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  Life   Food  15 Aug 2018  Rice: The flavour of India

Rice: The flavour of India

Published : Aug 15, 2018, 12:18 am IST
Updated : Aug 15, 2018, 12:18 am IST

My mother-in-law is a traditional Tamilian and rice is her staple food.

Tricolour Idlis
 Tricolour Idlis

Being born and brought up along the west coast of the country, I have been accustomed to eating both rice and wheat as a child. The grain I ate did not matter as long it was tasty.

As a student of marketing, I was forced to leave my pampered childhood and forge an existence of my own outside India. It was here that I missed the small luxuries of a cook and a maid. But it also gave me something I never had earlier, a newfound sense of independence! And guess where I found it first! In cooking rice!


Rice is a staple to most of us in India and cooking it is a piece of cake! The ease of cooking it came to my rescue after long working days, especially since there is no cutting, chopping and cleaning involved. When I was young, my grandmother filled my head with stories of rice shooting up my blood sugar and being rich in carbs. However, recent studies show that rice is a lot healthier. In fact, today, there is a whole rage of gluten free products, and rice is perfect! Nowadays, cakes are being baked with rice flour instead of refined wheat flour, which is much healthier. Half a cup of rice has 120 calories, which is actually the same as that of a slice of bread or chapatti. However, rice is a lot more filling and has a better satiety value than the other grains, so half a cup can keep you going.


Rice is the staple food in many Asian countries like China, Japan and India. A grain of rice comes from a special seed called Oryza Sativa, which requires large amounts of water and is thus grown where there is a sufficient quantity of rain. The nice thing about rice is that it is versatile and any other herb or seed that you cook in it, infuses it to give it a distinct flavour and fragrance.

The varieties of rice are innumerable! Wild rice, brown rice, black rice, red rice, and the list is endless. There are also so many varieties of dishes that can be made with rice like biryanis, khichdis, pulaos, puddings, kheers, noodles, sushis, risottos and a lot more. These of course, do require more effort.


However, if cumbersome cooking isn’t up your alley, boiled rice with chutney, Schezwan sauce, pickle or some moolagapoodip is equally delicious too! It is no wonder that when you are invited to someone’s house for a meal, there is a high possibility that you will find at least one, if not two dishes that contain rice.

Tricolour Idlis

(Tip: Make your idli batter at home or buy readymade batter)


  • Orange chutney
  • 2 carrots
  • 1 tomato
  • 1 onion
  • t tsp turmeric
  • 1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
  • 1 tsp jeera
  • 1 tbsp oil


  • Make a puree of the carrots and tomato. Heat the oil in a pan and add jeera. Add the ginger-garlic paste, turmeric, and onions and make it brown.
  • Add in the tomato and carrots puree and cook. Let it cool down.
  • Green paste
  • ½ coconut grated
  • ½ chilli
  • 1 bunch mint
  • 1 bunch coriander
  • A few garlic cloves
  • Salt to taste



  • Blend together the above ingredients to make the chutney.
  • Make the regular white idlis in cocktail size. Take three on a toothpick. On the bottom one, apply green chutney, keep the middle one white and on the top one, apply orange chutney.


Freedom Rice

2 cups of rice
(make this as you make the usual white rice)

For the orange layer

  • 2 medium size carrots
  • 1 large tomato
  • 1 onion finely chopped and sautéd brown
  • Turmeric powder, chilli powder, salt and garam masala

For the green layer

  • 100 gm peas, peeled and boiled
  • ½ bunch coriander   
  • ½ bunch mint, half green chilli
  • 2 pods garlic
  • 2 onions cooked golden

For the white layer
2 cups finely cut malai paneer
1 tbsp ghee
1 tsp jeera
Cinnamon, clove and cardamom, 2 each
Salt to taste


Method for orage rice | Very finely chop carrot and tomato and make a purée in a blender. Add to the brown onions along with the other powders. Cook on the stove and keep aside.

Method for green rice | Blend together coriander, mint, chilli and garlic to make chutney. Cook chutney with onions. Add peas, salt and garam masala. Keep aside.

Method for white rice | Cook the paneer with ghee, jeera, salt, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom. Once the three layers and rice are ready, divide the rice into three equal parts and mix each part with the individual colours. Keep these in three different bowls.
In a baking dish, start with the orange layer, then the white and then the green. Preheat oven for 15 minutes. Bake at 2000 for 20 minutes. Once done, turn it upside down and serve. Goes well with onion raita, boondi raita or plain Greek yogurt.


Tags: cooking, tricolour idlis, flavour and fragrance