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This one-pot, restaurant-style, easy ghee rice (ney choru) recipe is a keeper. Learn how to dish up this aromatic south Indian dish in under 30 minutes using an Instant Pot or over the stovetop.
While this lightly spiced-up side dish is typically made for special occasions (entertaining, weddings, etc.), it is easy enough to make every night of the week. This simple ghee rice recipe pairs really well with kormas, dals, and curries.
If you haven’t had ghee rice before, here’s how I would describe it – Basmati rice cooked in ghee and served with tempered aromatic spices, cashews and raisins, and caramelized onions. While it has similarities to cumin or jeera rice, ghee rice has a mildly sweet taste due to the addition of dry fruits and a hint of sugar.
Growing up, ghee rice was reserved for when guests were over. It was served as a side dish to Kori gassi, masala egg, fish fry, and other Mangalorean dishes that mom would make. It is typically served in restaurants with kormas (both chicken and vegetarian), chicken curry, and egg curry.
Since I come from the Tulunad region in Karnataka, we call it ‘Neyita nuppu‘, where ‘Neyi’ stands for ghee and ‘nuppu’ means rice. This dish is also popular in Kerala and Tamilnadu and is popular as Malabar neyi choru (choru = rice).
Alternate names include Kerala ghee rice, Nei choru, Ghee fried rice, nei sadam, and ghee bhat.
Reasons to love this recipe
- This restaurant-style recipe uses just one dish – easily made in a pressure cooker (stovetop or electric) or a wok.
- Kid-friendly – appeals to kids because it is mildly spiced and has a hint of sweetness.
- A perfect accompaniment to Indian curries – This rice dish’s savory and sweet flavor balances the heat in any spicy curry.
- It cooks in under 30 minutes – perfect for entertaining as well as for a weeknight meal.
- Great way to repurpose leftover rice – mix leftover rice with a tempering of nuts and fried onions.
Here’s what you need to make the recipe
You’ll need the following tools to make the recipe
- Instant Pot
- Basmati rice – This aromatic rice is perfect for this recipe. You can pick any Indian or Pakistani Basmati rice variety. Royal or Tilda Basmati brands are the ones I recommend.
- Store-bought or homemade desi ghee – This popular ingredient in Indian cuisine adds the most delicious flavor and buttery texture to this ghee rice recipe.
- Cashew nuts – These add a crunchiness to the dish. I recommend using unroasted and unsalted. These will be sauteed in ghee until they are golden brown.
- Raisins – For a touch of sweetness, raisins are an essential ingredient in Neychoru.
- Sliced onions – You will need one medium onion, thinly sliced.
- Whole spices – Including green chilies, a cinnamon stick, cloves, green cardamoms, star anise, fennel seeds, and Indian bay leaf.
- Sugar – An optional ingredient, but a small amount adds a nice sweetness.
- Cups of water – As needed, depending on the cooking method (see the recipe card for details).
- Coriander leaves (cilantro) – For garnishing, along with raisins, cashews, and fried onions.
- Wash / Soak the rice – Rinse the rice in a few changes of cold water to remove dirt and extra starch (which makes it easier to digest). If time permits, soak the rice. Soaking elongates the grains and makes them less brittle.
- Let the rice rest – Once cooked, let the rice rest – this allows the steam to redistribute, and all the layers of the rice are evenly cooked.
- Avoid a clumpy mess – If not serving immediately, remove the inner pot from the Instant Pot to prevent the rice from drying out and sticking to the bottom.
Serve it with
This perfect ghee rice recipe pairs well with any curry of your choice. Here are a few of my favorites:
- Kori gassi (Mangalorean chicken curry) – This fiery red chicken curry combines the mild sweetness of coconut with a medley of spices to create a complexly flavored curry that is a treat to your senses.
- Meen kaidina (fish fry) – This tasty and crispy dish is ready in less than 30 minutes.
- Prawn gassi (shrimp/prawn curry) – This dish’s spicy and tangy flavors will draw you in.
- Masala egg roast – This quick, simple, and healthy dish is easy to make and is a huge hit with kids
Ghee rice (Neyi choru / Neyita Nuppu)
Wash and soak the rice:
- Add rice to a colander. Wash the rice by gently rubbing them with your fingers to dislodge any dirt and starch.
- Transfer the rice to a medium saucepan and soak it in 3 cups water for 30 minutes.
Instant Pot cooking:
- Drain the rice and set aside.
- Select Sauté and set the time to 30 minutes. Set the temperature to medium. When the display reads "Hot", add 2 tablespoons of ghee.
- Once the ghee is hot, add the onions and fry them till the edges start browning. Add cashews and raisins to the fried onions.
- Fry till the cashews turn golden brown and the raisins start to plump up.
- Use a slotted spoon and transfer the onions along with raisins and cashews to a plate.
- Add 2 tablespoons of ghee to the inner pot. When it heats up, add green chilies and the whole spices – cinnamon stick, bay leaves, cloves, green cardamom, and star anise seed.
- Fry the spices for about 10-15 seconds, and then add rice. Saute the rice for about 1-2 minutes before adding salt, sugar, fennel seeds (if using)
- Add 1.25 cups of water and mix well.
- Press the “Warm / Cancel” button and then select “Pressure Cook.” or "Manual" depending on your model.
- Adjust the time to 3 minutes and set the pressure selection at low. Cover the Instant Pot lid and lock it. Make sure the vent is at sealing position.
- Once the cooking cycle completes, the Instant Pot will switch to the Warm cycle. Wait for 10 minutes and then carefully release pressure. Open the lid and let the steam escape.
Resting the rice
- Cover the Instant Pot and let the rice rest undisturbed for 5 minutes. Fluff the rice gently with a fork.
- Sprinkle chopped cilantro and top with cashews, fried onions and raisins.
- Serve hot with veg korma or a curry of your choice.
Drain the rice and set it aside.
Place a wok/kadhai over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of ghee.
Once the ghee is hot, add cashews and fry them till they are golden brown. Add raisins and fry them till they plump up.
Use a slotted spoon and transfer the raisins and cashews to a plate.
Add two more tablespoons of oil to the wok/kadhai. Once the ghee heats up, add the onions and fry till it turns golden brown. Use a slotted spoon and transfer the fried onions to the same plate.
Add green chilies and the whole spices – cinnamon stick, bay leaves, cloves, green cardamom, and star anise seed.
Fry the spices for about 10-15 seconds, then add rice.
Saute the rice for about 1-2 minutes before adding salt, sugar, and 2 cups water.
In approximately 6-8 minutes, the water will start to boil and evaporate from the surface. When craters appear, cover the saucepan with a tight-fitting lid and turn down the heat to the lowest setting and cook for another 5 minutes and turn off the heat.
Open the lid and let the steam escape.
Resting the rice: Cover the saucepan and let the rice rest undisturbed for 5 minutes – this allows the steam coming out of the rice to redistribute and allows all the layers of the rice to cook evenly.
Wait for 5 minutes, and then fluff the rice gently with a fork.
Sprinkle chopped coriander leaves and top with cashews, fried onions, and raisins. Serve immediately.
Disclaimer: Approximate nutritional information is provided as a courtesy and can vary depending on the exact ingredients/brands used. If you have health issues, please work with a registered dietician or nutritionist.
While neyichoru or neyitha nuppu is a popular South Indian dish, I am sure there are regional variations to this dish across India. Here are a few different ways you can create your own twist to this easy ghee rice recipe.
- Coconut ghee rice – to make South Indian coconut rice, reduce the water by 1/2 cup and replace it with 1/2 cup of coconut milk.
- Jeera ghee rice – Add cumin seeds to the tempering along with the spices. Once the cumin seeds start to sizzle, add rice and continue cooking.
- Types of rice – Instead of Basmati rice, you can use jeerakasala rice / kaima rice or jeera / seeraga samba rice – no soaking required.
- Spices – You can add additional spices to the tempering, such as a strand of javitri (mace) for a teaspoon of black peppercorns to make it more peppery and spicy.
- Lime juice – Finish off the rice with a tablespoon of lime juice for a nice tangy twist.
- Ginger garlic paste – Add it with the onions and saute till the raw taste disappears.
- Veggie ghee rice – add grated carrots and green peas to this rice.
How to prep ahead
You can cook Basmati rice up to 3 days ahead of time. Make sure to cool it completely before storing it in an airtight container. When ready to serve, add the tempered nuts and fried onions.
To save time, you could use store-bought fried onions in place of homemade fried onions.
Reheating leftover rice – Add a tablespoon of water for every cup of leftover rice. Mix well and pressure cook for zero minutes. When the cooking cycle is complete, move the valve to ‘venting’ to release pressure immediately.
You can also use a microwave to reheat the rice.