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Kerala Fried Rice

Kerala Fried Rice

This Kerala Fried Rice is such a simple side dish to make when you need something to go with your curries. Honestly, though, I could eat of bowl of this on its own. Featuring ghee-fried onions, cashews, and raisins, and tender long-grain rice, you’ll have a beautiful side dish ready in under 20 minutes!

What I love most about this dish is the flavor that comes together in the rice water. Any time I am making something that cooks in water, I ALWAYS season the water. This rule goes for pasta, rice, couscous, and more. There’s nothing more flavorful and simple than a hint of salt in your cooked rice or noodles. In this case, I am using kewra, cardamom, cumin seeds, and salt to flavor my rice water. Kewra has a very similar aroma to rose water, but it’s distinct in its eathy aroma. I love using it in biryani!

As always, I hope you enjoy making this simple, flavorful Kerala Fried Rice. It pairs really well with my Mallu Butter Chicken, Amma’s Chicken Curry, or even just Moru. If you have any questions about my recipes, cooking tips, or anything reach out to me on Instagram @thefamiliarkitchen and check out my recipe highlights for a “behind the scense” look at making this dish!

Kerala Fried Rice

Kerala Fried Rice

This is such a simple side dish to make when you need something to go with your curries, but, honestly, I could eat of bowl of this on its own. Featuring ghee-fried onions, cashews, and raisins, and tender long-grain rice, you'll have a beautiful side dish ready in under 20 minutes.
Prep Time5 mins
Cook Time15 mins
Total Time20 mins
Course: Side Dish
Cuisine: Indian
Keyword: fried rice, ghee, rice
Author: Ann Ittoop


  • Long Grain Rice (Basmati works), 3 cups
  • Kewra Water (or Rose Water works), 1 tbsp
  • Green Cardamom Pods, 4
  • Cumin Seeds, 1/2 tsp
  • Salt, 1 tbsp
  • Ghee, 1 tbsp + 1 tbsp
  • Onion, 1, thinly sliced
  • Raisins, 1/4 cup
  • Unsalted Cashews, halved, 1/4 cup


Wash and cook the rice.

  • In a strainer, add the rice and wash it under cold water a few times. We're washing the rice to remove extra starch, which is what can make rice sticky. Once you're rice is washed, set it aside.
    Bring a pot of water to a full rumbling boil along with the kewra water, cardamom, cumin, and salt. Only after the water has come to a full rumbling boil should you add the rice into the pot.
    Once the rice is in, give it a stir and then loosely cover the pot with its lid. Cook for exactly 7-8 minutes or until the rice is just firm. If the pot bubbles up while it's covered, you can remove the lid, give it a stir, and leave it uncovered for the duration of cooking.
    As soon as 8 minutes are up, strain the rice under cold water then set aside.


  • While the rice is cooking, grab a separate saute pan on medium high heat and add in 1 tbsp of ghee. Once the ghee is hot, add in the sliced onions and saute these until golden in color. TIP: add 1/4 tsp of salt and sugar to the onions to help sweat them out and give a caramel-like flavor.
    Once the onions are a golden color, remove them and then in the same pan, fry the cashews. Once the cashews form a light golden color, remove. Finally, add in the raisins and fry just until the raisins puff up then remove. (Don't overcook the raisins or they can easily taste bitter).

Put it all together.

  • The finaly step is to use a deep skillet on high heat and add in the remaining 1 tbsp of ghee. Once the ghee is hot, add in the cooked rice and continuously stir the rice back and forth in the pan to keep it moving and to allow the moisture content to dry out of the rice. After 2-3 minutes, add in the fried onions, raisins, and cashews and sprinkle a pinch or two of salt on top. Add fresh cilantro if desired. Done!


Ideally it's best to use day-old rice so you don't have to worry about frying out any moisture from freshly cooked rice. This is a great recipe if you have leftover rice. 
I love to season water for rice, noodles, couscous, - if it cooks in water, I season it. You can add any combination of spices, really. 
Kewra water is similar to rose water in that it is floral in aroma, but kewra has a very specific earthy note. I love it in biryani! I personally prefer using essences over waters - essence is much more concentrated and you only need a drop or two whereas, with waters, you tend to need more product. 

Hey! My name is Ann Ittoop and I am a South Indian/American South food blogger. Growing up as a second-generation Indian-American, I got the chance to experience the best of both food worlds, oftentimes on one plate! On one hand I had Kerala staples like appam and chicken curry. On the other I had chicken and waffles. If there’s one thing that has helped me understand my identity and express both ends of my cultural upbringing, it’s most definitely food. I have a firm belief there is literally magic in the cooking process. That’s why most nights you’ll find me in the kitchen. I’m there always testing and creating new recipes that stem from my wild imagination. And I’m there searching for the familiar memories of my childhood. I started The Familiar Kitchen to not only help myself find this magic, but for those seeking a way to find their own magic. Join me on my adventures through cooking classic Kerala-inspired dishes, some of my Southern favorites, and all the recipes in between.

Comments: 1

  • reply
    January 30, 2020

    Using Kewra water in Ghee rice is new to me . Never tried it before . Thanks for sharing your recipe

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