sample of produce brought with itself an opportunity for deliciousness.

Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)The onset of winters also meant there would be lots of wholesome,hearty meals in the house full of warm spices and herbs. There would be exotic,rich curries and layered biryanis and indulgent desserts. Mom would make a lot of quick rice dishes to keep our stomachs nourished & satisfied. The house would be enveloped in the pungent aroma of mustard oil and earthy fragrance of basmati rice bubbling on the stove. This is one of her favorite recipes which I have changed to our liking over the years, she did not add bell peppers or potatoes, but I love the combination of both of these with chickpeas and rice so I do it more my way now. A weekly regular in our house with all kinds of variations each time.

Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)

Sinfully Spicy - Chana Pulao (Ric & Chickpea Pilaf) With Pomegranate Raita(Yogurt)

Ingredients (Serves 3)

You could use canned chickpeas and cut down the cooking time to half but I recommend starting with dried chickpeas and cooking them in water because the resultant delicious stock will flavor the rice immensely.

For the Chickpeas (Skip this step if using canned chickpeas)

  • 1 cup dried raw chickpeas
  • 2 + 1/4 cups water
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp oil

For the Pulao(Pilaf)

  • 3/4 cup basmati rice
  • 1.5 tbsp plain whole milk yogurt (skip for vegan)
  • 1/4 tsp garam masala
  • 1/2 tsp kashmiri red chili powder (or paprika, this gives the color not the heat)
  • 4 tbsp mustard oil (or use canola/vegetable/olive oil)
  • 1/2 ” cinnamon stick (indian cinnamon is very sharp so I use less, adjust if using sweet cinammon)
  • 1 small twig of mace
  • 1 indian bay leaf (or regular bay leaf)
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1 black cardamom, cracked open
  • 1/2 cup heaped chopped onions
  • 2 garlic cloves, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup fresh tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tsp red chili powder(adjust to taste)
  • 1-2 medium potatoes, cut in quarters
  • 1 tsp grated fresh ginger
  • 1 small red bell pepper, cubed
  • salt to taste
  • 1 tsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek leaves, crushed)
  • 1-2 tbsp ghee to finish(optional, skip for vegan)
  • Chopped cilantro to garnish
  • Optional – golden raisins, silvered almonds, cashews.

Method 

Soak the chickpeas in enough water overnight or atleasrt 8-10 hours.Drain & discard the water and add the chickpeas to the pressure cooker along with baking soda, salt, water and oil. Pressure cook for 2-3 whistles on medium heat or till chickpeas are fork tender. The cooking time and number of whistles will depend on quality and size of the chickpeas and alson on pressure cooker. I use small variety chickpeas which pressure cook in about 20 minutes. If you do not have a pressure cooker, use a heavy bottomed pot with lid or your dutch over to cook the chickpeas for roughly 45-50 minutes or till fork tender. Once the chickpeas are cooked,drain and reserve the liquid (stock). Set aside.

Skip the above steps if using canned chickpeas. Open up the can and run the chickpeas under a stream of water, drain and set aside.

Wash the basmati rice under 2-3 times under a running stream of water till the water runs clear. Soak in 1.5 cups of water for 15 minutes. (You can do this while the chickpeas are cooking). Also, mix the yogurt with garam masala and kashmiri red chill powder. Set aside. If making for vegans, skip the yogurt and add these spices when you add the tomatoes.

In a wide bottomed heavy pot with lid (I use my 3 qt dutch oven), heat up the mustard oil on medium till you see little ripples on the surface and the raw smell goes away. Add cinnamon,mace bay leaf and cloves and cardamom. Wait till they crackle and you smell a nice aroma. 10-15 seconds. Add the onions and garlic next. Cook till they are light brown. About 5-6 minutes. Add the tomatoes next along with red chili and turmeric powder. Cook for 2-3 minutes just till the tomatoes begin to soften. Reduce heat to low and add the yogurt mixed with spices. Do not stir immediately else yogurt will curdle. Wait for 30 seconds and gently on low heat(very important) incorporate the yogurt in the masala. Cook for another 1-2 minutes on low heat till the masala starts getting shiny and turning deep reddish- brown in color. Add the potatoes & ginger next and cook along with the masala for another 1-2 minutes.

Next, drain & discard all the water from the soaking rice and add soaked rice and chickpeas to the pot. Do not stir. Measure and add the required quantity of stock (reserved from boiling chickpeas) to the pot. The quantity of stock added should be added as required by your variety of rice(My rice variety cooks in 2:1 ratio of rice to water, I add 2 tbsp extra stock ). (In case you are using canned chickpeas, add chicken/vegetable stock or plain water).

Once you have added the water, check and adjust the salt of the liquid (normally it should be little extra salty at the beginning since the rice will soak up the stock). Also add crushed kasuri methi to. Gently stir now (else the soaked rice will break) and let the rice soak in stock for another 15 minutes.

Once the rice has soaked, cover the pot with a lid and bring to a boil on high heat. Once boiling, reduce heat to low and let cook covered for another 8 minutes. After 8 minutes, open the lid and add the bell peppers to the pot and very lightly mix them in with the help of a fork. Cover and let cook on low for another 2 minutes. After this, put off the stove and let sit for atleast 15 minutes.

Open the lid and add the ghee (if using) along with cilantro, nuts (if using), raisins(is using) on top and gently fluff the rice with fork.

Serve warm with raita(recipe below), salad and pickle.

Pomegranate Raita (Spiced Yogurt)

Ingredients (Serves 3)

  • 1 cup whole milk plain yogurt,cold
  • 1 tsp granulated sugar (or to taste)
  • 1/4 tsp heaped roasted cumin powder
  • a light pinch of dried mint leaves, crush to dust between hands (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp chaat masala (a tangy spice mix available in indian/pakistani stores or online)
  • 1/2 tsp black salt (this salt is tangy, substitute with regular)
  • 1/4 tsp red chilli powder (or cayanne, adjust to taste)
  • 1/2 cup fresh pomegranate seeds (or more/less you like)
  • salt to taste
  • Few fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped

Method

Beat the yogurt with everything except the pomegranate seeds & salt to smooth. I like the raita thick but if you can thin it with little water if you like. Refrigerate the yogurt for 20 minutes.Just before serving mix in the pomegranate seeds and salt. Sprinkle cilantro. Serve.