August 15, 2010

Celebrating Freedom: Tricoloured Spiced Rice (Tirange Chawal)

Sixty three years ago Jawaharlal Nehru said, “Long years ago we made a tryst with destiny, and now the time comes when we shall redeem our pledge, not wholly or in full measure, but very substantially. At the stroke of the midnight hour, when the world sleeps, India will awake to life and freedom”.
Happy Independence Day to all of you who are celebrating it, like me.

So, today we celebrate our 64th Independence Day. I was born after Independence and never experienced the struggle, but know of it from those who saw it or felt it in some measure. While it takes a lack of freedom to truly appreciate it, it only needs one to realise how much of our world is still not free to be thankful for what we do have.

Like I did last year, I thought I would add to the Independence Day celebrations with colours of the Indian flag and freedom. I decided to go savoury this time. Since we usually have rice for lunch, this meant rice in the hues of saffron, white and green.

This particular rice preparation is inspired by one of my good friends. Her husband and mine were friends long before I got married, so this is a friendship of very long standing. One of the dinners we had at their place (this particular one was 14 years back!) was on Independence Day and my friend had made a rice dish in the colours of the Indian flag. She had served the rice as a single dish from which we all helped ourselves.

I made today’s lunch as single serves as I thought it would be nice for each one of us to get their own little neatly coloured and layered mound of rice. This means a little more work, but as this dish doesn’t really need much effort to cook up, that was alright with me.
Feel free to choose how you would like to present and serve this rice. It really does not matter as it tastes good whichever way.

One of the few things I do not make at home is sambhar powder. For a long time, after I got married, my mother used to send me this in bulk. Later I got her recipe for it, but no matter how strictly I followed the recipe, I could never get the same taste so I gave up trying.

I usually make sambhar making the spice paste from scratch. On the rare occasions I do need to use sambhar powder, I use a store bought brand which is a lot like the one my mothe rused to make.
There are a lot of store bought sambhar powders which contain a lot of ingredients that a sambhar would traditionally not use, so beware.
If you should want to make your own sambhar powder, here is a recipe which is a bit like what we usually make in our homes.

Tricoloured Spiced Rice (Tirange Chawal)


For the saffron/ orange coloured rice:

1 cup basmati rice (and 1/2 tsp oil to fry the rice)

salt to taste

1 1/2 tsp oil

3 big carrots, steam cooked

2 tomatoes, chopped

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

2 tsp sambhar powder

For the white coloured rice:

1 cup basmati rice (and 1/2 tsp oil to fry the rice)

salt to taste

1 cup thick coconut milk

1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds, lightly roasted/ toasted

For the green coloured rice:

1 cup basmati rice (and 1/2 tsp oil to fry the rice)

salt to taste

2 onions, chopped

1 tsp garlic paste

1 tsp ginger paste

2 tbsp freshly scraped coconut

8 to 10 mint leaves

about 1/2 cup chopped coriander leaves

1 or 2 green chillies

1 1/2 tsp white poppy seeds (khus khus)

1 1/2 tsp oil

1 tsp garam masala


I cooked my rice in a pressure cooker, one cup of rice in each container, in three separate containers at the same time. You may cook the rice according to your method of preference.
It is better to keep the 3 cups of rice separate while cooking, as it will ensure equal quantities of the different coloured rice varieties.

In a pan, put the 1/2 tsp oil and stir-fry 1 cup of rice on medium heat for about a minute just till the rice starts turning whiter. Take it off the heat and put it into the container in which it is to be cooked.
Repeat this with the other two cups of rice.
Now it is time to cook the rice. You would have three containers with 1 cup stir-fried rice in each.
To the first container, add 2 cups of water and about 1 tsp of salt, or to your taste and stir well. Do the same to the next container of rice.
To the third container, add the salt, cumin seeds, 1 cup of water and the coconut milk and mix well. This will be the white coloured rice. Of course, the cumin seeds will give the rice a slightly off-white tinge.
Place the 3 containers in the pressure cooker and cook till just done. The grains should be whole and separate.

When it is done, take the rice out and spread the each container of rice on a separate plate. Use a fork to fluff up the rice a bit, to ensure that the grains separate without breaking. Allow the rice to cool a bit. If the rice cools completely, it will be difficult to layer, mould it and have it keep its shape.

While the rice is cooking make the spice pastes to colour and flavour the rice.
The white coloured coconut milk rice is done and needs no further cooking.

To make the saffron/ orange coloured rice, start by puréeing the cooked carrot and tomatoes till smooth. Heat the 1 1/2 tsp oil in a pan and add the turmeric powder and the sambhar powder and stir a couple of times. Add the carrot-tomato purée and cook for a couple of minutes till done.
Pour this cooked paste on one plate of still warm rice and using the fork, mix till the rice is uniformly orange in colour. Take care to see the rice doesn’t get broken and mushy.

To make the green coloured rice, Put the chopped onions, garlic paste, ginger paste, coconut, mint leaves, chopped coriander leaves, green chillies and the poppy seeds in a blender and purée till smooth.
Heat the oil in a pan, add the garam masala and stir a couple of times and then add the green paste. Cook over medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes till the raw smell disappears.
Pour this cooked paste on one plate of still warm rice and using the fork, mix till the rice is uniformly orange in colour. Take care to see the rice doesn’t get broken and mushy.

You can now layer the three different coloured rices together. If you are layering it in a large dish, grease the dish first. Then remember to put the orange rice at the bottom, then the white rice and lastly the green rice.

Press each layer down well before adding the next. Cover the dish with your serving plate, and slowly invert the dish onto it. Tap the dish gently and the rice should turn out onto the plate, orange layer on top.

If you are making single serves, grease your ring mould and then place on the serving plate. Starting with the green coloured rice, firmly pack equal amounts of the three different coloured rice one after the other into the ring mould.
Using the back of a spoon, slowly press down the rice while lifting the ring mould off the plate. Repeat for as many servings as required.

This recipe should serve 8 to 10 depending on serving size. Serve the rice with plain yogurt or raita or a mango salsa, Indian style pickles, and pappads or potato crisps.


Sanjeeta kk said...

That is too cute presentation Aparna. Apt for the Day!

Torviewtoronto said...

Happy independence day
Lovely detailed colorful rice

aipi said...

Happy Independence day to you Aparna..
the rice looks delightful,perfect for the occasion !

BangaloreBaker said...

Happy Independence day. I loved those pictures.

tigerfish said...

Wow, a lot of patience has gone to this tri-color tower of rice being built! I would very much like to eat and enjoy but I don't think I have the patience to create this marvel.

Lisa said...

Oh my goodness, that is one beauty of a rice 'torte' and the photos are exquisite! I think I'd start with the green layer first, then make my way up :)

Hari Chandana said...

Wowwwwwwwwwwwwww... wonderful presentation :)

Nithya said...

Truly fantastic. I just love the way you have served in small portions on a leaf. Its too too good :)

Happy Independence day. :) I have done my portion of celebration in my blog too :)

Prerna@IndianSimmer said...

Wish you a happy independence day Aparna!
What a nice idea of making tricolor rice. Like it!

Foodie Ann said...

wow ...Really beautiful....:)

Vaishali Sharma said...

Happy Independence Day Aparna! Tri-color rice looks gorgeous!

I too celebrated by making Tri-color & tri-flavor Cheesecake. Check on my website


Priya (Yallapantula) Mitharwal said...

Very beautiful, what a wonderful presentation !!!

Carolyn Jung said...

This would jazz up any dish. Love the colors of the rice. How inventive to make us look twice at a staple we just reach for mindlessly in our pantry most of the time.

Indie.Tea said...

Oo, that is so pretty and so appropriate for Indian Independence day!

Asha @ FSK said...

Happy Independence Day Aparna!!! :))) a lovely creation indeed for the day :)

Shobana said...


Prathibha said...

Thats truely meant for Independance day celebration.....Looks superb..

lata raja said...

Loved the idea of making the final rice combination individual servings. I have tried this like the way you mentioned your friend served that and as you start serving the rice becomes a medley of colours which is also nice..but this is nicer.

notyet100 said...


baobabs said...

This is such a great idea!!!! and a stunningly visual one as well! it reminds me of the malay cakes I ate as a kid, the kueh salat of glutinous rice and coconut milk

Jamie said...

Happy Independance Day! This is just beautiful and sounds delicious! This does make it a special occasion.

Joudie's Mood Food said...

This lookd incredibly delicious. What great flavours and colours. Lovely idea!!!!

Avanika [YumsiliciousBakes] said...

Happy Independence Day, A!! This looks fantastic. Love that you didn't simply use colors like me :P

Akila said...

Lovely recipe.... looks delicious...

Sweet Artichoke said...

A lovely presentation for the Independance day celebration! I would love to have spoon and dip in the yummy rices, right now. It looks delicious :-)

Latha said...

Looks gorgrous

lisaiscooking said...

Your layered rice is so pretty! And, the flavors sound delicious. Just a lovely dish.

Mallugirl said...

gorgeous presentation for our humble rice!

Miri said...

Happy Independence Day!!! _ such a lovely presentation - am sure your daughter would have liked it! :)

jayasree said...

Gorgeous presentation... You have loads of patience to do this.

Tasty Eats At Home said...

So pretty! Happy Independence Day.

Srivalli said...

Wow that is truly awesome aparna..great presentation!

Vaishali said...

What a lovely idea to make a rice dish in the colors of the Indian flag for Independence Day. And with all those amazing flavors packed into the different colored rices, this must have been one delicious feast.
A belated Happy Independence Day, Aparna!

Sunshinemom said...

Aparna, completely smitten by those cute mini moulds! Belated Independence Day wishes:)

Raaga said...

:) We had curd rice with coriander and chillies and grated carrot... our tricolour :)

Bergamot said...

The tiranga rice looks delicious

Maryam Hasanahmad said...

Hi Aparna- this is a beautiful presentation and I have tried it at home too :-)
came out delicious!
I have also included this image (with a link back to your blogpost) on my round-up of yummy tricolor eats
its here at this link: