Archive for Rice varieties

Bright Beet-root pulav!

Growing up, Beet-root somehow was never a staple at our house. I was introduced to this colourful veggie by one of my college friends, who used to bring this divine beet-root rice for lunch often. I used to literally polish off half of her lunch especially when it was beet-root. Hence, the other day when I saw this veggie in the grocery store, it brought back pleasant, mouth-watering memories.So I immediately bought it to try and recreate at least the dish, if not the memories.So here goes my version of the beet-root pulav:

Ingredients (Serves 4)

2 cups basmati rice

2-3 medium sized beetroots cut in 2 inch long, chunky pieces

1 large onion diced

2 cloves garlic chopped fine

1/2″ ginger chopped fine

1/4 box of button mushrooms sliced

1/2 a big bell pepper chopped

1 bay leaf

1 inch cinnamon

2-3 cloves

1 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp red chilli power

1/2 tsp shan curry powder(optional)

1/2 tsp garam masala

2 tsp vegetable/canola oil

salt to taste

Cilanthro for garnish



Pre-soak the basmati rice in water for about 20 minutes. Meanwhile in a pressure cooker or pressure pan fry bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves in oil for a minute, add the jeera, once it sputters, fry the onions. Add the ginger and garlic.After 2 minutes add the bell pepper and mushrooms and saute until mushrooms sweat. sprinkle the turmeric, red chilli and curry powders. mix and finally throw in the beets. Saute for a minute, salt it and then add the rice. mix thoroughly, pour 3 cups of water and close the close the pan, put the weight and cook in low for 15 minutes. Turn off the stove, wait for 15minutes, open the lid, add the garam masala,adjust salt for taste and finally garnish with cilanthro.

It tasted very nice but somehow didn’t have the same taste as my college friend’s did. The bright colour though very attractive, did stain most my utensils especially my cutting board:-)))

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Venn Pongal- A dish packed with Flavour!

Venn Pongal, a traditional dish in South India is the equivalent to kichidi made in North India. It is basically a rice and moong dal that is over cooked and dressed up with spices. In kichidi, ginger and jeera are invariably used while in Pongal it is ginger,pepper and jeera that produce the glorious taste. ‘Venn’ is actually ‘vellai’ which means white in tamil.Since the end result is a nice creamy white rice with risotto like consistency, it is called thus. Back home, my appa is very fond of this dish and it made frequent appearances in my amma’s tiffin menu. Well, after getting hitched, I found that this dish ranks first in hubby’s tiffin choices too!!

Venn Pongal is also a star dish forĀ  Pongal which is also a festival( sometimes called harvest festival) celebrated in my home state of Tamil Nadu to give thanks to nature for endowing us with abundance of crops especially rice, the staple food of southern India.For more information of this festival check out

Hence it seemed apt to submit this dish for the Monthly Mingle #6 blogging event organized by Meeta of What’s for lunch honey.


This is the first blogging event I am participating in after I started my blog and I am as apprehensive as a high school student taking her final exams :-))). I hope this debut is at least a decent success!! So this dish is to ‘give thanks’ to my husband for being a supportive, caring better half and most importantly for being the tolerant, ‘official taster’ of all my culinary experiments, good or bad.

I made Venn pongal last evening for our dinner with coconut-cilanthro chutney. My MIL taught me how to make this first and here I have adapted her recipe with my variations. So below is the recipe

Serves 4


1 and1/4 cup of rice

1/3 cup moong dal

7 cups of water

1/2 tbspoon cumin seeds

1 tbspoon peppercorns

2-3 tbspoons ghee

1/4 inch ginger chopped fine

2 tbspoons cashew nuts

some curry leaves

salt to taste



First take the cumin with half the peppercorns and grind into a coarse mixture.

In a pressure pan first dry roast the moong dal until it loses its raw smell and turns slightly brown. Add the rice to this and switch off the stove. Keep this aside.

Again in the pan add about 1 tspoon of ghee and fry the cashew nuts until goldern brown. Remove and reserve it.

In the same pan put in another tspoon of ghee and fry coarsely the ground cumin-peppercorn mixture and the remaining peppercorns . Then add chopped ginger pieces and curry leaves. Wait a minute and then add roasted rice, moong dal ,salt to taste and mix all the stuff in the pan roughly. Pour the 7 cups of water to this.Close the pressure pan ,turn heat to medium and put the weight on. Switch off after one whistle and wait for the pressure to reduce. Open pan, throw in reserved cashew nuts and remaining amount of ghee. Mix the somewhat semi solid rice thoroughly and serve with a dollop of ghee and a side of cilanthro-coconut chutney.


1. If you feel that there is excess water in the pongal, heat pan in medium-low until rice thickens.

2. One can also add the fried cumin-peppercorn mixture to cooked rice-moong mixture. I used to do this before but found it very difficult to mix everything in the pongal.

3. The more the ghee ,more the cholestrol but better the taste!!!:-))

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A Fake Meat fare—–Spinach-Soya nuggets pulav

I made this dish when the organization I volunteer for had a pot-luck during training. This was before the spinach scare,when anyone could happily incorporate spinach in their daily fare. After proudly volunteering ‘vegetable pulav’, when I reached home my pantry was empty, except for some bell peppers and baby spinach in my fridge which I had stored for making a salad!! A little more rummaging produced some soy nuggets and then I was ready to cook!

The side for this dish at the pot luck was channa masala,volunteered by another Indian girl who I shall call L . During lunch time, when I opened the box after re-heating the rice, L, who was waiting for me to set the main dish saw the rice and immediately asked me whether it was vegetarian!!! I was surprised since I did write vegetable pulav in the sheet, but once I saw the soya nuggets peeping out like mutton pieces I realized that it really looked like meat pieces or at least like something alien to the vegetarian!!! I hastened to reassure her that it was Nutrella Soya Nuggets and the look of relief on her face was evident! Anyway it was a huge success with everyone at the training, Indian or otherwise and so here goes the recipe:

The recipe below would serve about 10 people if the dish is made in a potluck and about 6 people if made as a one pot meal with just raitha.


2 green bell pepper chopped into small pieces

1/2 packet of frozen peas

One big bag of baby spinach chopped coarsely

3 medium sized red onions

1/2 a packet of Nestle Soya nuggets soaked in warm water for 15 minutes

1 small red onion chopped fine

2 green chilli slit lengthwise

1 bay leaf

1/2 inch piece of cinnamon stick

4-5 cloves

1/2 inch piece ginger chopped fine

4 cloves garlic chopped fine

1 tsp fennel seeds

1/2tsp turmeric powder

1/2 tsp dhania powder

1/2 tsp red chilli powder or curry powder (I had ‘Shan” curry powder)

1/2 tsp garam masala

1 tsp oil

1/2 tsp ghee or clarified butter

salt to taste

3 cups of Basmati rice washed and soaked in water for 15 minutes


Heat oil and ghee in pressure pan or cooker, add the fennel seeds, bay leaf, cinnamon stick and clove and fry until they bring a nice aroma to the room. Then add the green chillies and chopped onion. When the onion starts to turn transparent add the ginger and garlic pieces. After a minute of stirring with the ladle, add the bell peppers and wait a minute. Then add the turmeric powder,dhania powder, red chilli powder/curry powder,salt and mix thoroughly. Now throw in the chopped spinach ,soya nuggets and the frozen peas and give the pan a shimmy shake. Once the spinach leaves are sort of coated with the water from the veggies and the spices, drain and add the rice. Mix the whole medley,add 3 cups of water and close the pressure pan. Put the weight and reduce the heat to medium-low. After exactly 15 minutes turn off the heat whether you hear a whistle or not. Wait for another 15 minutes ,open the pan, add the garam masala and mix gently. Close the pan, wait for another 5 minutes for the rice to absorb the masala and serve hot with raitha. I made onion raitha for my husband that day.


1. It is extremely important to pressure cook in low only for 15 minutes and turn the heat off after 15 minutes to prevent the rice from sticking to the pan.
2. The ratio of the rice to water I use is 1:, if you are cooking in a pressure cooker, since the veggies let out some water too. After a number of attempts of making soggy pulav (which I passed off as Khicidi:-)) with different measures of water,I found that this ratio works for me

3. This is of course a general tip: any vegetable can be added.

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