Guest blog – Kerala style Coconut Rice with roasted dals, cashews and red chillies
Welcome to my latest guest blog. Following on with my spicing journey comes this beautiful recipe and description of Keralan flavours from the lovely Sheba Promod. Sheba is the founder of Absolute Indian and originates from Kerala, South India. With her passion for cooking instilled in her from a young age, she is now on a journey to share the wonderful flavours of India and in particular, Kerala and the Malabar Coast with others. I’m delighted she has agreed to share it on here!
Kerala; known as the land of spices, home to coconut groves and the heart of Ayurveda. The inimitable cuisine of Kerala is light, distinctly fragrant and subtly spiced. There are some key ingredients that are common to Kerala cuisine these being rice (in as many forms as you can imagine!), coconut, curry leaves and less known to some, bananas. The use of coconut is prolific in Kerala: coconut cream, milk, oil, and the alcoholic toddy (fermented sap from the tree) to name a few. The husk is also used to produce coir (think of the ‘welcome mat’ that stands at your front door!) and the shell itself for many ornamental items as well as kitchen utensils. As a good friend of mine rightly pointed out this week, “What would Kerala do without coconut and curry leaves?” Absolutely unthinkable!
This is a wonderfully speedy dish to set off on your discovery of Kerala cuisine and one that can be easily combined with a number of curries and side dishes. Of course there are a number of variations of this dish, from those using a sweet, rich coconut milk to those that include the more zesty flavours of coriander leaves and sometimes even chickpeas. This is one of my favourite rice dishes for a number of reasons, the key most being the simplicity and moreish flavours of the finished dish. Although subtly flavoured, I find it immensely gratifying as a meal in itself; the nuttiness from the roasted dals and the sweetness of the coconut that just tempers the fiery undertones of the chilli and black pepper. All of which combine beautifully to release a heavenly aroma. Here, I have opted for grated coconut which you can of course substitute with the desiccated variety which desiccated works just as well; just soak in water for 10-15 minutes and then drain and squeeze out the excess water. Best of all, this is a great way to use up any left over rice you may have in the fridge. Due to its subtle flavours, this rice does goes well with most curries however, do be careful when pairing with a coconut based curry to make sure that as an ingredient, it does not overpower the menu; if paired with dishes cooked with a thick coconut milk, the overall impact of the coconut can be somewhat consuming!
Ingredients (Serves 4)
2 cups basmati rice (approx. 300g) cooked, rinsed in cold water and cooled
3tbsp. vegetable oil
¾ medium onion
1 ½ cloves garlic, minced
1 tsp. cumin seeds
½ tsp. mustard seeds
1 ½ tsp. urad dal
1 tsp. channa dal
3 whole, dried red chillies
12-15 fresh curry leaves
7 tbsp. fresh coconut
1 tsp. coarse black pepper
¾ tsp. salt
2 tbsp. roasted cashew nuts coarsely chopped
Heat the oil, add the mustard seeds cumin seeds and fry until they pop (this will be a matter of seconds) Add the chillies, cashew nuts and both dals. Once the dals and nuts are lightly roasted, add onions and garlic and fry over a medium-low heat for 3-4 minutes or until the onions are translucent. Add the coconut, curry leaves and salt to the pan and fry for 5 minutes until the coconut is lightly toasted. Add the cooked rice to the pan and combine gently until the rice is hot.
Sheba Promod Cookery Teacher & Food Writer Founder of Absolute Indian Tel: 0777 908 6999 www.absoluteindiancookeryclasses.com Facebook: AbsoluteIndian LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/shebapromod Twitter: aicookeryclass