As you travel South, especially by train, you are often travelling on your stomach, diving into the best of tasty, simple Southy cuisine.
At sleepy little railway stations, one can sample hygenically served up warm soft idli-sambar, crispy vada-sambar, rice, especially all kinds of melt-in-your-mouth varieties of Thayir Sadam served up tidily on squares of banana leaf.
Dahi rice cooked up the South Indian way is truly delicious.
Rice goes down far lighter and smoother in summer when turned into a cooling Thayir Sadam.
This spicy South Indian recipe for curd rice with tiny pieces of cucumbers and bits of green mango by Zelda Pande is not only refreshing when the days are hot, but comforting too.
- 1¼ cups uncooked rice
- 1½ cups water
- 600 ml yogurt
- ½ of a large kairi or green mango, peeled, finely chopped
- 1 cucumber, peeled, chopped
- 2 green chillies, finely chopped
- 4-5 boriya or round red chillies, whole
- 1-inch piece ginger, grated
- 1½ tsp whole urad dal or white
- 2 tsp rai or mustard seeds
- 1 tsp hing or asafoetida powder
- 15 curry leaves
- 1½ tbsp oil
- Dahi mirchi or curd chillies, lightly fried up
- Mango pickle preferably the South Indian vadu mangai or baby mango pickle
- Cold filtered/boiled/mineral water
- Vadam, fryum type crunchy rice papad, available online
- Boil the rice in 1½ cups rice in a heavy-bottomed saucepan or rice cooker till all the water is absorbed.
- In a large heavy-bottomed kadhai or saucepan heat the oil and urad dal over medium heat.
After 1-2 minutes add the rai and hing.
Let the rai pop and add the curry patta, green chillies, red chillies.
Saute it for 1-2 minutes till green chillies are cooked and lose their rawness a bit.
Add the rice, ginger, cucumbers, mango and mix.
Take off heat.
Cool, ideally refrigerate.
- Mix in the cold yogurt just before serving.
Add a little cold boiled water to loosen the rice if it is too dry.
Serve with papad, pickle, fried dahi mirchi.
Note: It's important to serve up the Thayir Sadam with its accompaniments as they add special traditional flavour.
Carrots and beans are an interesting further addition to curd rice. Add half an orange carrot peeled and grated while adding the cucumber. Add 3-4 finely chopped French beans to the baghar/tadka with the green chillies and fry for a few minutes.
For special occasions you might consider adding a little fresh cream to the curd rice along with dahi to get a richer flavour.
Curd rice is a way to use up leftover rice and another technique of making it is to set the rice in enough warmed milk to cover it along with two teaspoons of yoghurt overnight so you have curd rice the next morning that you can spice up with tadka.
Curd rice pairs well with fried up spiced dried prawns, fried fresh fish and eggplant curries like a gotsu.
Vegan curd rice can be made with vegan yoghurt, many brands of which are now available in India. Or try this interesting recipe for Vegan Curd Rice [external link].
Those on a diabetic diet may opt to substitute the rice for soaked, boiled millets.