I was just looking at my blog recipe archives, and it struck me that I have been neglecting certain categories by not posting as much in them. One of these categories is " Pasta And Rice". While the omission has been unintentional, it seems ironic to me that we eat rice everyday and yet I haven't posted too many rice recipes despite an abundance of "raw material"!
As a step towards remedying this situation, I present to you "Elumicham Pazham Chaadham". In Tamil (a south Indian language and my mother tongue), "elumicham pazham" is lemon and "chaadham" is rice. This just about describes this dish, which is a slightly spicy rice preparation which has a delightful tang from the lemon and a nutty flavour from the lentils and peanuts in it.
A traditional preparation from my community, this rice preparation (like most other similar preparations), is very easy to put together yet very satisfying and filling. Lemon rice, along with other flavoured and seasoned varieties of rice dishes, are traditionally made for Aadi Perukku which is Tamil festival which celebrates a good monsoon and the promise of a bountiful planting and harvest year.
However these rice preparations are also everyday fare in most homes, probably because they're so good and easy to make. While such rice preparations are made with freshly cooked rice for festive occasions, they're also a wonderful way to use up left over rice on other days.
One thing I would like to point out is that many recipes for south Indian rice preparations seem to use Basmati rice. Basmati is a variety of rice grown in the north of India and so traditionally not used in south Indian cooking. So these recipes are best if made with other varieties like Kolam or similar short grain white rice. Also, these recipes do not work well with boiled rice (which is popular in Kerala), though some varieties of steamed rice are fine. I have made this with steamed Sona Masuri.
4 cups cooked rice (at room temperature)
1 1/2 tbsp oil
1 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 tbsp split black gram lentils (urad dal)
2 tbsp Bengal gram lentils (chana dal)
1/4 cup roasted unsalted peanuts (with or without skin)
2 green chillies (chopped)
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
a big pinch asafetida powder
salt to taste
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 to 2 sprigs curry leaves
Heat the oil in a big pan (big enough to take the 4 cups of rice) and add the mustard seeds. When they splutter, turn down the heat to medium, add the lentils and sauté till they're golden in colour.
Now add the peanuts and sauté for about a minute or so. Add the green chillies. Stir a couple of times and add the turmeric powder. Again stir a couple of times, add the asafetida powder and the curry leaves and stir well. Turn off the heat.
Now add the rice and salt. Gently mix. Add the lemon juice and continue gently mixing everything together so that the rice is uniformly yellow in colour. Serve slightly warm or at room temperature with pappads or plain potato crisps and yogurt or a raitha (vegetables in spiced yogurt), if preferred. This is a great one dish meal. This recipe serves 3 to 4 depending on whether it is served as a one dish meal or as part of a larger meal.