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Monday, December 12, 2016

Lemon Rice / Nimmakaaya Pulihora / Nimbekaayi Chitranna

This lemon rice was a part of the south Indian festival thaali I posted last month. My mother used to prepare lemon rice only once or twice in a year on a festival day and so, even the simple lemon rice was a special one to us while growing up. Later on, I entered a family where lemon rice was 'The designated festival rice' and the younger generation's immediate option whenever there was leftover rice. My husband still thinks that the lemon rice and potato curry are the ultimate combo on a festive day. No wonder considering that the lemon rice is one of the popular rice dishes from south India and is a quick one to prepare.

The preparation of lemon rice is quite a simple one and it is the most fuss-free dish compared to the other traditional rice options out there. The sour and spicy flavors are well balanced in the dish where as the addition of curry leaves and asafoetida make the rice flavorful. Peanuts and dals add a nice crunch and a welcome texture to the dish. It takes about five minutes to prepare the lemon rice if the rice is handy and so, it is a suitable dish both for festive occasions or impromptu/lazy meals. I always held myself back from posting a recipe for lemon rice considering that it is a basic recipe, from a south Indian perspective. However my Gujarati neighbors who ate my lemon rice a few years ago always keep praising it and ask for the tips to master it. This recipe is for those who are not familiar with the rice preparation and novices.

Ingredients: (4 servings)
1 cup rice (I used sona masuri.)
1 - 2 tbsp. oil
2 tbsp. peanuts
1 tbsp. chana dal / split chickpeas
1 tsp. urad dal /skinned and split black lentil
1 tsp. mustard seeds
3 chopped green chillies or 5 - 6 dried red chillies, broken into pieces *
1 stalk of curry leaves
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
a few pinches of asafoetida powder
Salt to taste
3 to 4 tbsp. lemon / lime juice (Adjust depending upon the sourness of the lemon juice.)
Minced cilantro to garnish (optional)
* A combo of both green and red chillies can be used too. The number of chillies in the recipe can be adjusted according to one's preferred spice levels.
* Wash the rice in two exchanges of water and drain completely. Pressure cook the rice adding 1 & 3/4 cups of water. (Add 2 cups of water if using a rice cooker.) When the rice is done, spread it on a wide plate and fluff the rice. Or let the rice sit for a while before using.
* Once the rice is ready, heat oil in a pan / kadai. Add peanuts, chana dal, urad dal and mustard seeds. When mustard seeds start to sizzle and pop and the dals start to turn reddish, add chillies and saute for few seconds. Next add curry leaves, turmeric and asafoetida. Stir once and turn off the stove.
* Add rice, salt and lemon / lime juice and mix well. Taste the rice and adjust the salt or the lemon juice if needed. 
* Let the rice sit for at least 15 - 30 minutes for the flavors to develop. 
* It can be served on it's own or serve some papad / chips along with it.

1. Salt and lemon flavors tone down a bit after the resting period and so add those ingredients accordingly or taste the rice again after 30 minutes and adjust the quantities. 
2. In case if the lemon rice turns out too salty / too sour just add some more rice and mix well to combine.
3. Bottled lemon juice can be substituted for the fresh juice.

This goes to Blogging marathon #71, under the theme 'Make a Meal'. Check here to find out what the other marathoners are cooking as part of the BM.


Sunday, December 11, 2016

Beerakaya Paalu Posina Koora

Today's curry comes from the south Indian state of Andhra pradesh and the preparation is more typical in the coastal areas. The addition of milk in the final stages of cooking is the interesting part in this style of preparation and it lends a creamy base for the curry. Subtly sweet vegetables like ridge gourd, bottle gourd suit well in this style of preparation.

1 big ridge gourd / 4 cups ridege gourd cubes
1 tbsp. oil
1 tsp. chana dal / split chickpeas
1 tsp. mustard seeds
1 - 2 green chillies, sliced lengthwise
Few curry leaves
1/8 tsp. turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1/2 cup milk at room temperature (or more depending upon the consistency preferred.)

* Peel the ridge gourds and taste it to check for bitterness. If any of the gourds are bitter, do not use them. Slice each gourd lengthwise into 6 to 8 slices depending upon the thickness of it and cube them.
* Heat oil in a pan and add chana dal and mustard seeds. When chana dal starts to turn reddish add green chillies and curry leaves. Saute for 30 seconds and add ridge gourd cubes, turmeric and salt. Cover and cook on low flame until it is done. The vegetable oozes a lot of water while cooking and so there is no need to add any extra water. The water would be almost evaporated by the time the vegetable is cooked. 
* Add milk and stir for 2 to 3 minutes so that it gets incorporated into the dish.
* Turn off the stove. Serve this curry warm with rice as part of the meal.

This goes to Blogging marathon #71, under the theme 'Make a Meal'. Check here to find out what the other marathoners are cooking as part of the BM.