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 lidIngredients (Serves 4)1/4 cup oil (canola/vegetable/any unflavored oil)3/4 cup thinly sliced red onions 2 bay leaves2″ cinnamon stick2 black cardamom, cracked open (substitute with 5 green cardamom)3/4 cup peas (fresh or frozen)3/4 cup cauliflower florets1 large russet potato, peeled and cut into 1/2″ cubes1 cup basmati rice1/4 tsp fresh grated nutmeg1/2 tsp garam masala Salt to taste2.5 cups water (or as required for cooking your rice variety, check package instructions)Chopped cilantro for garnishNote:- 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 whole dry red chillies (adjust to tolerance)1 tsp whole cumin seeds1/2 tsp whole coriander seeds4 whole cloves2 ” fresh ginger shoot, peeled & crushed roughlyMethod:- 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 here, just ensure that the black pepper seeds are crushed properly.Transfer to a bowl & set aside.
Heat oil in 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, black cardamom & the ground spice mix to the pot.
Cook the spices 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, 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, open the lid, add the grated nutmeg & garam masala, gently mix with a wooden spoon & 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).Once the skillet is hot, reduce heat to very low, transfer the rice pot 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 & burnt (almost). After 10 minutes, fluff up with a fork , garnish the rice with chopped cilantro. Serve with plain yogurt & salad.