I travel to India once a year, every time I'm there I can't get over how fragrant, fresh and full of flavour a simple rice dish can be. This recipe for South Indian rice is easy and filling, light and fluffy, full of coconut, roasted peanuts and pungent curry leaves. A great yet simple addition to any Indian dish, perfect with my Kerala Curry.
Don't be put off by some of the ingredients below if you can't find them in larger supermarkets, I was fortunate enough to find them in my local Asian/Indian supermarket.
Jaggery is a type of sweetener made from concentrated cane sugar, it can be substituted with brown sugar.
Fresh curry leaves are an absolute treat and I buy a big bag whenever I happen to find them. They can last, impressively, up to 3 weeks in the fridge. If you can't source any fresh curry leaves, you can always buy dried curry leaves which are readily available in most large supermarket's spice sections.
Hing (Asafoetida) is mellow yellow in colour but pungent in flavour, extracted from the fennel family and ground into a powder. Most recipes will only ever call for a pinch of this (if that) but if you can't find this then you can use a 1/4 tsp each of garlic and onion powder instead.
Chana Dal is a very popular yellow split chickpea and readily available in most supermarkets however if you can't find them you can substitute them with yellow split peas.
Urad Dal is widely used across India, particularly used in dosa recipes. Smaller in size than channa dal and relative to the mung bean, urad dal is full of protein so it doesn't hurt to throw a few of these in, plus when fried with the spices it gives the rice a wonderful crunch. If you can't find these at your local Asian / Indian shop then you could use dried black or red lentils.
500g Ready cooked white basmati (2 x 250g pouches) or 1 cup basmati rice, both cooked as per packet instructions, ahead of time.
2 Tbps Coconut Oil
15 Fresh curry leaves
1 tsp Jaggery (I grate mine or you can crush it with the back of a knife)
3 Tbsp red-skinned Peanuts
2 Tbsp Cashews
1 tsp Urad Dal
1 Tbsp Chana Dal
1 large dried Kashmiri Chili
1/2 tsp Cumin seeds
1 tsp Black Mustard Seeds
1/4 tsp Turmeric powder
1/4 tsp Chilli Powder
3 Tbsp Shredded Coconut (fresh or desiccated is fine)
Pinch of Asafoetida (Hing)
2 Tbsp Lemon Juice
Salt to taste
Soak the chana and urad dal in cold water for 15 minutes whilst you prepare the rest of the ingredients and then drain the water and set it aside.
Heat 1 Tbsp coconut oil in a frying pan over medium heat and allow it to melt completely. Add the peanuts and cashews and roast them until they turn golden brown in colour, then remove from the pan and set aside.
Add 1 Tbsp of coconut oil to the pan and add the mustard and cumin seeds, you should see them balloon up and splutter in the oil after a few seconds. Add the drained chana and urad dal and saute until they start to turn golden.
Next, add the dried chilli and curry leaves and fry in the oil for no more than 30 seconds, then add the turmeric, chilli powder and asafoetida. Remove the pan from the heat, add the jaggery and shredded coconut, cashews and roasted peanuts and give everything a good mix. Add the pan back to the hob and over a low to medium flame toast the coconut for around 60 seconds.
Add the pre-cooked rice to the pan and turn off the heat, season with salt to taste, add the lemon juice and stir everything to combine. Once all the rice is coated with the spice/nut mixture you should be left with fragrant yellow rice studded with roasted peanuts, coconut and curry leaves.
Enjoy this South Indian rice dish alongside your favourite curry or dal.
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