This is a lovely South Indian rice dish with the gorgeous flavours of peanuts and sesame seeds – distinctly South Indian. It is a traditional Tamil and Kannadiga dish made especially during festivals. Truth be told, with the sesame seeds, it tastes a little like a tahini rice with peanuts, coconut and chilli.
It is also a great “packed rice” dish – food packed for a long journey – katu saadham was traditionally given to wedding guests for their travels back home.
This recipe works well with any variety of rice. Sona Masuri is the preferred rice in South Indian, and so it is most common to make it with this variety. But it can even be made with basmatti as I did today.
Sesame seed is a wonderful ingredient. In Ayurveda sesame is a wonderful rejuvenative food, especially for vata. It has a strong heating effect that soothes the cold quality of vata. But it should be avoided by those with high pita. They are also said to be strengthening to the lungs and help alleviate an aggravated kapha.
Sesame Rice | Ellu Saadham
2.5 cups cooked rice, cooled
6 cashew nuts
salt to taste
0.25 cup white sesame seeds
0.25 cup grated coconut
2 tspn urad dal
pinch or two asafoetida powder
2 – 4 Indian dried red chillies, according to taste
2 Tblspn raw peanuts, skinned
0.5 tspn black mustard seeds
0.5 tspn cumin seeds
8 – 10 curry leaves
3 Tblspn ghee or Indian sesame oil
Heat a heavy pan or kadhai over moderate heat and toast the sesame seeds for a minute or so until lightly browned. Watch carefully as they burn easily. Remove from the pan and set aside.
Roast the peanuts and set aside. Roast the dried red chillies with the urad dal in the same way.
Now roast the coconut, stirring in the asafoetida, until it is golden. Grind to a coarse powder with the sesame seeds, urad dal, peanuts and chillies.
Mix the powder gently into the rice.
Heat 1 tspn ghee in a tadka pan, pop the mustard seeds and add the wet, crushed curry leaves (they will splatter), stir quickly and remove from heat. Add to the rice with the remaining ghee, and stir gently to combine.
recipe notes and alternatives
Save a few peanuts after toasting and add on top of the rice.