Rice (Basic recipe)

It occurred to me that I should put a basic rice recipe on here. The thing is, the cooking time and water required varies greatly by variety of rice, so this is a little difficult. I’m going to put down how we cook it, and let you experiment. If you have rice:water proportions on your rice packet, follow those instead. Timings vary by microwave, so you have to figure out what works best for your microwave.

White Rice: For every 1 cup of rice, add 2.5 cups of water (2 if you are using a pressure cooker). Cook for 20-25 minutes on high in the microwave, or for two whistles in the cooker. If you are using basmati, cook for 10-12 minutes on high in the microwave.

Brown rice: For every 1 cup or rice, add 3 cups water. Cook for 35-45 minutes in the microwave until rice is done. Depending on your variety, brown rice tends to stay a little nutty and doesn’t cook as soft as white rice.


Yesterday rice mixup


Sometimes you have rice left over. Sometimes there’s just three vegetables in the fridge, and none of them the same kind. What do you do? Rice mixup!

I tried this for dinner today, and it was pretty damn good. I love red chard.

You need: 1 cup cooked brown rice; 1 bunch red chard; 1 big onion; 1 red bell pepper; 2 small yellow squashes; oil; 1 bay leaf; and to taste: salt, crushed red pepper (chili flakes), oregano, thyme, rosemary.

How to: chop the vegetables. Heat oil, add onions and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add the pepper and cook another 3-4 minutes. Add the squash and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add everything else and stir well. Cover and let cook for about 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Turn off the heat and mix the rice in with the vegetables.


Kadambam is a spicy rice dish cooked with vegetables. It has the consistency of porridge, sort of. The spicier it is, the better it tastes!

You need: 1 cup rice; 1/3 cup arhar (toor) dal; a pinch of turmeric; 1/2 tsp Tamcon or some other tamarind paste; 1 cup diced vegetables – carrots, green beans, onions, cauliflower, potatoes (1 smallish), zucchini, squash, peas, corn – no spinach or cabbage; 1.5 heaped tsp sambar powder (use pre-packaged, like MTR); 1/2 tsp mustard seeds; 2-3 curry leaves; 1 dried red chili; salt to taste; oil; ghee

How to:

Cook the rice and dal in a pressure cooker with 4 cups of water, salt and a pinch of turmeric (4 whistles). If you’re not using a pressure cooker, cook till well-done (slightly mushy).

Dissolve ½ tsp tamcon in ½ cup hot water.

Boil the vegetables together. Drain. Return to heat and add the dissolved Tamcon. You could add a little more water if it gets too dry.

Add 1.5 heaped tsp sambar powder to the mix and boil for two minutes. Turn off the heat.

In a large pan, heat 3 tsp of oil and 1 tsp of ghee. Add mustard seeds, curry leaves, and the red chili.

Add the dal and rice, salt, and the vegetables. Mix well and let it cook for two more minutes. Turn off heat.

Chard rice


Okay, you can really use whatever greens you like. Many similar recipes call for spinach, but how boring, so I used red chard instead. I suppose you could call this spinach rice with a major twist.

You need: 1 bunch red chard; 1 cup brown rice; 1/2 cup finely sliced onion; 1 tsp ginger paste (or finely chopped ginger); 1 tsp minced garlic; 1/8 cup slivered almonds.

For the masala: 2-3 cloves; 1 small stick cinnamon; 1 tsp coriander powder; 1 tsp cumin powder (ground cumin); 2 small bay leaves; 1/8 tsp nutmeg; 1/2 tsp turmeric; 1/2 tsp red chili powder; 1 tsp ground black pepper; 3 tbsp oil; salt to taste.

How to:

Cook the rice. Wash the chard well, drain, and finely chop it. Keep aside.

Heat the oil. Add the cloves, bay leaves, and cinnamon. Stir; give it about 2 minutes. Add the rest of the spices for the masala. Stir well, and be careful the oil doesn’t splutter all over you. Give it a couple of minutes.

Add the onions, ginger, and garlic. Add salt. Stir really well. When the onion is well-cooked, Add the chard a bit at a time. Stir well, and keep stirring occasionally. Cook for about ten minutes. The chard (or whatever greens you use) will really cook down.

In the interim, heat the oven to 300 F. Scatter the almonds in an over-proof pan and lightly coat (or spray) with vegetable oil. Toast in the oven for 10 minutes.

After cooking the chard for 10 minutes, take off heat. Add the cooked rice and mix well. Sprinkle the toasted almonds on top.

If you’re really in a hurry or just lazy: everything else stays the same, except use pre-packaged garam masala instead of this masala. Add it to the onions when they’re cooking. Skip the almonds. Use frozen chopped spinach.

Cabbage Rice

Another recipe from my mother. I am not a cabbage fan. And that’s putting it mildly. But my mother used to fill my school tiffinbox with cabbage rice fairly often. Eventually, I learned to like it.

I’m kidding!

I don’t ordinarily like cabbage, ’tis true, but this is unexpectedly good. I loved it as a kid, and love it even more now because it reminds me of my childhood. So overcome the cabbage prejudice, and give this one a shot. You might be surprised.

You need: 1.5 cups cooked rice, 1/2 a head of cabbage, shredded finely; cilantro, finely chopped; 1/4 cup roasted peanuts; 1/2 – 1 cup (or as much as you please) plain croutons; 2 tbsp oil; 1/4 tsp cumin seeds (jeera); black pepper and salt to taste.

How to: It’s really easy. Really. And it’s very tasty.

Heat the oil. Toss in the jeera, let it splutter, add the cabbage and cook on high heat until cooked. This is a matter of preference. I like it a bit soggy for this recipe, but it’s really up to you.

Add the cilantro and cook some more. Add the peanuts and croutons. Give it a quick stir.

Add a tsp of coarsely ground black pepper. Add the cooked rice and salt, mix well, and you’re done. Garnish with fresh cilantro if you’re so inclined.

If you like, before you add the cabbage to the oil, you could add finely sliced onions, green peppers, moong dal sprouts (or whatever sprouts you like), and pretty much any vegetable you think will taste good. Experiment!

This recipe was originally intended for leftover plain steamed rice, so go ahead and use that leftover rice.



Circumstances dictated that I eat soft food for a while, and I grew tired of mashed potatoes and yogurt after the fifth such meal. Suddenly, it came to me – khichdi!

Khichdi is a dish made of rice and dal boiled together. The British turned it into a fishy dish called kedgeree, which is not the same thing at all. Khichdi is soft, nutritious, and intensely flavorful, and it tastes quite different from regular separately-cooked dal and rice.

You need: 2/3 cup rice; 1/3 cup moong (small, yellow) or masoor (red) dal; half a large onion, finely chopped; jeera (cumin seeds); a bay leaf or two; 1/2 tsp turmeric, 1/2 tsp red chili powder (or less); 1/2 tsp ground cumin; 2 tbsp oil; ghee and salt to taste.

How to: Put the dal and rice in a bowl and wash it. Heat the oil. Add the bay leaf, jeera, turmeric and red chili powder. Add the onion and cook for 5-6 minutes, stirring frequently. Keep 5 cups water handy. Add the rice and dal mixture to the onion. Give it a quick stir and add the water. Add salt to taste.

Bring to a boil and let it cook until rice and dal are soft. They will get sort of mashed together and the whole thing will have the consistency of really thick porridge. You might have to keep adding water. Keep an eye on it and add water if it either looks dry or if it “catches” on the bottom of the pan. Stir frequently.

When it is done, take the pan off the heat and add ghee. If you like, garnish with fresh chopped cilantro.

This tastes really good with achar (which is pickles, Indian style – available at any Indian grocery or major grocery with an “ethnic food” aisle).

For variation, you could replace half the water with milk OR vegetable broth. I haven’t tried either, but I think it would work.

Delicata rice

I came up with this on Thanksgiving, when I was trying to do something else and this is what eventually happened. It was very pretty, and very tasty. I would have taken a picture, but it got eaten before I thought about it. And yes, I pretty much eat rice with everything. It’s the South Indian in me. Must. Have. Rice.

You need: One delicata squash; 1/2 cup cooked rice; 1 tomato; 1 medium-sized onion; 1/2 tsp ginger paste; 1/2 can vegetable broth; salt and Italian seasoning to taste (or fresh herbs).

How to:

Cut the squash in half, scoop out the seeds.

Place squash in a shallow bowl with a bit of water (rind up) and microwave on high for about 20 minutes. Note: squash will be VERY soft when this is done.

Chop onions and tomatoes finely.

Put a little olive oil in a pan, fry onions. Add ginger.

Cook a bit, add tomatoes.

Meanwhile, scoop squash out of peel, put in a bowl, and mash. When onions and tomatoes are cooked, add squash.

Add salt, Italian seasoning, vegetable broth.

Bring to a boil. Add rice.

Let it simmer a little (2-3 minutes).

Take off heat and eat.