During a recent trip with my husband to New Orleans, I had the most wonderful surprise at dinner one evening. I had ordered blackened fish, which was delicious and perfectly cooked, and it was served with a side of popcorn rice. I had never heard of popcorn rice but instantly fell in love with the scent and taste of it! Yes, it really smells like popcorn!

The next day I scoured the French Quarter looking for a bag of it to bring home. I bought two 2-pound bags which will have to last a while. When going through airport security on my way back home, I packed the rice in a small bag thinking that it would alert the agents. Of course, the dense rice did cause the agent to pull the bag aside and inspect the contents. I told the agent that I couldn’t buy this variety of rice at home. She let me go with the rice. I think she felt sorry for the crazy tourist and had a story to tell when she got home.

What is popcorn rice? It is a variety of long-grain rice, grown in Louisiana, which has a wonderful rich, nutty aroma and flavor that really does smell like popcorn. This variety is considered an artisan grain and is a hybrid of basmati rice, with the same texture. It even pairs well with curries and meat dishes. Popcorn rice is cooked in the same way as other rice varieties. It is delicious and has become a staple in my kitchen.

This special variety of rice inspired by recipe for Baked Spiced Popcorn Rice. It is based on a basic spiced Indian rice recipe.

Baked Spiced Popcorn Rice

Popcorn rice is delicious when prepared with Indian spices, formed into cakes and baked until the outside is golden.

The first step is to season a little olive oil and butter with whole spices including cumin, bay leaf, cloves cardamom and cinnamon. I fry some white onion and garlic so it can become tender before adding the rice. The popcorn rice is fried in this oil for just a few minutes to bring out the flavor of the grain before the broth is added. I boil the rice in the broth until it is tender.

When the rice is ready, I form individual rice cakes using a small ramekin and bake them briefly in the oven just before serving so they keep their shape.

These easy to make Baked Spiced Popcorn Rice cakes will impress everyone at your table. They are as much fun to eat as they are to make. Enjoy!

Since my last post focused on Brussels Sprouts I thought I would continue the trend and feature them again – this time in a delicious pulav recipe. Brussels Sprouts Pulav is a delicious savory dish that can be served as a side or as the main dish. In addition to the featured ingredient, it incorporates other vegetables as well, like onions, garlic and carrots.

Brussels Sprouts Pulav

Brussels Sprouts Pulav is a delicious spiced rice dish that is prepared with shredded Brussels sprouts and traditional Indian spices.

To make Brussels Sprout Pulav, a bit of olive oil is seasoned with a selection of whole and ground spices to give the ingredients flavor during the cooking process. Shredded Brussels Sprouts are then cooked in this oil. I let them sit, undisturbed for a few minutes so they can turn a delicious golden brown on one side. Once they are caramelized, I add the other vegetables and more spices. Adding spices in layers is a common technique in Indian cuisine to optimize the flavors in the finished dish.

When the vegetables are just tender, I mix in cooked basmati rice and allow the dish to simmer for a few more minutes to allow the flavors to be absorbed into the rice. When removing the pot from the stove, stir in a bit of fresh lemon juice to brighten up the flavor. The Brussels Sprout Pulav is garnished with a bit of toasted sliced almonds.

This recipe is a great vegetarian dish to make during the week. It can be served as the start part of a meal or as the main dish. At my house, I serve it with plain yogurt and a bit of Kerala Prawn Pickle on the side.

Biryani is a special recipe that was brought to India by the Moguls many centuries ago. Over time, it has spread across the country and been modified to incorporate the unique flavors of each region. Even though there are many versions of biryani, the characteristic that carries across all of them is the rich flavor that develops from the spices, rice and other ingredients when cooked together.

Vegetarian Biryani

Vegetarian Biryani is based on the traditional Indian recipe. Delicately spiced green beans, carrots, edamame and carrots are layered within seasoned biryani rice.

Making Vegetarian Biryani involves three steps: cooking the rice, spicing up the vegetables and bringing everything together.

The rice is boiled with whole spices just until tender. This allows the flavors to be absorbed fully into the grains.

The vegetables in biryani must be small and subtle. I use the traditional onion, green beans and carrots and make it unique by adding fresh sweet corn and edamame for their colors and textures. These vegetables are cooked in a masala made of turmeric, coriander, red chile powder and garam masala, ginger and garlic along with some tomato paste for additional flavor.

As in most biryani recipes, the spiced vegetables are alternately layered with rice and then steamed together in a closed pot to allow the flavors to develop.

Everyone loves a great Vegetarian Biryani recipe. There is something magical about scooping out the first serving of steaming, fragrant rice and vegetables. Fortunately, this is an easy to make recipe that also happens to be healthy.

If you like the rich earthy flavor of roasted mushrooms and garlic, you will love them served in spiced Arborio rice.  Instead of using Indian long-grain rice, I have substituted the Italian short-grain rice that is the basis for the popular risotto dish. The rice has a higher starch content than other varieties of rice so it stands up well to bold flavors and textures.

 

Roasted Mushroom Risotto

Risotto with Roasted Mushrooms and Garlic is a fusion of Indian spices, rich earthy roasted mushrooms and garlic in creamy risotto. Easy to make vegetarian recipe.

In this Risotto with Roasted Mushrooms and Garlic recipe I use an assortment of my favorite mushrooms including: shiitake, oyster and cremini. In fact, any of your favorites can be used.  I cut them into bite-sized pieces then roast them very simply, along with whole garlic cloves, with thyme leaves.

Preparation of the rice begins by seasoning the oil with spices then frying the onion and more garlic. After a short amount of time, the Arborio rice grains are fried in this spiced oil then boiled in the same way most risotto dishes are cooked. The roasted mushrooms and garlic are added just as the rice is cooked.

I serve this Risotto as a side dish with chicken and beef dishes but, since it is full of flavor, it can also be featured as a main dish for a vegetarian meal. I hope you enjoy this Risotto with Roasted Mushrooms and Garlic recipe as much as my family enjoys it.

Brown basmati rice has long been known as a healthy grain known for its fiber and mineral content. Add it to quinoa, a tiny seed that is packed not only with fiber and minerals but with protein, and you have the basis for a supercharged recipe.

Brown Basmati Rice and Quinoa

Brown Basmati Rice and Red Quinoa gets its flavor from a special blend of spices that are commonly used to season rice in India. This easy recipe is nutritious and flavorful.

My recipe for Masala Brown Basmati Rice and Red Quinoa gets its flavor from a special blend of spices that are commonly used to season rice in India. Whole bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cardamom pods, cloves and black peppercorns are added to the water in which the brown basmati rice cooks to give it flavor before it is even combined with the quinoa.

Additional flavor comes from the thinly cut onion slices that are fried in a spice mix of mustard seeds, cumin, garam masala, coriander, chile and turmeric until they caramelize, bringing out their mild, sweetness. Garlic, grated carrots and fresh spinach are cooked in this seasoned oil until tender.

When everything is ready, all the ingredients are combined in a large pot and cooked together until the grains absorb the flavors of the spices and vegetables.

Masala Brown Basmati Rice and Red Quinoa is a simple recipe that can be served as a side dish to accompany any meal. I like to serve it at lunch as a healthy vegetarian dish along with a cup of hot soup.

As the summer heat continues to drag into September, I wanted to take advantage of the abundant fresh summer vegetables and combine them with Indian basmati rice to create a cool Summer Rice Salad. It is hearty enough to be an entrée but is healthy enough that I would not feel guilty about having seconds. This salad is absolutely loaded with fresh vegetables. I selected carrots, cucumbers, tomatoes and spinach to give the recipe a lot of color and textures.

Summer Rice Salad

This easy to make Summer Rice Salad combines healthy vegetables and fragrant basmati rice with a light dressing. Delicious for any meal.

This recipe is very easy to make. First, the rice is cooked with a few whole Indian spices to add flavor to the rice. Next, I cook the onion in spiced oil just until it turns translucent and loses the overpowering raw onion flavor. When the rice and onion have cooled I simply combine them together with the chopped vegetables. The Summer Rice Salad is simply dressed in a cumin flavored vinaigrette just before it is served.

The best part about my Summer Rice Salad recipe is its flexibility. Additional vegetables can be added or different ones substituted to suit your preferences. To make this recipe even easier and quicker, use leftover rice from another dish. It won’t have the flavor of the spiced rice but it will save you quite a bit of time.

One of the most delicious dishes in Indian cuisine is biryani. It originated in Persia and was brought to India when the Mughals invaded India in the sixteenth century.  It is popular because it is a complete, delicious meal in one dish that includes rice, meat and vegetables.

Everyone loves the sophisticated flavors of the spices, the mouthwatering aroma and the delicate texture of the rice and main ingredients which can be lamb, chicken, seafood or vegetable. In India, each state and each household makes it slightly differently by varying the meat, vegetables and spices. With so many ways to make it, I can never get tired of it.

Seafood Biryani

Delicious layered Seafood Biryani prepared in an authentic Indian recipe features marinated shrimp, scallops and calamari baked in layers of basmati rice.

My Seafood Biryani recipe is a traditional layered biryani in which alternating layers of rice and seafood are placed in the pot before it is baked. Since this takes a little more time, some recipes skip this step, like I did in my Chicken Biryani recipe. My husband believes that layered biryani tastes better. I think it is better because the appearance is more pleasing, therefore it must taste better.

In my recipe for Seafood Biryani, I use a combination of bay scallops, shrimp and squid. Any combination of seafood will be delicious. A firm fish like swordfish or halibut, mussels, clams, lobster or any of your favorites will be tasty. The seafood is marinated in a blend of Indian spices for a short period of time so the flavors can be absorbed. It is then cooked in a specially seasoned oil.

After the basmati rice is boiled, the biryani is assembled. Alternating layers of rice and seafood are placed in an oven-safe pot. Between each layer, a few grains of rice that have been dipped in food coloring and a bit of saffron milk are drizzled on top.

When the layers are completed, spiced caramelized onions and whole cashews are placed on top. Baking the Seafood Biryani for 15 minutes allows the flavors to blend. When the biryani comes out of the oven, let it rest for a few minutes before serving. Place a generous scoop of biryani on each plate, making sure to include each layer. This dish is best served with Onion Raita.

The seafood is tender and full of flavor. Each rice grain is different in color, from white to orange or red. The caramelized onions add a little sweetness, the saffron infuses a complex taste of mystery and the cashews bring a bit of sophistication to this delicious recipe. I hope you enjoy it as much as my family does!

 

Additional recipes from Kachi’s Kitchen for biryani:

Sweet Corn Biryani (2015) incorporates fresh Iowa grown sweet corn sent to me by friends. Perfect for summer dining.

Dum Pukht Chicken Biryani (2012) traditional and most delicious biryani cooked to perfection inside a sealed pot. Perfect for a dinner party.

Langoustine Biryani (2012) is a simplified biryani recipe that uses a packaged spice mix imported from Kerala.

Chicken Biryani (2010) traditional recipe for biryani.

With summer temperatures hovering at 100 degrees, I am preparing simple meals that can be prepared quickly without heating up the kitchen. I have modified the standard Vegetable Rice recipe to incorporate popular summer vegetables. I include zucchini and carrots that can be found in abundance in many back yards or at farmers’ markets in my Summer Spiced Rice.

Summer Spiced Rice

Summer Spiced Rice is an easy to make, delicious and healthy vegetarian recipe that uses fresh summer vegetables and Indian spices to flavor the rice.

This versatile recipe for Summer Spiced Rice can be served as the main course for lunch or as a side with dinner. I like it with grilled salmon and grilled chicken since their flavors are light.

Summer Spiced Rice can be prepared in about 20 minutes. While the basmati rice cooks with whole Indian spices, the vegetables are cooked and spiced in another pan. I grate the zucchini and carrot, and slice the onion thinly to reduce the time needed to cook them. I add a cup of cooked chickpeas to the pot provide protein and create a balanced meal. While the vegetables cook, cumin, coriander and garam masala are added for a light Indian flavor. One thinly sliced green chile adds a tiny amount of heat to the finished dish.

Summer Spiced Rice with Salmon

Summer Spiced Rice with Salmon

Just before I serve Summer Spiced Rice, I top it with a thinly sliced green onion for contrasting flavor and texture. The zucchini and carrot provide a light crunch against the smooth rice and chickpeas. This dish is it not heavily spiced so it pairs well with any menu.

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Chicken can be served in so many ways. Whole, cubed, baked, fried, covered in sauce, spiced. On and on the list of chicken recipes goes. To take a slightly different approach to chicken, I decided to stuff them. Using the large chicken breasts that I usually don’t buy because they are way too big for me to eat at one sitting, I flattened them and filled them with a rice and vegetable stuffing that has been seasoned in the Indian style.

Stuffed Chicken Breasts

Stuffed with a blend of basmati rice, lentils, cashews and spices, and topped with Lemon-Chile Butter Sauce, these Stuffed Chicken Breasts are delicious.

I start making Stuffed Chicken Breasts by opening up the breasts with a long horizontal cut then flattening them with a kitchen mallet. This step, called butterflying in the industry, is a lot of fun and a stress reliever.

The stuffing is a healthy blend of basmati rice, brown lentils and cashews, all of which are common Indian cuisine ingredients. They are added to a base of seasoned oil in which shallots, garlic and green chile are fried. A bit of chopped spinach is added at the last step to provide color and enhance texture. In my opinion, this stuffing could be served alone.

I place a generous amount of the stuffing inside the flattened chicken then roll them up like burritos. To keep them together during the cooking process, I tie them up with a string. They are browned in a skillet then baked until done.

To bring the dish together, I prepare a Lemon-Chile Butter Sauce that I drizzle over the Stuffed Chicken Breasts just before serving them. It is lightly seasoned with red chile powder for flavor, not for heat.

The Stuffed Chicken Breasts can be served whole or they can be sliced into medallions. Slices, in my mind, make a more elegant presentation as well as allow for better portion control. Serve them as you prefer with the Lemon-Chile Butter melting down the sides. This is a delicious recipe!

I wasn’t planning on making Sevai Pulav this week but I was cleaning out and organizing my pantry and found a bag of dried rice noodles. I must have forgotten that I had bought them and I was so glad I found them. Suddenly the idea of sevai and vegetables sounded like a great combination for dinner.

Sevai Pulav

Rice Noodle Pulav, or Sevai Pulav, is an easy to make, delicious and healthy vegetarian meal that is full of Indian spice flavor.

Sevai is dish made with rice noodles that is steamed and gently fried in oil wth mustard seeds. I it a very simple dish that is an excellent alternative to plain rice. I published my recipe for Sevai in 2014 and followed up with a post in which I described how to make rice noodles at home. Making them at home is a lot of fun and is a great family project for a rainy day.

Sevai Pulav is based on my Vegetable Pulav which can be found in my first cookbook, Kachi’s Kitchen. The first step in this recipe is to blanch the vegetables. I use plenty of cauliflower, carrots and green beans in my recipe but peas and asparagus would be good additions as well. My recipe uses more vegetables than a standard pulav recipe because I like the idea of a one pot meal where the whole meal is served out of one pot.

The essence of this recipe comes from the seasonings that include garam masala, cumin and turmeric which are fried in oil flavored with cardamom, cumin, cinnamon, cloves and bay leaf. In this, garlic, ginger, onion and a green chile are fried. When they tender, I add tomato paste and water to create a light sauce for the cooked noodles. After everything is mixed together, I let the dish simmer for a few minutes to allow the flavors to blend.

Sevai Pulav

Sevai Pulav is delicious for lunch or an easy weeknight dinner.

The Sevai Pulav is topped with fried cashews and sprigs of cilantro. This dish is served as an entrée so it is served with raita, pickle and pappadams.