Pressed Rice with Vegetables from India Cookbook

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Make your own Pressed Rice with Vegetables and Sesame Seed and Coconut Balls, from India: The Cookbook

Pressed Rice with Vegetables and Sesame Seed & Coconut Balls

From India: The Cookbook  (November 2010 $49.95), by Pushpesh Pant, Phaidon Press,


Poha Pulao

Pressed Rice with Vegetables


Origin Maharashtra

Preparation time 25-35 minutes, plus soaking time

Cooking time 15-20 minutes

Serves 4



100g / 3 ½ oz ( ½ cup) pressed rice

100g / 3 ½ oz ( 2/3 cup) peas, shelled if fresh

1 tablespoon vegetable oil, plus extra for stir-frying

½ teaspoon mustard seeds

¼ teaspoon ground turmeric*

½ teaspoon chili powder

½ teaspoon Garam Masala (see recipe below)

150g / 5 oz (1 ½ cup) cauliflower, cut into florets

1 medium-sized potato, cut into small pieces

100g / 3 ½ oz French (green) beans, sliced

2 carrots, diced

2 medium-sized tomatoes, cut into quarters

50g / 1 ¾ oz Paneer (see recipe below), cut into small pieces

1 teaspoon sugar

1 tablespoon lemon juice

2-3 green chilies, de-seeded

1 x 2.5-cm / 1-inch piece fresh ginger, peeled and grated


1 large sprig coriander (cilantro) leaves**, chopped, to garnish


* turmeric is a spice made from the rhizome of the turmeric plant, which is ground to make a bright yellow powder. It has a warm, dry flavour and is found in almost all curries and pickles. It also has antiseptic properties. 

**coriander (cilantro) is an annual herb, the entirety of which is used in Indian cooking: the fresh leaves as a garnish or in green chutney; the whole seeds in temperings, pickling spices and some non-vegetarian dishes; the powdered seeds, or ground coriander, is among the most commonly used spices in everyday cooking.




Soak the pressed rice in a bowl of water for 10 minutes then spread out delicately to dry. Meanwhile, cook the peas in a pan of water for 5-7 minutes, or until soft. Set aside.


Heat the oil in a large flat pan or frying pan (skillet), add the mustard seeds and ground spices and stir-fry for 1 minute. Add the rice, turning lightly with a flat spatula. Cover, reduce the heat to very low and leave for 1 minute, then remove from the heat.


Heat a little more oil in another frying pan, add the cauliflower and stir-fry until browned, then add the potatoes, French beans, peas and carrots and stir-fry for about 5 minutes. Add the tomatoes and cook until the tomatoes are just scalded. Add the paneer at the end and cook for a few minutes until it is heated through. Stir in the sugar, lemon juice, chilies and ginger, then season with salt. Arrange the rice and vegetables in layers in a serving dish and garnish with coriander.


Garam Masala (I)


Origin Delhi/Punjab/Awadh

Preparation time 15 minutes

Makes 500g / 1lb 2oz




200g / 7oz (2 cups) cumin seeds1                 

75g / 2 ½ oz (1 cup) coriander seeds

45g / 1 ½ oz ( ½ cup) black cardamom pods2

45g / 1 ½ oz ( ½ cup) black peppercorns

40g / 1 ½ oz ( ½ cup) green cardamon pods

40g / 1 ½ oz ( ½ cup) ground ginger




Put all the ingredients in a mortar and pound with a pestle, or grind in a spice grinder, to make a find powder. Sieve (strain) and store in a sterilized*, dry and airtight container.


*To sterilize jars, wash the jars and lid thoroughly in hot, soapy water. Rinse well, then place jars and lids open-side up, without touching, on a baking tray. Transfer to an oven preheated to 120˚C/250˚F, and leave for at least 30 minutes. Alternatively, boil the jars and lids in a large pan of water for 15 minutes. Take care to ensure that the jars are already warmed before placing them in a hot oven.


1 Cumin is an essential ingredient in Indian cooking, available ground or as whole seeds, with a nutty, warm flavour. Known as jeera in India. Used in all mixed spices and curry powders, and to flavour a range of pulses and vegetable dishes, as well as yoghurt dishes.


2 Cardamom is a spice made from the dried pods of the cardamom plant, used in both sweet and savoury dishes, and known as elaichi in India. The most common variety has green pods, while the other has black-brown pods with a more astringent flavour. Ground green cardamom is also available from Asian grocery stores.





Origin Punjab

Preparation time 30 minutes, plus standing time

Makes about 750g / 26 oz




2 litres / 3 ½ pints (8 ½ cups) milk

2 tablespoons lemon juice




Heat the milk in a pan over a medium heat. When boiling, add the lemon juice. As the milk curdles the whey will separate. Strain the curdled milk through a piece of clean muslin, catching all the solids. Bring up and tie the edges of the muslin to form a pouch around the solids. Do not squeeze the muslin. Hang the pouch over a container and leave until all the water has been drained. Transfer the solids, still covered with muslin, to the sink and weigh down for 2-3 hours to produce a block of paneer that can be cut to the desired shape.



Uppa Vada

Sesame Seed & Coconut Balls


Origin Tamil Nadu

Preparation time 30-45 minutes, plus drying time

Cooking time 10 minutes

Serves 10




1kg / 2 ¼ lb (6 cups) rice flour

100g / 3 ½ oz ( ½ cup) urad dal*, rinsed and drained

120g / 4oz sesame seeds

½ fresh coconut, grated

pinch of asafoetida**

1 tablespoon butter

vegetable oil, for deep-frying



*urad dal are whole wheat or split black lentils, also called black gram. They are small and oblong in shape with a black skin and a creamy white flesh, often used in curries. Skinned urad dal is white and has a milder flavour, and is often ground into flour or paste.


**asafoetida is made from sap from a plant, which can be obtained as an amber-coloured resin, or crushed into powder. Uncooked, it has a strong unpleasant odour, but it takes on a pleasant, onion-like smell after heating.




Put the rice flour in a dry frying pan (skillet) and cook for about 30 seconds, or until roasted. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. Put the urad dal in the frying pan and cook for about 1 minute, or until roasted, then transfer to a blender and process until finely ground. Transfer to the rice flour.


Put the sesame seeds in the frying pan and cook for about 30 seconds, or until roasted. Add to the rice flour and urad dal and add the grated coconut, asafetida and butter. Season with salt and mix, adding enough water to make a soft, pliable dough. Divide the dough into small marble-sized balls and place them on a piece of cloth to dry for about 1 hour.


Heat the oil for deep-frying in a kadhai* or deep, heavy-based pan to 180˚C/350˚F, or until a cube of bread browns in 30 seconds. Working in batches, deep-fry the balls for about 2 minutes, or until they are a medium brown color. Remove with a slotted spoon and drain on kitchen paper (paper towels). These balls can be kept in an airtight container for a month.


*kadhai is a wok-like cast-iron vessel, used for deep-frying breads, snacks and sweets.