Saturday, 5 November 2011



1)    Biriyani rice (aged scented fine raw rice) – 500 gm.
2)    Ghee (clarified butter) – 3 tablespoons
3)    Onion – 250 gm.
4)    Cashew nuts – 25 gm.
5)    Raisins or sultanas – 25 gm.
6)    Cumin seeds – 1 pinch
7)    Saffron – 1 pinch
8)    Cinnamon stick – 2 inch piece
9)    Cloves – 3 Nos.
10)                      Cardamom – 1 pod
11)                      Salt – 1 teaspoon
12)                      Water – 1 litre

To Cook:
 Peel the onions. Cut vertically into two and remove the hard root portion. Slice thinly lengthwise. Set a small thick wok on the stove. Pour in 2 tablespoons of ghee. Chuck in the sliced onions. Roast slowly, stirring frequently until the onions are caramelized. Turn off the heat and set aside. Wash and drain the rice. Shell and crush the cardamom seeds.
Set a large thick wok on the stove. Pour in the remaining tablespoon of ghee and throw in the cashew nuts. Stir on low heat until the cashew nuts turn golden brown. Now add the sultanas or raisins and stir once. Quickly tip in the washed and drained rice. Add the cinnamon stick, the cloves, the crushed cardamom seeds, the cumin seeds, the saffron, and the salt. Stir occasionally.
In the meantime, set a vessel with a litre of water on the stove. While the water is heating up, stir the rice until it loses its stickiness as all the moisture evaporates. The water should be boiling by now. Pour in the water and turn up the heat. As soon as it starts boiling, turn down the heat to minimum and cover with lid. Check and stir every 5 minutes taking care to put back the lid after stirring. Within 15 to 20 minutes, all the water will be absorbed by the rice and it will be properly cooked.
Serve your ghee rice hot and garnish each plate with caramelized onions. Ghee rice is good to eat even without any accompaniments. Yet, you can make a feast out of it by serving side dishes like cucumber onion curd salad, beetroot & curd salad, onion tomato curd salad, mint chutney, coriander chutney, wild mango ginger chutney, meat stew, meat curries, lime pickle, beetroot & carrot pickle and pappads.

My late father was a great lover of ghee rice. He would at first eat it with meat stew. For the second helping, he would crumble some pappads on top of the ghee rice, pour in some more stew, then squeeze up a couple of fully ripe Mysore plantains and sprinkle some sugar. He would then delightfully squeeze and mix it all up and put handful of this sweet gooey mixture not only in his own mouth, but also in the wide open mouths of five little children – myself, my two brothers and my two cousins. Even though acutely diabetic, he had such a sweet tooth and a gourmet love of delicacies. Whenever I make ghee rice, I miss him so!

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