Ghee rice (Ghee: Clarified Butter) is a special kind of Pulao (a rice dish), generally served at special occasions, most commonly at weddings. One of the very famous dishes of South India, Ghee Rice is said to have originated from the Mughlai Cuisine. Especially in Karnataka, this dish is extremely popular and served at restaurants at breakfast and lunch times. The taste of Ghee rice is to die for- whilst being simple, this also packs a ton of flavour. It is great especially when you have guests around, as it is a one-pot dish. Serve it with any gravy of your choice and it would make for a wonderful, filling, Sunday lunch!
One of my very close friends gave me the recipe (Thanks, Ashwini :)) for this dish and it is, by far, the best version I’ve eaten! This tastes very, very close to the original, Karnataka style Ghee Rice. According to her, the key is to add full fat coconut milk, and a lot of ginger-garlic paste to really bring out that authentic richness, flavour, and taste in the Ghee rice. This is really a fool-proof recipe, so it will surely give you the same results every single time you attempt to make it.
In her recipe, she only uses ginger-garlic paste. I added onions and green chillies to tweek it to my taste- I thought this would add another dimension of sweetness, spice and flavour- and I was right. It really takes the taste up another notch. The slight sweetness from the onions and that spice from the green chilli is really prominent with every bite, and you will see how they really tie the dish together.
Coconut milk is said to be an all-rounder: full of essential amino acids, vitamins and minerals along with healthy fats. Lactose-free and great with your breakfast cereal, on top of Aappam, Idiappam, or on its own. When taken on an empty stomach, this is also very cooling, calming, soothes inflammation (especially good for ulcers) and can ease you into sleep. Basmati Rice works best with this recipe, as it is very aromatic and adds a nice, delicate flavour. But, you can use any kind of white rice that you prefer; my mum uses the good old Sona Masuri Rice for everything.
- Basmati Rice- 1 1/2 cups
- Ghee- 4 tbsp
- Coconut Milk- 3 cups
- Green Cardamom – 2
- Cloves- 3 to 4
- Bay Leaves- 1 or 2
- Cinnamon stick- 1 small, broken into pieces
- Ginger (1/2 an inch piece) + Garlic (3 cloves) + Green Chilli (2), ground to a coarse paste
- Onions- 1, medium size, sliced thinly
- Salt to taste
- Wash Basmati Rice thoroughly under running water, until it runs clear. Set Aside.
- Blend together garlic, ginger and green chilli to a coarse paste. Set Aside.
- In a wide cooker pan, add 3-4 tablespoons of ghee. Once hot add your whole garam masala- bay leaves, cloves, cardamom, cinnamon stick. Let them sizzle.
- Then, add onions and cook until translucent. Turn the flame down to medium, and continue stirring until the onions slightly caramelize (a light brown colour).
- Add your ginger-garlic-green chilli paste and stir for a few seconds. Let the raw smell disappear.
- Then, slowly add in your basmati rice. Make sure to sauté for another 5 minutes or so. This step is very important, as the rice absorbs all the flavour.
- Turn your flame to low. Add in your coconut milk. Give it a stir and add salt to taste. I added roughly 2 teaspoons of salt for this recipe. Close the lid.
- Turn the flame to medium-high. Let this cook for 2 whistles. Switch off and wait for the pressure to release on its own.
- Once all the pressure has released, open the lid carefully. Fluff the rice very gently with a fork. Serve hot with a gravy of your choice! I served it with some Mixed Vegetable Korma 🙂
TIPS AND TWEAKS
- Be generous with the ghee, this is ghee rice after all 😉 You can, however, use a mix of ghee and oil as well. This is an authentic recipe, so it requires that much ghee for that real taste.
- Ideally, the ratio for basmati rice is (1:2), i.e., you add double the amount of water for a cup of rice. So, I added about 3 cups of coconut milk for 1 1/2 cups of rice. This may, however, vary according to the brand you use. Refer to the instructions on the package if you are not sure. I used Daawat Basmati Rice for this recipe.
- If you are extracting coconut milk at home, you can do 3 full cups. But, if it is store bought, the coconut milk is usually quite creamy and thick- in this case you can do half and half of coconut milk and water (1.5 coconut milk+1.5 water).
- It is quite easy to go overboard on the salt. Make sure to add in little by little and taste it before you close the lid.