When a girl from North India tells you how much she loves eating “Curd Rice” you have to stop everything you are doing and take notice. Curd Rice or Thayir Sadam or Mossaranna or Daddojanam as it also called is a comfort food for most South Indians like Rajma Chawal is ours.
Although the region of South and North are both a part of India, there is an enormous cultural, geographical and even food related difference between these two areas. For us North Indians, every person from South India is a “Madrassi” which is a term we use for persons originating from ‘Madras’ (Now Chennai). Ignorant that we are many of us never took the pains to understand that there are a lot of different languages spoken in South India, and there are different cuisines within South India as well.
Thankfully growing up in a multicultural environment in Mumbai, which has pockets of South Indian settlements I was exposed to the delights of this fantastic cuisine which I grew to love. And after Bengali cuisine, South Indian food has to make the list of my the food I would want to eat before I die.
Since most of South India is a coastal region Coconut and Curry leaves are heavily used in its cuisine and the only Milk based products they enjoy is Curd. A very close friend of mine told me that no self-respecting South Indian would be caught eating Paneer (Cottage Cheese), which is a staple diet of us North Indians. Similarly, we North Indians have an aversion to Coconut and Coconut based dishes. But Curd we eat and Curd we love.
South Indian cuisine is not heavy on the palate but has incredible depth of flavors. And it is this simplicity that wins the heart of anyone who takes the pain to savor the delicacies offered by this region. So when I was having an animated discussion with a friend about the differences of our cuisines he mentioned how almost every area in the South has their own version of “Curd Rice”. Considering it is terribly hot in Perth today and I can almost feel myself melting away I decided to make “Curd Rice” for dinner as well.
Since Curd has cooling properties it is a big part of our daily diet. Any Indian meal cooked in my house is incomplete without Curd. It can be made with left over rice and Infact in the pre refrigeration days this was the way in which Curd was used to avoid it becoming rancid in the heat. It is always served with Mango Pickle and has to be relished with your fingers digging deep in the recesses of the velvety soft Rice, no Spoon/Fork business here. My version of “Curd Rice” is a Punjabi girl’s version of it since every South Indian region has their own way of making it. Trust me there is no other way to beat the scorching heat on this hot summer’s day.
Recipe (Cooking time 30 minutes)
For the Rice
Raw Rice – 1/2 cup
Thick curd – 1 cup
Salt – to taste
Cook the Rice in 1 cup water till done and let it cool. Add the Curd and the Salt to the cooled rice and mix well. You can use a Masher and also mash the rice a little bit. You can add a little water to make it easier to mash. Since I used Basmati Rice the rice grains were not easily mashed. Typically one uses anything but Basmati rice for this dish but remember this is a Punjabi household and we only have Basmati Rice.
If the Curd you are using is a little Sour you can add some Milk to it which will take away the sourness.
For the Tempering
1 tsp Mustard seeds
1 tbsp Cashew nuts (unsalted)
3 – 4 Dry Red Chillies
1 Green chilli finely chopped
1 tbsp Channa dal or Urad Dal (soaked in water for 20 minutes)
10 – 12 Curry leaves
1 tbsp Vegetable Oil
1 tsp Asafoetida (Hing)
Heat Oil in a pan and add the Mustard seeds and Curry leaves.
Once they start to splutter add the Cashew nuts and Dal (drain all the water before you add it) and red chillies.
Cook on a low flame till the cashews turn slightly brown.
Add the rice mixture to the tempering and mix well. Season with a little Salt.
Serve Hot or Cold depending on your preference with some spicy pickles.
Tip: You can also add some grated carrots to this mixture. I add the Carrots when I am tempering the dal and nuts but never overcook them. And then add the rice and curd mixture. The carrots give the rice a lovely bite.