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A Bowlful of Comfort



I have a friend who is quite the globetrotter. Lunches at her place, often right after her trips, are a treasure trove of global flavours. But the last time we met, she was just back from Tamil Nadu and out she brought a bowl of curd rice. I love curd rice and have eaten a lot of it over the years but my friend's version was so full of flavours and textures, it was a revelation. Obviously, I asked for the recipe.

The genius of this curd rice lies in adding the tempering or the tadka twice, once to mix in the rice so it absorbs all the flavours. Then you make a second batch to top the rice with just before you serve, so it adds crunch to the usually mushy dish. The recipe also has a few other elements added in for texture, freshness and flavour.

I over-ate at lunch at my friend's and I over-ate again when I made this for myself for lunch. Plus, all the ingredients you need are likely in your kitchen already so you may as well go make it now.

Ingredients
1/2 cup rice
1 cup plain curd (yogurt)
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tbsp sesame oil (or any neutral oil will do)
1 tbsp split (white) urad dal
1/2 tbsp mustard seeds
2 dry red chillies
10-12 curry leaves
1 small cucumber, peeled and finely chopped
2 tbsp fresh coriander leaves
2 tbsp roasted peanuts
optional: 1 inch ginger piece, peeled and finely chopped

Wash the rice. Add water and salt and boil until cooked. You should add a bit more water than you normally do since we are looking the rice to be slightly overcooked. Let the rice cool to lukewarm.

In a separate pan, heat the oil and add mustard seeds, urad dal, red chillies and curry leaves. I am not a big fan of ginger but if you are using it, add it now. Wait until the mustard seeds splutter and the dal is light brown and cooked. At this point, turn the heat down and remove half of this mixture to a bowl. Add 2 tbsp water to the remaining mixture in the pan, bring to a boil and let cook for a minute to make a sauce. Add this sauce to the rice and mix well.

Now add chopped cucumber, 1/2 the coriander and the curd to the rice. Mix and check seasoning. Add more salt if you need it.

Just before serving, top the rice with the tempering you set aside, peanuts and the rest of the coriander leaves.

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