Friday, April 6, 2018

Ellu Sadam/Ellodarai (Rice With Toasted Sesame & Spices)

Ellu Sadam is traditionally made at home and in some Temples as offering particularly on certain Saturdays. At home, first the crows are fed some cooked rice in the mornings, then the freshly prepared sesame rice is blessed and usually shared with neighbors and friends before enjoying it.

Ellu Sadam/Ellodarai is delicious served with appalam (papadums), karuvadams or vadams (crisp rice noodles and papadams respectively). I like to pair it with a simple chopped tomato-cucumber salad.

Notes:

Black or white sesame seeds (unhulled) and black or white urid dal maybe used in any combination depending on how you want the resulting rice color; if you like lighter colored rice, use a combination of one white and one dark, and both white for a very light-colored results.

Sesame powder maybe prepared without black pepper also.

You can store the Sesame powder for a few days at room temperature or a few weeks in the fridge; for longer storage, keep in the freezer.

Peanuts maybe used instead of the cashews in the seasoning.

Seasoning with the mustards seeds, etc is not a must, as Sesame Rice is flavorful but it does add a bit more flavor and looks garnished.

If Indian sesame oil is not handy, use a mild oil; stir in 1/2 tsp of Chinese sesame oil at the end for the fantastic flavor.

6 Servings

Ingredients:

Sesame Powder:
4 Tbsp Black Sesame Seeds
2 Tbsp Black Urad Dal, (split kind)
1/8 - 1/2 tsp Whole Black Peppercorns
2-4 Dried Red Chiles
2 Stems Curry Leaves

Rice:
1 tsp Sesame oil (Indian)
1/2 tsp Mustard seeds
1Tbsp White Urad dal (skinless)
2-3 Tbsp raw Cashew pieces 
1 pinch Asafoetida (optional)
1 Stem Curry Leaves
1 tsp Salt
1 cup dry Rice, cooked and cooled

Method:

1. Heat a dry skillet or kadai add the seasme seeds; cook stirring over low-medium heat until they pop and dance and become fragrant. Cook on low-medium heat to prevent burning; as soon as they stop popping, remove from heat. Pour into a plate to cool.

2. In the same pan add red chillies, black pepper and urad dal; cook stirring untill dal turns light brown and fragrant. Stir in the curry leaves and cook stirring until they are almost dry. Pour into the plate with the sesame. Let cool completely.

3. When the sesame mixture is cool, grind to a coarse powder (a bit finer than cream of wheat or rava) using a spice grinder. Set aside until needed. The sesame powder maybe prepared in advance (see notes for storage ideas).

4. Fluff the cooked rice gently so as not to mash or break the grain; a sprinkle of water helps if the rice is dry. I find that breaking it up gently with wet fingers works very well. Set aside until ready to use.

5. Heat oil in a pan, when hot add mustard seeds. Let it start to pop.

6. Add urad dal and cook for 30 seconds.

7. Add cashews and stir-fry untill golden. Add asafetida if using; cook for 10 seconds.

8. Stir in the curry leaves, cook until they stop popping and become a bit dry.

9. Add the rice and salt to the pan along with the sesame powder; mix well to combine.

10. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!!


Wednesday, April 4, 2018

Coconut Rice With Cashews & Curry Leaves (South Indian Coconut Rice)

Coconut Rice evokes fond memories of the festival called Aadi or Pathinettam Perukku which is a festival celebrating the life-giving water and the bounty it brings to all life. This South Indian festival is celebrated on the 18th day of the Tamil month Aadi (hence the name "pathinettam") which falls somewhere at the end of July or beginning of August. It is a time of the Monsoons which bring water to the waterways and life to fields and streams. In thanksgiving and honor, women and girls go on a picnic by a water body whether it be a river, brook, pond or lake and enjoy Coconut Rice, Lemon Rice, Puliyodharai (Tamarind Rice), Yogurt Rice and other treats.

Most tropical countries have their own version of coconut rice; some are savory and others sweet. This savory South Indian version of coconut rice involves minimal preparation and easy to make. It uses freshly grated coconut which is toasted with other spices and added to cooked rice to make this aromatic rice. Traditionally this rice is served with karuvadams and pappadums, crispy rice noodles and lentil wafers respectively. Coconut rice maybe paired with a spicy vegetable stews and curries as well.

If using a fresh coconut, use about 1/2 of medium sized coconut. In a pinch, dried unsweetened coconut may be used as well; but first it should be hydrated well. Add about 1/2 cup dried coconut to a bowl with about 1/4 or so water and let soak until well hydrated. Discard any extra water if there is any before adding in step 4.

Ingredients:

1 cup dry Rice cooked and cooled to room temp
1 tsp oil
1/2 teaspoon Mustard seeds
1 Tbsp Urad dal
3 dry Red Chilies
3 Tbsp raw Cashew pieces
1 stem Curry leaves, finely sliced
1 cup fresh or frozen Coconut, grated
1/2 tsp Salt or to taste

Method:

1. Heat oil in a pan, when hot add mustard seeds. Let it pop.

2. Add black gram dal, dry red chilies, and cook until dal turns pinkish.

3. Add cashews and fry till it turns richly golden. 

4. Add curry leaves and grated coconut. Toast the coconut on low-medium heat till it begins to turn golden - about 3-4 minutes. The heat may need to be adjusted as the coconut is toasting; if it starts to turn dark too quickly in spots, reduce heat.

5. Fluff the cooked rice gently so as not to mash or break the grain; a sprinkle of water helps if the rice is dry. I find that breaking it up gently with wet fingers works very well.

6. Add the rice and salt to the coconut mixture; mix well to combine.

7. Serve warm or at room temperature. Enjoy!!