In Australia, rice as a savoury dish was rare until perhaps the 1990’s. We grew up rarely eating rice – in fact I can’t really remember my mother cooking it other than as a sweet dish. And as Australia adopted rice as an accompaniment to savoury dishes, it was always plain boiled rice to soak up sauces – the occasional curry, English stews, vegetable braises etc. Times have changed and we have been influenced by our Asian and Indian migrant populations, and many families would now own a rice cooker.
This is a South Indian Coconut rice dish from Tamil Nadu. There is a Balinese Coconut Rice also, Nasi Lemak, you can see it here. The Balinese one is made with coconut cream, while this recipe is made with fresh/frozen coconut.
Thengai Saadham: Sth Indian Coconut Rice
Source : adapted from Samayal, by Viji Varadarajan
Cuisine: Sth Indian
Prep time: 20 mins for the rice to cook, plus time for the rice to cool
Cooking time: 10 mins to bring the spices, coconut and rice together
Serves: 4 – 6 people, depending how you use it
1 cup rice
1 cup coconut, grated. Use frozen coconut if you can’t get fresh, or soak dried grated coconut in water and squeeze dry before using.
2 Tblspn cashews. If you can halve them lengthwise, do so – most may just split apart
1 tspn ginger paste, home made if you can, or 1 tspn finely grated ginger
1 tspn ghee
0.75 tspn sea salt
0.5 tspn black mustard seeds
1 tspn split urad dal
2 dried red chillies, broken in half
1 pinch asafoetida powder
1 or 2 branches curry leaves
1 tspn coconut oil
Cook the rice in a rice cooker, or use 2.5 cups water to cook it on the stove top. Leave the rice to cook on a large plate.
While it is cooling, get the other ingredients ready. Fry the cashews in ghee until nice and golden. Set these aside. Wash the curry leaves and leave, still wet, until needed.
Heat the coconut oil in a pan and pop the mustard seeds. Add the asafoetida powder, the urad dal and the chillies. Stir briefly as the urad browns slightly.
Stir in the grated coconut and the ginger paste. Stir to mix in the paste, and then sauté until the coconut becomes slightly brown.
Crush the wet curry leaves in your hand and add with the salt. Stir through the coconut mix and then remove from the heat.
Mix in the rice and the roasted cashews and serve. Can be prepared earlier and served at room temperature. It is delicious with a vegetable curry.