Category Archives: Rice

Kheer Pana Cotta with saffron sauce

Kheer Pana Cotta with saffron sauce

It will be one year since I auditioned for Master Chef India. It has been an incredible journey and I loved every minute of it. It started with just a casual conversation with friends, them pushing me to go for the audition. I never in my imagination thought that one simple audition could lead me to the most exciting time in my life.

When I got selected from San Francisco and reached India for the next rounds, I met so many wonderful people and little did I know that we will friends for lifetime.

I am so thankful to God for this wonderful opportunity. This post is dedicated to all that I am thankful for, my family, friends, food on the table, and here is many more such amazing opportunities to come!

I always have loved the traditional recipes, the history behind them, the love you feel when you eat them, all the memories they bring back. I feel it is up to us to preserve them and pass them on to the next generation.

But there are always new things to learn and expand your horizons. New spice, new technique, new way of plating or a new ingredient, it changes everything about the dish completely.

So today’s recipe is a new take on a age old recipe, Kheer. Made in many ways, but it always signifies celebration, joy, festivities. Rice, Milk and sugar cooked together, it is that simple and yet that comforting. So many cultures have variations of this, Isarel, Syria where its called ‘Roz Bhaleeb’, Iran and even Mexico where you get to eat ‘Arroz con leche’ which is flavored with cinnamon.

Its amazing to see how food connects people, does not matter what is your nationality, religion, sexual orientation or political affiliation. One of my favorite books ‘Korma Kheer Kismet by Pamela Timms. It is a fascinating chronicle of the author who lived and experienced five seasons in Delhi and her food memories

Korma,Kheer and Kismet; Five seasons in old Delhi by Timms (2014-07-01)

Just like her I fell in love with Old Delhi. Old Delhi is a walled city established by the Mughal Emperor Shaha Jahan in the early 1600s. You must visit old Delhi if you want to some of the best delicacies. Especially during the festivals like Ramdan ( Eid-ul-Fitr), the whole area is filled with aroma that is so inviting. Fried chicken, samosa, Jalebi, Faluda and so much more.



When I visited Old Delhi, I had to visit the Kheer shop, Bade Miyan ki Kheer. I must say that by far is the most delicious thing I have ever had. The shop only sells Kheer, and it is to die for.  My insta story says it all.

Screen Shot 2017-06-24 at 9.39.14 AM

Today I decided to take that Kheer and present it in a little differently. I have tried to keep the essence of the dish intact, I hope you all enjoy it.

Kheer Panna Cotta




Panna cotta

  • 4 cups whole milk
  • 1 cup cream
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 3-4 star Anise
  • 3-4 green cardamom
  •  3/4 cup rice
  • 1 tsp agar agar powder


  • 2 tbsp honey
  • 1 pinch of saffron
  • 1 tsp rose water
  • water as needed


Panna cotta

  • Take 2.5 cups of milk and whipping cream, sugar  and warm it in a sauce pan.
  • Slightly crush the star anise and cardamom and add to the milk mixture, until it almost comes to a boil. Turn the heat off
  • Let the mixture cool for a few hours.
  • While the milk mixture is resting, take 1 cup of milk and rice, and cook on low heat for at least 40 mins. You don’t want to rush this step and this is what gives you a creamy texture.
  • Stain the milk cream mixture and discard the spices
  • When the rice is almost cooked, add the spiced milk and cook more
  • While the rice is cooking, take 1/2 cup of Milk and warm it up to 100 F
  • Mix agar-agar in the 1/2 cup warm milk and mix thoroughly
  • Add the agar mixture to the cooked rice
  • Pour it in glasses and set it in the fridge


Mix all the ingredients in a bowl, use water if need to thin it to a pouring consistency


To serve

When ready to serve, keep the glass in warm water to loosen it. Pour the sauce on a plate and gentle put the unmolded pudding/kheer on the plate.

I garnished it with dried rose petals and a pistachio tuile with rose. I will share that recipe soon.


Eid Mubarak!



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Mexican risotto…wholy Smokes !



I love making dinners based on a theme, love bringing all the elements of the meal together. Sometimes the common thread can be a cuisine, an ingredient, season or sometimes it can be a cooking technique. Tonight’s meal was Smoking hot.

I love the smoky flavor in dishes, be it a spice like a smoked paprika, smoky pepper like chipotle, smoked gouda, hickory smoked meats or smoking a cooked dish using a traditional ‘Dhuri’ technique from India. I just learnt that the Dhuni technique is used very extensively in a Dham cooking. I make this condiment with Walnut Chutney, a recipe from the northern indian Kashmiri cuisine, where I use a hot coal & ghee to create the smoke to flavor the dish.

Going back to my dinner theme tonight, so if you have not already guessed, the theme was ‘smoking’. I made this Barley Risotto with a mexican twist, Shrimps in tomato based sauce & Corn salad. Each dish had a ‘smoky’ element to it. Today I am sharing the recipe for the risotto. The smoky flavors come from the roasted poblanos and smoked paprika.

As I mentioned, my family is trying to eat only whole grains and use as little processed food as possible. So I try to make different grains every day, rotating between brown rice,quinoa, bulgur, wild rice, farro, whole wheat & barley. Today it was barley’s turn. So I decided to make this dish, I think it tasted like the risotto, and since I incorporated the mexican flavors, I called it Mexican risotto. Barley is a very commonly eaten in many parts of the world. It is known for many good things including calming your stomach down. My grandmom used to give us barley water when we went a little crazy eating garbanzo beans. 🙂


1 cup of Barley

1/2 white onion finely chopped

1 garlic chopped

2 Poblano peppers

1 tbsp Cilantro chopped

1/2 cup cream

1/4 cup white wine ( optional)

1/2 tbsp Smoked Paprika

1/2 tsp cumin powder

1 tbsp oil


Pressure cook barley with a little bit of salt & 2 1/2 cups of water. I like to cook it in a little more water so it cooks and has extra starchy liquid, this makes the dish creamy with little amount of cream. 
Roast the poblanos until charred. Keep them covered in a bowl and when cooled peel and chop.

Heat oil, saute onions & garlic. When lightly browned, add the chopped poblano and paprika. Now add the wine if using and cook for 2-3 mins.

Add the barley along with the cooking liquid and mix through. Adjust the salt.

Add the cream and heat it through.

Garnish with chopped cilantro and serve.

Sometimes I add chorizo to make it a one pot meal. I saute the chorizo, when cooked remove it on a plate. In the rendered fat, saute the onions etc and follow the rest of the steps.

Tamarind Rice ( Puliyodharai)


I love authentic, traditional recipes. Agreed that sometimes they can be very involved and time consuming but I feel the taste after all that effort is unbelievable. Some of the old methods of cooking or prep work may look tedious, but those also have a great way of bringing people together. Imagine making raviolis together, or making papad in summer, or making pickles together, when you are working together teh work does not seem boring.  So i love collecting recipes that are authentic, passed down from generation to generation, this is my way  of preserving my culture and heritage, hoping to pass it to the future generation.

Today’s recipe is something I learnt from my friend Usha, who had leant it from her Ammamma( grandma).

Tamarind rice is very popular in Andhra Pradesh as well as Tamilnadu. This version I feel has both Andhra and Tamil influence on it. It is a typical brahmin recipe, and is used as Naivadyam on many auspicious ceremonies. I had eaten this the very first time in the famous Tirupati temple, so anytime I make it invokes the same feelings.

Although the recipe may look complicated it is not, it is complex. I will try to simplify the instructions as much as possible.

Tamarind Rice



There are four steps to the recipe.

Step 1:

Make a tamarind chutney – This chutney is pretty much jam like consistency.

Part A ( tempering 1)

2 tbsp oil

2 tsp mustard seeds

6 red chilies

Few curry leaves

Part B   (Wet ingredients)

1 handful dry tamarind, cleaned and soaked in  2 cups of hot water

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

2 tbsp jaggery ( gud), you can substitute dark brown sugar as well.

Extract the tamarind pulp and discard any seeds or hard shells. Mix jaggery and turmeric in it.

Part A & Part C

Wet ingredients & Tempering 1 (Part A & B)

Part C ( Dry powder)

1/2 cup coriander seeds

6 dry red chilies ( or more if you like it spicy)

1 tsp black pepper

1 tsp cumin(jeera) seeds

1 tsp fenugreek( methi) seeds

1/2 tsp mustard seeds

1 tbsp chana daal

1 tbsp urid daal ( skinless)

Few curry leaves

1/2 tsp asafoetida( hing)

Dry Masala Powder

Dry Masala Powder ( Part C)


Dry roast the these and grind it in a coffee grinder( or a blender) to make a fine powder. Make sure you add fenugreek seeds and hing towards the end else it will burn and give bitter taste

To make chutney:

Tamarind chutney

Heat the oil for tempering, add the red chilies until they are nicely browned. Add the remaining things and saute till the mustard seeds splutter( Part A). Now add the tamarind-jaggery mixture( Part B). Cook this on a low flame until you get a nice jam like consistency.  Add the dry masala powder ( Part C) and mix well.  Keep it aside.

Step 2:  

1 .5 cups of rice

1 tsp oil

1/2 tsp turmeric

Cook rice with salt and set aside to cool. Once cooled add a  tsp oil and turmeric and mix well.

Step 3: Make  tempering 2



1 tbsp oil

1 handful ( or two) peanuts

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tbsp urid daal

1 tbsp chana daal

1/2 tsp asafoetida

A few curry leaves

Roast/fry the peanut in oil on a low-medium heat. Add mustard seeds, urid and chana daal and saute well. Now add curry leaves.


Step 4: Mix it together

Mix the cooked rice with a few tbsp of the prepared Tamarind chutney. Typically 4-5 tbsp chutney is enough for 1 cup raw rice cooked.

Add Tempering 2. Mix well.

Garnish with chopped cilantro if desired.

You are done. Enjoy the authentic Pulliodarai



This tamarind chutney lasts a while even outside and if you refrigerate it, it can last upto a couple of months.