Delicious South Indian Style Kovakkai Rice Recipe: Easy Prep and Cooking Tips

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Written By Haryana’s Restaurant

Authentic Indian Food – Classic Indian Cuisine in Terrace BC

Craving something flavorful and unique for your next meal? South Indian style Kovakkai Rice might just be what you’re looking for. This dish, featuring ivy gourd (kovakkai) as its star ingredient, brings together aromatic spices and fresh vegetables to create a harmonious blend of flavors. It’s a delightful twist on traditional rice dishes that your taste buds will thank you for.


Gather these fresh and flavorful ingredients to make your delicious South Indian style Kovakkai Rice.

Main Ingredients

  • 2 cups of basmati rice, cooked and cooled
  • 1 cup of kovakkai (ivy gourd), thinly sliced
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, finely chopped
  • 2 green chilies, slit lengthwise
  • 1 tablespoon ginger-garlic paste
  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1/4 cup fresh coriander leaves, chopped (for garnish)

Additional Ingredients

  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • Salt to taste
  • 6-8 curry leaves

Required Tools and Equipment

To create the delicious South Indian style Kovakkai Rice, you’ll need the following tools and equipment for a seamless cooking experience:

Primary Tools and Cookware

  1. Large Pan or Skillet: To sauté your spices, vegetables, and kovakkai.
  2. Medium Saucepan: For cooking the basmati rice to perfection.
  3. Sharp Knife: Essential for chopping and slicing your vegetables.
  4. Cutting Board: A stable surface for all your chopping needs.
  5. Mixing Bowl: To mix and prepare ingredients efficiently.
  6. Spatula or Wooden Spoon: For stirring and mixing ingredients without scratching your cookware.
  7. Lid or Cover: To retain moisture while cooking the rice.

Other Tools

  1. Measuring Cups and Spoons: For precise measurements of ingredients.
  2. Grater: Useful if you’re grating fresh ginger instead of using paste.
  3. Small Bowl: To hold spices once they are measured out, making the cooking process smoother.
  4. Colander: For rinsing the rice to remove excess starch.
  5. Mortar and Pestle: Optional, for freshly grinding spices to enhance flavor.

Ensuring you have these essential tools and equipment at your disposal, your cooking process will be efficient and organized, resulting in a delightful Kovakkai Rice dish.

Preparation Steps

Follow these steps to create your delicious South Indian style Kovakkai Rice. Ensure every ingredient is fresh and prepared meticulously for the best results.

Washing and Cutting Kovakkai

  1. Wash Kovakkai Thoroughly: Rinse the kovakkai (ivy gourd) under running water using a colander to remove any dirt or impurities.
  2. Trim the Ends: Use a sharp knife to cut off both ends of each kovakkai.
  3. Slice Into Thin Rounds: Slice the kovakkai into thin rounds about 1/4 inch thick. Ensure uniformity for even cooking.

Prepping the Rice

  1. Rinse Basmati Rice: Measure 1 cup of basmati rice. Rinse it under cold water until the water runs clear to remove excess starch.
  2. Soak the Rice: Soak the rinsed rice in water for about 20 minutes. This helps in achieving fluffy rice.
  3. Cook the Rice: Add the soaked rice to a medium saucepan with 2 cups of water. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover with a lid, and simmer for 15 minutes until the rice is fully cooked and water is absorbed.
  4. Fluff the Rice: Once cooked, fluff the rice with a fork and allow it to cool slightly before adding it to the dish.

Cooking Process

Now that you have all your ingredients ready, it’s time to bring them together to create this delightful South Indian Kovakkai Rice.

Tempering Spices

  1. Heat a large pan over medium heat and add 2 tablespoons of oil.
  2. Once the oil is hot, add 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds and let them splutter.
  3. Add 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds and 1 teaspoon of chana dal.
  4. Stir in 8-10 curry leaves and 2 dried red chilies broken into pieces.
  5. Sauté for 1-2 minutes until the spices release a fragrant aroma.

Cooking Kovakkai

  1. Add 1 finely chopped onion and 2 finely chopped green chilies to the tempered spices.
  2. Sauté until the onion turns translucent.
  3. Add 250 grams of fresh kovakkai (ivy gourd) cut into thin rounds.
  4. Sprinkle 1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder and 1 teaspoon of red chili powder.
  5. Stir well to coat the kovakkai with the spices.
  6. Cover the pan with a lid and cook for 10-12 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the kovakkai is tender and slightly crispy.

Combining with Rice

  1. Gently fold in the cooked basmati rice to the kovakkai mixture.
  2. Add salt to taste and 1 tablespoon of freshly grated coconut.
  3. Mix thoroughly to ensure the rice and kovakkai are well combined.
  4. Cook for an additional 2-3 minutes to allow the flavors to meld together.
  5. Garnish with freshly chopped cilantro and serve hot.

Following these steps, your South Indian style Kovakkai Rice will be perfectly cooked with a blend of aromatic spices and fresh flavors.

Serving Suggestions

Pair with Indian Breads

To complement your South Indian Kovakkai Rice, you can serve it with traditional Indian breads such as chapati or paratha. The soft and flaky texture of these breads enhances the flavors of the spicy and aromatic rice.

Add a Side of Raita

Raita, a cooling yogurt-based side dish, pairs wonderfully with Kovakkai Rice. Prepare cucumber raita by mixing grated cucumber, plain yogurt, cumin powder, and a touch of salt. The refreshing taste of raita balances the heat and spices of the rice.

Include Pickles and Pappadums

A serving of tangy Indian pickles and crispy pappadums will add an extra layer of texture and flavor to your meal. The pickles provide a sour kick that contrasts pleasantly with the savory rice, while the pappadums offer a crispy bite.

Serve with a Simple Salad

A simple salad made from fresh vegetables such as tomatoes, cucumbers, and onions can offer a refreshing and crunchy counterpart to the rich Kovakkai Rice. Dress the salad with a squeeze of lemon, salt, and pepper to keep the flavors light and vibrant.

Offer a Traditional Dessert

Complete your South Indian meal with a traditional dessert like payasam or halwa. The sweet, creamy texture of these desserts provides a satisfying end to your flavorful and aromatic rice dish.

Beverage Options

Finally, consider serving your meal with a glass of buttermilk or a traditional South Indian filter coffee. Buttermilk aids in digestion and adds a tangy twist, while the strong and aromatic coffee offers a robust finish to your meal.

Make-Ahead Tips

Prepping the Ingredients

  • Wash and Slice Ivy Gourd: Wash 250 grams of ivy gourd well. Slice them thinly and store in an airtight container. Refrigerate until ready to use, preferably up to 2 days ahead.
  • Cook and Cool Rice: Prepare 2 cups of basmati rice and let it cool completely. Store in the refrigerator for up to 3 days. This helps the rice grains remain separate when you mix them with other ingredients.
  • Chop Onions and Tomatoes: Dice 1 medium onion and 2 medium tomatoes. Store them in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator.
  • Grind Spice Paste: Blend 3 cloves of garlic, a 1-inch piece of ginger, and 2 green chilies into a smooth paste. Store this paste in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.

Making the Curry Base

  • Prepare Seasoning: Measure out 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds, 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, and 5-6 curry leaves. Store them in small containers or zip-lock bags so they are ready to use.
  • Dry Roast and Grind Spices: Dry roast 1 teaspoon of coriander seeds, 1 teaspoon of cumin seeds, 2 dried red chilies, and 1 tablespoon of shredded coconut. Grind these into a fine powder and store in an airtight container for up to a week.
  • Caramelize Onions: Fry the diced onions until golden brown. Let them cool and store in a container. Refrigerate until needed for up to 5 days.
  • Combine Prepped Items: When ready to cook, simply combine your prepped ivy gourd, cooked rice, diced tomatoes, ginger-garlic-chili paste, and other ingredients in the pan. This saves time and ensures a quick assembly.
  • Partial Cooking: You can partially cook the ivy gourd with spices and store this mixture. On the day of serving, simply reheat it and mix it with cooked rice. This allows the flavors to meld together and gives you a head start on cooking.

Following these make-ahead tips, you can streamline the preparation of delicious South Indian style Kovakkai Rice and easily assemble this flavorful dish for a meal at any time.


Mastering the art of South Indian style Kovakkai Rice can elevate your culinary skills and bring a burst of flavor to your table. With its unique blend of spices and fresh ingredients, this dish offers a delightful experience for your taste buds. By following the make-ahead tips and streamlined cooking process, you can enjoy a quick and delicious meal anytime. Whether you’re serving it for a special occasion or a weeknight dinner, Kovakkai Rice is sure to impress. So, gather your ingredients and get ready to savor this delectable South Indian delight.

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