Sunday, June 17, 2007

Vegetable Ghee Rice - Indian Rice flavored with whole spices and vegetables in Ghee.

During my teens, attending marriage receptions and related functions were not all that exhilarating to me, unless I had some of my cousins or friends to give company…. But every rule has some exceptions….so this particular dislike was not there when it came to attending Mappila/Muslim marriage ceremonies……..I still have a very vague memory of the rich and festive ceremonies at one of our family friends’ daughter’s Mailanji Kalyanam, a Mehendi ceremony which is a pre-wedding ritual among the Muslims of Kerala.…….I think I was a very small kid at that time, may be in my 1st or 2nd grade but that evening is still crystal clear in my mind…..a group of girls, dressed up in bright and vibrant Muslim attires , decked up with ornaments, singing Mappilappatu and performing Oppana…..those girls moving in circles, clapping their hands with a rhythm…….the illuminations in the hall….I regret to say I cannot recollect the bride’s face but that festive mood prevalent in that hall is still fresh in my mind!! And when I grew up, Muslim marriage ceremonies attracted me not just because of the Oppana and Mehendi ceremony but there was something else too…what lured me was the tantalizing aroma and richness and taste of their feast, especially Biriyani, Neichoru & Kozhi curry (Ghee Rice & Chicken Curry) etc…..It might sound funny to you, but after enjoying all that rich food, coming home and smelling our own hand, reliving the aroma and taste of that food again, used to be a pleasant routine for me :)

Ghee rice, a Muslim specialty, popular for its simplicity, is basically basmati or any long grain rice flavored with whole spices and ghee, garnished with some fried nuts and raisins and fried onions…..Vegetable Ghee Rice is a cousin of this original recipe or to put it lightly, it’s a ghee rice with more family members!! I tasted a similar dish for the first time at one of our friends, R & B’s house. I tweaked the recipe a bit and now it is one of our favourite dishes, something which I cook with confidence, when we have friends coming over for dinner or lunch.

Ingredients for Vegetable Ghee Rice:- (Serves 2-3)
  • 1 small size, big onion thinly sliced
  • ¼ cup golden raisins/kismis
  • ¼ cup halved cashew nuts
  • 2 ½ cups Basmati Rice
  • 5 cups Water
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 4 cloves
  • 5-7 small ½ inch long cinnamon sticks
  • 1 bay leaf
  • ¼ cup green peas
  • ¼ cup green beans chopped
  • ¼ cup cauliflower florets chopped (as small as pearls)
  • 3 tbsp carrot coarsely chopped
  • Ghee - 3tbsp + 2tbsp + more for frying the onions
  • Salt to taste
  • A pinch of sugar
  1. Wash and drain the rice on a paper towel. When it is medium dry, heat 2 tbsp ghee in a large pan and splutter cardamom, cinnamon, cloves and bay leaf; add rice to this and stir continuously for 2-3 minutes in low heat and keep them aside.
  2. Heat 3 tbsp ghee in the same pan and fry the raisins, stirring continuously until they turn plump or look like golden grapes and keep them aside; fry the cashew nuts in the same oil, till they turn golden in colour and let both the nuts and raisins drain on a paper towel. In the remaining oil, sauté all the veggies for 2-3 minutes in low heat, with some salt, until they are well coated with the oil and cooked slightly. No need to cook them fully, as veggies will be cooked along with the rice again. Remove all the veggies and add more ghee to the pan to fry the thinly sliced onions till they become golden brown; at this stage sprinkling a pinch of sugar to the onion, while frying, to get a taste of nice caramelized onions is a good idea; remove the fried onions from the oil with a slotted spoon and let them drain on paper towels.
  3. Before cooking the rice, keep a spoonful of fried nuts and raisins and half of the fried onions, separately for garnishing. Microwave Method: Mix everything together- fried rice with spices, onion, nuts, raisins & veggies- with 5 cups of water (2 cups of water for 1 cup basmati rice) and adjust the salt and pop it in the microwave and cook for 23-25 minutes or until rice is done. Stove-top Method: Boil water in a heavy bottom cooking vessel, and when it comes to boil, add all the ingredients and bring it to a boil again and then reduce the flame and cook covered in low-medium heat, until rice is fully done and water is absorbed. Using a fork, gently separate the rice, so as not to get sticky, and leave it covered for another 10-20 minutes, for all the flavours to set in. Garnish with the rest of the nuts, raisins & onions and serve with Raitha (Coarsely chopped onions, tomatoes and cucumber mixed in yogurt with a dash of salt and pepper), Pickles and some spicy Chicken/Mutton curry, which is a real bonus to this dish.
Note: For a healthier version, onion can be fried in vegetable oil, instead of ghee. Make sure that onions are not burnt or browned too dark, as this leads to changing the colour of the rice when cooked. Here is recipe for a regular Ghee Rice.


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  1. Ahhh! I want to attend an Indian wedding, tooooo! My student once got married here, and he invited me over. What a ceremony! (Although it was a small celebration, the 'real' thing was organised in India later!).

    Now, the rice sounds wonderful... I am a big fan of this type of rice - full of flavour, and I can eat it with a spoon... :)

  2. Shn, it looks so tasty and I love the way you describe cooking each of the ingredients... "till the raisins turn plump or look like golden grapes"... ohmymymy I want some extra raisins with my helping of vegetable ghee rice, please :):)

  3. Shn - what a beautiful meal!

    Love ghee. Perhaps, a little too much...

  4. Shn,
    I am planning to go home by thursday, but after reading this I wanted to go just now..:)
    Oh, what sweet memories, however a chance to attend a marriage is waiting for me..
    I like ghee rice, will all vegetables, it has been a healthy dish..

  5. Oh Shn, I can totally relate to this story... I loved the Muslim and Christian weddings just because of all the wonderful non-veg food they used to serve... Hindu sadyas were boring at that time, though that too sounds great now...
    Your plate looks yummy! Rice looks perfect, all grains are seperated, not at all mushy like mine tends to turn out :)

  6. A cousin wouldn't wash her hands with soap after eating chicken curry as she wanted to go to bed sniffing the aroma left over - your post reminded me of that!

  7. Wow the rice is looking really nice, and I can imagine the ghee aroma too. Nice recipe :)

  8. Looks tempting Shaheen, Interesting write up too. Tks for sharing. Viji

  9. wow i love ghee rice. yumm it looks so delicious...

  10. Wonderfully aromatic!! I love Indian weddings they are so gorgeous, colorful and a lot of fun. This dish is fit for a royal wedding!

  11. Me too,jus like Sig used to love Muslim and Christian weddings,for that Royal Spread of Non-veg..:)
    Great post Shn!

  12. Shn! if the Ghee Rice you have here is a sampling of the food one can get at a Mappila wedding, I can only dreeam of the possibilities. The rice looks fantastic.

  13. I love Muslim weddings too shn,would attend just to eat and take in the all the Aroma!!;D
    Love the red plate and Veg. rice.Love the Kurma to go with it too,post that as well if you know!Looks yum!:)

  14. oh yeah... those mehendi functions were wonderful n i had many muslim friends. so imagine the number of their cousins, sis n bro n relatives weddings i used to attend;)
    lovely looking ghee rice... i can smell its aroma right here sitting in my office and without me thinking i just moved my hand near my nose to smell the food;)

  15. AAHH!!!!! I can smell it away to glory!!! :) And that wedding scene...... I am almost dreaming of it now ;)

    Loved your orange post and that idea of orange centerpiece is awesome!!!! I wonder how I missed hat post!!

  16. So simple.... yet so rich and delicious!!! I love ghee rice too. Great pics :)

  17. lovely pictures of the rice....The smell of the ghee and spices must have been something!

    Weddings......I love them!

  18. wow! mouth watering!
    i can confidently come over there to have this treat!

  19. Nice recipe..i ll pass this on to mom!Also i love attending weddings bcos of food,mehendi and dressing up in that order! :)

  20. Thank you so much for vegetarianising the recipe... I am on yr side. After eating something aromatic, i like to smell my hand too ;)

  21. Never attended a Muslim wedding, but yes, the smell of the food on the hands from a wedding dinner would really be aweosme. That was before the days of catering though.

    That ghee rice makes me so hungry

  22. christian/muslim weddings means mutton biriyani to me..

    brought back memories.. Good one

  23. hey Shn, I want to try out this from very long time but always messed it up. thats for telling me the measurement of water. I have some doubts.
    you said separating the rice with fork. should it be done in the same vessel? that step was not clear.
    second why to drain the nuts and raisins in paper towel. anyways the ghee will be going to the rice right? same doubt with onions.

    is it sufficient to fry the rice for 2-3 minutes? I have tasted typical kerala ghee rice where they keep frying the rice till it gets soft, when you bite one single grain.
    sorry to bother with so many questions. just that I want to make it just like the way your pic is:)

  24. This must be so fragrant also. I'll definitely give this a try sometime.

    I love the red plate :) as always, the presentation makes the dish even more appealing.

  25. Looks so perfect, the rice. We had an overload of pulao last week or else I would have made this right away.
    Thanks for mentioning Oppana. It was so much fun. Reminded me of school anniversaries and we once had an oppana song that went like- manavaalan varunne....

  26. O O this is my fav...Love this ghee rice...Waiting to try this out...

  27. I can imagine the aroma of the rice!! Isn't this a lot like veg pulao?? I make it similarly.

  28. must try this....looks great...i've added you to my blogroll....i hope you dont mind...cheers!!

  29. You have such a great blog , Shaheen. Outstanding pics!!!

  30. Anh,I hope you get be part of a 'real' Indian wedding's colorful and eventful :) I think you will like this preparation...its full of flavour at the same time, not spicy too, did you notice that? Try and let me know :)

    Linda, same here, in our place, we both want more raisins in this dish...actually I add a bit more but was not sure if everyone will like having more sweetness in between :) Thanks for all that kind words :)

    Lucy,Its beautiful and flavourful..wanna give a try? :) Welcome to Mishmash!

    Seena, yea....its the veggie part that consoles me sometime when I pour the ghee...:) enjoy your vacation and have fun :)

    Sig,As much as I loved muslim/X'ian weddings for their food, I loved having sadya too...i just love the idea of having so many simple tasty dishes from that plantain leaf with two types of payasam...!!! Hey, try the microwave method.....your rice will not be mushy at all...otherwise, try adding 1tbsp lemon juice to ur rice while cooking...hope it helps !

    Sra, hehhe...I can relate to that very well :D

    Archana,oh...aroma is wonderful...the whole house would be full of that smell...too tempting..thank you :)

    Vcuisine, My name is not Shaheen!! Call me Mishmash! or Shn :) thanks!

    Roopa, Thank you dear :)

    Meeta,Thanks so much...ghee rice is usually served in most of the muslim marriages with a spicy meat dish :)

    Bharathy,thanks :)

    Indosungod,yes its only a sampling :)))) thank you!

    Asha,thanks..dear:) my kurma recipe is not all that good ....i usually make chicken curry but that day I just made raitha to go with it :)

    Sia,you cant imagine how I love to apply mehendi on my I pay $5-$10 to get a small design on my palms! :) Why dont you try sure you will like it...its vegetarian :D

    Coffee, thanks so much sweetie :) am glad you liked the orange post too :)

    Ramya, I love this dish for its simplicity..thank you :)

    Trupti, yes...its quite aromatic..thank you :)

    Nanditha, so I won your confidence ! :)

    A little light, hope your mom likes the recipe and the dish..thanks :)

    Suganya,we got company here :)

    Sandeepa, yes you said it...those were the good ole days before catering got established!

    Revathi, thank you so much :)

    Sharmi,I use 'Tilda' basmati rice and generally 1:2 is the rice: water proportion for basmati. but if you think it needs more water towards the end of cooking, add little more BOILED/HOT water to the cooking pan.
    I fry the rice only for that much of time and it works for me , my mother does that till she gets a crackling sound of the rice which will work only if u use a stainless steel, not with any heavy bottom non stick vessels, also too much of frying will increase the cooking time, so it's better to stay away from frying for long...maximum 3-5 mintues until rice gets well coated with oil and is fully dry. You can separate the rice with a fork in the same pan itself but if the pan/dish is too crowded, then I usually transfer it to a bigger vessel.the only reason why we do this is to avoid the rice getting too sticky , ,also a big spatula might break or mash the rice...thats why I use forks.
    Technically there is no need to drain the fried nuts,onions and raisins, but I do that , because at times too much of ghee can be too overwhelming for some people and also not to feel guilty for using so much of ghee :) Still if you are getting mushy rice,I have heard my mother saying that one may try adding 1 tbsp lemon juice while cooking the rice; After coming to US, I always use my microwave for cooking rice for ghee rice, pulav and biriyani...and thats way rice never tend to get mushy...It works for me. Pls feel free to mail me if you have more questions, I am at your service until you get the feeling that your ghee rice is very much close to the one in my pic :)Hope you have my mail id!

    Cynthia, thanks dearie :) yes it is fragrant too.....too tempting..try it :)

    Gini, ohh i have heard that song too :) yes, school /college anniversaries ..all that competition for traditional dances...hmm...times ! :) Try and let me know....:)

    Sukanya, let me know if you liked my recipe :)

    Jyothsna, a way a distant relative of veg pulao as well as a distant relative of indo-chinese fried rice :)

    Arundati, thanks for blogrolling me...i will check out your site soon :)

    PM, thanks but pls dont call me Shaheen, my name is not Shaheen me Shn or Mishmash! :)


  31. Veg.Ghe Rice looks awesome...wonderful presentation....There was one time i was crazy of atttending Muslim see their wedding style..mainly i don't have even one....

    Finally i started craving for Muslim style Biriyani...asked one of invite for your festival...while she invited...oops...i got to go for my P.G studies to other location,..Missed it...

  32. Thank you so much Shn, I will surely try out and let you know. Until I make it I will not have doubts.

  33. Aaaahaaaa..That smell of biriyani...Wah Wah!I never get a chance to see live mehandi kalyanam..But I have seen lot of times in Cassettes..10 yrs back I last attended one muslim marrige with one other friend..Still the taste of biriyani and Salad makes my mouth watering ,also had a crystal clear picture of bride in Blue saree with a shy on her face.. She showed me first her 2 hands decorated with mehandi..Ahaa ...Ormayundo ente kootukari??Mishmash don't think too much..Pinne paranjutharam..

    Ur Rice looks colourful and Yummy!!Tomarrow I am going to make this rice and ur chickencurry.

  34. hey Shn..u r right ..after muslim wedding u do smell ur hands to relive the aroma.i do make ghee rice but urs is a perfect one with veggies & all..nice well explained recipe ..presentation as usual exceptional..!!

  35. This comment has been removed by the author.

  36. Oh, boy! This is definitely not the thing I should be feasting my eyes on before dinner. I know I'll eat twice the pasta boiling up at the moment.

    Is there any difference between this gorgeous dish and biryani, or are they the same but with names that reflect the region or religion?

  37. This is ultimate shn .....So very tasty it looks..I wish i could eat the entire plate .I just had dinner , but still i would like to have this one ....

  38. The rice looks gorgeous...must have tasted the same as well...the heavenly aroma emanating from such dishes always gives such a heady feel, doesn't it :)

  39. OMG... that sounds so yummy. Mouthwatering! Will try it out and let you know. Since it's not a spicy rice, I'm sure my kiddo will love it too. thanks Shn.


  40. Usha,oh..thats a sad story ....:( Probably you can try this recipe and see if it satisfies your palate a bit!!

    Sharmi, OK...let me know or mail me if you have any doubts :)

    Kitchenfairy,ee blue saree aara...njan oralude aduthu chodichooo...appo aa kutti paranju , aa kutti alla blue saree ennu! susupense onnu vegum pottikko...:) btw, rice try cheytho..:)Read your comment on chicken roast ...bery bery glad that u and ur family enjoyed it..:)

    Deena, ohh...thanks you :) try this recipe , am sure you will like it...its easy too :)

    Susan,Ghee Rice and Biriyani is different...Ghee Rice is a simple one which can be prepared in a haste if you have some impromptu guests. Where as Biryani is again roasted rice in ghee, flavored with whole spices and at the same time spiced up with Indian meat curry or veggie curry....and it takes time and is process oriented.The names have nothing to do with region or religion but there are some places which are famous for their local version of biryani's,like the Hyderabadi Biryani or Kerala Malabar Biryani. I wish I could invite you to my place and serve you both the dishes and make you understand the difference. Perhaps, You may try making this vegetable Ghee Rice at home to get an idea about the Indian flavoured rice...!

    Deepa, thank you dear....why dont you try this one...?

    Sunita, oh...yea....its a tempting kick !

    Rg, it's not at all spicy yet flavorful and aromatic and thats why it's a winner at my place...hope your kiddo asks more of this :)


  41. Oh, yes, Shn, I am indeed planning to make this. Thanks for clarifying the differences. I'll also make note of your biryani when you post it. I'll make that, too. Thanks so much!

  42. deena said...

    hey Shn..i had tried ur ghee rice the other day.i had put it in MW & gone out ,when i came back n opened the door my house ws full of the aromatic rice came out quite well .not sticky perfectly cooked i'm gonna follow only ur measurements ..thnks.BTW irachi looks fab..

    June 29, 2007 4:57 AM

  43. Hi Shn..Been reading your recipes over the past few days - tried out this veg ghee rice yday and we simply loved it!! thank you so much!!

  44. Hi Shn, this is the recipe I have been searching for a long time. Ur steps are so precise and easy to follow. Tried out yesterday though with some slight adjustments to suit my family's taste. We loved it so much! Tks! :-)

  45. Hi shn u hv such a nice page ..pls keep up the good the pics,the small stories,and ur measurments r all so correct i always stick to them..and they turn out good every because of u i,a really bad cook hv transformed into a fairly good one :-) and my hubby now looks forward to our meals :D thanx -neefa.

  46. HI shn, i am lakshmi and tried ur vegetable ghee rice. it came out awesome. now i am making this again tomorrow for a potluck. thanks for ur effort in giving detailed reviews and the snaps are tempting. miss my country...


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