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{Quick Cooking} Pav Bhaji Masala Pulao

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A few days ago, I was busy with work and suddenly realised I had not made lunch but was ravenous. I could have made upma. I make it well even when I add purple coloured veggies to it! But any chance to dig into a rice dish will not be lost. I’m a one dish meal queen. I love the convenience and the versatility of a one dish meal. My preference of carb is of course rice. Which self respecting south Indian will not turn to rice? 

I generally use one particular masala in most of my preparations ~ curries, dals, rice and anything else I may be cooking. It could be the sambar powder using my MIL’s recipe (contrary to purists, I make it and stock it in the freezer minus the coconut for a month) or egg roast masala that I so love or as in this case, pav bhaji masala, a packet of which I had opened and wanted to use at every opportunity.

A masala to me is just something to zing up a dish. Usually, most masalas have a base of coriander, cumin, chillies. the add ons are usually an assortment of garam masala. For instance, pav bhaji has a bit of amchur (dried mango powder) and hence will be slightly sour as opposed to a sambar powder which has roasted channa dal and is great to thicken curries! So depending on my instinct, I reach out and add a few spoons of a masala to whatever I may be cooking.

When I was writing this post, I did an online search and found that pav bhaji masala is used to make a rice dish called Tava Pulao. I have not tasted it, but most recipes call for cooked basmati rice to be sauteed with the masala. When cooked with the raw rice and vegetables, this dish has a milder flavour and takes lesser time!

My neighbourhood supermarket is doing a ‘buy one get one’ offer on a brand of basmati and I decided to be indulgent. This pulao will taste just as good with regular rice as well.

Pav Bhaji Masala Pulao (serves 2, time taken: 20 minutes)

Basmati Rice                    1 cup, washed and soaked in water for 5 minutes

Vegetables                        1 cup ( I used equal parts of mushrooms, cauliflower florets, frozen corn kernels)

Onion                                  1 medium, sliced

Green Chilli                       1, slit lengthwise

Salt to taste

Pav Bhaji Masala            11/2 teaspoons

Ginger Garlic Paste        1 teaspoon

Mint Leaves                       2 tablespoons

Oil / Ghee                            1 tablespoon

Bay Leaf                               1

Cloves and green cardamom 2 each

Cinnamon stick               1 small piece

Shahi Jeera                       1/2 teaspoon

In a pressure cooker, heat the ghee/ oil and when hot add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom and shahi jeera. Saute for a few seconds.

Add the sliced onions and green chilli and saute till onions are translucent. Add the ginger garlic paste and saute for a minute.

Add the vegetables, mint leaves and the pav bhaji masala and saute for 1 minute.

Add the rice, salt and 2 cups of hot water and stir. Close the lid of the pressure cooker and put on the whistle. Cook on high heat for one whistle and turn down the heat for 5 minutes and turn off the heat.

Wait for the pressure to release, open the lid of the pressure cooker and fluff gently with a fork. Serve this pulao hot with a side dish of choice or just plain raita.




Day 1 ~ Brown Rice Salad ~ Blogging Marathon

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My comfort food is rice. When I have nothing else to cook with, no vegetables, no mood, no time, unexpected guests… basically anything to give me an excuse to eat rice will be taken! The fact that I hate getting flour under my nails is one of the main reasons I love rice.   I am a self respecting Rice eating south Indian and never feel ‘full’ if my meal is made up of only roti 😦 is my main motivation.

So when I wanted to make a robust salad and make a whole meal of it, my choice of carbohydrate naturally was rice. I used brown rice and I do believe this is what adds a nice texture to this salad. Brown rice, either you love it or you hate it. Our palate these days is so attuned to silky white polished rice, that any different texture just doesn’t feel like rice. I began experimenting with brown rice a few years ago and the Escapades household has a very clear verdict – No brown rice stuff for K.

So while I stock atleast 5 different kinds of rice in the pantry, I use most of them when I am cooking a meal just for myself. At best, K will eat it when disguised as mushy pongal or khichdi.

This salad is a filling nutritious meal and can be had both warm and at room temperature. Brown rice doesn’t refrigerate very well. So any leftovers need to be consumed within a day or two. This is a dish that is very versatile, increase the amount of rice by double and serve as a pulav, swap the brown rice with cooked white rice or even cooked pasta if you are not fond of its taste.

Warm Brown Rice Salad with Vegetables – Serves 2

Brown Rice                                         ½ cup, washed and soaked for 20 minutes

Onion                                                  1 medium

Red bell pepper                                 1 medium

Zucchini                                               ½ a small one

Carrot                                                  1 medium

Red chilli flakes                                  ½ teaspoon

Lemon juice                                        1 teaspoon

Salt to taste

Olive oil                                              1 tablespoon

Oregano                                              ½ teaspoon (dried)

Garlic                                                   1 pod, sliced

Fresh Coriander Leaves                    1 small bunch

In a pressure cooker, add the rice and 11/2 cups of water, cook for 3 whistles and then lower the flame and cook for 10 minutes till done.

When the pressure releases, open the cooker, fluff the rice with a fork. If there is water at the bottom, drain it with a sieve. Set aside.

If you do not like the taste or texture of brown rice, you can use regular white rice for this dish.

Peel the carrot and cut into small cubes. Chop the onions, zucchini and bell peppers into the same size as the carrots.

In a pan, heat the olive oil and fry the garlic slices till they are golden brown, remove them carefully to a small plate and set aside.

In the same oil, add the carrots and cook for 2-3 minutes, covered.

Add the onions, bell peppers and zucchini pieces and stir and cook for 2 minutes, add the oregano, salt, red chilli flakes, and part of the fresh coriander and stir. Remove from the heat and cool for 5 minutes.

When you are ready to serve, add the cooked brown rice to the vegetables and stir gently. Taste and check for salt, adjust if needed. Add the lemon juice and remaining coriander and stir gently. Serve immediately.

Dondakaya (Tindora/ Ivy gourd) Masala Rice

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Dondakaya Masala Rice

Dondakaya Masala Rice

Years ago, I ate Dondakaya Biryani at a friend’s place. It is one of those things that lingers for a long long time. Mostly because one doesn’t expect Dondakaya to be made into a biryani, while it intrigues, it also is very very well made and feels so in place! My favourite way to eat dondakaya (tendli, tindora, gilloda as it is also called) is stir fried with red chilli powder, salt and curry leaves. No tadka, masala, no fuss and goes well with rice and dal / sambhar or rotis. My mother hardly made dondakaya as we were growing up, mainly because to fry it one needs to add a lot of oil, and it used to be a very cheap vegetable, so she always felt it was not worth the time or effort involved in making it. Also, the vegetable is real small, the size of your thumb, so for a family of 5, it was a pain to top, tail and slice the damn things.

All this meant, when someone makes it in a different way, I love eating it. One of my favourite ways to make this vegetable is Gutti Dondakaya. Using Sailu’s fool proof recipe for stuffed brinjals, it always turns out great. But it was time to try making that biryani. To see if I could replicate the flavours. I didn’t ofcourse actually ‘make’ it as a biryani, rather, used my trusty pressure cooker to make a one pot masala rice of sorts. It turned out very well. We had it with raitha on the side. This is a good way to use this vegetable, make a quick one pot meal for a packed lunch or a lazy lunch on a weekend.


Dondakaya Masala Rice (Serves 2-3)

Prep Time: 10 Minutes | Cooking Time: 15 Minutes

Rice  – 1 cup, washed and drained

Dondakaya (Coccinea) – 12-15, washed, tops and tails removed and slit lengthwise

Green Chilli – 2, slit

Onion – 1, Sliced into semi circles

Tomato – 1, chopped

Ginger garlic paste – 2 teaspoons

Coriander powder – 2 teaspoons

Garam Masala Powder – 1 teaspoon

Red Chilli Powder – 1 teaspoon

Any Ready Made Masala Powder such as kitchen king, pav bhaji or even chicken or meat masala – 1 teaspoon

Salt to taste

Oil – 1 tablespoon

Curry leaves – 6-8

Mint Leaves – ¼ cup

  1. In a pressure cooker, heat the oil and add the onions and slit green chillies. Fry for a few minutes till the onions are translucent and add the ginger garlic paste and fry for a minute.
  2. Add the curry leaves and the slit dondakaya and fry till they are beginning to wilt.
  3. Add the tomato, coriander powder, red chilli powder, garam masala, kitchen king masala powder, mint leaves and toss to coat it well. Cook this for 3-4 minutes, stirring so that the powders do not burn.
  4. Add the washed and drained rice; add salt to taste and 11/2 cup of water. Close the lid of the cooker let it cook for exactly one whistle.
  5. Turn off the flame and allow the pressure to release. Once the cooker is open, fluff with a fork, garnish with fresh coriander before packing into a lunch box or serve hot with Raitha

Carrot Raitha

Plain Curd / Yogurt – 1 cup

Salt to taste

Carrot – 1, peeled and grated

Green Chilli – 1, finely chopped

Coriander Leaves – 1 sprig

Whisk the yogurt with the salt till no lumps remain. Add the grated carrot, green chilli and coriander. Chill till served

Kofta Pulav

Kofta Pulav

Kofta Pulav

Taking a break from all that sweet and deep fried overload that has been happening on this blog, here is a wonderfully flavoursome Kofta Pulav made from bottle gourd. If you read this blog, you must know that my Kaddu Kofta curry is a never fail recipe and very popular on this blog. When I buy bottlegourd, the race is to use it fast and efficiently because even the small ones tend to be too much for us. Apart from making sambhar with it, or molagootal or the occasional kaddu ka kheer, I fry extra batches of kofta and keep it in the freezer for later use. there are several opinions about freezing cooked food. Especially Indian food. overall gravies do very well and so do pre-made snack items like the veggie fingers or cutlets. The key to keeping bottle gourd koftas well in the freezer is to make sure they are firm and not soggy to begin with. I use besan (chickpea flour) for the binding and it helps keep the koftas firm.

This is a pulav I made with frozen koftas. Fresh will take a little more prep time, but is definitely worth the effort.

Edited to add: I’d originally given the proportions for just one person because I mostly cook only for one at home, changing things up to serve 2 now.

Kaddu Kofta Pulav

Yield: Serves 2

Kaddu Koftas                         – 12 (recipe follows)

Rice                                           – 1 Cup, washed and drained

Green Chilli                            – 1, slit

Onion (large)                         – 1, chopped

Tomato (Large/ 2 small)  – 1, chopped

Ginger garlic paste              -2 teaspoon

Garam masala                       – 1/2 teaspoon or substitute with any other readymade curry powder

Red chilli powder                – 1 teaspoon or according to taste

Coriander powder               – 11/2 teaspoon

Salt to taste

Oil                                               – 1 tablespoon

Curry leaves                           – 6-8

Fresh coriander for the garnish

  1. In a pressure cooker, heat the oil and add the onions and slit green chilli. Fry for a few minutes till the onions are translucent and add the ginger garlic paste and fry for a minute.
  2. Add the curry leaves and koftas and brown them in the onion mixture, turning them over a couple of times.
  3. Add the tomato, red chilli powder, garam masala and the coriander powder and toss to coat it well.
  4. Add the washed and drained rice; add salt to taste and 11/2 cup of water. Close the lid of the cooker let it cook for exactly one whistle.
  5. Turn off the flame and allow the pressure to release. Once the cooker is open, fluff with a fork, garnish with fresh coriander before packing into a lunch box or serve.
* for non vegetarian options, substitute the koftas with any frozen meat or chicken kebabs etc

For the Koftas

2 cups grated bottle gourd (grate, sprinkle a bit of salt and place in a colander to drain for about 20 mins. Press out the water with the back of a round spoon)

2-3 tablespoons of chickpea flour

salt to taste

1/2 teaspoon grated ginger or 1/3 teaspoon ginger paste

1/2 – 1 teaspoon red chilly powder

2-3 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped fine

a pinch of asafetida

1/4 teaspoon of cumin powder

1/2 teaspoon coriander powder

Put all of the ingredients together and mix with a spoon into a thick batter. it should look and feel like muffin batter, which should allow you to drop it into the appam chatti with two spoons. Heat the appam chatti, put a few drops of oil in each of the depressions. Spoon in one tablespoon of batter into each depression and cook till golden brown. Turn over and fry on the other side as well. You can drizzle a few drops of oil if needed. Set aside and cool.

*if you do not have an appam pan, you could shallow fry the koftas in a few tablespoons of oil. Deep frying too is always an option!

Quick Cooking ~ Burnt Garlic and Chilli Rice

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This recipe will take you five minutes if you have cooked rice on hand. Or thirty if you need to start from scratch. That is if you have a pressure cooker and know how to cook non sticky rice in it. I made this with rice that i had leftover. I remember eating this at some Chinese restaurant and the simple ingredients and flavours were the right combination for the fiery saucy side dish we’d ordered. Soon I tried it at home and now this is my go to rice preparation for anything even remotely oriental.

Burnt Garlic and Chilli Rice (serves 2)
2 cups cooked and cooled rice (I used basmati)
2 cloves garlic, sliced finely
1 dried red chilli, sliced finely
1 stalk green onion, sliced, white and green parts separately
Salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon peanut oil

In a large frying pan or wok, heat the peanut oil till nice and hot. Add the sliced garlic and sauté till it is turning dark brown but not yet burnt; add the sliced dried red chilli and sauté till the garlic is almost burnt. Add the white parts of the onion and sauté for a minute. Add the rice and turn off the heat. Add the salt and pepper and toss lightly till everything is mixed well make sure you do not break the grains of rice. Garnish with the green onions and serve hot with a side dish.

Sakranthi Subhakankshalu – Khara Pongal and Chakkara Pongal

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What better way to say hello with a post for the festival of the bounty of the earth? How are you doing? I hope the new (old) year is treating you all well. I had high hopes of wonderful things and posts for the close of the year and the beginning of the year… but nothing worked out till this morning and here I am banging away at the keyboard on the morning of Bhogi… when we shed all things old, Consign the waste to flames and begin afresh.

The four day festival of Sankranti is celebrated in my home state of Andhra Pradesh with much fervor.  The agrarian background making it one of the most important festivals for us. The embers of yesterday’s fires on the roads of our colony told me Lohri was celebrated, I have been invited to a Maharashtrian neighbour’s house for haldi and kumkum for Sankrant… almost every state of this country will celebrate it in some form over the next few days.

I love that my family made it a point to make something special to mark both Hindu and Christian festivals. Even if we didnt follow the religious rituals, it was a cultural thing to do and i am grateful for the exposure. For my far from agrarian upbringing, mostly urban perspective of everything, this has held me in good stead. I think it is important for me to acknowledge and be grateful for the sheer manual labour that goes into tilling the land to put food on my table. So today i celebrate that. Traditionally newly harvested rice and dal and new jaggery is used… but if like me you have had a block of jaggery sitting in your kitchen shelves getting darker over 6 months, here is your chance to use it.

I’ve posted both Venn (Khara) Pongal and Chakkara Pongal on the blog before… but i must say what i am posting today is a much improved recipe….not to mention better pictures….these are easy versions… for the ever busy urban dweller!

To make both the forms of sweet and savoury pongal, the starting point is the same…. rice and dal to be cooked together. they then take their seperate avatars bathed in jaggery and spices.

Makes 3 servings each

11/2 cup rice, washed and soaked for 10 minutes

2/3 cup split moong dal, washed and soaked for 10 minutes

1 cup milk

3 cups water

Place the washed rice and dal in a vessel, add the water and milk. Place this in a pressure cooker and cook for 3 whistles till well cooked, but not yet mushy. you can skip the milk and use only water, the milk makes it very creamy. the rice and dal can also be cooked in an electric rice cooker or stove top.

Once the pressure has released, remove the cooked rice and dal and portion it 2:1 for the khara pongal and chakkara pongal respectively

Khara Pongal 

Ghee – 2 tablespoons

Ginger – 1 small piece

Green chillies – 2

Whole Black Peppercorns – 1 teaspoon

Whole Cumin – 1 teaspoon

Curry leaves – a few

In a mortar and pestle, or with a rolling pin, crush the ginger and green chillies roughly.

In a tempering pan, heat the ghee, add the cumin and black pepper, after a few seconds, add the crushed ginger, green chillies and the curry leaves.

Saute till everything is toasted and the curry leaves are crisp.

Pour this over the cooked rice and dal and mix well. Add ¼ cup of water if needed to make it creamy. Serve hot with chutney.

Chakkara Pongal

Jaggery – 1 cup, grated

Ghee – 2 tablespoons

Golden Raisins and Cashewnuts – ¼ cup

In a pan, add 1/2 cup water to the grated jaggery heat till the jaggery has melted. Strain with a sieve to remove impurities.

Add the cooked rice and dal to the jaggery and mix well till everything is incorporated.

In a small pan, heat the ghee and add the raisins and cashews. Fry till golden brown and pour this over the pongal. Mix well, serve warm.

Quick Cooking – Corn Pulao

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for one of those weeknight dinners/ sunday lunches or just about any other. a pulav is my favourite when i have sudden guests or a bout of laziness. both of which strike frequently. paired with a gravy curry or a simple raita, makes for a full meal.

Corn Pulav – makes 2 servings

1 cup basmati rice, washed and soaked in 2 cups water

1 medium onion chopped/ sliced

a few curry leaves

1 split green chilli

one star anise, one teaspoon whole cumin, one clove, one green cardamom

2 cups hot water

1/2 – 1/3 cup fresh / frozen corn kernels

1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste or 1 inch ginger grated

1 tablespoon oil

salt to taste

in a thick bottomed pan ( i used a kadhai) heat 1 tablespoon of oil, splutter a teaspoon of whole cumin, when it crackles, add a few curry leaves and 1 split green chilli. add one medium chopped onion and saute till it begins to turn golden. add a teaspoon of ginger garlic paste or an inch of fresh ginger grated if you want to avoid garlic. saute for a minute. add 1/3 – 1/2 cup of corn kernels. i used frozen american sweet corn. saute for a minute. add 1 cup washed and drained basmati rice. let it fry with the other ingredients for a couple of minutes, ensure you dont stir it too vigorously else the grains will break. add 2 cups of hot water (check the rice and water ratio on the package), add salt to taste. stir and cover. cook for about 12-15 minutes with the lid on till the water has been absorbed, the rice is cooked but the grains are still separate. leave the lid on and allow the rice to rest for 10 minutes. fluff with a fork. serve hot with raita or a gravy curry such as this mushroom with peas and lotus seeds or kofta curry or fake meat and potatoes.

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