Saturday, 30 August 2014

Gandhakasala Ghee Rice And Kaayalpattinam Kalakkari

                       I am not much of a meat eater, I love my veggies and that’s one of the reason this post was delayed. I may not be a meat lover but the people I cook for, are and they get annoyed, when I hold back the food for the photo shoot. I managed to make it this time with the last grains of rice I had and as seen here, taking good photos wasn’t my priority as it wasn’t possible with some hungry people waiting around!

                         So here’s the much awaited and the promised post Gandhakasala Ghee rice and Kaayalpattinam Kalakkari that has taken almost eight months time for me to post it! Gandhakasala rice is an aromatic rice like jeeragasamba rice that comes from the wayanad region in kerala. The rice can be cooked plain, just like regular rice or can be used to cook biriyani or pulav as its wonderful aroma will enhance the taste of any dish made with the rice. If you get used to its flavour and taste you may not even reach for basmati rice again.

                              Ghee rice is usually made using whole spices, but I have used the gandhakasala rice to make the ghee rice in kayalpattinam style,  a very delicious but lesser known cuisine from the southern districts of Tamilnadu. Ghee rice and kalakkari are part of a feast usually prepared for a wedding along with brinjal curry, a tangy rasam and a very delicious sweet dish made with fruits. Regular rice like raw rice/parboiled rice is cooked with salt and ghee and served with a very rich mutton curry called kalakkari. As the rice is cooked with salt and ghee it tastes very delicious by itself. Since it is a very heavy food made with lots of ghee it is usually made only for a wedding ceremony by the muslims of kayalpattinam. I was fortunate enough to taste some of kayalpattinams delicacies like Manjal vaada, a prawn stuffed deep fried snack and off course the wedding feast a few times. When asked the reason why plantain was added in a mutton curry, I was told that in case of shortage of meat in the curry, the plantain will mimic the mutton in taste and size by absorbing its juice in the curry and it will make up for the absence of meat. A very clever idea indeed!  This is my version of ghee rice and kalakkari, that my folks enjoy. Using a pressure cooker will spoil the taste of the curry and I always use my Japanese earthen pot to cook my curry to get that perfect taste even though it takes a little longer to cook. Vegetarians can try the same using potatoes sans the mutton and plantain.

Gandhakasala Ghee rice
Gandhakasala rice  3/4 cup
Water                      1 1/2 cups
Ghee                       1/2 tsp
Salt                         1/2 tsp

Rinse the rice well and soak for about 15 minutes.
In a cooking pan take water, add ghee and salt and bring to a boil.
Add the soaked rice (drained) and when it begins to boil, cover the pan with a lid and cook for about 12 minutes on low heat. Turn off the heat and let it rest for about 10 minutes. Serve hot with a spicy curry.
( It is similar to cooking basmati rice, but it tastes altogether different with a unique flavour)

Mutton                              3/4 k
Onion                                1 large
Shallots                             10
Tomato                              2 medium sized
Green chillies                     2
Turmeric powder               1 tsp
Fennel                               1 tsp
Chilli+Coriander Powder   6 tsp
Ginger garlic paste           3 tsp
Coconut                            1/2 cup (chopped)
Poppy seeds                      1 Tbsp

Cashew                              8
Hung curd                         1/4 cup
Salt                                    2 tsp
Plantain                             1
Coconut oil                        4 Tbsp
Ghee                                 1/2 to1 Tbsp)
Cinnamon                         2 large
Cardamom                       6
Cloves                               9
Star anise                          3

I use very little ghee, use more if you prefer, as the original curry made in the muslim households has a rich flavour of ghee ( so much that, you can see the oil and the ghee floating on the curry after cooking) that can be felt even as you eat and it leaves a lingering taste for several hours!

Add oil and ghee to the cooking pot, when it is hot add the whole spices and curry leaves.
Add the sliced onion stir and add the shallots, saute until the onions turn pink.
Add the green chillies( chopped), ginger garlic paste, tomatoes, stir for a minute.
Add the turmeric powder, chilli+coriander powder, salt, curd and stir to combine.

Add the mutton pieces, give it a good stir, add water ( see to that the meat is completely immersed in the water) and cook on medium heat for about 40-45 minutes ( may vary depending on the size of the cut).
Add the ground paste of Coconut+poppy seeds+fennel+ cashew, stir and add the plantain cubes( peeled and cubed ).
Cook till the plantain is soft, reduce the heat and simmer the curry for about 5 minutes.
Serve hot with the rice.

You can reduce the amount of chilli+ coriander powder if you do not want it to be spicy.
Originally ghee rice is made using regular raw rice or parboiled rice, so it is not a must that you should use only gandhakasala rice.
I got the rice couriered from wayanad last january, by the kind efforts of a family friend from kerala.
( Biju, if you are reading this, thanks a lot, this post wouldn’t have been possible if not for your kind help)

Earlier the rice was available in kalpakshema stores in Gopalapuram, but now they have stopped selling it. I have no idea where else it is available right now in chennai.
My intention of this post was to introduce the rice and the kayalpattinam cuisine, so even if you don’t have the gandhakasala rice, don’t hesitate to try the recipe, use regular rice, vegetarians make it with veggies and share your experience.
Now if you are not making any of the above, then try some of these, using homemade ghee:
1. Add some melted ghee and salt to taste, to a bowl of cooked rice, mix well and enjoy.
2. Cook Tuar dhal with turmeric powder and asafoetida. Add this dal to some cooked rice+ salt to taste + some melted ghee, mix well and enjoy.
3. Mix ghee and sugar and enjoy with your idlies or use ghee to your idly podi and enjoy.
These are some of my and my son’s favourite ways of taking ghee!
If you have a favourite way of taking ghee with your food, share it with me!


  1. Hi dear,
    Love your blog .It has plenty of spirit and life.Tried your beet root rice and ulluntham kali recipe .Both turned yummy.
    thank you

  2. I am happy you enjoyed the recipes and thanks for sharing your experience.


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