Although kuska recipe can be made with any long-grained rice, the flavour profile of the dish is elevated when it is prepared with the popular long-grained, fragrant basmati rice, preferably organic.
The Beginners’ Guide to Kuska Rice
The Kuska recipe is primarily prepared in the states of Andhra Pradesh and Telangana. The Nizam background in these states makes biryani a staple dish during any festival. And since kuska rice is a vegetarian version of the authentic biryani, it is usually paired with a variety of vegetable-based stews and curries.
This basic kuska recipe is exceptionally appealing to people who prefer vegetarian options over non-vegetarian ones.
A kuska recipe is easy to whip up and can be included in the daily lunch menu when you need a variety for plain rice.
Generally, you will not find a kuska rice preparation in big restaurants and starred hotels. The basic biryani without meat and vegetables finds a home in small eateries and dhabas which cater to a moving crowd.
Simple Recipe for Kuska Rice
Kuska rice recipe is extremely simple and has no added vegetables or meat in its preparation. However, almost all versions of the recipe use a base of onion and tomatoes along with the required spices to give the rice a distinct flavour.
Although the spices and rice can be cooked in oil, using ghee gives the entire dish an added richness.
Spices for the Kuska Rice:
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1-inch piece of cinnamon stick
2-3 cardamom pods
2 strands of mace
1 bay leaf
1 cup of basmati rice
2 tablespoons of ghee/oil
1 thinly sliced medium-sized onions
1 finely chopped large tomato
1/2 tablespoon of ginger-garlic paste
2 green chillies
1/4 cup of fresh yoghurt
1 tablespoon of chopped mint
2 tablespoon of chopped coriander leaves
Salt as per taste
2 cups of water or as required to cook the rice.
Method of Preparing Kuska Rice
Wash the organic basmati rice till the water runs clear. Soak in water for 15-20 mins. Drain it and keep aside.
In a pan, heat the ghee. Add the whole spices and give it a mix. Be careful not to burn the spices. Cook on a medium flame.
Once the spices have turned aromatic, add the sliced onions and cook till they turn translucent and lose all colour.
Add the ginger-garlic paste and mix well with the onions and spices. Keep stirring the mixture till the pungent aroma of the ginger garlic paste is cooked off.
Add the chopped tomatoes and cook till the tomatoes have softened. At this time, it should be easy to mash the tomatoes with the flat side of the ladle without too much effort.
Add the yoghurt and mix well with the tomatoes and onions. Make sure that the yoghurt you use is fresh and not sour. If it’s sour, the flavour of the entire dish can change.
Add the green chillies and chopped mint and coriander leaves. Mix all the ingredients.
Add the required quantity of water. If you want to add more flavour to the rice, you can substitute the water for an equal volume of vegetable stock.
Bring the water to a boil. Covering the pan will boil the liquid faster.
Once the water is at the rolling boil stage, add the rice and mix well. Add salt as per taste. Taste the water and add more salt if needed.
Close the pan with the lid. Since it is a basic version of biryani, ensure that there is no gap between the edges of the pan and the lid. You can use a soft cloth or some aluminium foil along the seam of the pan and ensure no steam escapes.
The rice should be cooked in about 15-20 minutes. Close off the flame and allow the rice to rest. Once the steam has settled, with the help of a fork fluff up the rice. Don’t use a spoon, as it might cause the rice to smash and lose its distinct long shape.
Before serving, you can garnish the rice with a few sprigs of mint and coriander.
Additional Tips for Preparing the Kuska Rice Recipe
The ingredients mentioned in the recipe are generally always available in your pantry.
While preparing the rice, you can omit the use of tomatoes.
Instead of yoghurt, you can use cream, or for a more exotic taste, you can use coconut milk.
You can use Kashmiri red chilly powder instead of green chillies if there is a low spice tolerance.
Instead of a pan, the biryani can be cooked directly in a pressure cooker. Since pre-soaked basmati rice cooks quicker than other rice, you only need to pressure cook the rice for 2 whistles. Allow pressure to settle before you open the cooker.
You can also add a teaspoon of turmeric powder to give a light-yellow hue to your prepared kuska rice.
In addition to the whole spices added in the recipe, you can also sprinkle a teaspoon of store brought or home-made biryani masala. Add the masala along with the green chillies / red chilli powder.
If you don’t have basmati rice you can substitute it with any other rice you have available.