Basmati is one of the many varieties of rice grown in India. In US, basmati rice is easily available in health stores, speciality grocery stores, and Indian grocery stores.

Rice is used extensively in the eastern part and southern part of India cooking. Lunch and dinner are considered incomplete without rice. The basic rice recipe can be transformed into a variety of entrees with spices and herbs

Bean and Rice Porridge (Khichadi)

Khichadi is the comfort food when you are feeling under the weather just like chicken soup. So, the bestseller book “Chicken soup for the soul” would make more sense as “Khichadi for the soul” in India.

1 cup rice

1 cup split yellow mung beans

1 tsp oil

1 tsp ginger and garlic paste each

1 tablespoon cuminseeds

5-7 whole black pepper

½ tsp tumeric powder

1 tablespoon lime juice

½ tsp brown sugar

salt to taste

3 cups water

Wash and drain rice and beans and keep aside.

In a thick bottom pan heat oil and add cuminseeds and wait until it sizzles. Then add the ginger garlic paste and whole black pepper. Immediately add 3 cups of water and let it come to a boil. Next, add the washed rice and bean mix, tumeric powder, salt, lime juice, and sugar. Let it cook on high heat for 5 minutes. Place a tight fitting lid and lower the heat to the minimum for next 10 minutes. Finally turn of the heat and let the steam finish the process of cooking for next 5 minutes.

This rice is very soothing to your stomach and soul!

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Basic Rice (Sadha Chaval)

This is a basic recipe, which forms the basis for many rice dishes.

1 cup basmati rice

2 cups water

1 tsp salt

Wash and drain rice, keep aside. In a thick-bottomed pan, bring the water to a rapid boil. Add the rice and let it boil on high heat for 5 minutes. Then put a tight fitting lid on it and reduce the heat to low for next 5 minutes. Shut the heat off but keep the lid intact, the steam will finish the process of cooking the rice for next 5 minutes. Each grain of rice blossoms like a flower in this method of cooking

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Rice Royale (Vegetable Biryani)

This rice dish is definitely not what you would have everyday, mainly because it is very rich and secondly it is quite time consuming to make it. However, for a celebration or a festival this rice entrée is a perfect dish to make.

4 cups cooked rice with couple of bay leaves

3 cups mixed vegetables

2 tablespoon oil

1 tsp ginger paste

1 tsp garlic paste

1 onion (minced fine)

½ cup cilantro (chopped)

¼ cup mint

1 tsp garam masala

½ cup yogurt or sour cream

¼ cup raisins (fried)

¼ cup nuts (fried)

¼ cup onion (fried till crisp)

Make a puree of onion, cilantro and mint in a blender with as little water as possible. Keep aside. In a thick-bottomed pan heat oil and add ginger-garlic paste. Stir for a minute. Then add the onion-mint-cilantro puree. Keep your face averted as you do this. Stir on medium heat for 8-10 minutes until the raw flavor disappears. (You can overcook this mix, but never undercook it! Just take my word for this!) Add garam masala and yogurt or sour cream. Remove from heat. Mix in the vegetables and keep aside.

Take a big baking dish and layer the vegetable mix, rice, fried onions, nuts and raisins. Repeat twice. Cover with a foil and bake for 10 minutes on 350 degrees. Serve piping hot!

Hema’s Hints:

This is a very hearty dish, a simple yogurt based salad will make a complete meal.

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Aromatic Saffron Rice (Kesari Bhat)

The king of spices- Saffron makes this rice dish an ultimate Bliss. Saffron- the most expensive spice in the world, but luckily a little goes a long way!

2 cups cooked rice

1- 1/3 cup sugar

1 tsp butter

4-5 cloves

1/8 teaspoon saffron

10-12 cardamom

½ cup nuts (almonds or cashew)

¼ cup raisins

½ teaspoon lime juice

Pistachio for garnish

Heat a tablespoon of milk and add saffron to it. Let it soak for at least ½ hour.

Keep aside. Remove the seeds from the cardamom, grind it in a mortar and pestle or a coffee grinder, and keep aside. Heat a thick-bottomed pan and add butter. After it has melted throw in the cloves, wait until the cloves puff up with the heat. Then add the rice, sugar, and saffron. Stir well and keep pan covered on low heat for 6-7 minutes. Open the lid and stir well so that it does not get burnt. At first the sugar melts and then it thickens up and coats the rice Add the cardamom powder, lime juice, nuts and raisins, mix well and

Cook it for 3-4 minutes again with the lid on.

Garnish with pistachio nuts before serving.

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Yogurt Rice Salad (Bhutti)

This rice is very soothing after a spicy meal. It also is excellent to take for picnic on a hot summer’s day.

2 cups cooked rice

2 cups plain yogurt

½ cup chopped cucumber

½ cup chopped onions

¼ cup pomegrante or red grapes

1 tsp oil

½ tsp cuminseeds

1-2 red chilies(Optional)

1 tsp ginger paste

10-12 cashew

¼ cup chopped cilantro

salt to taste.

In a bowl mix rice, yogurt, cucumber, onion, grapes/pomegranate and salt.

Heat a small fry pan and add oil. Throw in the cuminseeds and wait until it sizzles and changes color to dark brown. Add red chilies and cashew. Roast for 30-40 seconds and remove from heat. Add ginger paste to this oil mix.

Finally, mix in the yogurt rice mix with the spice infused oil and garnish with cilantro. If the mix is too thick, you can add milk or buttermilk. The consistency of this entrée should be like that of thick soup.

This dish can be made a day in advance.

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