Spiced Samo Seeds Pilaf Recipe

Spiced Samo Seeds Pilaf Recipe
Samo seeds (aka “vari tandul” in Marathi) are the actual edible seeds of type of South Asian wild grass. Because of this, they are sometimes also referred to as “jungle rice”. Vari tandul is extremely high in dietary fiber & an excellent source of nutrition. In Maharashtra, vari tandul is usually eaten during upvaas (or fasting periods) but we like to enjoy this delicious grain all year round. Now I have added onions to this recipe but do feel free to omit the onions when making this dish for fasting days, since onions are considered taboo during fasting.

Samo seeds are readily available in any Indian grocery store. If you are unable to find samo seeds locally, you can always make this dish using rava (sooji or cream of wheat), quinoa, couscous or cream of rice. Just adjust the cooking times as needed.

VARI TANDULACHI PULAO (Spiced Samo Seeds Pilaf)


1 cup vari tandul (samo seeds)
1 small onion, finely diced
1 medium potato, peeled & finely diced
2-3 small green Thai chilies, slit in half lengthwise (to taste)
2 tsp cumin seeds
6-8 fresh curry leaves
½ cup green peas (frozen is fine)
3 cups boiling hot water
½ toasted unsalted peanuts, coarsely chopped
juice of ½ lime
½ cup freshly grated coconut
salt & pepper, to taste
2 tbsp ghee or oil (vegetable or canola)
finely chopped cilantro leaves for garnish

3 cups of boiling hot water


In a large deep skillet or wok on medium heat, dry roast the vari tandul for 5-6 minutes or until fragrant. Then remove from the pan & set aside until needed.

Now to the same pan on medium high heat, add the ghee. When hot , add the cumin seeds along with the green chilies & curry leaves. Let sizzle for about 30 seconds or so and add the onions. Sauté the onions until just translucent & then add in the potatoes. Let cook until both the onions and potatoes have slightly browned. Next, add in the vari tandul along with the green peas & stir fry for a few minutes while stirring frequently. Now carefully add the boiling water & mix well to combine. Then reduce the heat to low, cover & let cook for 12-15 minutes or until all of the water has been absorbed by the vari tandul. Lastly, add the ground peanuts along with the lime juice & freshly grated coconut. Season with salt & pepper. Garnish with the cilantro leaves and serve warm. I often serve this with various chivdas (spicy snacks), Indian pickles and yogurt.


Feel free to add some grated carrots or corn kernels to this dish if you wish.

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