What’s Your Favorite Indian Rice Dish?

Hira Shaikh
August 1, 2023
 min read

Rice is a staple in Indian cuisine. It can be spicy or sweet, rice always finds its way on the table.  Rice plays a vital role in India, and the preparation method, flavor, taste, and ingredients vary from region to region. Basmati rice is one of the most common types of rice used in Indian cuisine. 

What is Basmati Rice?

The name "basmati" derives from the Hindi words "bas" (aroma) and "mati" (full of), which mean "full of aroma." Basmati rice is a long-grain rice known for its aroma, flavor, and texture. When fully cooked, basmati rice has a light and fluffy texture. The grains separate easily and do not stick together. The subtle nutty flavor of basmati rice doesn't overpower other ingredients. It can absorb flavors from spices, enhancing the taste of the dish.

It is grown in India, Pakistan, and Nepal. India is one of the biggest producers and exporters of basmati rice in the world. Because of its popularity, basmati rice is used in other cuisines worldwide. Basmati rice is known for its high quality and is considered one of the best types of rice in the world. There are numerous types of vegetarian and non-vegetarian rice dishes. We have compiled a list of famous dishes made with basmati rice:

1. Biryani

No Indian wedding is complete without biryani. Biryani is a royal and festive dish known for its scrumptious taste and flavorful ingredients.  Biryani is a versatile dish. Vegetarian and non-vegetarian biryani (made with chicken, goat, lamb, or shrimp) can be prepared the same way. 

Meat or vegetables are cooked with onions, tomato puree, ginger garlic paste,  green chilies, and yogurt. Spices like biryani masala, cardamoms, cloves, black cardamom and cinnamon, bay leaf, caraway seeds, turmeric powder, red chili powder, coriander powder, and garam masala powder are added.  Once the meat or vegetables have been thoroughly cooked, they are layered with boiled rice topped with cilantro, mint, green chilies, and saffron water. Lastly, it is covered with aluminum foil with a lid and cooked on low heat for 10 to 15 minutes.  Biryani is served with hari chutney raita and salad. 

Some popular types of biryani include Bombay biryani, Sindhi biryani, Vegetable biryani, Hyderabadi biryani, and Malabar biryani. Biryani is a symphony of flavors with a thorough balance of spiciness and richness.

2. Pulao

Pulao is a less spicy rice dish. The broth also known as yakhni is the crucial element in making pulao flavorsome and wholesome.

First, the broth is prepared with meat or vegetables, whole ginger and garlic, onions, cumin seeds, coriander seed, fennel seeds, cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, black peppercorns, salt, and water for about 30 to 45 minutes. Once the broth is ready, by using a colander, strain to remove the solid ingredients, separating them from the liquid.

In a heated pot, onions are sauteed along with whole spices like green cardamom pods, cloves, cinnamon sticks, bay leaves, and black peppercorns. The meat is added and mixed. The pre-soaked rice is added along with the broth.  The rice and broth are brought to a boil. The heat is set to low and the pot is covered. Rice is cooked until it is fully cooked. Pulao is garnished with fried onions.  It is served with hari chutney raita.

3. Khichdi

Khichdi also known as khichri is everyone’s all-time favorite comfort meal. It is loved by babies and adults. In a heated pan, cumin, ginger garlic paste, turmeric, and garam masala is sauteed. Pre-soaked rice and moong dal are added to the spices. Along with salt, everything is mixed and set to low heat until the rice is fully cooked.

Like soup,  khichdi is easy on the stomach and is a popular choice of food when someone is under the weather.  It has a porridge-like consistency. A dollop of ghee is added on top. Khichdi is commonly served with mint chutney, yogurt, or pickles. Khichdi is delicious, hearty, and healthy. 

4. Tomato Rice

Tomato rice is an easy-to-make one-pot dish that uses leftover rice and quickly creates a new wholesome meal. This is a tomato-based dish infused with aromatic spices. Tomato rice can be served as a standalone meal or as a side dish.  It is perfect for lunch or dinner.

In a heated pan, mustard seeds, urad dal, fennel seeds, chopped garlic, curry leaves, and sliced onions are mixed and cooked together for a few minutes. Next, the tomatoes are added with spices like chili powder, turmeric, and garam masala. The tomatoes are cooked until softened. Lastly, leftover rice, ghee, and cilantro are added and mixed together.  Tomato rice is a versatile dish as you can add more vegetables like peas, carrots, corn, and bell peppers for more nutrition.

Rice is the most loved grain and a pantry staple in India. Every basmati rice dish is flavorful in its unique way. Rice is an inherent part of Indian culture. It is safe to say, Indians love their rice as much as they love their bread.

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