What to Do with Leftover Basmati Rice: A Royal Guide

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Basmati rice in a white saucer with a text "what to do with leftover basmati rice".

Let me set the scene…

Circa 16th century. An invitation just arrived for an opulent Mughal feast.

The great Shah Jahan himself has invited you to his palace for supper. 

As you enter the royal dining halls, there’s a certain aroma wafting in the Indian summer air.

You decide that it’s something definitely unique to the country. A scent that could only be emanating from one source.

Basmati rice. 

It’s the rice that fits the stature of sultans. For a long time, this rice was exclusively cultivated for the consumption of the elite. 

A culinary symbol of prosperity, if you please. It was perceived as the Maharani of all rice varieties.

Everyone else had to live without knowing what basmati rice tasted like. Jannah (the Islamic concept of paradise) was a concept best left to their imaginations. 

And so, with such a grand feast, there’s bound to be an excessive amount of untouched food. This is a recurring theme you’ll find among parties thrown by the blue-blooded. 

What to do with leftover basmati rice, then?

Wasting such a treasured part of the royal dining experience would be grounds for execution (fact unverified, but might as well be true).

So, with leftover basmati rice in one hand and an apron in the other, let’s travel back to the present. 

Let’s give a modern, yet royal spin to it.

Reincarnating Royalty: What to Do with Leftover Basmati Rice

Basmati rice in a wooden bowl.

Now that you’ve tasted a little bit of Indian culinary history, it can be difficult to leave it all behind. 

Even today, some people still age their basmati rice for up to 30 years. All that effort just to have that nutty essence that royals once indulged in. 

Who can blame them, really?

In your case, despite dealing with reheated leftovers, basmati rice still stands regal in that plate. 

There’s truly nothing ‘peasant’ about it, if you ask me. 

So consider yourself royalty. At least, for the duration of this article on what to do with leftover basmati rice. 

Shall we start cooking, then, Hazrat? 😉 (insert respectful bowing gesture)

A la Tava Masala

Prestigious rankings weren’t just for royals back then. In fact, the royal Mughal kitchens hired cooks who held ranks known as “bavarchi-e-tava.” 

They were assigned just for tava masala dishes. Not to mention, the title also showcases the holder’s versatility and skill in mastering the tava. 


  • 2 cups of leftover basmati rice
  • 1 diced onion
  • 2 minced cloves of garlic
  • 1 finely chopped green chili
  • 1 tsp of grated ginger
  • 1 tsp of garam masala
  • ½ tsp of turmeric
  • ¼ cup of peas
  • 2 tbsp of oil
  • Chopped cilantro (for garnishing)

Cooking Utensils

  • Large nonstick pan (or an actual tava for more authenticity)
  • Wooden spoon


  1. Position your tava laced with oil over high heat. Fry the onions in the oil until they’re translucent.
  2. Add the garlic, ginger, chili, garam masala, and turmeric then mix them on the tava.
  3. Pour the leftover basmati rice along with the peas. Toss and fry everything for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Finish it all off with cilantro before serving.

Did you know that the louder your tava sizzles, the more flavorful the rice will turn out? 

Keep yours loud. Louder, I say (respectfully)!

Disguised as a Street Food

Indian culture wouldn’t be Indian culture without its delectable street foods. While their very name is the opposite of royalty, it doesn’t make them any less tasty!

I’m talking about the Rice Pakora. This crispy dish is incredibly delicious, it might as well be made in the royal kitchens.


  • 2 cups of leftover basmati rice
  • ½ cup of gram flour
  • 1 chopped small onion
  • 1 chopped green chili
  • ¼ cup of chopped coriander leaves
  • ½ tsp of cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp of red chili powder
  • ½ tsp of turmeric powder
  • Pinch of salt
  • Water
  • Oil

Cooking Utensils

  • Pot
  • Slotted spoon
  • Bowl
  • Plate with paper towels


  1. Mix the basmati rice, gram flour, onion, green chili, coriander leaves, cumin seeds, red chili powder, turmeric powder, and salt in a bowl.
  2. Heat the oil in a pot over medium heat (while waiting, perform no. 3).
  3. To achieve a thick batter, slowly add water to the mixture.
  4. Scoop small portions of the batter to make fritters. 
  5. Put the now ball-shaped mixture into the hot oil and fry them until they’re crispy.
  6. Remove the balls using the slotted spoon and place them on the plate with paper towels. 
  7. Serve with chutney on the side. 

No need to leave the comforts of your palace just to get a taste of Indian street food snacks. You can as easily whip up pakoras at home.

Sugar, Spice, and Everything Kheer

Rice kheer in a wooden bowl with nuts below.

Historically speaking, kheer is a royal dish that has graced many courts. Luxurious ingredients  such as dry fruits, nuts, and saffron were (and still are) used in making them. 

Kheer has this worldly prominence that you can find different varieties of it even in other cultures. We have the Spanish arroz con leche, and the Turkish sütlaç


  • 2 cups of leftover basmati rice
  • 4 cups of whole milk
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • ¼ cup of condensed milk
  • ¼ tsp of cardamom powder
  • 2 tbsp of chopped nuts
  • 2 tbsp of raisins
  • A few saffron (but optional)
  • 1 tbsp of ghee

Cooking Utensils

  • Pot
  • Stirring spoon


  1. Heat the ghee in the pot over medium heat.
  2. Saute the nuts and raisins until golden and plump. Set them aside afterwards.
  3. Next, bring the milk to a boil using the same pot.
  4. Add the rice, sugar, and condensed milk. Make sure to stir continuously.
  5. Reduce the heat and let the mixture simmer for about 20-25 minutes.
  6. Pour the cardamom powder and saffron strands.
  7. Use the nuts and raisins as garnish, then serve.

Not only can you find kheer in the royal dining table, but this dessert also makes frequent appearances during festivals and special occasions. 

Diwali, Eid, Raksha Bandhan, you name it. 

From (Leftover) Rice to Riches

Basmati rice in a black bowl.

Who knew that leftover basmati rice from the Mughal era could be reincarnated to modern day Indian-style dishes?

(Me, of course! Who else?)

But unlike the elite back in the days of old, I won’t be keeping any basmati rice cooking techniques from you. 

Because whether you’re royal-born or a humble commoner, like myself, my recipes are yours for experimenting in the kitchen. 

After all, this is an homage to this flavor-rich and history-laden rice. 

And when it comes to basmati, whether freshly cooked or from leftovers, every bite will make you feel like royalty. 

Namaste, everyone!

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