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. 

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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

Equipment

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

Ingredients

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

Instructions

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.

Khatte Chole Aur Bhature

Chole‘ or chickpea curry is very popular street food in the northern parts of India.The curry is known for its blackish color due to use of tea bags while boiling it and has dominant flavor of roasted cumin.In my house, dry pomegranate seeds or anardana is added to this curry along with lots of tomatoes to make it more tangy or ‘khatte‘.This curry is not hot but is spicy.The chickpea curry is traditionally eaten with bhatura or a fried leavened puffed bread.Some people make a yeasted version of bhatura too.What I am posting is an instant recipe which requires an hour of resting time.

Khatte Chhole

Printable Recipe

Ingredients: [Serves 2]

  • 1/3 cup dry chickpeas [substitute with canned garbanzo beans]
  • 1/8 tsp cooking soda
  • 2 black tea bags
  • Water for boiling
  • 2 medium onions, finely chopped
  • 2 tbsp grated garlic
  • 1 tsp grated ginger
  • 2 green chillies, minced
  • 3 medium tomatoes, finely chopped
  • 1 black cardamom [badi elaichi]
  • 4 cloves
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 tsp roasted cumin seeds
  • 1 tbsp coriander powder
  • 1 tbsp red chilli powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp dry pomegranate seeds [anardana]
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala
  • 1/4 cup mustard oil [or canola oil]
  • Salt to taste

Method

  • Soak the chickpeas over night in 3 cups water with cooking soda.Once soaked, drain the soaking water and discard it.
  • Boil the chickpeas with enough water, tea bags & 1 tsp salt in a pressure cooker till 80% cooked.About 15 minutes on high and 2 whistles. [Omit this step if using canned garbanzo beans]
  • Once cooked, drain the chickpeas and preserve the water.We will use it in curry later.
  • In your coffee blender, coarsely crush the dry pomegranate seeds, cloves, pods of black cardamom and roasted cumin seeds.Add the cinnamon powder to this spice mix.Set aside.

  • In a cooking vessel with lid, add the oil and heat it up on high till the oil starts smoking slightly.Once smoking, reduce the heat to medium.
  • Add the finely chopped onion and cook till golden brown.After this add the bay leaf & saute for 2 minutes.
  • Next, add the grated garlic, minced chilli & ginger and cook for 1-2 minutes.
  • Next add the chopped tomatoes along with chilli,coriander,turmeric powder,crushed spice mix made in 4th step and salt.Cook this curry masala on low heat till the oil starts separating from the mix along the sides of the vessel.
  • Tip in the boiled beans into the vessel and combine well so that all the beans are covered in the masala.Saute for about 3 minutes.
  • Next add 1/2 cup or more of preserved water depending on how thick you like the gravy,cover and let the gravy come to a boil on a low heat.
  • Once the curry has simmered for 10-15 minutes, add the garam masala, stir well and let simmer for another 5-6 minutes till the chickpeas are soft,
  • Remove from heat, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve warm bhatura

 
Bhatura 
Ingredients: [Makes 6-8 flatbreads]
  • 2.5 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 tbsp semolina
  • 1/4 tsp baking soda
  • 3/4 tsp white sugar
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2-3 tbsp canola oil
  • 1 small boiled potato, finely grated (about 1/4 cup)
  • 1/2 cup plain yogurt mixed with 1 cup milk, let sit at room temperature for 10 minutes (as required for kneading a soft dough )
  • Oil for deep-frying.

Method:
  • Combine the all purpose flour with semolina and soda thoroughly.
  • Whisk oil, sugar and salt in the buttermilk.
  • Add the grated potato and buttermilk mix to flour mix.Start with 1/2 cup of butter milk and knead well to make dough.You may need to adjust the buttermilk quantity.The dough will be slightly sticky but pliable and soft.Knead for about 5 minutes.
  • Cover it with wet cloth and keep it in a warm place for 1 hour.
  • Make a lemon sized balls of the dough.On a floured surface, roll the flour balls into an elliptical shape, about 1/4 ” thick.

  • Heat oil in a deep-frying fan.A quick way to check the temperature of oil without thermometer is to pinch a small quantity of dough and put it in oil.It should sizzle to the surface immediately.
  •  Once oil is heated, tip in the rolled bhaturas into the oil sliding from the sides of the pot.Be careful because the oil may splutter.Fry the bhaturas flipping them  as till they turn slightly golden on both sides.Make sure that you donâ€t fry the bhatures long because you want them to be soft and light golden.
  • Drain from the oil and place on paper towel.
  • Serve them with chickpea curry, salad and raita.
Enjoy!