Monday, April 12, 2010

One Pot Rice And Dal Combo! Another Easy Indian Party Recipe.

My last few posts have been concentrated on the Tri-fecta  extravaganza we held for my parents last week; toss in Easter and we had the Godmother of all Italian dinners. So now it's back to Indian cuisine and one of the dishes I served two weeks ago when Paula Wolfert came to dinner.
It's called Hyderabadi Pilaf and it is an absolutely "save your bacon" dinner party dish. Why?  Because like all my favorite Indian party specialties it knows how to mind it's own business, and part of it can be made ahead of time and then finished quickly just before it's popped into the oven. Another point in its' favor is that the dal and rice mixed together in this dish form a complete protein which makes vegetarian diners happy.
 Even though the dish is called a pilaf it's not what most people think of as a rice pilaf.  As a matter of fact it is actually called  Khichdi, or Khichuri and is related to the Asian porridge dish known as Congee and the dish the Brits brought back from the Raj known as Kedgeree. Either way it's cooked all over India in all sorts of different ways. This is one of them.
  Hyderabadi Pilaf is my adaptation of a Madhur Jaffery dish I've been cooking for years.
  The dish comes in two parts. The Rice part and The Dal part.
 The Dal part can be made ahead of time and put together with The Rice part at the time of cooking. Just remember to warm it up before you put it into the dish.
  The Dal Part 1
Rinse 1/2 cup of channa dal and soak it in about 3 inches of water for 1 and 1/2 hours.
Take the dal and the water it's been soaking in and put it into a heavy pot.
1/4 tsp of turmeric
Bring the mixture to a boil, then partially cover the pot and turn down the heat to simmer for about 30  minutes.
When the dal has softened but is not mushy, take it off the fire and drain it.
 At this point, the dal can be set aside and kept for the next day.
  If the dish is being put together in one fell swoop, here's what's next.
The Dal Part 2
Heat 2 Tbs of oil in a heavy skillet. When it's hot add in:
1 large onion, halved and cut into very thin half rings.
Saute them until they are a nice crispy reddish brown color.
Take the onions out of the pan with a slotted spoon and drain them on some paper towels.
  Take the oil that the onions were cooked in and add:
2 tsp of finely minced and chopped ginger and
1 tsp of finely minced shallot
Saute these until they're lightly brown now toss in:
1/4 tsp of turmeric
1 Tbs of plain yogurt
 Stir it well until the liquid in the yogurt has evaporated and it starts to brown slightly.
Add 4 more Tbs of yogurt one at a time until each has been absorbed.
 When all of the yogurt has been added, toss in the cooked dal and
 1/2 tsp of salt
1/8 to 1/4 tsp of cayenne pepper
Mix it up well and saute it for about 1 minute.
The Rice
Soak 2 cups of Basmati rice in 2 inches of water for 30  minutes. Then drain it.
How to Put It All Together
Boil 12 cups of water, then add:
1 Tbs of salt
 Toss in the drained rice and let it come to a boil again and then let it boil for only 5 minutes.
Drain the rice.
 Pour half of the rice into a deep oven-proof baking dish. I use an Egyptian Bram.
Pour the dal over the rice, and then pour the rest of the rice on top of the dal.
  Final Steps
Scatter 2 Tbs of butter cut into little pieces on top of the top layer of rice and
Sprinkle the browned crispy onions  on top along with
2 tbs of lemon juice
2 Tbs of milk
1 Tbs of finely chopped fresh cilantro
1 Tbs of chopped mint
2 finely chopped seeded green chilies
1/2 tsp of garam masala
 Now seal the baking dish tightly. Stretch tin foil over the top and crimp it around snugly so that it's well sealed. Place a lid on top of that.
Shove the whole thing into a preheated 375 degree oven for 30 minutes.
This dish makes a stunning presentation. Take the lid and the foil off and display it on the table.
When serving, dig in deep through the layers of rice, dal and more rice. The blend of flavors and textures is delicious. I also love using my big clay pot with it's rustic texture. That's the great thing about clay, it goes from the oven to the table beautifully. Of course it's even better out of the pot and on the plate.
 This dish was served at a dinner party with many dishes of meat and vegetables, but it's simple and filling enough to be served with only one vegetable side dish and a simple salad. That's why I love this for company dinner and beyond.


  1. I just did a Kedgeree post on my blog but this really intrigues me and I will have to add it to my *must try* list (I keep a spread sheet with favourites)!

  2. One word - YUM! You always make such lovely spread

  3. Kathy, I'm always amazed by the finesse of your cooking. Your recipes always stay true to the path of Indian cooking, as I know it. Of all the (Western) interpretations of Indian cooking I've seen, yours is definitely one of the best. You cook as an Indian, or at least, an Indian influenced Asian, would!

  4. wonderful , looks like a delectable khichri gone the biryani way...

  5. This looks great! Very different to Gujarati khichdi but it looks just as delicious!

  6. Awesome recipe..a one pot wonder.I am eyeing that clay pot...checking the Bram website to see if I could buy one..

  7. We vegetarians salute you. Cooking for Paula W. sounds like too much pressure for me. You don't seem to have batted an eyelash though. Way to go!

  8. A lovely one pot rice and a very lovely meal. Everything looks delicious and healthy to me.

  9. @megan, thanks so much! Yes, I keep a file of favorites too that I'm trying to work my way through.

  10. @penny,
    yes, I love the sight of a table ready for food action!

  11. @cool lassi, yes, Bram has a lot of them. I've got a link to them in the post. The one I use is the big 4 and 1/2 qt natural terra cotta model. I love it!

  12. @sanjana,
    thanks! There are soooo many recipes for the various versions of this dish. I'm eager to try more of them so if you have any...hint hint??
    yes! Every time I make this it reminds me exactly of making a biryani.

  13. amazing you are diffinitely our Queen for making rice so many to try of awesome rice dishes here~

  14. what a wonderful dish...a one pot delight..lovely table setting


  15. A very authentic recipe indeed...I can relate to it because of the variety of dals I use in my cooking...thanks for sharing an awesome recipe to add to my repertoire!



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