Tomato Garlic Rice

Tomato Garlic Rice

This is an adaptation of my friend’s recipe that I first tasted when I was in my 20s. She served it with fried chicken. I sometimes serve it with potato wedges or baked chicken tenders.


(Serves 4)

Basmati rice 2 cups

Tomatoes 6 medium

Garlic 7 cloves, crushed

Coconut oil 2 tbsps

Salt to taste


Soak the rice for 10 minutes. Drain.

Blanch the tomatoes in boiling water, skin them and purée in a blender.

Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan and add the crushed garlic. Fry but don’t let the garlic burn.

Add the drained rice and fry for 2 minutes.

Add the tomato purée and mix well.

Add 2 cups of water and salt to taste.

Cover and cook on low heat till the water is totally absorbed and the rice is cooked.

Serve hot.

Jackfruit Biryani

Jackfruit Biryani

It is jackfruit season in Kerala and the tree in my cousin’s backyard is laden with fruit. She gave me raw jackfruit and my original plan was to cook it the traditional way with coconut. But the smell of fresh raw jackfruit as it boiled was so tempting that I decided to try to make biryani with it. This is a recipe that I developed on the fly and the end result turned out delicious.


Raw jackfruit 300 g, cut into cubes

Turmeric 1 tsp

Salt 1tsp

Basmati rice 2 cups, soaked for 15 minutes and drained

Mustard seeds 1/2 tsp

Onion 1 medium, sliced

Garlic cloves 5

Ginger 1” piece

Green chilli 1, chopped

Tomato 1 large, chopped

Red chilli powder 1 tsp

Coriander powder 1/2 tsp

Cumin powder 1/2 tsp

Curry leaves 1 sprig

Oil 2 tbsps

Water as needed


Boil the raw jackfruit in two cups of water with salt and turmeric till all the liquid evaporates. By now the jackfruit should be tender but still succulent.

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed pan. You can use any vegetable oil.

Add the mustard seeds. When the seeds stop sputtering, add the onions. Sauté the onions till they turn golden brown.

Crush the garlic and ginger in a stone pestle and mortar. Add this to the onions. Sauté for a few minutes till the raw smell of garlic disappears. This should take only about 2-3 minutes. Add the curry leaves.

Add the cooked jackfruit to the pan and fry for a minute.

Add the tomatoes and green chilli. Fry for a couple of minutes.

Add the drained rice and mix well. Add the spices and add about 3 cups of water.

Bring to a boil. Reduce the heat, cover the biryani and cook till the water evaporates. By now the rice will be cooked.

Switch off the heat and let it stand for 10 minutes. Serve with a green salad or mango salsa.

Tomato Rice

Tomato Rice

This dish was created by my mom as a healthy packed lunch for my sister when she started working. Made from cooked rice, this is easy to assemble and make. It is a delicious lunch option.


(Serves 5 persons)

Rice 2 cups, cooked

Tomatoes 2 large, sliced

Onions 2 medium, sliced

Coconut oil 1 tbsp

Mustard seeds 1 tsp

Sambar powder 5 tbsps

Salt to taste

Curry leaves for garnish


Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed wok and add the mustard seeds.

When the seeds stop sputtering, add the onions. Sauté till they turn a light brown.

Add the tomatoes and curry leaves. Cook on medium heat till they soften.

Add the sambar powder and sauté for two minutes.

Add the rice and salt and mix well till the masala coats the rice grains completely

Serve hot.

Vegetable Pulao

Vegetable Pulao

I could never understand how much time my aunt would spend on making Vegetable Pulao, ensuring each piece was of the same size, blanching and frying each kind of vegetable separately and then bringing it all together to make the final dish. Till the Covid-19 pandemic locked us in our homes. I found myself enjoying the care in cooking and the precision of each step in the making of a dish. I learnt to enjoy the magic of botany and chemistry in the process of cooking.


Basmati rice 2 cups

Cauliflower 1 cup of florets, each 1” thick

Carrots 1 cup of 1” cubes

Frozen peas 1 cup

Potatoes 2 medium, cut into 1” cubes

Onion 1 medium, sliced

Cumin seeds 1 tsp

Cinnamon 1” piece

Ginger 2” piece, crushed

Bay leaf 1

Peppercorns 1 tbsp

Cloves 4

Oil 5 tbsps


Soak the rice for 20 minutes and drain.

Boil a pan of water with 2 tablespoons of salt and blanch the vegetables separately. Don’t blanch the peas.

Heat the oil in a iron pot — I use Le Creuset — and fry the onion slices till they are brown and keep aside.

Fry the blanched vegetables separately and keep aside. Don’t fry the peas.

Add the cumin seeds. When they stop sputtering, add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves and peppercorns.

Add the crushed ginger and sauté for a few minutes.

Add the peas and the drained rice. Add the fried vegetables and salt to taste.

Mix well and add enough water to cover the rice and 1” above.

Bring to a boil, reduce the flame, cover and cook till the rice is cooked and the water is completely absorbed.

Garnish with fried onions and serve hot.

Peas Pulao

Peas Pulao

I started making this as a young mother when trying to feed a fussy baby. He was such a nightmare to feed that I had to take him to the terrace with his tricycle and he would deign to take a bite after a round of the terrace garden. Or I would stand him before the window and while he watched the children pour out of the school opposite, I would shovel food into his mouth. Peas Pulao was a dish that he liked and it was easier to feed him. This was a way for me to get him to eat rice and vegetables.


(Serves 4)
Basmati rice 1 cup (200 g)
Peas 1 cup, frozen or fresh
Cumin seeds 1 tsp
Bay leaf 1
Black pepper whole 1 tbsp
Cloves 3
Ginger 1″ piece, crushed
Salt to taste
Water as needed
Vegetable oil 2 tbsps


Wash and drain the rice.

Heat the pressure cooker and add the oil.

Add the cumin seeds, bay leaf, cloves and pepper. Add the crushed ginger and saute for a few minutes.

Add the peas and rice and mix well. Add salt.

Add enough water to cover the rice and 1″ above.

Close the lid and cook on high heat for one whistle. Reduce the heat and cook for another ten minutes. Switch off the heat and let the cooker stand till the pressure falls. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve hot with cucumber or tomato raita.

Rice and Lentil Cakes

Rice and Lentil Cakes

This is a delicious and healthy steamed dish that works as a snack, breakfast dish or even for supper. It has a mix of lentils or dals and minimal amount of oil. Wrapped in banana leaves, the steaming brings out a unique flavour.


(Serves 4)

Parboiled rice 125 g

Moong dal 50 g

Masoor dal 50 g

Tuvar dal 50 g

Urad dal 50 g

Chana dal 50 g

Salt to taste

Red chilli flakes 1 tbsp

Any Indian pickle masala 2 tbsps

Jaggery 1 tbsp grated

Coriander leaves, chopped

Mustard seeds 1 tbsp

Oil 4 tbsps + 1 tbsp

Yoghurt 2 tbsps

Eno fruit salt 1 tbsp

Water as needed

Asafoetida 1/2 tsp

Banana leaves cut into squares and rolled to form cone-shaped pockets.


Wash the dals and rice and soak for 30 minutes. Drain and grind to a paste along with the yoghurt and 2 tablespoons of oil. Add enough water to make a batter. Add salt and leave to ferment for 7 hours.

Add chopped coriander leaves, the pickle masala, jaggery and chilli flakes to the fermented batter. Add the Eno fruit salt and leave for a few minutes.

Heat water in a steamer.

Spoon batter into the banana leaf cones and steam for 30 minutes.

Heat 1 tablespoon of oil and add the mustard seeds and asafoetida.

Unwrap the steamed cakes and pour the oil with mustard seeds over them.

Serve hot with chutney or pickle.

Spanish Chicken Rice

Spanish Chicken Rice

I made this for the first time when a friend was visiting from Taiwan and I wanted to make something that I could make in the slow cooker and not have to stand in the kitchen in the hot Indian summer. Instead of using the oven, I use the slow cooker. I don’t use too much oil either. Also, I use a mix of vegetable oil and olive oil so that the dish stays light, but has a lovely flavour.


(Serves 4)

Chicken 6 leg pieces without skin
Chilli flakes 4 tbsps
Oregano dried 8 tbsps
Rice 2 cups
Onion 1 large chopped
Spring onions 2, chopped
Capsicum 2, chopped
Garlic 5 cloves, chopped
Sausages 6, chopped
Tomatoes 2 large, cubed
Olives stuffed with pimento 10
Coriander leaves chopped
Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder 2 tsp
Pepper powder 1 tsp
Vegetable oil 3 tbsp
Olive oil 2 tbsp
Salt to taste
Saffron 3 strands
Lemon 2 cut into circles or wedges
Water as needed


Wash the rice and soak it for 15 minutes. I use Basmati rice as the long grained rice retains its shape and gives out a wonderful aroma when cooked.

Wash the chicken and pat dry. Coat with 3 tablespoonfuls of oregano, the chilli flakes and salt.

Take a heavy bottomed pot. I use a cast iron pot like from Le Creuset. Add the oils. I use Sundrop vegetable oil as I find it least greasy. Fry the chicken on high flame to seal in the flavours. Fry each side for about a minute.

Take the chicken out and in the same pan fry the chopped sausages. You can use any sausage for this though I find the Nuremberger sausage adds a lovely herb flavour to the dish.

Add the onions and spring onions and saute for a few minutes. Add the capsicum and garlic. Saute for two minutes.

Drain the soaked rice and add to the pot. Add the rest of the oregano, pepper powder and tomatoes. Add salt. Mix well.

Add 2 cups of water. Add the saffron strands. Arrange the fried chicken legs on top. Cover and cook on a slow fire till the water is completely absorbed and the rice is cooked.

At this stage you can transfer the whole to a slow cooker and cook on Auto.

Once the rice is cooked, add the olives and coriander leaves. Cook for another two minutes on low heat.

Switch off the heat and let the pot stand for five minutes.

Serve hot with dinner rolls and a green salad.

Ada, health meets taste

Ada, health meets taste

This is comfort food, especially in winter. The aroma of the pancake cooking on a hot griddle will set your taste buds working overtime. This is a healthy option for breakfast, packed with proteins from all the variety of lentils that go into the batter.

Comfort food


(Serves 6 persons)

Idli rice 1/4 cup
Urad dal 1/4 cup
Moong dal 1/4 cup
Arhar dal 1/4 cup
Chana dal 1/4 cup
Masoor dal 1/4 cup
Whole red chillies 4
Til oil
Onions 2 medium, sliced
Green chillies 2
Ginger 1” piece
Curry leaves 4 sprigs
Asafoetida powder 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste


Mix the first seven ingredients in a bowl, add water and soak overnight.

In the morning, drain and wash the the soaked rice and lentils.

Grind it along with the onions, green chillies, ginger and curry leaves.

Add the asafoetida and salt and mix well.

Heat a griddle and apply oil. Pour a ladleful of batter and spread it like a pancake. Flip it over after 30 seconds.

Use all the batter to make similar pancakes.

Serve with idli chutney powder, onion chutney or pickle.