Sometimes, it is the simplest dishes, that stir an entire whirlwind of emotions, comfort and satisfaction within our body. Just like a Jeera Rice or ghee rice with the most basic ingredients and hardly any steps to be followed, still bringing in that ‘wow’ factor in our meals. The Nei Choru or Neychoru from ‘God’s own country’ Kerala is just another variation of the beautiful ghee rice. This delicacy uses a special variety called ‘kaima rice’ or ‘jeerakasala rice.’
About Nei Choru
First things first, the meaning of the name. The Malayalam words ‘nei’ or ‘ney’ refers to ‘ghee’ and ‘choru’ refers to ‘rice.’ Hence, when put together, it is simply a savory dish of rice, ghee, spices and seasoning which is quite aromatic. There may be other flavorings like nuts, dry fruits and fried onions like I have added in my recipe.
As obvious from the name, Nei Choru is a Malabar specialty from the cuisine of the South Indian state Kerala. Also, traditionally, a certain variety of rice, called kaima rice is used to make this dish. This rice is also referred to as jeerakasala rice, jeerasal or seeraga samba rice.
The main difference between the kaima rice and basmati rice is that the former one is a variety of short grain rice, but is equally flavorful and fragrant as its long grain counterpart. Kaima rice has a typical non-sticky texture which is considered quite ideal for making South Indian biryani, like a Malabar or Thalassery biryani.
While you try this recipe of Nei Choru, here’s a flavor loaded vegetable Kerala Biryani, that you must try out as well. It will also be a delicious change from your regular Mughlai and Awadhi biryanis.
More on Neychoru Recipe
This post mentions the way I prepare a Kerala style Nei Choru at my home. The recipe is very easy, no hassles or fanciness attached to it, yet is able to take your simple everyday meal to a different level.
So, rather than having the good ol’ plain steamed rice-dal-sabzi meal, add some more efforts and prepare this yum Neychoru. Since this is also an oomphed up ghee rice, it also goes great with dals or thick gravies.
If you are searching for the classic way of making this rice-based dish, this Ghee Rice with basmati rice is your go-to recipe.
For an authentic experience of the Nei Choru, you must use the kaima rice. But if you are facing difficulties in sourcing this particular type of rice or don’t have it handy at home, your next good option is the popular basmati rice.
Neychoru tastes out-of-the-world delicious with any coconut-based curry like a veg korma, potato stew or any other stew of your choice. Since the flavors are subtle in this Kerala style ghee rice, you can also have it with parippu curry or any other dals.
How to make Nei Choru
1. Rinse 1.5 cups kaima rice (seeraga samba rice) or basmati rice (300 grams) in water a couple of times. Then, soak rice in enough water for 20 to 30 minutes. Later, drain the water and keep aside.
2. Heat 4 tablespoons ghee in a thick bottomed pan.
3. Then, add ½ cup thinly sliced onions.
4. Mix and begin to sauté the onions on low to medium heat.
4. For faster cooking of the onions, add a pinch of salt. Keep on stirring and sautéing the onions till they turn crisp and golden.
5. Sauté till the onions turn crisp and golden.
6. Remove the fried onions with a slotted spoon and keep aside.
7. In the same pan, add 12 to 15 cashews.
8. Fry cashews till golden.
9. Remove the fried cashews with a slotted spoon and keep aside.
10. Next, add 1 tablespoon raisins. When the raisins puff up, remove and keep aside.
Make Nei Choru
11. To the same pan, add the whole spices – 1 tej patta, 1 inch cinnamon, 3 cloves and 3 green cardamoms. Sauté till the spices splutter and crackle.
12. Next, add ½ cup thinly sliced onions.
13. Sauté the onions stirring often till translucent.
14. Add the soaked kaima rice grains.
15. Season with salt as per taste.
16. Gently mix the rice with the remaining ingredients.
17. Add 3 cups water and mix well. Check the taste of the water and it should taste slightly salty. If not, then add some more salt.
For an al dente texture in the rice, you can add 2.5 to 2.75 cups water.
18. Cover the pan with its lid. On low heat, simmer till the water is absorbed and the rice is cooked, tender and fluffy.
Do check a couple of times when the rice is cooking. If the water has dried up and rice grains are undercooked, then add some more water.
19. Once done, gently fluff the rice.
20. Serve Neychoru garnished with the fried onions, fried cashews, fried raisins and some coriander leaves. You can serve Nei Choru with a coconut based veg gravy like veg korma or any dal.
- No kaima rice? No worries, go for basmati rice for this recipe.
- I would suggest not to miss on the fried onions as it imparts a hint of sweetness as well as earthiness to this otherwise delicately spiced ghee rice variant.
- Running short of time? Cook the dish completely in a pressure cooker. If doing so, add 2.5 cups water and pressure cook for 2 to 3 whistles.
- Make a vegan variation by using oil instead of ghee. When using oil, add 3 tablespoons of it.
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Nei Choru | Neychoru Recipe (Kerala Style)
- 1.5 cups kaima rice (seeraga samba rice) or basmati rice – 300 grams
- 4 tablespoons Ghee (clarified butter)
- 12 to 15 cashews
- 1 tablespoon raisins
- 1 cup thinly sliced onions
- 1 tej patta (Indian bay leaf)
- 1 inch cinnamon
- 3 cloves
- 3 green cardamoms
- 3 cups water
- salt as required
- 1 to 2 tablespoon coriander leaves (cilantro) – for garnish
- Rinse kaima rice (seeraga sambar rice) or basmati rice in water a couple of times. Then soak rice grains in enough water for 20 to 30 minutes. Later drain the water and keep the soaked rice aside.
- Heat ghee in a pan. Keep the heat to low or medium.
- Add ½ cup thinly sliced onions.
- Mix and begin to sauté the onions on a low to medium heat till they turn crisp and golden.
- Remove all of the fried onions with a slotted spoon and keep aside.
- In the same pan, add 12 to 15 cashews and fry till golden.
- Remove with a slotted spoon and keep aside.
- Next add 1 tablespoon raisins. When the raisins puff up, remove and keep aside.
Making nei choru
- To the same pan, add the whole spices – tej patta, cinnamon, cloves, green cardamoms. Fry on low heat till the spices splutter and crackle.
- Next add ½ cup of thinly sliced onions and sauté till they turn translucent.
- Then add the rice.
- Season with salt as per taste. Gently mix the rice with the remaining ingredients.
- Add 3 cups water. Mix well. Check the taste of the water and it should taste slightly salty. If not, then add some salt.
- Cover the pan with its lid. On a low heat simmer till the water is absorbed and the rice grains are tender, fluffy and cooked well.
- Once done, gently fluff the rice.
- Serve Neychoru garnished with the fried onions, cashews and raisins. Also garnish with some chopped coriander leaves. You can also serve Nei Choru with a coconut based vegetable curry or any dal.
- Instead of kaima rice, you can use basmati rice.
- The entire recipe can be made in a pressure cooker. If cooking in a pressure cooker, then add 2.5 cups water and pressure cook for 2 to 3 whistles.
- For a vegan version, use oil instead of ghee. Just add 3 tablespoons oil.
- For larger servings, scale up the recipe easily.
Nutrition Info (Approximate values)
This Neychoru recipe from the archives first published in January 2017 has been republished and updated on November 2022.