Category Archives: Rice

Last of the Summer Vine: Wild Rice Pilaf

Slowly, but steadily the temperatures are dipping down into the 60’s and 50’s and the lows into 40’s and 30’s. Most of my summer plants, while still alive have stopped producing. Almost.

wrp1My late blooming yellow pepper plant has abundant peppers growing, but some menace appears to be attacking them. So this week, I decided to harvest some well grown peppers even if they are still green and haven’t changed color.  I also harvested some Italian flat beans and some red sorrel greens. Eggplant, tomato and zucchini are still alive and flowering but rarely producing fruit. Herbs are still doing great.

I used the beans and peppers to make some Wild Rice Pilaf that turned out pretty good.


1/2 wild rice
2 small bell peppers
4-5 Italian flat beans
1  shallot chopped
1-2 garlic cloves chopped or minced
a small piece of ginger chopped
3-4 cloves
1/2 stick cinnamon
1 tsp cumin seeds
a few mint leaves chopped
1 sliced jalapeno
a few bay leaves
pinch of turmeric
1 tbsp oil
dash of garam masala
dash of cayenne pepper

wrp3Bring a cup of water to boil in a bowl and add the wild rice. Reduce flame and let cook for 10-15 minutes till the water evaporates and the wild rice is almost cooked.

In a separate bowl, add oil, cloves, turmeric, and cinnamon. Lightly fry for a few seconds till golden. Add chopped shallot, garlic, ginger, bay leaves, mint and jalapeno and lightly fry until golden. Add cut beans and peppers and continue to fry for 5-6 minutes. Add garam masala, and cayenne pepper and semi cooked rice and mix well. Add salt to taste. Add a little water, reduce flame to low and cover and continue cooking for 5-10 minutes until the beans and pepper soften.

Remove from flame and serve warm with some raita (yogurt and cucumber sauce).


Spinach and Yogurt Stew (Challa Pulusu)

It is very common to make a curry-like stew with vegetables and tamarind juice (or yogurt) in Southern India. While you can make this one with spinach leaves only, more commonly my mother would add bottle gourd, pumpkin and tomato. Occasionally I like to add other vegetables such as carrots, butternut squash or even green beans sometimes.


Here’s how we typically made it at home:

3 cups buttermilk (I used Kefir 1% buttermilk)
1 cup of cubed bottle gourd and butternut squash (or pumpkin)
2 cups chopped spinach
1 large tomato chopped
1 jalapeno sliced
a few curry leaves
chopped cilantro to garnish
1 tsp oil
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp turmeric
3-4 whole dry red chilli
a small piece of ginger minced
1 tbsp coconut flakes (optional)
2 tbsp chick pea flour
salt to taste


I typically steam the vegetables (cubed bottle gourd, and pumpkin) in the pressure cooker. But you can also cook them stove top with a little water.

Meanwhile, heat a tbsp of oil in a pan, add turmeric and asafoetida, add cumin seeds, mustard seeds and dry red chilli and lightly fry for a few seconds. Add ginger, curry leaves and sliced jalapeno and fry for a few seconds. Add chopped spinach and continue frying for a few minutes. Add steamed vegetables, chopped tomato and continue cooking. Add salt to taste.


Meanwhile, in a pan, mix chick pea flour and butter milk. This prevents the butter milk from cracking when boiled with the vegetables.

Add the butter milk mixture to the vegetables. Continue boiling for 15-20 minutes. Garnish with some chopped cilantro. Optionally add some coconut flakes.


Serve warm with some rice and dal. I usually love to eat mine with Chinese Okra and dal.

Add a teaspoon of ghee…  Heavenly!


Hoppin’ John

It is interesting to hear about the New Year’s Day traditions for luck across the world. For instance, people from Netherlands burned their Christmas tree, or in Spain red underwear for hope and prosperity or eat grapes, or eating black eyed peas (Hoppin’ John) a southern tradition.


Since I discovered the black-eyed peas tradition, each year I love to cook blacked eyed peas on New Year’s Day. This year is no different. And I found the perfect recipe on ELR. It is not only healthy but turned out delicious! Here is how I made mine with a few minor changes.

1/2 cup black eyed peas
1/4 cup brown rice
4 cherry tomatoes chopped
2 green onions sliced
some chopped cilantro
some pickled jalapeno (optional)
1-2 tbsp sour cream (optional) can use cheddar cheese instead as the original recipe call for.
salt and pepper to taste

For the relish:
1 medium tomato
1 jalapeno or Serrano pepper (de-seeded)
1-2 tbsp mustard
Soak the black-eyed peas overnight. I usually like to rinse and cook mine peas in a pressure cooker, but you can also cook on medium low with twice the amount of water for an hour. Rinse and cook the brown rice with twice the amount of water until cooked and all the water evaporates.

Meanwhile, blend the tomato, pepper and mustard in a food processor.

Mix the peas and rice. Add sliced green onions, chopped tomatoes and cilantro. Drizzle relish, add salt and pepper and mix. Top with pickled jalapeno and sour cream.

IMG_4164Happy New Year!

Quick Lunch Series: Tomato Rice


Believe it or not I had this best friend in elementary school who would bring the best tomato rice for lunch. It was not something we made at home, but in memory of those lunches, I made some this week. It is a again one of those perfect lunches for a work day meal, if you have left over rice, some tomatoes and onion!

1 cup cooked rice (basmathi or sona masuri, or jasmine if you insist)
1 medium onion sliced
3 tomatoes chopped
1 jalapeno sliced or quartered
1 tbsp chana dal
1 tbsp urad dal
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tbsp oil
a touch of turmeric
a touch of asafoetida
salt to taste
1/2 tsp red chilli powder (optional)
1 jalapeno sliced
a few curry leaves
a little chopped cilantro to garnish
1-2 tsp ghee (optional)

Heat the oil in a large pan. Add turmeric, asafoetida, channa dal, urad dal, and mustard seeds and fry till the mustard seeds start sputtering. Add curry leaves and sliced jalapeno and continue frying for a minute. Add sliced onion and fry till lightly brown. Add chopped tomato and cook till most of the moisture evaporates. Add salt to taste and red chilli powder. Add ghee if desired.

Add cooked rice, and mix well. Garnish with some chopped cilantro. Tasty. Although there is something to be said of the tartness of the tomatoes back home. Even with the 3 tomatoes I added, I thought there was no tartness to my dish. Might try roma tomatoes next time and use the juice of 1-2 tomatoes as well.

Still tomato is my 2nd best vegetable. That is after mango! Nothing beats mango rice!

Kichdi (Rice with lentils)

Khichdi is a popular one pot meal that is chiefly composed of rice and lentils. Typically the lentils of choice are moong dal (green gram) or brown lentils. You can make it with either brown or white rice. Cooking with brown rice takes longer and most times I double cook it in a pressure cooker. Also it is not as fluffy as when cooked with white basmati. Kichdi is convenient and fairly easy to cook. Perfect for that office lunch box or a week night dinner. It goes well with some raita (yogurt dish) or plain yogurt on the side.


Kichdi made with whole moong dal and white basmati rice is shown above.


Kichdi with brown rice and whole moong dal is shown above.

For the Kichidi:
1 cup rice (brown or white)
1/2 cup whole moong dal (green gram)
1/2 onion chopped
1-2 bay leaves
1 jalapeno sliced (optional)
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp cumin powder
2 garlic cloves (optional)
a small piece of ginger (optional)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1/4 tsp garam masala
1-2 tbsp shredded coconut
pinch of turmeric
salt to taste
some cilantro chopped
1 tbsp oil
1 tsp ghee (optional)


For the Raita
1 cup yogurt
1/4 red onion chopped (optional)
1/4 cucumber shredded or finely cut
1 roma tomato chopped fine
some cilantro chopped
salt and fresh ground black pepper

To make the raita mix all the ingredients and set aside.


To make the kichdi, if using whole moong dal, soak overnight or atleast for 8 hours. If using de-husked, split moong dal not preparation is needed.

I usually like to make the kichdi in a pressure pan or pressure cooker. My 7liter pressure cooker comes with a pressure pan that is very convenient to cook. Especially when I need to saute my vegetables in oil first before steaming them.


My really old pressure pan shown above, that is perfect for steaming and making one pot meals such as kichdi, vangi bath, pulao etc.

Rinse rice and drain all the water and set aside. To make the kichdi, heat some oil in a pan. Add turmeric and cumin seeds and fry lightly. Add onion, garlic and jalapeno and fry till the onions are lightly brown. Add moong dal and rice and fry lightly. Add salt and all other spices and coconut. Always adjust spices for personal preference. Mix well. Add 2 cups water and a tsp of ghee (optional). Close the pressure pan lid and cook until two whistles. If using an electric rice cooker, transfer the ingredients to the rice cooker after light frying and add water and cook. If cooking in the open, add water and bring to a boil. Reduce flame and cook until all water evaporates and the rice is fluffy. Adding more water as needed.

Garnish with some cilantro and eat warm with plain yogurt or raita.


Lunch Box Nostalgia

Rice is a staple diet in Southern India. Most days it is eaten 3-4 times a day. It is fairly common that there are left overs the next day. It is even more common that the left over rice is given a quick make-over into lemon rice, yogurt rice  or one of the many different combinations available where rice is mixed with other ingredients and made into a delicious dish often called “tiffin” or a light meal.


Growing up, I remember many a time my mother packing school lunches (usually with fresh cooked rice or left overs). One of the most common ones she made besides lemon (or tamarind) rice was coconut rice.

1 cup sona masuri or basmati rice
1-2 shallots
1 medium potato
1 jalapeno
1/4 cup shredded fresh or dry coconut

1 tsp urad dal
1 tsp channa dal
1 tsp mustard seeds
1-2 dry red chilis
1/4 cup cashews or peanuts
1-2 tbsp oil
touch of turmeric
touch of asafoetida
salt to taste
a few curry leaves


In Southern India sona masuri rice is typically used but you can use basmati rice. Cook the rice in  2 cups of water in a rice cooker and set aside.


Heat oil in a pan and add all seasoning ingredients except salt and curry leaves. Fry until lightly brown. Add curry leaves, sliced jalapeno and fry for one minute. Add sliced onion and potato (peeled and cut into small pieces). Fry until the onion and potato turn slightly brown and are crispy. Mix in the rice, and coconut. Add salt to taste.


This is one of those convenient lunch box meals for a day at the office.