Rice ‘Ganji’ or ‘kanji’ or ‘nombu ganji’ (in tamil) is basically a wholesome porridge which is usually consumed for Ifthaar (at the time of breaking the fast) during Ramadan in Chennai and in the southern states of Tamilnadu and Kerala. It is served to fasting muslims at most of the mosques there and is also prepared in almost every muslim house in Ramadan. It is a satisfying and fulfilling meal and is enjoyed with all kinds of snacks such as different kinds of vadas (lentil fritters), samosas, pakoras (fritters) etc. Sometimes to make it rich and nutritious, some ground lamb or beef is added to the ganji and it is called Aash. As a variation, small fried meat balls are also added.
Above is the picture of the rice ganji with grated coconut, chopped cilantro and mint and below is the picture without the coconut which is also flavourful but has a lighter taste. Most important of all is the tadka or tempering which (done right at the end with ghee) takes it to the next level by making it rich and aromatic. Grated coconut, a few fresh mint leaves and chopped cilantro added just before tempering enhances its flavour and taste.
Here’s the recipe:
1 cup rice
1/4 cup moong dal (yellow lentils)
1 small onion sliced
2 small green chillies –
1/2 tsp Black pepper corns + 5-6 for tempering
5-6 Fresh mint leaves
1 tbs cilantro chopped
2 tbs ghee for tempering
1/2 tsp ginger garlic paste
1 tbs fresh grated coconut
1 tbs ground beef/lamb (optional)
1. Dry roast the moong dal till lightly golden.
2. Wash the rice and the roasted moong dal till the water runs clear.
3. Place the rice, the roasted moong dal, salt, pepper corns, green chillies, a few sprigs of cilantro and 2 cups of water in an instant pot/pressure cooker.
4. Place the lid on the instant pot after switching it on, turn the whistle to the sealing position, press the steam button and set the time for 5 mins. if you are using a pressure cooker, close the lid, place it on the stove on high heat and after the first whistle turn down the heat to medium and pressure cook for 5 mins. If you have time, you could either slow cook in the instant pot or just cook in the normal way by adding enough water and cooking on medium heat till the rice and dal are mushy. But care should be taken to stir the rice mixture from the bottom so that it does not stick to the pot.
5. Uncover the lid after all the steam is out. The Instant pot would beep after 5 mins. You could either manually release pressure by slowly venting it out or leave it to NPR (natural pressure release). Add 1/2 cup water to get a flowing consistency. It should neither be too thick nor too runny. Select the sauté less function in the instant pot and let it simmer without the lid. Let it simmer in the pressure cooker as well with out the lid.
6. Now add the fresh grated coconut, mint and cilantro and let it simmer for 2 mins. Please note that the coconut has to be really fresh otherwise all your effort will be lost. Do not use the coconut if you get a stale or rancid smell.
7. For the tempering, take a sauce pan, set it on medium heat. Melt the ghee then add 2 cloves, sliced onions and fry till golden brown. Then quickly add the ginger garlic paste, give it a stir and as soon as you get a whiff of the aroma pour it on top of the prepared ganji.
8. Gently mix the tadka in the ganji and enjoy with snacks and fritters of your choice. This is usually served with Vadai (lentil fritters) or Samosas.
1. If using the pressure cooker to make ganji, care should be taken not to burn it as there is a tendency for the rice to stick to the bottom if there’s not enough water added. So cook add enough water, cook on medium heat and stir from time to time when it is left to simmer without the lid. Make sure to see that the water is at least 3 inches above the rice level.
2. Do not burn the onions or the ginger garlic paste burn during the tempering process as all the flavours will be lost.
3. Those who want a meaty flavour can add 1 tbs of sautéed ground beef/lamb to the pot initially along with the rice, dal and other ingredients and follow the same method for the rest of the cooking.
4. Alternatively you may roast the ground meat in a just a little oil or butter, add ginger garlic paste, and then add the rest of the ingredients and pressure cook. Follow the rest from step 5. Do not add ginger garlic paste again when you do the tempering coz you have already added with the meat. Just brown the onions with the cloves and add to the ganji.
5. You could also add small fried meat balls and simmer for a while just before tempering.