May 3, 2009 1

“Minal and rice”

I’ve been lucky to have parents who are amazing cooks. My dad is a full-on foodie, someone who is very curious and experimental and always excited to add his own flair to others’ recipes. My mom is, without a doubt, the very best cook of Indian food. She is like a superhero in the kitchen: quick and able to multitask effortlessly. And they both taught me well.

The following dish involves my favorite simple food: rice. Before you begin, visit your global/ethnic market to pick up key Indian spices and ingredients. Bon appétit!

Vaghar Bhat

I know, it’s a doozy of a name, but let me break it down: vaghar stands for the sautéeing of onions, ginger, garlic and Indian spices; bhat means rice. So this is essentially sautéed rice, similar to pilaf.

This dish is ideal for leftover rice, specifically basmati rice. You can make it with fresh rice, too, but you’ll have to allot time for the rice to cook and cool, because stirring in hot rice with cooked vegetables will make your dish soggy.

  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Yields: 2+


  • 1 1/2 cups uncooked rice that has been cooked and cooled
  • 1/2 large red onion
  • 3-4 large cloves garlic
  • 1 small jalapeño
  • 1 tsp. cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. brown/black mustard seeds
  • 1/2 tsp. turmeric
  • 1/2 tsp. red chili powder
  • 1/2 cup frozen mixed vegetables
  • 2 tblsp. vegetable oil
  • 1 or 1 1/2 tsp. salt (depending on preference)
  • Optional: 1/2 peeled potato


  1. Dice onion, garlic and jalapeño (and potato if desired).
  2. Heat oil on high, then add cumin seeds, mustard seeds, garlic, jalapeño, onions and veggies. Careful: Oil will splatter!
  3. Stir, then reduce heat to medium.
  4. Add salt, turmeric, chili powder and stir.
  5. Once veggies are nearly cooked, add rice and stir well, distributing sautéed veggies evenly throughout.