Curd Rice (Yoghurt Rice)

Curd rice7This is my version of the popular South Indian curd rice. It is called dahi bhath, thayir sadam, masar anna, and perugu annam depending on which part of the country you come from. I’ve used Basmati rice, plain whole milk yoghurt, and heavy cream in my recipe. I bought the yoghurt that I used for this recipe from the Indian grocery store, but you can also use whole milk yoghurt from the regular grocery store. Just make sure that the yoghurt is not flavored. In my version, I did not mash the rice as I like to keep the grains whole. To some of my readers, this may not sound like the traditional curd rice recipes from South India, but I like the creamy, comforting, distinct flavor of this rice dish, and I hope you will too.

A South Indian meal often ends with curd rice. It has a calming effect on your digestive system after a spicy meal. You can also use leftover rice to make this dish. Serve it with pickle, chutney, or a simple vegetable dish.

Curd Rice

2 cups Basmati rice
4 cups water
4 teaspoons salt
2 cups plain whole milk yoghurt (unflavored)
1 cup heavy cream
3 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1 teaspoon split bengal gram dal (chana dal)
1 teaspoon black gram dal (urad dal)
1 stalk curry leaves
1 finely chopped green chilli (optional)
a pinch of asafoetida

Put the rice in a medium bowl and add enough water to cover it. With your hands gently swish the rice so as to release the excess starch. Pour off the water and repeat four or five times until the water runs almost clear. Drain in a colander.

Put the rice in a small saucepan along with the water and salt. Place the saucepan over medium-high heat and bring the water to a boil. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until all the liquid is absorbed, about 15 minutes. Turn off the heat, remove the lid, fluff the rice with a fork and let it cool to room temperature. Beat the yoghurt with a fork until creamy and then stir in the heavy cream. Once the rice has cooled completely, add the yoghurt-cream mixture. Mix well and set aside while you prepare the seasoning.

To season the rice, heat oil in a small frying pan over medium heat until shimmering. Add mustard seeds, and when they pop add the split bengal gram dal. When it turns light brown add the black gram dal and fry until it also turns light brown. Add the curry leaves, green chilli, and asfoetida. Fry for 30 seconds. Turn off the stove and pour the seasoning over the rice. Mix gently so the rice is well flavored with the seasoning.

Vegetable Biriyani

This is a simple, flavorful rice dish that I learned to make when I lived with my family in Manipal, India. I tasted it for the first time in Dr. Meera Baliga’s home. She shared her recipe with me, and I started making it for my family for weekend lunches. It pairs well with raita – a salad made with yogurt, tomato, cucumber, and onion.

Many times when I cooked this dish in Manipal, students from the nearby university would drop by and linger way past lunch time, until we were all so hungry, that I would have to invite them to join us for lunch! I soon learned that I would need to make a huge batch, because every time I cooked it, the heavenly smell wafted all the way down the street and into the dorms! So, this recipe is for those young, talented students that made me feel like I was the best cook on earth! See, what you turned me into – a blogger and foodie for life! I love each one of you and think of you often.

For the masala mix

2 teaspoons coconut oil
5 cardamoms
5 cloves
2 1-inch piece of cinnamon
1 tablespoon chopped ginger
1 tablespoon chopped garlic
½ cup chopped onion
½ cup grated coconut
½ cup chopped cilantro

Heat coconut oil in a small pan over medium-high heat. Add the cardamom, cloves, and cinnamon. Fry for a minute, remove from heat, and cool. Add the fried ingredients, onion, coconut and cilantro to a blender, and purée.

For the rice

½ cup coconut oil
½ cup cubed potatoes
½ cup cubed carrots
6 French beans, cut into diagonal pieces
½ cup fresh green peas
½ cup chopped tomatoes
3 finely chopped green chillies
½ cup grated coconut
1 teaspoon turmeric
2 cups Basmathi rice, washed and drained
4 cups water
Salt to taste

Heat coconut oil in a large pan. Add the masala mix and fry for five minutes. Add the vegetables, tomatoes, chillies, grated coconut, turmeric, rice, and salt, and fry for another five minutes. Add water, and bring to boil. Once it boils, turn heat as low as possible. Cover and cook for 15 minutes. Fluff up rice, and vegetables gently with a fork, and serve piping hot.

Coconut Rice

Coconut rice is a dish that’s very easy to make these days. This is a recipe I’ve shared with a number of my friends who wanted an easy but exotic rice recipe from Indian. My colleague and friend, Elizabeth Oloo, likes this recipe and makes better coconut rice than I do!

Many years ago, when I made coconut rice in India, just extracting the coconut milk was a cumbersome task. I had to first get a fresh coconut, grate it, extract the milk, strain it, and then start the process of making coconut rice. I only made it on special occasions – when I had plenty of time to spend in the kitchen. Now-a-days you can get coconut milk in a can. Oh, the joy of modern cooking!

Coconut Rice

2 cups Basmati rice
2 tablespoons ghee or vegetable oil
1 1-inch piece of cinnamon
2 green cardamoms, bruised
¼ cup diced onions
½ teaspoon turmeric
2 teaspoons salt
1 can coconut milk
2 cups of water
2 tablespoons fried cashew nuts

In a heavy bottomed pan add ghee. When it shimmers add the cinnamon, cardamoms, and diced onions. Sauté for a minute and when onions are transparent add the washed and drained basmati rice, turmeric and salt. Fry for two minutes. Add the coconut milk and two cups of water.

Bring the rice to a boil then turn heat to low, cover the dish and let it cook for 15 minutes. Do not open the dish or stir during the 15 minutes. Turn off the heat and keep the rice covered until you are ready to serve. Fluff rice gently with a fork. Garnish with fried cashew nuts and serve.