Coconut Rice


Its quick, its fresh, its nutty, its light…so why not ? Coconut rice is one of the many quick and easy variety rice recipes. I love the flexibility it offers : got some leftover rice and trying to make a meal out of it without sweating much or make an exotic aromatic party food, coconut rice will be your best friend ūüôā . ¬†Whether you go for simplicity or embellish it to the core, this flavor packed rice will take you to your happy place.

You will need :

  1. Rice – 1 cup
  2. Grated coconut – 3/4 cup
  3. Green chillies – 3
  4. Ginger – 1/2 inch piece
  5. Peanuts – 1/4 cup
  6. Cashew – 1/4 cup
  7. Mixed vegetables – 1 cup
  8. Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
  9. Urad dal – 1/2 tsp
  10. Channa dal – 1 tsp
  11. Curry leaves – few

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  • Cook rice by your preferred method. You can also use leftover rice. Adding a tsp of oil to the water while boiling rice helps the grains to stay separate.
  • Grind green ¬†chillies and ginger along with a few peanuts to a coarse mix. It doesn’t have to be a paste, just grind enough to blend everything. Else, you can just finely mince the chillies and ginger.

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  • In a wok, add a tbsp of oil (preferably coconut oil or sesame oil) and fry the mustard seeds, urad dal, channa dal and the curry leaves.

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  • When the mustard seeds splutter and the dals turn golden add the peanuts and cashewnuts.

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  • When the nuts turn slightly golden add the mixed vegetables. This is optional,I prefer adding a lot of veggies to the rice, so that I can skip making a side ūüôā . Sprinkle some salt and cook for two minutes and then add the ground green chillies+ginger paste.

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  • Once the green chillies and ginger paste coats all the vegetables add the cooked rice to the wok, reduce heat and mix well.

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  • Check for seasoning, add salt if needed. Three green chillies should pack enough punch, but if you need more heat you can add red pepper flakes. Finally add the grated coconut and mix with rice thoroughly, remove from heat after a minute.

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  • You can also toast the coconut before adding to the rice. While it deepens the flavor, I feel that freshness is compromised. ¬†You can try both ways and see which you would prefer.

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While the cold, windy weather and the 5 p.m. dark skies keep warning about the bitter winter, it feels like spring in my kitchen and thats what matters, right ?

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Sesame Rice


This is my attempt to re-create the “prasadham” I enjoyed in my hometown temple when I was a kid (when temple visits were culinary experiences ūüôā )…..I remember sprinting around the navagrahas so that I can get my share from the priest. I guess it was the offering for Saturn (Saneeshwararn)…..
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  • Cook 1 cup of rice and allow it cool down.
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  • black sesame seeds,¬†red chillies,¬†urad dhal and¬†channa dhal

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  • Fry urad dhal, channa dhal, chillies and sesame (in the same order) in a tsp of sesame oil.

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  • After they cool down grind them into a coarse powder ( which looks like top soil ) ūüôā

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  • For the final seasoning ¬†you need curry leaves, peanuts and mustard seeds.

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  • Fry the mustard seeds, curry leaves and peanut in a tsp of sesame oil.

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  • To the cooked rice, add the sesame powder and the fried seasoning.

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  • Mix them all together and add salt to taste. Also drizzle a tsp of sesame oil and mix.

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Koottaanchoru


This is the Nellai version of Bisibelabath. The difference is in the vegetables and the spices used. I have greatly enjoyed this rice at my maternal grandmother’s place. This is a great one pot dish.Image

raw rice – 1.5 cups
Thur Dhal – 1/2 cup

Cook the dhal and rice together in a pressure cooker with 6 cups of water , some salt and 2 tsp of oil. You can cook them in a regular pot, add enough water so that cooked rice-dhal has a soft texture.

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I have small onions, radish, cooking banana, eggplants, flat beans and drumsticks. Traditionally, we use what we call as “Naattu Kaai” for this rice and avoid vegetables like carrots, peas and cauliflower.

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Chop the vegetables in big chunks as they have to withstand a long cooking process.

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Tamarind water and asafoetida.

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For the masala, grind red chillies, cumin, small onions, garlic and 1 tbsp. of coconut.

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In the pot add some sesame oil and fry curry leaves and onions.

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sauté the veggies.

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Add the tamarind water.

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Add salt, turmeric powder and asafoetida and cook until the raw smell of tamarind goes away in medium heat for at least about 30 mins. Add the masala and cook for another 15 minutes.

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Traditionally, drumstick leaves are added. As I can’t get them in my place,I have added some chopped methi.

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Add the cooked rice and dhal to the curry and mix well. Simmer for 15 mins, making sure the rice is not getting dry.

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Fry some curry vadaam (if you don’t have it, mustard seeds will do), red chillies and curry leaves in a separate pan and add the seasoning to the rice.

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Tastes good when its hot and tastes even better at room temperature. This is a great all-in-one dish with rice, lentils and vegetables and the combination of red chillies, cumin and garlic add layers of flavor. Back in my hometown, I have even tasted this dish with shrimp in it. You can try that too !

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Dhum Biriyani (simplified)


There are more than hundred ways to cook biriyani. This is just one of them. I have combined various steps and tips from many recipes I have tried over the years to simplify the recipe. This is a well tested , fool-proof recipe that guarantees yummy biriyani with authentic taste, flavor, color and texture.
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There are usually three layers in Dhum Biriyani.
1. Rice
2.Meat with gravy
3.Garnish

First, cook the rice. I do not prefer Basmati rice for biriyani. The best option is to use biriyani rice(kichadi samba) or Jeeraga samba. If not, regular raw ponni rice can also be used. 
  1. Soak 3 cups of raw rice in water for 30 mins

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2.  In a pan, heat up 2 tbsp. of ghee and 2 spoons of oil. Fry Bay leaves, Cinnamon, Cloves, Cardamom and Fennel.

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3. Stir in the soaked rice and mix well so that each grain is coated with oil.

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4.Usually I use 2 cups of water for 1 cup of rice for regular cooking. But for biriyani I only use 1.5 cups of water for 1 cup of rice. (You can use coconut milk or chicken stock instead of water).
Add salt , cover and cook.
 
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5.¬†Rice is cooked al-dente. (It takes about 10 -13 mins). When we cook in dhum later rice will be cooked thoroughly. This way we can make sure, the rice doesn’t get mushy and the grains stay separate at the end.¬†So the first part, preparing the rice is done.
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6. Now to make the meat gravy : Cut and clean chicken pieces.
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7. Chop : Onions, Tomatoes, Green chillies,  Mint, Curry leaves, Coriander leaves(optional)

You will also need: ginger garlic paste, plain yogurt, turmeric powder, red chilli powder, coriander powder and garam masala

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8. In a wok , heat up 2 tbsp. of ghee or butter and 2 spoons of oil and fry the same spices :
Bay leaves, Cardamom, Cinnamon, Cloves and Fennel. Saute onions, green chillies, curry leaves and 2 tbsp. of ginger garlic paste.
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9. Saute mint and add the tomatoes.
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10. When tomatoes soften , add chicken. When chicken begins to change color, add turmeric, red chilli powder, coriander powder, garam masala.I would add very little coriander powder. If you have a good chicken curry masala, you can add that too.
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11. Add a cup of plain yogurt. Add salt. Taste the curry and add more chilli powder or salt as needed.
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12. Cook until you get a thick gravy. Chicken should not be overdone.
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13. Now for the third part of garnish: Thinly sliced onions  and Mint leaves chopped
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14. In a pan, heat up a spoon of oil and sauté the onions. when the onions brown , add the mint.
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15. Now we have everything we need to start layering the biriyani.
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16. In a baking dish, add a layer of rice. Then add a layer of meat and sprinkle some sautéed onions and mint over them. Repeat layering like this until you have used up all your rice, meat and garnish.
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17. Roughly for 3 cups of rice, you should be able to repeat the layers atleast 3 times. Cover the dish tightly with foil.Place the lid over the foil. Make sure its sealed tight. Else, the rice and meat will lose moisture and we will end up with a very dry biriyani. Bake in the oven at 300 degrees F for 1 hour.
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18.¬†You can serve the biriyani as such with layers or…Image
 
Mix the layers well to get the traditional look.¬†If you do not have an oven, you can layer the biriyani in the electric rice cooker and set it up in “warm” mode (instead of “cook”) for an hour.Image