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!!

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