Sunday, 24 February 2013

Coconut-milk rice (Thengai-paal saadam)

A typical childhood tantrum... "Amma whats for lunch today?" Whatever the answer is, "Amma, make something else. I am bored of eating this all the time". Mind you, no matter what the dish is, the reply would be the same. There are very few exceptions. I was no different when I was growing up. Mom was tired of my fussy eating habits, but she never gave up. Eventually when the child is hungry, he/she does eat whatever is available. I am experiencing the same with my little girl. 

This was a very time-consuming lunch dish that mom used to make when we have guests over or on special occasions. I did not appreciate the effort and would think why does mom no change her menu at all, until I stated making it myself. It is an elaborate process of extracting coconut milk, frying the onions, spices and vegetables and then mixing them with the rice and cooking the rice. 

Rice - 1 1/2 cups 
Coconut - 1, freshly shredded 
Onions - 1, chopped 
Green peas - 1/2 cup 
Diced Beans and Carrots - 1/2 cup 
Cloves - 4-5 
Cinnamon - 1/4 stick, crushed 
Cardamom - 2, crushed 
Ginger - 1 tsp 
Green chillies - 2, slit 
Salt - to taste 

Water - See Note 1.

Oil - for frying 
Coriander - for garnishing


Wash the rice and keep it aside. 
Shred the coconut and with very little water, blend the shredded coconut in a blender until smooth. Strain the coconut blend and extract the water. This is the first coconut milk extract. You can use the dregs a couple of more times with a little water to extract the coconut milk a second and third time. The coconut milk extract the second time is less concentrated than the first and the third extract is even less concentrated than the second. You can mix the three extracts and keep aside; measure the coconut milk quantity.  

Heat the oil in a frying pan and add the cloves, cinnamon and cardamom. When they start to splutter, add the onions and fry until they turn pink. Add the vegetables, ginger, green chilies and fry until the raw smell is gone. Keep the vegetables aside.

Drain the water from the rice, add a little oil and fry for a few minutes. Add the coconut milk and when it comes to a boil, add the vegetables and stir well. Add salt. If the quantity of coconut milk is not sufficient for the rice, add some water to make up for it. 

Cook the rice, garnish with coriander leaves and ghee. Serve hot with raitha or any other vegetable side dish. 

Note 1: 
One coconut usually yields, 1.5 - 2 cups of coconut milk.
Usual water proportion for rice is as follows: 
Pressure cooker: rice : water = 1 : 2. 
Sometimes older rice takes more water, then you need to add 1/2 cup more water for every cup of rice.
Open pan: rice : water = 1: 3. 

Verdict: Extracting the coconut milk is the time consuming part. I have not tried using the packaged coconut milk extract. I should try it sometime. Otherwise the blend of coconut milk and the spices is heady and extremely addictive. 

priya's signature image at photobucket

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