Mildly Spiced – Ghee Rice

Ghee Rice - Delicately flavored aromatic rice

A few  spices  make the simple rice   the  center of  the meal,  inviting you to to  reach for the fork.. that is  ghee rice  for  me! Nei Choru or  Ghee  Rice  used  to be  the  staple  of  our  mini household  celebrations.  Mom used  to  serve  these   with  hearty  sides  like  roasted coconut vegetables , or  chicken .  Her  cauliflower or mushroom sides   were  what  even the  hardened  non vegetarians  could  never  get  enough of!

Ghee Rice - Delicately flavored aromatic rice

Unlike  the  traditional  rice  casserole – Biriyani ,  ghee  rice  brings  a  little  richness  and   flavor  without  all the  extra  work.   This  was  one  dish  that both  the vegetarians  and  the  hardcore  non vegetarians   liked.  Serve   with  any of  your  favorite  spicy  curries.  One  can have  an  uncle  who  finds  a  meal incomplete   without a  non veg  dish  and  a aunt  whose eyebrows  go up at the  mere  mention of meat .  What  do you do  when  you have  to  have  these  to  visit  at the  same  time ??  Believe  me  there is a  grand  conspiracy at  work here ,  ‘coz it seems  to happen  every time !!!

There,  there  I go  rambling  again ! Back to ghee  rice , it  is   easy to make,  especially so if  you have a  pressure  cooker.  For a  leisurely healthy meal  serve  with  a  side of  spicy  yellow lentils or  for a  fancier  meal  serve  with hearty vegetable  curries or  non veg  curries.  Here are a  few  of  our  favorite  options – roasted coconut  chicken or  spicy shrimp curry,  raita (spiced yogurt) , dal  and  papad .

Undoubtedly  I am  a  fan of  ghee  rice.  For me the  combination of mild  spices  makes  the  rice  drool worthy   without  overpowering  the  other  dishes.  The perfect  complement  and  enhancer  for  your curries  and   kabobs.

Making Ghee Rice

 

To sum  up the  recipe – saute  the  whole spices,  sliced  onion, ginger  and  garlic in  ghee.  To this the  soaked  and  drained  rice  is  added.  It is  stir  fried until  almost  all  rice  has  become  dry.  Enough  hot water   to cook the  rice  is  poured on top  and  the  rice is  cooked  till done.  Sometimes  extra  onions , cashew nuts  and  raisins  are  fried  and   used  as  garnish.

Every family has  its own  variation of  this  recipe.  If  I were  to make this  dish in  Kerala   the  rice  of  choice  would  have been – Jeerakasala or  kaima.  This particular  rice variety  is   not  as  well known as  Basmati , but   has  its  own  unbeatable  flavor.  Unlike  Basmati   it  is small grained –  much smaller  than  the  regular  rice.  The Bangladeshi  Kali Jeera  and  Jeera  rice  are  the  same.   Another   recipe  where  jeera  works  great  is  the kalathappam.

Often  times  I make  ghee  rice  and  masoor dal (the red  lentils) for a  quick  Sunday  lunch,  when   there  is  no time  or  inclination to make  an elaborate  meal. Two  pressure   cookers   on  each burner   and   15 minutes  of  active  cook  time  is all you need  to make a delicious  and  satisfying meal.  Now  you see  the  draw  of  this  dish.

Ghee Rice - Delicately flavored aromatic rice

This was on our family dinner  table a few days back –  Ghee Rice, Shrimp and Plantains in  Roasted Coconut Masala, a salad of  veggie  ribbons  and  some papad for a bit of  crunch.  If memory  serves  me  right –   it  was not  a particularly pleasant  week .   Sometimes  living  with  teenagers  and  other  unmentionable  age  groups –   can  get a little  tiring (!).  After being on  each other’s  nerves  for  days,  it is a  welcome  change  to  be  able  to  wind  down  and  have some  meaningful  conversation.  Families – one may not  be  able  to  live  with  them,  but  one  certainly cant  not  live  without  them !!

Ghee Rice
Prep Time
10 mins
Cook Time
20 mins
Total Time
1 hr
 

Aromatic  spices  are  toasted  in  ghee  infusing  the  ghee  with  it  flavors.   Rice  is  toasted  in this  oil and cooked.   Each grain of  rice  absorbs  the  flavors  and  stays  separate creating a light, fluffy  fragrant  dish. 

Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: India
Servings: 4 Servings
Author: Syama
Ingredients
  • 2 C Jeera Rice /Basmati Rice
  • 2 - 3 Tbsp Ghee
  • 1/2 Tsp Cumin
  • 1 Tsp Fennel Optional
  • 4 - 5 Green Cardamom
  • 4- 6 Cloves
  • 2 Inch Cinnamon Stick
  • 1 - 2 Bay Leaf
  • 2 Inch Fresh Ginger
  • 4 - 6 Cloves Garlic
  • 1/2 C Onions Sliced thin.
  • 1 Tsp Black Pepper Optional
  • 3 3/4 C Warm Water
  • 1/2 Tsp Salt To taste
Optional
  • 2 Tbsp Raisins
  • 2 Tbsp Cashew Nuts
  • 1/4 C Onion Sliced
Instructions
  1. Wash and soak the rice in plenty of water for 30 minutes. Drain.
  2. Slice the onions, crush or thinly slice the ginger and garlic.
  3. Heat a thick bottomed pan or pressure cooker and add 2 tbsp ghee to it. If not frying the garnishes skip to next step. When the ghee has become hot add the cashew nuts and fry till brown. Drain from the ghee and reserve. Add the raisins to the ghee and stir fry till puffed up. Drain and reserve. Add the thinly sliced onions for garnish and fry till golden brown. Drain and reserve as well.
  4. If needed add 1 more tbsp of ghee to the pan. Add the whole spices and saute till their aroma fill the air. Add sliced onions, ginger and garlic. Saute till the onions become translucent. Add the drained rice and fry for few minutes till the grains begins to look dry. Add warm water (see notes) and salt. Close the lid and cook till done.
  5. Cool in the pan for 20 minutes , transfer to a serving plate and sprinkle the fried garnishes on top.
Recipe Notes
  • If using pressure cooker, follow the standard cooking time for rice.
  • Amount of water required varies by rice - typically for basmati and Jeera I use a little less than twice the quantity of rice by volume - ex: 3 3/4 C water for 2 C rice.
  • You can make this with any non sticky raw rice. Rinse, soak and drain the excess starch. Fry and cook in enough water as required for that specific variety
  • Other spices that can be used are - star anise, mace (javetri), fennel,
    and black cardamom.
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Ghee Rice - Delicately flavored aromatic rice

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