Turmeric-tinged rice with fried onion


Preparation info

  • Difficulty


  • Serves


Appears in

The Complete Indian Regional Cookbook: 300 Classic Recipes from the Great Regions of India

The Complete Indian Regional Cookbook

By Mridula Baljekar

Published 2017

  • About

Originating in the state of Karnataka, Birinji is a fairly uncomplicated rice dish comprising fragrant spiced rice and sweet caramelized onions. Southern Indians thrive on rice, unlike the people in the north, where the staple is bread. This rice recipe is ideal with any vegetable curry or lentil dish.


  • 225 g/8 oz/generous 1 cup basmati rice
  • 45 ml/3 tbsp sunflower oil or light olive oil
  • 4 green cardamom pods, bruised
  • 4 cloves
  • 2.5 cm/1 in piece of cinnamon stick
  • 5 ml/1 tsp ground turmeric
  • 5 ml/1 tsp salt, or to taste
  • 1 large onion, finely sliced
  • 2.5 cm/1 in piece of fresh root ginger, finely grated
  • 2 cloves garlic, crushed
  • 2–3 fresh green chillies, sliced at an angle


  1. Wash the rice in a sieve (strainer) in several changes of water, until the water runs clear, then soak in a bowl of water for 20–30 minutes. Drain and set aside.

  2. Heat 15 ml/1 tbsp of the oil over a low heat in a heavy pan. Add the cardamom, cloves and cinnamon and let them sizzle for 15–20 seconds.

  3. Stir in the turmeric and immediately follow with the drained rice. Stir-fry the rice for 2–3 minutes, then pour in 450 ml/¾ pint/ scant 2 cups lukewarm water.

  4. Add the salt and bring the water to the boil. Reduce the heat to very low, cover the pan with a lid and cook very gently for 8–9 minutes.

  5. Meanwhile, heat the remaining oil in a separate pan over a medium heat. Add the onion, ginger, garlic and chillies. Fry for 9–10 minutes, until the onion is caramel-brown, stirring regularly.

  6. When the rice is cooked, switch off the heat and allow it to stand undisturbed for 10 minutes. Stir in the fried onion and serve.

Per portion Energy 307kcal/1290kJ; Protein 4g; Carbohydrate 49g, of which sugars 0g; Fat 12g, of which saturates 1g; Cholesterol 0mg; Calcium 15mg; Fibre 1.2g; Sodium 497mg.