Sunday, February 26, 2017

Tehri Rice

Tehri, Tahri, or Tehari is one of the recipes that I can claim mastery to! MashaAllah! The family loves it and it is a guests approved favorite of all time. This recipe is being cooked in my household since my childhood. My paternal origin is from Lucknow in India which explains the history.
The dish is "a yellow rice dish in Awadhi cuisine (a cuisine native to the city of Lucknow, which is the capital of the state of Uttar Pradesh in Northern India. The spices are added to plain cooked rice which gives it spicy taste and yellow color. In one version of Tehri, potatoes are added to the rice. This dish is most popular in Bangladesh, Pakistan and North India. Tehri or Tehari are variants on the name given to the vegetarian version of Biryani. It was developed for the Hindu bookkeepers of the Muslim Nawab rulers in South Asia.
There is so much that can be done to tweak this recipe and make it as simple as a just pea and potato rice, or a full on garden vegetables bliss. In addition to the veggies I have used, one can always use eggplant and gourds (lauki) to add to the variety. I usually like calling this a Fall (harvest) recipe but since all seasonal veggies can be used, I won't limit this to a season.  
Long grain Basmati rice, soaked 8 hours washed and strained, 2 cups
Sweet peas, 1 cup
Potatoes, cut into small cubes, 3 medium sized
Baby carrots, sliced in round discs, 2 cups
Tomato, 1 large, fine chopped
Fried onions, 1/2 cup crushed
Yogurt, 1 cup
Yellow food color 
SPICE LISTTurmeric powder, 3 teaspoons
Salt, to taste
Red chili powder, to taste
Ginger and Garlic paste, 1 tablespoon
Cumin powder, 1 tablespoon
Cumin seeds, 1 tablespoon
Coriander (cilantro) powder, 1 tablespoon
All spice (garam masala) powder, 1/2 tablespoon
Cloves, 5 pieces
Cardamom, 3 pods
Black peppercorns, 5
Red peppercorn, 2
Cinnamon stick, 1 inch piece
  1. In a large, deep (about 5" at least) skillet add ginger and garlic paste, cumin seeds, cloves, cardamom, black peppercorns, red peppercorns, cinnamon stick, and 1/2 cup cooking oil and set on medium heat. Spices burn at the slightest overheating.
  2. When spices begin to give off aroma, ginger and garlic paste is browned and sizzling, and cumin seeds have browned, add potatoes and carrots. Add red chili powder, all spice powder, cumin powder, and coriander powder, a few drops of waters (to avoid burning of spices) and continue frying well for at least a minute.  
  3. Take it off the heat and allow it to cool for at least a minute, and then add yogurt, fried onions, and turmeric before returning it to heat to restart cooking. Mix well. Heat should be increased to high at this point.
  4. After cooking the yogurt and turmeric well for about two minutes, add the chopped tomato, a pinch of salt (brings out flavor and dehydrates ingredients) and continue cooking at high heat for another two to three minutes. The idea is to have the tomato reduced to a brown, cooked, pulpy state. 
  5. Toss in the peas at this point and mix them around for about half a minute.
  6. Add the rice and continue frying them with the gravy for about a minute before filling water in the skillet all the way until the rice and gravy have 2 1/2 cm water level rise on top of them. You can check this depth by sliding your cooking spoon all the way to the base of the skillet, scooping the contents (rice and gravy) and raising them to the surface ever so slowly as to to calculate mentally how much the depth is.
  7. Bring the rice to boil and conduct a salt taste test. Salt Taste Test: I conduct a salt taste test by tasting the water in which the rice (pilaf/pulao style) are being boiled. If the water tastes perfect, the rice will taste perfect. For this recipe, add 2 1/2 teaspoons of salt, mix well, and taste the water. If it tastes less salty then what the cooked rice should be, add another 1/2 teaspoon and repeat the test. Adjust salt until the water tastes perfectly salty for your taste.  
  8. Add a teaspoon of yellow food color, mix well and check if rice have dyed well. If not, continue adding more color by the pinch.
  9. Once the color is adjusted, reduce the heat to medium and cook with covered lid until the water dries up.
  10. Open the lid and mix the rice, frying them well until they are perfectly dry and ready to serve. Serve with a side of diced tomato-onion-cucumber salad (kachumbar), pickle, papadum (paapar), and yogurt dip (raita). 

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