Easy Recipes Using Our Favourite Pantry Staple

One ingredient every Indian home has is rice. What can you rustle up that makes this staple in our kitchens more exciting? Try these easy recipes!

Staying in, under a strict lockdown, hasn’t been easy. It does take a toll, taking care of the family, house, work and keeping the little and not – so little ones entertained.

And while it is a rough ride, somewhere we also are learning to enjoy the little things. Learning to relax and spend time with people who matter the most, our family.

Personally, this has also been a time when I could get my kids in the kitchen and help me. To be able to cook, even the simplest of the dishes is a life skill that everyone, irrespective of age and gender must possess. 

Food is certainly what is bringing us all together these days. But it can be tiring figuring out what to cook day in and day out. Especially these days, when the resources are limited for everyone.

There is one universally staple ingredient in everyone’s kitchen – rice. I’ve rounded up easy rice recipes that are a touch heartening, a little cheery and all made from rationed supplies you have at home!


Serve these popular rice dishes for lunch or dinner, by themselves or with a simple dal or curry, these recipes will definitely take some load of your meal planning and give you some time to relax.


Choliya/Green Chickpea Pulao


  • 1 Cup Brown Rice/ White Rice rinsed and soaked for minimum 30 minutes
  • 2 Medium Onions sliced thinly
  • 4 Small Tomatoes diced finely
  • 2 Medium Carrots diced
  • 200g Green Chickpeas/ Choliya rinsed well
  • 1 Stick Cinnamon
  • 2 Pcs Bay Leaves
  • 4-5 Pcs Green Cardamom
  • 4 Pcs Black Cardamom
  • 2 Pcs Dried Red Chilli
  • 4 Pcs Cloves
  • 1.5 Tsp Garam Masala
  • 1 Tsp Coriander Powder
  • 1.5 Tsp Cumin
  • 2 Tbsp Vegetable Oil
  • 2.5 Cups Water
  • 2 Tsp Lemon Juice
  •  Salt to Taste
  •  Coriander, Roasted Cashews, Pomegranate for garnishing (optional)
  •  Cucumber Raita for serving


  • Heat oil in a thick bottomed pan on medium heat. Add cumin. As soon as it starts spluttering, add the whole spices: cinnamon stick, red chilli, bay leaves, cardamoms and cloves. Stir for about 30 seconds before adding the garam masala and coriander. Stir for another 30 secs before adding the onions.
  • Cook the onions until lightly browned, about 5-6 minutes. Add salt and tip in the tomatoes.
  • Cook the tomatoes till softened, approximately 6-8 minutes. Add the carrots and green chickpeas. Cook for a couple of minutes before adding the rice. Stir the rice with the masala to coat the grains.
  • Pour in the water. Cover the pan and let the water come to a boil. Turn the heat down to low and let the rice cook for 40-50 minutes.
  • Once the rice is cooked, gently stir in lemon juice. Garnish with cashews, pomegranates, fresh coriander leaves and serve hot with cool cucumber raita.

Mexican Rice


  • 1 ½ cups Rice, washed, soaked for 15 minutes and drained
  • 2 Tbsp Olive Oil
  • 1.5 small Onions, diced
  • 4-5 Cloves Garlic, minced
  • 1 Tsp Cumin powder
  • 1 Tsp Red Chilli powder I used Degi Mirch powder
  • 1 Tsp Smoked paprika
  • 1 Cup Tomato puree I made my own using 3 large tomatoes
  • 2 Cups Vegetable stock /Chicken stock/ Plain Water
  • Salt to taste
  • 3/4 Cup Corn
  • 1 small Green Bell Pepper, diced
  • 3/4 Cup cooked Red Kidney Beans / Rajma
  • Fresh cilantro/ coriander and lemon wedges for serving


  • Heat oil in a large pan. Add the diced onions and garlic. Sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the drained rice and stir it gently with the onions and garlic for a minute.
  • Stir in the salt, chilli powder, cumin powder and smoked paprika.
  • Now add the stock and tomato puree.
  • Mix in the vegetables and kidney beans.
  • Bring to a boil, then cover and lower the heat. cook for about 25 minutes or until the rice is cooked through.
  • Garnish with fresh cilantro/coriander leaves and lemon wedges. Serve warm with some guacamole and salsa or add it to your burritos

Note: For the stock, both vegetable and chicken stock are great – pick your preference. You can use water to make Mexican rice, but nothing beats stock. It’s the rich flavour of the chicken or vegetable that the rice absorbs as it cooks, which takes the dish from good to great.

Lemon Rice

  • Ingredients
  • 2 Tbsp Sesame or Groundnut Oil (or any vegetable oil if you don’t have these)
  • 3 Tbsp Peanuts
  • 1 ½ Tsp Mustard seeds
  • 1 Tsp Chana dal
  • 1 Tsp Urad dal
  • 12-15 Curry leaves
  • 1 Green Chilli, finely chopped
  • 2 Dry Red Chillies
  • 1 Tsp Turmeric Powder
  • Salt to taste
  • 3 Cups cooked Rice (Sona Masuri/Basmati)
  • Juice of 2 Lemons


  • Soak the chana dal and urad dal in water for 10-15 minutes.
  • Heat oil in a large pan. Add peanuts and roast till golden brown. Take them out and keep aside.
  • To the same oil, add the soaked, drained dals along with mustard seeds.
  • When the dals are golden brown, add the curry leaves, red chillies and green chillies. Cook for a few seconds and add the turmeric powder and salt.
  • Turn the heat off and mix in the rice and roasted peanuts. Mix well. Add the lemon juice.
  • Taste and adjust for seasoning and lemon juice according to your preference.
  • Serve warm immediately with raita, plain yoghurt, chutney or any curry of your choice. Enjoy!

Coconut Rice


  • 2 ½ Cups cooked Rice, cooled
  • 1 Tbsp Ghee/ Oil
  • 2 Tsp Chana Dal
  • 1 ½ Tsp Mustard Seeds
  • 1/4 Tsp Hing/ Asafoetida
  • 2 Dry Red Chillies
  • 1/2 inch fresh Ginger root, finely chopped
  • 1 Green chilli, finely chopped
  • 12-15 Curry Leaves
  • 12-15 Cashews
  • 1/2 cup fresh grated Coconut
  •  Salt to taste


  • Heat ghee or oil in a wide pan. Add the chana dal, mustard seeds and hing / asafoetida.
  • Once the seeds start crackling add the ginger, curry leaves, cashews, and red chillies.
  • Once the cashews are light golden in colour, stir in the coconut and green chillies. Cook for a couple of minutes.
  • Now add in the cooked rice and salt. Stir well and serve warm with raita, plain yoghurt or any curry or dal of your choice. 


  • For an extra crispy topping, saute some grated coconut till its golden and crisp. Sprinkle on top of the rice before serving.
  • I always like to soak my chana dal in warm water for 10-15 minutes 9 longer if possible) before adding it to the tempering. It turns out more crisp.
  • You can serve this rice without any accompaniment, and it remains a complete meal. Serve it as a side to any curry or dal ( lentils). Sambhar or rasam goes well with it as does a dish of spicy masala prawns! My favourite is yoghurt. The key to the simple recipe is fresh coconut. 

Coconut Black Rice Pudding


  • 1/2 Cup Black Rice
  • 3/4 Cup Water
  • 2 Tbsp Jaggery Powder
    • 5-6 Pcs Cardamom Seeds Only, pounded
    • 1/2 Cup Coconut Milk, Full Fat (you may need more)
    • 1/2 Mango Diced
    • 1 Peach Grilled (Optional)
  • Method
    • Soak the rice for 30-60 minutes. Rinse and cook in plenty of water. I use 1:3 ratio for rice and water. Cook until the rice is cooked through but still retains a bite. Keep aside the cooked rice.
    • Combine the jaggery and cardamom with the water in a small saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat and let the mixture simmer for 3-4 minutes.
    • Add this syrup to the rice and simmer for 5-6 minutes on low heat, stirring continuously. At this point, your rice will have the consistency of porridge.
    • Add 3-4 tbsp of coconut milk to thin out the consistency a bit. Add more if you want it thinner. But remember, this will keep thickening as it cools.
    • Taste and adjust for sweetness. Top with mango, grilled peaches or any other fruit of your choice. Sprinkle over your favourite nuts and enjoy warm or cold!
  • Warm Black Rice Broccoli Pumpkin Salad
  • Ingredients
  • Salad
    • 1 ½ Cups cooked Black Rice
    • 3/4 Cup Pumpkin cut into bite-sized pieces
    • 1 small Broccoli cut into bite-sized pieces. Use the stalks/ stems as well
    • 1/3 Cup Pomegranates
    • 1/4 Cup marinated Onions (NOTES for the recipe link)
    • 1 /2 Tbsp Extra virgin Olive Oil
    • 1 Tsp Chili Flakes
    •  Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Orange Ginger Salad Dressing
    •  Freshly squeezed juice of 1 Orange
    •  Freshly squeezed juice of 1/2 Lemon
    • 3 Tbsp Olive Oil
    • 1 ½  Tsp Maple syrup/ Honey
    • 1/2 Tsp finely grated Ginger
    • 1/2 Tsp Chilli Flakes
    • Salt & Pepper to taste
  • Toppings
    • 1 Tbsp Pomegranates
    • 1 Tbsp Cilantro/ Parsley
    • 2 Tbsp Walnuts
  • Method
  • Salad:
    • Preheat the oven to 190° C. Line a baking tray with parchment paper or foil.
    • Toss the broccoli florets, stems and pumpkin in olive oil, chilli flakes, salt & pepper. Spread out on the prepared baking tray and roast for 20 minutes, or until just done.
  • Salad dressing:
    • Combine all the ingredients – orange juice, lemon juice, grated ginger, olive oil, maple syrup, salt & pepper in a small screw-top jar. Close the lid and shake till the dressing is nicely emulsified. Taste and adjust for seasoning.
  • Assembly:
    • In a large bowl, add all the ingredients – roasted vegetables, black rice and pomegranates. gently stir in the required amount of dressing. Taste and adjust for seasoning and dressing.
    • Just before serving, top with the marinated onions, some more pomegranates, walnuts, parsley or cilantro – whatever you’re using. Drizzle over a teaspoon or two of the oil from the marinated onions.
  • Note: Marinated Onions Recipe 
  • Jaggery Rice/Gur Chawal


  • 1 Cup Rice
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 3/4 Cup Jaggery Powder
  • 1.5 Tbsp Ghee
  • 4 Cloves
  • 2 Small Dried Bay Leaves
  • 1 Stick Cinnamon
  • 1 Tsp Fennel Seeds/ Saunf
  • 1 Tsp Cardamom Powder
  •  Almonds, Cashew Nuts, Varq (Silver Leaf) Garnish


  • Make the jaggery syrup – heat the jaggery and cardamom powder in 1/4 cup water. Let it come to a gentle boil. Make sure the jaggery powder is completely dissolved. Keep aside.
  • Wash the rice well and soak it for 30 minutes. Drain the rice.
  • Heat ghee in a thick bottomed pan. Add the cloves, cinnamon stick, bay leaves, and fennel seeds. As soon as they start spluttering, add the drained rice. Add 2 cups of water. Let it come to a boil, then lower the heat and cover the pan.
  • When the rice is 3/4 of the way done, open the lid, pour in the jaggery syrup. Put the lid back on and let the rice cook on low heat.
  • Fluff the rice gently with a fork. Garnish with almonds, cashew nuts, and some varq ( silver leaf).
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