Ghee Rice (Malabar Nei Choru)

Ghee Rice is a deliciously moreish buttery rice dish enriched with ghee (clarified butter) and spices such as cardamom, cinnamon and whole cloves. It is topped off with caramelised onions and jewels of lightly fried cashew nuts and raisins.

Ghee Rice is an aromatic rice dish popular in the Malabar region of Kerala.  Its origins are attributed to mogul cuisine and nowadays is a common feature at wedding receptions as a ceremonial dish. Ghee rice has become synonymous with Indian curries – both vegetarian and non-vegetarian.

This rice dish is enriched with ghee (clarified butter) and spices – including cardamom, cinnamon and whole cloves. It is topped off with a garnish of caramelised onions and lightly fried cashew nuts and raisins. 

This Ghee Rice is my mother’s Malabar version of the recipe – which I have adapted slightly. If you want a lighter version then reduce the amount of ghee or clarified butter in the recipe. Although remember its ‘ghee rice’ so the amount you add should be enough so the ghee flavour comes through.

If you love food and don’t mind the occasional indulgence, then you will not be disappointed with this one.



Ingredients

  • 2 cups basmati rice (high-grade) 
  • 3 tbsp ghee 
  • 2 piece (1’’) cinnamon stick 
  • 1 star anise 
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 4 cardamom
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup white onion (sliced)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt 
  • 1 tsp ginger paste 
  • 1 tsp garlic paste 
  • 2 cups cold water 
  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 medium white onion (sliced)
  • 1/4 cup cashew nuts (halved)
  • 1/4 cup raisins

(* 1 Tsp = 5ml, 1 Tbsp = 15 ml, 1 Cup = 250 ml)


How to make Ghee Rice

1. Wash the basmati rice under cold running water several times until the water runs clear. Drain the rice and set it aside. 


2. Over a medium flame, heat ghee in a saucepan until it has warmed. Add cinnamon sticks, star anise, whole cloves, cardamom and bay leaf and lightly toss in the warmed ghee for a few seconds.


3. Add the sliced onions along with ½ tsp of sea salt and sauté for 2-3 minutes or until the onions become translucent. Then add the ginger and garlic paste and sauté for a further minute just so the rawness cooks out. 


4. Pour the drained rice into the pot and gently fold into the spice mix. When the rice has been completely coated add the cold water and cook uncovered over a high flame.


5. When most of the water has been absorbed, and there are still a few wet bubbles forming, turn the flame right down and cover with a lid. Leave the ghee rice to steam for 15-20 minutes. Once cooked, turn the flame off and set aside.


6. Heat sunflower oil in a frying pan over a medium-low flame. When the oil has warmed add sliced onion and fry until golden brown.


7. In a separate pan add ghee and heat over a medium-low flame. Add cashew nuts and toss until they’ve turned slightly golden. Then add the raisins and toss along with the cashew nuts. When the raisins begin to puff up remove the pan from the stove.


8. The garnish can be mixed straight into the pot of steaming ghee rice, or if you prefer, it can be kept aside and sprinkled over the ghee rice when being served.


Tips for making the best plate of Ghee Rice

Handle the rice grains with care

This is an important tip to ensure you get beautifully fluffy rice with whole rice grains. Washing the basmati rice will help get rid of micro debris and loose starch on the rice. If you begin to wash the rice too aggressively more starch will start to come away from the grains, or worse break apart! Similarly, when coating the rice in the ghee and spices, you must fold the rice in gently with your spatula for as little time as possible.


Release the aromas

Allowing the spices to warm up for a few seconds in the ghee will help release the aromas of the spices and flavour the ghee.


Let the cooked ghee rice cool

Once cooked, turn the flame off and set the pot of rice aside. Allow the pot to cool slightly before removing the lid and fluffing the rice- approximately 10 minutes or so. This will help the flavours settle into the rice. It will also ensure the rice grains firm up slightly so when it comes to fluffing they retain their shape.


Intensify the fried onions

When frying the onions for the garnish, adding a healthy pinch of sugar and salt will help caramelise the onions an intensify its flavour.


Mixing the garnish into the rice or sprinkling over?

There is no right or wrong answer to this. Go with your heart! Mixing it into the rice will soften the cashew nuts. The fried onions and raisins will soak into the pockets of rice. Conversely, sprinkling the garnish over will ensure the cashew nuts stay nice and firm and the fried onions maintain its intense oniony flavour.


What to have with my Ghee Rice?

What can you have with Ghee Rice? Well honestly, what can’t you have with Ghee Rice! 

Ghee Rice sits perfectly as the base for most Indian dry and wet curry’s. It gives that slightly spiced, nutty, sweet and buttery undertone that complements most dishes you accompany it with. 

For example, I might serve ghee rice with either a meat or vegetable korma with a side of mint raita and a tangy mango pickle. Or the classic combination is ghee rice with a slow cooked mutton curry. A match made in heaven. But don’t let my suggestions get in the way of your imagination!


Similar dishes that you could try

Are you enjoying this recipe so far? Why not check out some of these other gluten-free recipes!

Sambar – Lentil & Vegetable Curry

Vegan Green Lentil and Spinach Curry

Dry Fried Coconut Lamb Curry


Storing Suggestions

Ghee Rice can be stored but needs to be carefully handled. If left at room temperature for too long bacteria can develop. Therefore it is important to refrigerate left over rice as soon as the meal is over. When cool, place your Ghee Rice into a container, secure with a lid and chill in the fridge. Keep the rice for no more than a day before reheating it – and only reheat once. 


How to reheat

ON THE HOB: Put the rice in a saucepan with a splash of water and break up any clumps. Cover with a lid and cook over a low heat, stirring occasionally, until steamed through and piping hot.

IN THE MICROWAVE: Put the rice in a microwaveable dish, sprinkle lightly with water. Cover and microwave on high for 1-2 minutes until heated through and steaming.


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Ghee Rice (Malabar Nei Choru)

Ghee Rice is a deliciously moreish buttery rice dish enriched with ghee (clarified butter) and spices such as cardamom, cinnamon and whole cloves. It is topped off with caramelised onions and jewels of lightly fried cashew nuts and raisins.
AuthorGeorge Alexander
PREP TIME5 minutes
COOK TIME25 minutes
TOTAL TIME30 minutes
Servings6 servings
CourseMain Course Side Dish
CuisineGluten-Free Indian Vegetarian
KeywordButter Rice Ghee Rice Indian Rice
Calories368 kcal

Ingredients

  • 2 cups basmati rice (high-grade)
  • 3 tbsp ghee
  • 2 piece (1") cinnamon stick
  • 1 star anise
  • 4 whole cloves
  • 4 cardamom
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1/2 cup white onion (sliced)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 1 tsp ginger paste
  • 1 tsp garlic paste
  • 2 cups cold water

for the garnish

  • 1 tbsp sunflower oil
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • 1 medium white onion (sliced)
  • 1/4 cup cashew nuts (halved)
  • 1/4 cup raisins

Instructions

prepare the rice

  • Wash the basmati rice under cold running water several times until the water runs clear. Drain the rice and set it aside.
  • Over a medium flame, heat ghee in a saucepan until it has warmed. Add cinnamon sticks, star anise, whole cloves, cardamom and bay leaf and lightly toss in the warmed ghee for a few seconds.
  • Add the sliced onions along with ½ tsp of sea salt and sauté for 2-3 minutes or until the onions become translucent. Then add the ginger and garlic paste and sauté for a further minute just so the rawness cooks out.
  • Pour the drained rice into the pot and gently fold into the spice mix. When the rice has been completely coated add the cold water and cook uncovered over a high flame.
  • When most of the water has been absorbed, and there are still a few wet bubbles forming, turn the flame right down and cover with a lid. Leave the ghee rice to steam for 15-20 minutes. Once cooked, turn the flame off and set aside.

prepare the garnish

  • Heat sunflower oil in a frying pan over a medium-low flame. When the oil has warmed add sliced onion and fry until golden brown.
  • In a separate pan add ghee and heat over a medium-low flame. Add cashew nuts and toss until they’ve turned slightly golden. Then add the raisins and toss along with the cashew nuts. When the raisins begin to puff up remove the pan from the stove.
  • The garnish can be mixed straight into the pot of steaming ghee rice, or if you prefer, it can be kept aside and sprinkled over the ghee rice when being served.

Nutrition

Calories: 368kcal (18%) Carbohydrates: 59g (20%) Protein: 7g (14%) Fat: 12g (18%) Saturated Fat: 5g (31%) Monounsaturated Fat: 2g Sodium: 401mg (17%) Potassium: 17mg Fiber: 3g (13%) Sugar: 5g (6%) Vitamin A: 6IU Vitamin C: 5mg (6%) Calcium: 5mg (1%) Iron: 2mg (11%)

Did you make this recipe?

Please let me know how it turned out for you! Leave a comment below and share a picture on Instagram with the hashtag #_pestleandspice

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If you love this Ghee Rice recipe, then why don’t you check out these other vegetarian recipes? Like this delicious Beetroot and Walnut Vegetarian Fritters

Recipes and articles referenced for this recipe: how to store cooked rice from Delicious Magazine.


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