Rice Dishes

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.
Prep Time20 mins
Cook Time1 hr
Course: Main Course, Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian

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.
Rice Dishes

Lemon – Ginger Rice Pilaf With Green Chicken Balls – Served With Tempered Raita (Yogurt)

 

 

 

This is a very easy but flavorful basmati rice pilaf that I created last week. Or lemma brag that it is my own recipe. no reference or cookbooks. Long grain, aromatic basmati rice is cooked in a lemon & ginger flavored broth with hints of aromatic indian spices. I wanted the pilaf to look “summery”, so I chose to avoid reddish look from red chilies powder or yellowish look from haldi (turmeric). The chicken balls are green & succulent with lots of cilantro, mint, and garlic and loaded with the magical garam masala. The flavors are subtle but classic – citrusy, soul warming & comforting. All in all best served as a side along with tempered raita (yogurt) or any curry /dalor eat on its own as a light summer meal.

 


 


 

 

Ingredients: – Serves 4

For the Chicken balls: [Makes 20-25 balls of the size shown]

  • 1lb ground chicken (don’t use ground chicken breast, use a mince which has good ratio of dark meat & fat, also take care that the mince is not too fine if you are getting it from the butcher]
  • 4 garlic cloves, grated
  • 1.5 cups finely chopped, fresh cilantro, stems & leaves (substitute with parsley)
  • 1/2 cup finely chopped fresh mint, leaves only
  • 4-5 Thai green chilies, finely chopped (Adjust to taste, with this quantity, balls will be on the spicy side)
  • 1.5 tsp garam masala 
  • 1 tbsp fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 2 tsp salt
  • Oil for rubbing on palms

Notes: –

  1. You can use the same recipe to make curry with the chicken balls. Just mix in some minced ginger with the chicken in that case.
  2. For a vegetarian version, you can add dal wadi (lentil drops), soya chunks, paneer cubes, any kind of beans or an assorted vegetables (slightly steamed) of choice. Drop the step where we cook the chicken balls in the method below and proceed.

For the Pilaf: –

  • 1.5 cups Basmati rice
  • 1/4 cup mustard/canola/olive/vegetable oil
  • 3/4 cup sliced onions (use any variety you like, don’t use sweet onions)
  • 1/4 cup grated fresh ginger
  • 2 garlic cloves, grated (can be avoided)
  • 4 Thai green chilies, slit lengthwise
  • 3 bay leaves
  • 2 tsp cumin seeds
  • One 2″ cinnamon stick
  • 1 tbsp black peppercorns
  • 7-8 cloves
  • 6 green cardamom pods (hari elaichi)
  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 6 tbsp fresh lemon juice (adjust to taste)
  • 2.5 cups water /stock (Depends on rice variety, adjust as per package instructions)
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tbsp melted unsalted butter
  • Cilantro, Lemon wedges etc for garnish

Method: –

Pick the rice and wash under 2-3 streams of water.Let soak for 30 minutes. In a cheesecloth/muslin, wrap tightly the black peppercorns, cloves, coriander seeds, and cardamom pods. In a bowl, add all the ingredients under the heading “For the Chicken Balls”. Mix gently with hands to combine well. Do not apply too much pressure while mixing else the mix will become sticky. Once mixed, apply some oil on your hands and make balls of the size you wish. Dont make too big balls, coz after cooking, these swell up. Line the balls on a plate and refrigerate for 15 minutes.

While the chicken balls are refrigerating, to a heavy bottomed pot with lid, add the oil and heat on high high. If using mustard oil, heat the oil to smoking point to do away the raw smell. Reduce heat to medium and add the sliced onions to the pot and sauté them till they turn light brown. At this point add the slit green chilies, grated garlic (if using) & ginger, bay leaf, cumin and cinnamon stick to the pot and sauté for 30 secs. Next add 2.5 cups of water/stock to the pot. Tip in the cheesecloth wrapped spices into the water, add 1 tsp salt and let the water come to a boil.About 8 minutes.

Once boiling, add the refrigerated chicken balls to the pot. Start by adding a single ball, if it does not spread, add all of them one by one in a single layer. If balls are spreading, mash them down & add a binding agent like cornstarch or egg. Let the balls cook for 5-8 minutes in boiling water till they are 95%  (almost) cooked. Do not overcook else they will become rock hard. Strain the balls out of the pot in a plate and set aside.(This cooking time will depend on size of your balls)

Measure out the stock in the pot to whatever quantity is required to cook your variety of rice.The basmati variety I use takes 2 cups stock to 1 cup of rice to cook. Return the measured stock to the pot. Add the soaked, drained rice to the pot along with ground nutmeg & lemon juice. Check the seasoning again and adjust if required.

Cover the pot & bring the stock to a boil, reduce the heat to very low, and let cook for 8-10 minutes. Turn off the heat, open the lid, and add the chicken balls & melted butter gently mix with a wooden spoon & leave to steam on the stove for another 5-8 minutes.Pick out the spices wrapped in cheesecloth & discard. Garnish the rice with chopped cilantro & lime wedges. Serve with tempered raita.

To make Tempered Raita: – Beat 1 cup of cold, plain Greek yogurt in a bowl. To this add any thing you like from tomatoes, boiled potatoes, grated cucumbers chopped onion, boondi etc as long it pairs with yogurt.I am not giving any quantity here coz there are no measurements as such. Keep refrigerated until ready to serve.To temper, just before serving to a small saucepan, add 1 tbsp of oil and let it heat on high. Once heated, add 1 tsp each of cumin seeds & black mustard and let crackle. You can add some chopped green chilies too. Once crackling, remove from heat and let cool off for 2-3 minutes. Add salt to yogurt along with tempering and mix well. Serve.

Brunch · Rice Dishes

Vegetable Biryani

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups basmati rice
  • 3 tbsp canola oil [or olive oil]
  • 2 tbsp ghee [clarified butter]
  • 1 large red onion,sliced
  • 2 tsp garlic-ginger paste
  • 1 cup finely chopped tomatoes
  • 1 /2 cup plain greek yogurt / thick yogurt
  • Salt to taste
  • Chopped fresh cilantro, fried brown onions for garnish

Dry Spices

  • 2 bay leaves
  • 4-5 black pepper corns
  • 2-3 dry red chillies
  • 3 cloves
  • 3 green cardamom pods, crushed open
  • 1 stick cinnamon

Powdered Spices

  • 2 tsp red chilli powder [adjust to taste]
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1 tsp dry coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp garam masala

Vegetables : {You can any vegetables of choice, I m writing proportions and kind I used}

  • 1 cup potatoes, peeled and 1/2 ” cubed
  • 1/2 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1/2 cup green beans, cut small
  • 1/4 cup carrots, diced
  • 1/2 cup frozen peas

Method:

Thoroughly was the rice in 2-3 streams of water.Let the rice soak in enough water for at least 2 hours.Drain the rice after soaking, transfer to a heavy bottomed pot with at least 7 cups of salted water and cook it till 90% cooked. Note: The rice cooking time will depend upon the quality and type of rice both.My variety takes approx 20 minutes. Once cooked, drain the rice and set aside.

In a heavy bottomed pot with lid , heat the oil on high heat for about 2 minutes.Add the ghee [clarified butter] to the pan followed by sliced onions.Fry the onions untill golden brown.Add the ginger garlic paste and cook for about 2 minutes.Next tip in the chopped tomatoes, all the spices except garam masala and yogurt.Cook for at least 10 minutes on medium heat until the oil starts separating on the sides of the pot.Next, lower the heat and add yogurt to the mix.Stir for about 3 minutes on low heat.[Tip: Any recipe which calls for using yogurt, just ensure that you lower the heat and then add yogurt.Cooking on low heat with yogurt is important to avoid the curdling]

Next, add the potatoes, beans, carrots and cauliflower florets to the pan with 1/2 cup water and cook on medium heat for about 10 minutes covered or until the vegetables are tender.Add the peas now along with salt to taste and garam masala..Cook uncovered for another 5 minutes on medium heat or till they are tender.Once done, remove from heat.

Assembly:

In the same heavy bottomed pot, spread 1/3 of the cooked rice at the bottom.Layer half of the cooked vegetables on this layer and sprinkle with chopped cilantro.Spread again with 1/3 of the rice and spread rest of the cooked vegetables and cilantro.Cover with remaining cooked rice. Note: You can create as many layers of rice & vegetables as you want.

Next, dampen a clean, thick cloth with water large enough to cover the mouth of the pot.Cover the pot with this damp cloth, put the lid tightly on the pot and set the pot to a very low heat. [Alternatively, you can place the pot on top of a tawa/griddle to reduce heat further] This method is called Dum cooking wherein, the contents of the pot cook on very low heat in their own juices and develop flavors. Cook like this for at least 20 minutes.

After 20 minutes, remove from heat.Do not remove the lid or cloth immediately.Let the rice set for about 10 minutes. Mix rice gently with the vegetables and add 2 tbsp of melted ghee [optional]

Spoon into a serving dish, garnish with chopped cilantro and deep-fried onions.Serve with pickle, raita or salad.

Recipe for cucumber mint raita here.

Enjoy!

Sending this to Hearth n Soul #40