Looking for a simpler alternative to biryani? Then this bagara rice recipe is for you!
Bagara rice is a traditional Indian rice dish which is full of flavour and is just as delicious as biryani.
The rice originates from Hyderabadi cuisine. Often, bagara rice is served at special occasions such as weddings. It is an aromatic rice that is mildly spicy.
The word Bagara derives from the word “bagaar’ which translates to ‘temper.’ Bagara rice is also known as Bagara Annam, Bagara Chawal, or Plain Biryani.
Hyderabadi bagara rice is like biriyani but with less spice, no meat, vegetables, or masalas. I guess that’s why it is known as Plain Biryani, hey?
Despite it being simpler to make than biryani, it tastes just as good. This makes it perfect if you want a delicious rice dish when you are short on time or don’t want to have any meat.
This recipe makes the rice on the stovetop, which is just as easy as using a pressure cooker or instant pot like some other recipes do.
❤️ Why You'll Love This Recipe
This recipe adds so much flavor to ordinary basmati rice. Bagara rice is perfect on is own. That way you can enjoy each and every little flavor it has to offer.
This recipe is also quick to make. The rice takes about 15 minutes to prepare, 25 minutes to cook, and 10 minutes to rest. All in all, this recipe can be made in under 1 hour.
Please note that below is a guide for some of the ingredients we used in the recipe. The printable recipe further down the page has the complete list of ingredients, including quantities and step-by-step instructions.
- Butter / ghee: If you want to make this recipe vegan, simply use vegetable oil.
- Onion: Finely chop your onion or thinly sliced.
- Minced ginger
- Minced garlic
- Bay leaf
- Cumin seeds
- Star anise
- Cardamom pods
- Black cardamom
- Chilli: Deseed your chili and finely chop before cooking. You can use green chilies or red chilies.
- Fresh Mint: Finely chop your mint.
- Fresh Coriander (cilantro): Finely chopped.
- Basmati rice: Rinse and then soak your basmati rice in room temperature water until completely submerged for 20 minutes. Once it has been soaked, drain the water completely.
Step 1 - Soak your basmati rice in room temperature water for about 20 minutes. Do not use hot water as this will cook your rice. You want to soak the rice in room temperature water to soften it.
Once the rice has soaked, drain all the water completely. Then rinse your rice until the water runs clear. Drain completely. You can set this aside until you are ready to use it. It is important to soak the rice before you cook it to ensure your final rice dish does not end up gritty or undercooked.
When I first tested this recipe, I forgot to soak the rice and cooked it the way I would normally cook basmati rice (plus with all the other ingredients in the pot too). I ended up with gritty rice that no matter how long I kept it cooking it, rice was still slightly gritty.
Step 2 - While your rice is soaking, heat the butter over medium heat in a saucepan. Add the chopped onion, minced garlic, and minced ginger. Cook this until the onion begins to slightly brown.
Step 3 - Add the bay leaves, cumin seeds, star anise, cardamom pods, black cardamom, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, and chilli. Fry this mixture for 1 to 2 minutes.
Step 4 - Add the fresh mint and fresh coriander (cilantro) to the saucepan and cook for a further 1 to 2 minutes.
Step 5 - Place the soaked and drained rice in the saucepan and gently mix through the spices. Fry for 2 to 3 minutes.
Step 6 - Add the water and salt and mix well. When you add the water to the pan, add it gently close to the side of the pan (you don’t want the water to splash back at you!)
Bring the water to the boil, and then taste the liquid for flavour. If you find it lacking in salt, add a pinch more and mix it through.
Step 7 - When the liquid has reached a boil, place on low heat and gently stir. Allow the rice to simmer for 25 minutes with a lid on.
Step 8 - Remove the rice from heat and allow rice to rest with lid on for 10 minutes.
Step 9 - Remove the whole spices: cinnamon, cloves, cardamom pods, black cardamom, bay leaves, and star anise.
Step 10 - Fluff the rice and serve.
⭐ Tips for Success
- Rinse the rice in water multiple times until the water becomes clearer. Then soak the rice in water for at least 20 minutes. This will help make the rice fluffier once cooked.
- Long grain rice, such as basmati rice, is best for this rice. Avoid using short grain rice as they will make the rice stickier and not provide the desired result.
- Initially, cook the onions until they are a light brown color. Do not cook them until a dark golden brown. This is because they will go bitter if you overcook them.
- After adding the water and salt to the rice, bring to the boil and taste the water. If the taste of the liquid is not to your desire, add a bit more salt until you are happy with it.
- Rest the rice with a lid on after it has cooked for 25 minutes on the stove. This allows the flavors to continue absorbing into the rice.
📖 Substitutions / Variations
For a vegan friendly alternative, substitute butter for vegetable oil.
🍽 Serving Suggestions
If you don’t feel like having just plain rice, you can make this rice for a meal on its own. You can garnish it with fresh coriander (cilantro) leaves or fresh mint leaves for extra flavor.
Bagara rice is also so versatile that it can be served with most curries or Indian gravy dishes. You can have it serve it with dahl or meat curries such as chicken curry.
If you have leftover rice, store it in an airtight container in the fridge for up to 2 to 3 days. Bagara rice is best served on the day it is made.
Bagara rice can be reheated in the microwave. Be sure to lightly sprinkle water over the rice before reheating in the microwave. If you do not do this, the rice may turn out dry after reheating.
You can also reheat it on the stovetop. Again, if you think the rice has become a bit dry, simply sprinkle some water over it and then reheat the rice.
Bagara rice uses a combination of herbs and spices to enhance the flavor of basmati rice alone. It is an Indian dish originating from Hyderabadi cuisine.
Of course you can! Simply saute the spices, onion, and herbs in butter or ghee. Then add the cooked rice to the pan and mix it well.
Made this recipe? Let us know how it went in the comments below! We'd love to hear how it turned out.
📋 Recipe Card
- 2 tablespoons butter / ghee
- 1 onion diced
- 1 teaspoon minced ginger
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 2 bay leaf
- ½ teaspoon cumin seeds
- 1 star anise
- 3 cardamom pods
- 1 black cardamom
- 1 nutmeg
- 4 cloves
- 2.5cm (1 inch) cinnamon
- 1 large chilli deseeded and finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons mint finely chopped
- 2 tablespoons fresh coriander (cilantro) finely chopped
- 1 cup basmati rice rinsed and soaked for 20 minutes, then drained
- 1 ½ cups water
- 1 teaspoon salt or to taste
- In a small bowl, soak the basmati rice for 20 minutes. Once soaked, drain the water.
- In a saucepan over medium heat add the butter. Add the onion, garlic, and ginger. Cook until the onion become slightly brown.
- Add the bay leaves, cumin seeds, star anise, cardamom pods, black cardamom, nutmeg, clove, cinnamon, and chilli. Fry for 1 to 2 minutes.
- Add the mint and coriander. Cook for another 1 to 2 minutes.
- Place the rice in the saucepan and gently mix through the spices. Fry for 2 minutes.
- Add the water and salt and mix well. Bring to the boil. Taste the liquid for flavour. If you find it lacking in salt, add a pinch more and mix it through.
- When the liquid has reached a boil, place on low heat and gently stir. Allow the rice to simmer for 25 minutes with a lid on.
- Remove the rice from heat and allow rice to rest with lid on for 10 minutes.
- Remove the cinnamon, cloves, cardamom pods, black cardamom, bay leaves, and star anise.
- Fluff the rice and serve.