A Sindhi, fond of food, moving away from home, goes through various stages of food swings. Initial days are hard, trying to adjust to the taste of food different from his palette. Then comes the excitement of trying new food, new cuisines, new tastes. Exploring different restaurants, food joints , takeaways etc., thrills him/her. But soon the novelty wears off, and then begins a new phase of craving simple home made food.

So its like a Sindhi who has just moved abroad, complains and moans about the pathetic food facilities, but having no choice, thrives upon pizza and burger, juices and fruits, and yeah, not to forget Maggie. After burning holes in pockets, eating sandwiches of all sorts, trying local cuisine, surviving on eggs and chicken, pasta and noodles, it's time for a déjà vu , visiting Indian Restaurants to have just a few bites of simple Dal Chaawal (Lentils and Rice), not without cursing the taste and price tag!

That's why Dal Chaawal is considered ultimate comfort food for us, easy to make, easy to digest, satisfying our hunger as well as craving for the simple home made food.

Lentils are known to be tremendously beneficial to our bodies. Combine these with some rice, a vegetable side dish, some salad, a phulka (or roti) and you will get a wholesome, filling meal. The combinations are infinite, the recipes innumerable, the taste unbeatable and the feeling of having this while you are away from home is simply beyond description.

So let's come to the recipe of this much sought after comfort food of ours....

Dal Chawal

Recipe: Dal (Indian Lentil Soup)
Prep & Cooking Time: 30 mins (including time to cook the lentils)
Recipe Level: Basic/Beginner
Serves: 2-3 people
Recipe/Post by: Alka
1 cup Moong Dal/Yellow Split Moong Lentils
2 Tomatoes, finely chopped
3 Green Chillies, finely chopped
1 inch Ginger, peeled and finely chopped
¼ tsp Turmeric Powder/Haldi
Salt as per taste

For Tadka/Tempering:
1 tsp Cumin Seeds/Jeera
6-8 Curry Leaves
1 tbsp Oil (for Tadka/tempering)

Special Utensil:
Pressure Cooker or Heavy bottomed pan

  1. Pick and rinse dal a few times till the water runs clear. Soak for about 15-30 minutes.
  2. In a pressure cooker, mix dal and two cups of water. Let it come to a boil. Discard the scum floating on the surface.
  3. Then add chopped tomatoes, green chillies, ginger, salt, turmeric powder and one more cup of water (The water should be above the level of dal mixture).
  4. Cover the cooker with the lid and wait for 2 whistles.
  5. Whisk the dal when cooked.
  6. Now heat some oil for tempering, add curry leaves and cumin seeds, and allow it to splutter.
  7. Add this seasoning to the dal, mix it, adjust the consistency by adding water and simmer it for few minutes or wait for one whistle, if using a pressure cooker.
  8. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with plain white rice .

Special Notes/Tips:
  • Some prefer to cook this dal in a handi or an open vessel. In that case follow the same method as above, except adding more water, and cooking it on high flame for few minutes. Simmer it till almost cooked, soft and mushy.
  • I added some shallow fried okra(wash, wipe, slit and shallow fry , sprinkle some salt) after dal was done, and let it boil for a minute.

Generally dal-rice is always served with a side dish, which ranges from simple fried and spiced up potatoes, okra, brinjal etc., to healthier options like dry mixed vegetable curry, drumsticks in onion base, gobi aloo etc. This time it was paired with Capsicum and Onion Subji, a simple and tasty side dish, cooked in jiffy.

Capsicum and Onion Subji

Recipe: Capsicum & Onion Subji (Bell Pepper & Onion Stir Fry)
Prep & Cooking Time: Around 15 minutes
Serves: 3-4 People
Recipe Level: Basic/Beginner
Recipe/Post by: Alka

3 Capsicums/Bell Peppers of any colour
2 Onions
2-3 Green Chillies
1 large Tomato
¼ tsp Turmeric Powder/Haldi
½ tsp Coriander Powder
Little less than ¼ tsp Garam Masala Powder(optional)
1 tsp Oil
Salt to taste

  1. Wash and remove pith and seeds of capsicums. Cut these into large chunks. Peel and chop the onions finely.
  2. Heat oil in Kadhai or pan and add onions. Saute it till translucent, about 3 minutes.
  3. Then add chopped tomato and cook for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add capsicum, and all other ingredients and cook on a high heat, taking care not to burn the mixture. You can lower the heat or add few drops of water if the vegetables start to burn and stick to the pan.
  5. Reduce the heat to low and place a lid over the pan. You can also add some weight to facilitate fast cooking.
  6. Sprinkle few drops of water in between if the veggie tends to sticks to the surface.
  7. This veggie does not take much time to cook, as soon as tomato appears to be skinny, its done!
  8. Enjoy a wholesome meal with some Rice, Roti/Phulka, Dal, Papad(popadum), salad etc.

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Some foods are comforting, some are nutritious and some are simply divine! Pongal is one such dish which is comforting, nutritious and also divine.

Pongal is a popular rice based South Indian dish prepared during a harvest festival known as Pongal and is also prepared in temples as a Prasad (offering to God). Pongal in Tamil means "boiling over or spill over." The act of boiling over of milk in the clay pot is considered to denote future wishes for the family.

There are two varieties of Pongal, namely, Sakarai Pongal (sweet Pongal), Khara Pongal (spicy Pongal), also called Ven Pongal in Tamil Nadu and Huggi in Karnataka. The rice boiled with milk and jaggery during the Pongal festival is also called Pongal.

(Source: Wiki)
Today we will concentrate on spicy Pongal also known as Khara Pongal in Kannada. My favourite way of making Pongal is with good spoonfuls of Thuppa or Ghee, just the way my granny, aunts and my mother make it back in India. Whenever I make Pongal, I remember my Doddamma’s (aunt) word who prepares the best pot of Pongal every day as the Prasad back in our ancestral home. I just need to close my eyes and hear her saying “Make sure you don’t insult Pongal by using just a spoonful of Thuppa. Be generous with Thuppa when you make Pongal because it is God’s food. If you can’t make Pongal with lots of love and Ghee then it is not fit for you, your family and your God.”

I try to remember my Doddamma’s pearls of wisdom like these while cooking. Some foods are just divine and they are meant to be cooked that way. So don’t shy away from using generous amount of Ghee when making Pongal because it is God’s food! :)

Khara Pongal

Recipe: Khara Pongal (Rice & Lentils Medley)
Prep Time: 10 mins
Cooking Time: 30 mins
Serves: 3-4
Recipe Level: Beginner/Basic
Recipe/Post by: Sia

1½ cups Rice (preferably Sona Masuri or you can use Basmati as I have used here)
1 cup Yellow Moong Dal/Split Green Gram
½ cup Cashews
8 cups Milk + Water (I used 1 cup Milk + 7 cups Water)
2-3 Green Chillies, slit (Optional)
1 inch Ginger, peeled and finely chopped or grated
1-2 tsp Black Pepper Corns, lightly crushed or used as whole
1 tsp Jeera/Cumin Seeds
Few Curry Leaves
3-4 tbsp Ghee/Clarified Butter
Salt to taste

Special Utensils:

A Pressure Cooker or Heavy Bottomed Pan with Lid

Ingredients for Khara Pongal: Rice, Moong Dal & Cashews

  1. Heat a pan and add yellow moong dal. Roast it on medium flame, sautéing continuously, till it turns golden yellow, about 3-4 mins. Let it cool completely.
  2. In the same pan add ½ tbsp of ghee and add cashews. Roast on medium to low heat till they turn golden. Keep them aside.
  3. Mix roasted moong dal and rice and wash it in cold water 3-4 times till the water turns clear. Drain all the water and keep it aside.
  4. Heat 2 tbsp of Ghee in a thick bottomed pan or pressure cooker. Add cumin seeds, pepper corns and curry leaves. When jeera starts to sizzle, add slit green chillies, ginger, rinsed rice and moong dal and mix well till every grain is coated with ghee, about 1-2 mins.
  5. Now add milk, water and salt to taste and mix well. Cover the pressure cooker lid with weight and cook it on medium-high flame for 20-30 mins or 3-4 whistles. Let the pressure be released completely before opening the lid, about 5 mins.
  6. If using thick bottomed pan, cover the lid and let it cook undisturbed for 10-12 mins on medium-high flame. By this time water will start to bubble and pour from vessel. Remove the lid; mix the rice and lentils. Once again partially cover the vessel with lid, leaving little gap to escape the steam. Let it cook this way for another 5-10 mins till the rice and dal is plumped up and doubled in volume. Remove the pan from gas.
  7. Mix in roasted cashews, 1-2 tbsp of ghee. Cover and let it sit for another 10 mins for the flavours to blend. Serve this hot with any chutney, lightly spiced curry/Kurma, Gostu or with my favourite, Raita or plain curds with Papads.

Special Notes/Tips:
  • The consistency of Pongal can vary depending on your preference. Some people prefer it very mushy like porridge and add more water while making it. So please adjust the water and milk quantity according to your preference.

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Kootu is a stew like side dish prepared with a combination of moong dal/toor dal and vegetables/greens. It is served as an accompaniment to rice/rotis. Below is the basic version of kootu prepared in our home.

Usually vegetables like cabbage, green beans, cauliflower, chayote squash (chow chow), white pumpkin and all types of greens are used to prepare kootu. My grandmother also used spring onions to prepare kootu. I have never eaten it anywhere else, even in our extended family. When I googled it recently I found a couple of entries from my fellow food bloggers including Sia. Since the recipes are different, here's my grandmother's version of Spring Onion Kootu/Dal. This kootu is very good with both chapathis and rice. When eating it with rice, I would also suggest including a spicy pickle like mango, lemon or gooseberry as this will enhance the taste very much.

Spring Onion Kootu

Recipe: Spring Onion Kootu (Thick Lentil Stew of Moong dal & Spring Onions)
Prep & Cooking Time: 30 minutes.
Serves: 2-3 people
Recipe Level: Beginner/Basic
Recipe/Post by: Madhuram
1/3 cup Moong Dal/Split Green Lentils
2 bunches Spring Onion/Scallions, chopped
2 cups Water
1-1¼ teaspoon Salt
A pinch Turmeric Powder

2 teaspoons Oil
½ teaspoon Mustard seeds
1 teaspoon Chana Dal/Split Bengal Gram
1 teaspoon Urad Dal/Split Black Lentils
3-4 Curry Leaves (if you have in hand)
A pinch Hing/Asafoetida

For the Masala:
3-4 tablespoons Coconut, grated
1 and ½ teaspoon Cumin seeds
½ Green Chili, medium size
1 Red Chili, small

Special Utensils:
A Pressure Cooker

Ingredients for Spring Onion Kootu

  1. Add the oil directly in a small size pressure cooker and temper.
  2. Then to it add the washed and drained moong dal and chopped spring onion. Also add the water, salt and turmeric powder. Close the lid and wait for the steam.
  3. Once the steam escapes add the weight and just leave it for one whistle and turn off the stove.
  4. While the dal is cooking grind together the ingredients for the masala in a mixer/blender using little water as needed. It should be a fine paste.
  5. When the pressure releases open the cooker; add the masala to the cooked dal, turn on the heat and let it simmer for 2-3 minutes. Check for salt and garnish it with some fresh coriander leaves.

Special Notes/Tips:
  • This dish can be prepared without a pressure cooker also. In a vessel/pan do the tadka and add the moong dal and some water. When the dal is almost cooked add the chopped spring onions, some more water and let it cook completely. Then proceed with the same procedure as mentioned above.
  • While grinding the masala, usually only red chillies are used. But I use a combination of green chili and red chili and it definitely enhances the flavor of the kootu.
  • Traditionally tempering is done in a small frying pan and then added to the kootu at the end or just before serving, so that the dals retain their crunch. But I do it straight away in the cooker itself to make it a one pot dish and quick.
  • Using the same procedure one can prepare kootu using any other vegetables/greens instead of spring onions.

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Split yellow peas or moong dal is considered one of the most healthiest foods in the world and Indian cuisine uses it extensively, be it North, South, East or West. Kerala Cuisine is definitely not as lentil-rich as its northern counterparts, but there are some wholesome curries which use moong dal in combination with other vegetables.

Moong dal is called cherupayar in Malayalam, literally meaning small lentils. It is often substituted for toor dal in sambar too.

Cucumber-Moong Dal Curry

Recipe: Cucumber Moong Dal Curry
Prep & Cooking Time: 30 minutes
Serves: 3 People
Recipe Level: Beginner
Recipe/Post by: Nags
Yellow split peas/split moong dal/mung dal/Cheru payar - 1 cup
Cubed cucumber/squash - 1/2 cup
Turmeric powder - one pinch
Grated coconut - 1/4 cup
Shallots - 4-5
Green chillies - 3
Hing - one pinch
Jeera powder - 1 tsp
Mustard seeds - for tempering
Curry leaves - one strand
Salt - to taste
Oil - 2 tsp
  1. Pressure cook the dal, cucumber and turmeric with just enough water to cover it. I let it cook for 3 whistles since I like it cooked soft.
  2. Heat oil and add mustard seeds. When they pop, fry the shallots, split green chillies, jeera and hing for 2-3 mins. Then add the coconut and mix well.
  3. Add the cooked dal to the above mixture, stir in well, add salt, season with curry leaves and serve hot.

Cucumber-Moong Dal Curry

Special Notes/Tips:
  • Moong dal may be replaced with toor dal but the taste changes noticeably.
  • The cucumber may be replaced with squash, pumpkin or even cabbage. My grandmother used to add a mix of cabbage and carrots this curry and that looks colourful and tastes really good too!

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Rice, being staple food, takes different avatars in our kitchen. Brown rice is nutritious no doubt, but plain white rice is the versatile one for cooking various rice dishes. The art of cooking rice lies in retaining the grainy texture even while the rice is cooked through. This was well-briefed by Valli here. For lunch or variety rice, I normally use an electric rice cooker. The quantity of water added makes all the difference.

We make various types of one pot dishes with rice – mixed rice, pulav, biryani, fried rice etc…Variety rice is prepared by mixing the ingredients with cooked rice. At times the rice is sauteed along with vegetables and spices and at times, we cook the rice separately and just mix the vegetables and/or spices in it.

Pulav is cooked in two ways. One can either make it in pressure cooker with the rice and vegetables together or cook the rice separately with less water to ¾ th stage and bake it along with spices and vegetables for a while.

Biryani rice is cooked along with ground masala and coconut milk.

Fried rice is sauteed gently with veggies and spices. This one is less spicy and needs a spicy side dish to accompany.

This post is dedicated to Spinach/Palak Rice. The greens are ground and sauteed on medium flame and mixed with rice. Adding veggies makes it colorful. Even kids who hesitate to eat greens will love this rice. The beauty of the dish is in preparing it grainy and not mushy. Make sure that the raw smell of spinach goes while retaining the green color.

Palak/Spinach Rice

Recipe: Spinach/Palak Rice (Basmati rice flavoured with spinach, aromatic spices and fresh herbs & cooked in coconut milk)
Prep & Cooking Time: 45 minutes
Serves: 3 People
Recipe Level: Intermediary
Recipe/Post by: Viji
1 cup Basmati Rice
1 bunch Spinach/Palak
1 Red Onion
2 Green Chillies
1 small wedge Ginger
1 cup each of fresh/frozen Sweet Corns and Green Peas
1 tsp Butter
1 cup Coconut Milk
¼ cup water
A pinch of Sugar
Salt to taste

For Tadka/Tempering:
1 tsp Ghee
1 tsp Oil
1 each – Cinnamon, Cloves, Bay Leaf & Cardamom

Spices Needed:
1 tbsp Garam Masala Powder
½ tsp Turmeric Powder

For Garnishing:
Few Fried Cashews

Special Utensils:
Veggie Chopper
Electric Rice Cooker

Bunch of Fresh Palak/Spinach

  1. Wash and cook the basmati rice with butter, coconut milk, water and salt in electric rice cooker. Once done spread on a plate to cool.
  2. Steam cook the corn and peas till soft.
  3. Wash and chop the palak with other ingredients (onion, green chillies and ginger) given above in the chopper.
  4. In a skillet temper as the ingredients in sequence. Add the palak paste and fry till the water evaporates. Adding sugar helps retain the green color.
  5. Add the veggies – corn and peas - to it and saute.
  6. Now add the spices and saute till they are evenly folded with the vegetables. Finally add the rice and saute till they mixed well. Serve hot or cold with your favorite raita.

Special Notes/Tips:
  • If chopper is not available use the multi mixer but do not grind to a paste.
  • If electric rice cooker is not available use pressure cooker, but do not use the weight to cover the steam outlet. Instead close the nozzle placing a cup upside down and cook the rice on medium heat for 30-40 minutes. Switch off and after 5 minutes spread the rice to cool.
  • Garlic lovers can add 1 or 2 cloves of garlic along with spinach and other ingredients while chopping.
  • Adding coconut milk will enhance taste.
  • If garam masala powder is not available, powder equal portions of cinnamon, cloves and green cardmom and use it.
  • Once prepared transfer to a greased baking dish and bake for 5 minutes at 175 degree Celcius. This enhances the flavor.

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Dals or lentils are an integral part of Indian vegetarian cuisine. They are the main source of protein and in many households in India, made daily (or a few times a day!) in various forms. Huli is a form of dal made mainly in the Mysore/Bangalore regions of Karnataka. It is a thicker version of sambar but made with a different masala and is usually very vegetable-heavy.

Eggplant Onion Huli
Badanekayi Eerulli Huli

Recipe Name: Badanekayi Eerulli Huli (Thick Lentil Stew with eggplants and onions)
Cooking Time: 30 minutes (20 minutes to cook lentils & vegetables and 10 minutes to prepare the stew)
Serves: 4 people
Cooking Level: Intermediate
Recipe/Post by: Vani
1 medium Onion (chopped into big pieces)
1 medium sized Eggplant (chopped into 1 inch chunks)
1.5 cups Water
1.5 cups cooked Toor Dal (click here for cooking instructions)
3 tbsp freshly grated Coconut or Coconut Powder
¾ tsp Tamarind Paste (Acc to taste)
2 tsp Jaggery or Brown Sugar (Acc to taste)
Salt to taste

For Masala Powder:
2" Cinnamon
A pinch of Hing/Asafoetida
1 tbsp Chana Dal/Split Bengal Gram
2 tbsp Coriander Seeds
4-6 Dry Red Chillies
1 tsp Oil

For Tadka/Tempering:
1 tsp Mustard Seeds
A Pinch of Asafoetida
½ tsp Turmeric Powder
A spring of Curry Leaves
1 tbsp Oil

Eggplant Onion Huli
Badanekayi Eerulli Huli served with Rice and Ghee

  1. Fry the ingredients in the 'masala' section in 1 tsp of oil, until fragrant and grind them to a fine powder.
  2. Grind the coconut and the masala powder to a smooth paste, adding very little water.
  3. Heat oil in a pot. Add mustard seeds. When they start to crackle, add asafoetida, turmeric and curry leaves.
  4. Add onions, eggplants and water to the tempered oil. Cover and cook until the eggplants are soft.
  5. Add the coconut paste, cooked toor dal and salt and bring to a boil.
  6. Add tamarind paste and jaggery. Taste and adjust seasonings.
  7. Serve with rice, topped with a dollop of ghee.

Special Notes/Tips:

  • The consistency of huli is very thick. So while adding dal, drain the water from the dal before adding. Also, add very little water while grinding the coconut paste.
  • Some typical vegetables/combinations in hulis are onion/potato, chayote/black eyed beans, greens, cabbage and beans.
  • Papads, chips and other fried fritters make good accompaniments with this.

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If Mumbai has bhel on the beach, the South has chundal that comes cheap! You just cannot escape the high pitched 'thenga maanga pattani sundellll..' cry at Marina Beach in Chennai. The words evoke feelings of nostalgia even as I write them! These days the beaches have been cleaned up and hawkers almost eliminated(a good start!). If you are lucky you may find a lone chundal seller but one with neither 'thenga'(coconut) nor 'maanga'(raw mango)!

Chundal is also an integral part of Navratri celebrations in any Tamil household. One of the major attractions of this festival as a child was being invited to see the 'golu'(an arrangement of idols, dolls and china figurines on steps during Navratri at Tamilian homes) at some mami's (aunty) house. We knew we would be asked to sing a 'Geetham', 'Bhajanai' or 'Varanam' (Classical South Indian Music) and find ourselves rewarded with a 'donnai' (small bowls made of leaves) filled with yummy chundal. These days most people opt for self sticking plastic covers instead of the donnai which is rather sad! The nine nights of Navaratri are reserved for different varieties of chundal and the two most favoured chundals are Konda Kadalai (kala chana) Chundal and Kadala Paruppu Chundal.

Chundals basically refer to any preparation involving dry legumes (peanuts, chickpeas, moong beans, bengal grams etc.) cooked, drained, roasted and seasoned with a generous smattering of coconut and minced green chillies. The result is an awesome dish that can be had on its own as a tea time snack or mid meal filler, and also as a side dish with rasam or morkootan.

Vegan Lentils
Kadala Paruppu Chundal

Recipe: Kadala Paruppu Chundal (Seasoned Bengal Gram)
Prep & Cooking Time: 30 minutes (Including the time taken to cook the pulses)
Serves: 4 people
Recipe Level: Beginner/Basic
Recipe/Post by: Sunshinemom

Bengal grams/Split Chickpeas (chane ki dal) - 2 cups
Oil (preferably coconut oil) - 1 tsp.
Mustard seeds (rai) - 1 tsp.
Dehusked black gram (urad dal) - 1 tsp.
Curry leaves (kadipatte) - 1 sprig
Powdered asafoetida (kuti hing) - 1/8 tsp. (or less)
Fresh, grated coconut (nariyal) - 1/4 cup
Green chillies (hari mirch) - 2

Kadala paruppu
Cooked Bengal Grams

  1. Cook bengal grams with enough water to cover the gram till done. The cooked dal should not be soft or mushy and should retain its shape. If you are using a pressure cooker turn off the stove after 3 whistles. Let the pressure subside naturally.
  2. Remove the cooked dal, drain liquid if any by turning the dal into a colander. Do not discard the liquid as it is nutritious and makes a very flavourful stock for soups and gravies.
  3. While the dal cools, prepare the seasoning. Heat a wok/kadai adding the oil. Splutter mustard seeds followed by black gram, curry leaves and asafoetida.
  4. When the black gram starts turning pink add the cooked and drained bengal grams. Add turmeric powder and salt. Mix well on medium heat till the mixture turns dry and the seasoning is evenly distributed.
  5. Mince the green chillies coarsely with a little coconut. Add this and the rest of the coconut to the seasoned dry dal and stir well till evenly distributed. Serve hot as a snack or as a side dish with any gravy.

Vegan Lentils
Kadala Paruppu Chundal

Suggested Substitutes:
  • Groundnuts, moong beans, black or brown chickpeas, mochchai (fava beans/broad/horse beans), dry green or yellow peas (pattani) instead of bengal grams. Do not use kidney beans and the other bigger varieties for this preparations.
  • If you do not have green chillies, use dry red chillies, adding two broken bits while seasoning in the initial stage.

Special Notes/Tips:
  • Do not use off the shelf dessicated coconut as it does not have the juice or flavour of fresh coconuts.
  • This dish is prepared as an offering during poojai/festivals in South India as it is quick and hassle free.

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Cooking of Rice

Posted by Srivalli | Monday, June 01, 2009 | , , , , | 5 comments »

Rice is one of the main staple foods in India. I have personally heard many say that a meal is not complete without rice. This grain gets disguised in many forms and ways. We even have our breakfast items done with rice, like the Idlis and Dosas. One cannot ignore the major part it plays in being the center of attraction.

The typical thali from South India, revolves around making dishes that one has to eat with Rice. If we have the thali from Andhra, we have dishes like Katti Pappu (Seasoned plain Dal), Podi (Spiced Gun powder), Urugai (Pickle), Vepudu (Dry Veg saute) followed by any variety of Pappu (Dal), Chaaru (Watery Dal), Perugu (Curds/Yogurt). These days you are offered a variety of Masala Rice as part of the Thali too.

All the gravies or side dishes are mixed with Rice and eaten. Rice being so important in a meal, it’s obvious we end up cooking rice in different ways.

For the technicalities, let’s discuss the types of rice. We have Parboiled and Raw Rice. Parboiled rice is where the grains are boiled with the husk and then processed. You can check out the vast information available over the net on the Parboiled process and its benefits.

Today’s post will brief about cooking Raw Rice.

Rice is cooked by either boiling or steaming. In the process, rice absorbs water during cooking. You can cook the rice in just as much water as it absorbs, or in a large quantity of water, which is drained before serving.

There are many methods to cook the rice. We can cook the rice in Pressure cooker, Electric cooker, Microwave, or even directly in a pan.

Rice may also be made into rice porridge (also called congee or rice gruel or kanji) by adding more water than usual, so that the cooked rice is saturated with water to the point that it becomes very soft, expanded, and fluffy. Rice porridge is commonly eaten as a breakfast food in certain areas, and is also a common food for the sick.

Preparing the rice for cooking:
Before any method of cooking, it is always good to soak the rice. So depending on the type of rice, wash it well and soak it for minimum 15 minutes. Soaking helps in cooking the rice faster, saves fuel, minimizes exposure to high temperature and thus decreases the stickiness of the rice (and also increase the volume of cooked rice to some extent).

In some varieties, soaking improves the texture of the cooked rice by increasing expansion of the grains.

When I start my cooking, soaking the rice is the first thing that gets done. By the time other dishes are half way, the rice is well soaked to get cooked fast.

I mostly cook my rice in pressure cooker when it is served with Dal or Sambar. The normal measurement of water to rice is 1 cup of rice with 2 cups of water (it can take upto 3 cups for the old rice).

This again will depend on the type of rice you are cooking.


The different Types of cooking rice

Cooking with Pressure Cooker - Absorption Method:
I use Sona Masuri or Ponni when I am making Dal or Sambar. For making Pulao/Biryani/Ghee Rice/Masala Rice, I use Basmati. So you got to decide for what you are going to serve the rice with.

When the rice is served with dal or gravy dishes, the measurement of water will be about 2 cups of water to 1 cup of rice, plus 1/2 cup of water extra. This ensures your rice is soft even when packed for lunch.

When you are cooking and serving it right away you can use just the 1: 2 ratios. Again seasoned rice like Lemon Rice, Pulihora and others, require the rice grains to be separate. So the rice should not be soggy / sticky.

Cooked Rice

There are two ways of cooking in pressure cooker. First is by using the bowls that come with the cooker, second is cooking it directly in the pan.

In the first method, you fill the bowl with rice and water and place it in the cooker filled with water. In the end you will get more grainier texture to the rice.

In the second method, the rice is placed directly in the pan with the water. This way the rice becomes softer. Keep an eye on the cooking time as otherwise, the rice will get burnt.

Once the rice and water is placed in the cooker, cover it with lid. The steam starts coming out when the water starts boiling, that’s the time when the whistle has to be placed over the value. For regular rice, we can allow 2–3 whistles. But this again depends on your rice and cooker make.

Rapid boil method - Cooking in excess water:
In this method, we first boil water, four times the quantity of Rice. If you are cooking 1 cup of Rice, boil about 4-5 cups of water. When the water starts boiling, add the washed rice and cook with a partially closed lid. By placing a lid partially covered, we save fuel and also get the rice cooked faster. But ensure that you keep an eye on the lid, else the water will spill out.

Once the rice is cooked, cover the vessel with a plate and tilt it over another vessel to let the water drain out. The excess water is also consumed by adding salt and other seasoning. This is called the kanji and can be given to infants too. Most people down South cook their rice this way to remove excess starch.

Cooking for Fried Rice - Seasoned Rice:
When you cooking rice for making fried rice or other South Indian variety rice dishes like Lemon rice, Pulihora etc, the cooked rice has to be separated or non sticky. This can be achieved by cooking it with 1:2 cup rice, water ratio. This is normally cooked in a pan to ensure the rice retains its shape and is still half done or else you can use electric rice cooker.

If you are using pressure cooker, keep it for lesser whistle.

Pan fried Rice/Ghee Rice/Flavored Rice:
When cooking rice to be served with Masala gravies or other rich dishes, the rice is sautéed in butter/ghee and then flavoured with whole spices. This makes the rice very aromatic and a great dish to be eaten as such too. Off this aromatic Ghee Rice goes to Nag's MM-Ravishing Rice, an event initiated by Meeta.

Step by step instructions for cooking Ghee Rice

Recipe: Ghee Rice (Rice flavoured with Indian clarified butter and aromatic spices)
Prep & Cooking Time: 30-35 mins
Serves: 2-3 People
Recipe Level: Beginner/Basic to Intermediary
Recipe/Post by: Srivalli

Basmati Rice - 1 cup
Water - 1 cup
Salt to taste
Ghee - 2 tsp

Whole Spices:
Bay leaf - 1 big
Cloves - 2
Cinnamon - 2"
Cumin Seeds - 1/2 tsp
Cardamom - 2

Ghee Rice

  1. Wash and soak rice for 15 minutes.
  2. Heat a pan with ghee. Sauté the whole spices. Then add the drained rice. Sauté well in the ghee. Add 1 cup of water, salt. Let it boil.
  3. Cover with lid and simmer for 10 minutes.
  4. Check in between once to mix it well. Then again cook with the lid covered. Once it’s cooked, switch off the flame and the rice can remain in the pan for 5 more minutes. This way the rice gets done well. Replacing 1/2 cup of water with diluted coconut milk will increase the flavor.

Special Notes/Tips:
  • When you are cooking Basmati rice, it’s normally advised to handle with care. It can be washed maximum once or twice. And soaked in the same water you are going to cook.
  • When cooking, it has be to sautéed very gently so that you don't end up breaking the long grains.
  • When cooking for fried rice, the rice has to be cooled to get the grains separated. This can be done by sprinkling a tsp of oil/ghee.
  • Apart from these spices other whole spices like mace; star anise etc., can also be used.

(Source part of the content is referred from Wiki)

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