Kuska Rice/Biryani recipe or Plain Biryani is a tasty and flavorful one-pot South Indian meal. Kuska/Plain biryani is usually prepared with Seeraga Samba rice or Basmati rice, Indian spices, along with herbs. This Kuska Biryani recipe does not use any vegetables or meat, hence it has also got the name Empty Biryani in hotels/restaurants of Tamilnadu, a South Indian state. Kuska/ Khushka rice is an easy, simple, and delicious quick meal. And it can be made in a pressure cooker, instant pot, or in a regular pot.
What is Kuska Rice/Biryani?
Kuska Biryani is one of the famous restaurant-style meals popular across South India. It got its name Kuska from the Urdu word "Khuskh" which means dry. Usually, this recipe is plain and has no veggies or meat in the ingredients list but with a similar taste and flavor to the traditional biryani which includes them.
And it uses few ingredients like onion, tomatoes, ginger, garlic, curd, whole Indian spices, and herbs. This is a perfect vegetarian meal for those who want to taste biryani without meat. And it turns to Vegan-friendly flavored rice by just skipping curd in the recipe.
Kuska/Empty biryani is one of the easy yet flavorful dishes that come to the rescue when you are left with no veggies or meat at home but still want to satisfy the craving for biryani and without any time-consuming layering work. This one-pot dish is simple and absolutely easy to make at home.
There are so many variations when it comes to Kuska/Khushka rice. Even though it is a popular South Indian dish, people make their own version according to the region they are living in and their family taste, and needs.
In South India, people make this Kuska with Basmati or Seeraga Samba rice. Usually, the Kuska with Seeraga Samba rice is more common in Tamilnadu. And they also name it Tomato Biryani or tomato rice. It is also a very common dish that has its place in the menu card of small hotels, canteen, mess and even in school and college hostels of the state.
In Ambur, a place in Tamilnadu, people use dry red chili paste to make this Kuska rice and it is similar to Ambur Chicken Biryani but without chicken pieces in it. The red chili paste gives a unique and authentic flavor to their dish. In other versions, they also add boiled eggs to make it plain egg biryani. And all these versions are absolutely great and tastes divine when paired with any nonveg side dishes like Pepper Chicken Masala, Chettinad Chicken Chukka, Chicken Chinthamani, Kodi Vepudu Andhra Style Fry, etc.
This Kuska rice is typically flavored with simple Indian whole spices, chili powder, and herbs like mint and coriander leaves. But in other versions, people also tend to use biryani masala powder to enhance the flavor and taste. They also add onion tomato base masala to achieve the restaurant-style flavor. Isn't it great that enjoying restaurant-style food at home without making a trip to restaurants?
A similar kind of rice dish "Biryani Chawal" is popular in the Northern Part of India and some people also call it Kushka pulao or plain biryani rice.
About this Kuska Rice/Biryani recipe
The recipe I have shared here is the Tamilnadu style Kuska rice/ Empty Biryani with Seeraga Samba rice like the Mutton/Lamb Biryani. And I would recommend you to use the same rice to enjoy the traditional Tamilnadu style khushka rice. Initially, I seasoned whole Indian spices, green chili, ginger, garlic, and onions until it turned soft.
After that, I added tomatoes and allowed them to cook until it turns mushy. Subsequently, I added mint and coriander leaves and gave a nice stir. Then I transferred the mixture to a blender and made it into a smooth paste and reserved it for later use. This is the main step for achieving a restaurant-style flavor, so I recommend not to skip this step to enjoy the authentic taste and flavor.
Following that, in a wide bottom pan, once again I seasoned whole Indian spices, and onions until it turned soft. Then I sautéed the tomatoes until they turned mushy. Following that, I added chili powder, garam masala powder, salt and gave a quick mix.
Later, I have added the reserved onion tomato masala paste to it and mixed it well. After that, I added curd and combined them well. And then added water and allowed it to boil for 5 to 7 minutes. Once it is boiled, added the Seeraga Samba rice, green chili and cooked the rice to 70%. And I cooked for another 15 minutes in low heat with the pan lid closed.
Finally, I garnished the rice with mint and coriander leaves which gives a nice aroma to the end product.
Instant Pot Kuska Biryani
This delicious Kuska/Plain Biryani recipe can be prepared in the instant pot as well. To do that, in sauté mode, season all the ingredients for making the masala paste. Do the same process that I mentioned for the wide bottom pan method. The only difference is after sauteeing all the ingredients, masala paste, rice and water set the pot to pressure cook mode and cook in high pressure for 5 minutes and naturally release pressure for 10 minutes.
This Kuska Biryani can also be made in a pressure cooker by following the same process of the wide bottom pan method. The only change is you just need to cook the rice in medium heat with the regulator on for 2 whistles. This will deliver a fluffy Kuska/Khushka rice with a similar flavor and taste.
Tips for perfect Kuska Rice/Biryani
The main key for getting perfect Kuska rice is the right rice water ratio. And of course the soaking time of the rice. Always I would recommend you to soak the rice for 30 minutes and stick with the rice water ratio to 1:2 for cooking. This ratio will help you to achieve a fluffy Kuska Biryani regardless of whether it is Basmati or Seerag Samba rice.
And another important thing is the preparation of masala paste. I always suggest you to to take enough time to sauté all the ingredients to make sure no raw smells are left behind. By doing this you can achieve a flavorful and aromatic Kuska/Empty Biryani.
This Kuska rice biryani/empty biryani recipe is an easy and delicious quick meal for any party or regular day. And I believe you will try and enjoy this dish with your family and loved ones. You could serve this Khushka/Kuska biryani with simple raita, dalcha, Mutton Sukka/Chukka, Chettinad Chicken Curry, Kerala Egg Ghee roast, Mixed Vegetable Kurma, or just as it is.
You could also find similar recipes below and more at Biryani Recipes.
Vegetable Dum Biryani
Pudina Rice/Mint Pulao
Matar Pulao / Green Peas Pulao
Looking for different chicken recipes to cook for your next meal or a party? Then you could also check this collection of Indian Chicken Dry and Semi Gravy Recipes to accompany your main dish and to enjoy with your family and loved ones.
Kuska Plain Biryani Rice video instructions
I have also shared a detailed video instruction of this recipe below which I believe will help you to make this delicious dish easily at home. For a quick reference, you could also find the Kuska Plain Biryani Rice recipe in story format.
- ½ cup Oil
- 2 Cloves
- 2 Cinnamon Stick, small
- 2 Green Chili
- ¼ cup Onion, chopped
- ½ inch Ginger, roughly chopped
- 4 Garlic cloves
- 2 Tomato, chopped
- ¼ cup Mint Leaves
- ¼ Coriander leaves
- 1½ cup Seeraga Samba Rice, soaked for 30 minutes
- 1 Onion, chopped
- 1 Tomato, chopped
- 3 Green Chili
- 3 Cloves
- 3 Cinnamon Stick, small
- 4 Cardamom
- 1 Star Anise
- 1½ tsp Chili Powder
- 1 tsp Garam Masala Powder
- ¼ cup Curd
- Salt, as needed
- ¼ cup Mint Leaves
- ¼ cup Coriander Leaves
- 3 cup Water
To Prepare Masala Paste
- In a pan with medium heat, pour oil and add cinnamon stick, cloves, green chili, ginger, garlic, and onion and saute until the onion turn soft
- Add the tomatoes and saute until it turns mushy. Now add ¼ cup of coriander, mint leaves, and give a quick mix
- Remove the mixture from the heat and transfer to a blender. Grind the prepared mixture into a smooth paste. Reserve it for later use.
To Prepare Kuska Biryani
- In a wide bottom pan with medium heat, pour oil and add bay leaves, star anise, cloves, cinnamon stick, cardamom, and onion and saute until the onion turns soft
- Add the tomatoes and saute until it turns mushy. Now add chili powder. garam masala powder, salt, and mix everything well
- Now add the prepared masala paste and give it a nice mix
- Add curd and mix well
- Now add the water, give a mix, and allow it to boil for 5 to 7 minutes
- Add the soaked Seeraga Samba rice, green chili and cook the rice to 70%
- Close the pan with the lid and cook the rice for 15 minutes in low heat
- Open the lid and garnish with the remaining ¼ cup of mint and coriander leaves
- Fluff the Kuska Biryani gently and now it is ready for you to taste and enjoy
- Serve this delicious Kuska Biryani with curd raita, veg salna, or any non-veg curries
- The preparation of masala plays an important role in getting a perfect and delicious Kuska biryani. So I recommend you not skip this step
- Another important ingredient for getting an authentic Kuska biryani is using Seeraga Samba rice. I suggest you use the same to enjoy the real traditional flavor. But if Seeraga Samba rice is not handy then you could replace it with Basmati rice
- I have used oil for this recipe, but it can also be prepared with ghee for a more rich flavor
- I have used a wide bottom pan to make this dish but it can be also done in a pressure cooker or instant pot
Nutrition InformationYield 5 Serving Size 1 cup
Amount Per Serving Calories 333Total Fat 24gSaturated Fat 2gTrans Fat 0gUnsaturated Fat 21gCholesterol 1mgSodium 166mgCarbohydrates 29gFiber 5gSugar 6gProtein 4g
Disclaimer: Nutrition information comes from third-party apps and calculators. The information is purely an estimate and provided for information purposes only. You should not rely on this information as a substitute for, nor does it replace professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment.
Frequently asked questions
Kuska Biryani is one of the famous restaurant-style meals popular across South India. It got its name Kuska from the Urdu word "Khuskh" which means dry. Usually, this recipe is plain without adding any veggies or meat but with a similar taste and flavor to the traditional biryani.
The Ideal rice water ratio for both Seeraga Samba and Basmati rice for this particular Plain biryani or empty biryani recipe is 1:2. And this ratio delivers a fluffy, non-mushy dish.
Add the boiled eggs to the rice at the end before slow cooking it in medium heat. The rest of the process remains the same.
The recipe I have shared here uses curd, but to enjoy the Vegan-friendly version just skip and replace it with coconut milk.
I really hope you enjoyed the recipe that I have shared here and I would love to hear from you on how it turned out for you. Please let me know.
If you have any other questions, feel free to post them in the comment section below and I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.
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