August 9, 2014

Coconut Yogurt Rice

coconut yogurt rice

coconut yogurt rice

coconut yogurt rice

I keep showing up with this dish everywhere I go. Hey let's go on a picnic. What did you bring? Oh nothing, just this rice. Come over for lunch. What did you make? Oh just this rice dish and some salad. Hey it's lunch time, what do I have that I can eat quickly? Oh just this rice.

Years ago when I lived in Houston, my family and I would head out to the Sri Meenakshi Hindu temple in Pearland, TX, and then stay for lunch - eating just prepared homemade tamarind and yogurt rice. The kitchen staff would prepare fresh batches, and it was fun to watch them mix up the rice in these enormous stainless steel bowls. Half the family was split on yogurt/curd or dhai rice, and the other half were tamarind rice, so we'd get both, and sit on the temple grounds enjoying a sunny Sunday or Saturday. Then we'd get ladoos.

I've made this three times in the past two weeks. My mom has been sending me home with lots of delicious home cooked leftovers, and one day I had so much rice I made this. Making yogurt or dhai rice is really easy. Take leftover long grain rice, and then add plain yogurt, and some seasoned oil, and mix together, and then serve. Comes together in minutes if you have enough leftover rice. My yogurt rice is completely inauthentic, but it tastes good, and everyone that has tried it so far has asked for the recipe.

Coconut Yogurt Rice
Yield: 4 servings, split however you like

4-5 cups cooked white rice, preferably Basmati rice
1/2 cup yogurt
1/3 cup unsweetened coconut, ground to a fine powder
salt and pepper

Ingredients for Vaghar:
1 tsp mustard seeds
pinch hing (asafoetida) can be omitted (ask for it at a South Asian grocery store)
4-6 mitto limbdo/curry leaves
2 tbsp peanut oil

1. If using leftover rice that has been chilled in the fridge, heat it back up with a bit of water. It will make mixing everything easier. Add the rice to a large mixing bowl, such as large pyrex or other large stainless steel mixing bowl. Add the yogurt, coconut, and salt and pepper. Stir to combine.
Note: you can also use just cooked rice. It will be good too, but chilling the rice first keeps it more toothsome and less mushy. 

Next we are going to make a vaghar. Use an oil with a high smoke point like peanut oil. Add the oil to a small pot, like a small saucepan, and when hot add in spices and fresh herb leaves to infuse the oil with the aromatics. Usually the vaghar can be poured over something as a finish, or things can be added to it to such as done when cooking. Let's do the vaghar:

2. In a small saucepan with a lid, heat up the peanut oil. When hot add in mustard seeds and hing and cook until the mustard seeds pop. Add in the mitto limbdo leaves, and close the lid, turn the heat off and let cook for 1-2 minutes. Pour the vaghar over the rice. Stir everything together. Adjust salt if needed. Serve immediately. 


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