Ghee Recipes

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Persian Basmati Rice with Raisins and Saffron Recipe

Recently we went to the home of  family friends for dinner. They made us an absolutely amazing home cooked Persian meal.  If I had known about all the incredible dishes that I was going to get to sample, I would have brought my camera to post them here!

One dish in particular that really stood out was the rice. Every culture that eats rice has its own particular method and manner of preparation. In our home, we make both sticky Asian jasmine rice and Indian basmati rice to satisfy the different palates.

What's different about this Persian rice recipe is that it's not just a neutral medium for delivering the flavors of a main course. It is prepared in such a way that it is delicious on its own. Cooked basmati rice forms the base, but to this are added saffron, fried onions, butter, and flavored raisins. The final product is ethereal, yet rich.

I've had it at restaurants many times, but never with the care and quality that was put into this preparation. as if that weren't enough, we also had another Persian rice recipe made with dill, but that's another post...


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Sabudana Khichdi (Indian Sago and Potato Snack) Recipe

Sabudana khichdi is a dish that is popular in the state of Maharashtra in India. Sabudana refers to the sago (tapioca) pearls that are used in this dish, and khichdi roughly translates to "hodgepodge".  Every region in India has their own version of khichdi, usually made with rice and lentils.

This particular version is often eaten after fasts. It's also a very popular breakfast dish. I like this dish because sago is a fairly exotic ingredient, and I don't get to cook with it very often. 

The challenge is in preparing the sago properly. Make sure to buy your sago from an Indian store; I've tried to make it with sago from the Asian market and it didn't turn out properly. When it turns out right, the cooked sago melts in your mouth, and the spices and curry leaves that the potatoes cook in is beyond heavenly.


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Gajar Halva (Indian Carrot Halwa Dessert) Recipe

Halva means sweet in Arabic. India is home to many varieties of halva, and it can be found at almost all of our family gatherings.

This particular type is made with carrots. Lulu's aunt taught me how to make it. The base is a dense, sweet confection made of flour such as cream of wheat or garbanzo flour, nut butter such as tahini, or lentils like mung beans. My friend Carole, who is by the way the editor of the site, told me she loves this kind. Here's her feedback about carrot halva:

"Your halva was smoother [than the one I get at the restaurant], and at the same time more flavorful but more subtle, too. We loved it. I can't wait to see the recipe and what's involved. I have a sneaky feeling there's going to be more butter than I want to know about!"

I told Carole: "Well, don't be afraid, there are only two tablespoons of ghee". I prefer making it at home because the gajar halva found at restaurants tends to be too thin and cloyingly sweet. I suspect that the extra sweetness is used to conceal the lack of richness that one would expect from real gajar halva.

Gajar halva, like some Vietnamese desserts, is not always the most glamourous-looking sweet, but it is delicious. If you've never had it before, try making some at home. You will love it.


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Masoor Dal Khichdi (Indian Orange Lentil Rice) Recipe

Kitcheri is a very simple recipe that requires only a few ingredients from the pantry. It's a blend of coral-colored lentils, called masoor dal, with basmati rice and a few other typical Indian spices.

It's very nutritious for all the vegetarians in the house. The lentils provide a lot of protein. The key to a good kitcheri though is a flavorful raita, or yogurt sauce. Check back tomorrow for the recipe!


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Palak Paneer (Fried Indian Cheese in Garam Masala and Cream Spinach) Recipe

There are few dishes as synonymous with Indian cuisine as palak paneer . After tandoori chicken and naan (Indian round fluffy bread made of white flour), it's probably the most common item on menus at Indian restaurants. Variations of the dish are prepared all across the country.

At the core, though, palak paneer is a very simple dish. Spinach (or palak in Urdu) is cooked with a spicy cream mixture and studded with fried Indian farmer's cheese, called paneer. The cream is spiced with the same masala that is used in many other dishes. If you're new to Indian cuisine, this is a great introduction. You'll never go back to regular old cream spinach again.


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