Thursday, September 11, 2014

South Indian Rice and Yogurt Salad

This is one of my all time favorite salads. I had it ready for one of my first posts but somehow never found the right moment to publish it. When I made it this summer for a BBQ dinner, my friends loved it so much that I finally decided to share this recipe.

This rice and yogurt salad comes from the South Indian tradition and was invented to use old yogurt, which in India is usually home made. It is also an excellent idea to use any leftover basmati rice, which in my home I cook at least once a week.

I discovered it thanks to my neighbor who prepares it often when yogurts gets too tart. Once, after trying it, I asked for the recipe and since he was just making it that day, he offered to bring some for me. I could not have enough of it. Then when I was pregnant, not at all into cooking, and suffering lot from morning sickness, he made this dish often, leaving at the door. Nothing could have tasted better those days. Delicate rice, sour yogurt, and especially fresh ginger, which is known for soothing the stomach and nausea, were a prefect combination and this was a dish to dream of. Still, whenever some stomach problems occur, this salad is a good remedy and a dish I crave.

There are different variations of this salad but I am particularly sentimental about the simple version my neighbor makes. There is a very unique flavor in it coming from the fresh curry leaves. It is the only ingredient that might be more difficult to obtain, but worth trying, as this salad gets a very intense and unusual flavor thanks to carry leaves.

This salad can be eaten in room temperature but during a hot summer I like it cold, straight from fridge.

Rice and Yogurt Salad

1 cup raw Basmati rice,
2 and 1/2 cups plain yogurt,
1 green chili pepper,
1 inch-long piece of fresh ginger, grated,
1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves, chopped,
2 tbsp vegetable oil,
1 tsp brown mustard seeds,
2 tbsp black lentil (urad dal),
1/2 tsp asafoetida powder,
a few curry leaves.

1. Cook, drain, and cool the rice, or use leftover rice.
2. Place the rice in a large bowl. Add grated ginger, chopped chili, coriander leaves and yogurt. Mix gently.
2. Heat the oil in a frying pan and add mustard seeds, dal, asafoetida powder, and curry leaves.
3. When the mustard leaves start to pop, add the mixture to the rice. Mix again. Let it stand for 20 minutes and serve in room temperature or let it chill before serving.

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