Ghee is an essential element in Indian cuisine. A form of clarified butter, the taste is more flavorful than regular butter, and can be used sparingly, making it ideal for low-fat diets and health conscious cooks and consumers.
A traditional dish of Indian cookery is ghee rice. Recipes are numerous as the ingredients can vary according to taste and region, but the main elements of course are ghee, and basmati rice, a white grain of rice with a mildly sweet flavor. Ghee rice can be served as a simple side dish, or as a complete vegetarian meal.
A standard recipe for ghee rice would consist of heating 2 tablespoons of ghee (or more if you really enjoy a strong butter flavor) in a pan, and add a teaspoon of cinnamon, 2 bay leaves, a pinch of cloves, a teaspoon of black pepper and about 6 medium onions, sliced. Cook the onions over medium-low heat until they are soft and transparent.
Then add two cups of Basmati rice and saute with the onions for about 10-20 seconds, and then add 4 cups of water and salt to taste. Bring the water to a boil and then cover and cook on low for about 15 minutes or until the rice is done.
This highly flavorful, aromatic dish is a perfect accompaniment to many foods, and it fares quite well as a standalone meal.
For other variations of flavor, experiment by adding ginger or garam masala to the mix, or even chili powder or garlic chile paste for hotter flavors.
If you want more nutrition and substance in your ghee rice meal, then this next recipe adds a host of vegetables to the plate. You can mix and match other vegetables if you desire, but otherwise, proceed to cut 2 potatoes and 2-3 carrots into small pieces, and mix with a cup of peas and a cup of beans of your choice.
Cook the rice as per the above recipe, and cook the vegetables separately either by steaming or boiling, or sauteÃ?Â©ing. Mix both together when done, and add cumin and/or coriander to taste.
For a very creative, intensely flavorful spin on ghee rice, take a 1/2 cup of fresh coconut, a teaspoon each of cloves, cinnamon, cardamom, ginger, and coriander, 2 garlic cloves, 3-5 green chilies (to desired hotness), and grind it all together in a blender, adding water gradually to make a fine paste. You can substitute fresh herbs if desired.
Then heat a few spoons of ghee in a saucepan and add a pinch of cloves, cinnamon, and two bay leaves. Add the blended mixture and fry for about 3 minutes. Then add 2 cups of rice and 4 cups of water (or recommended amount according to rice instructions), mix well, and cook covered until rice is soft and water is absorbed.
There are countless variations you can create to enhance your own ghee rice, such as adding diced mango or chicken, pork, or sausage. Try experimenting with different indian spices for a whole array of delicious ghee rice dishes.