When I used to live in Southern part of India, I use to enjoy eating the various dishes prepared with Coconut. The various dishes are prepared using rice in various forms – rice with lentils used to make various dishes, rice with coconut, rice with tomatoes etc. Today, I have taken a dish from an excellent cookbook called The Turmeric Trail: Recipes and Memories from an Indian Childhood. It is by Raghavan Iyer, whom I had the pleasure of meeting when I was living in Minneapolis.
You can usually buy either frozen shredded coconut or buy a coconut and shred it yourself. I prefer the first approach as it is a tedious process shredding it yourself.
This dish also uses different varieties of lentils which adds a crunchy texture to the dish. The one on the left is called Urad Dal (split and hulled black lentils) and the one on the right is Chana Dal (yellow split peas).
After you dry roast the dals and red chilies, it gets a nice golden brown color. Let it cool in a plate and then grind the mixture. I use a coffee grinder reserved specifically for grinding spices. It works really well.
The final dish is really tasty and nutritious. You can eat the dish on it own or with a vegetable dish on the side.
This recipe is quite tasty especially if you like coconut. Don’t be intimidated by the number of ingredients. It is quite simple to make and the end result is well worth it.
1 cup uncooked basmati rice
1 1/2 cups water
2 tablespoons urad dal (split and hulled black lentil)
2 tablespoons chana dal (yellow split peas)
4 dried red Thai or serrano chilis (you can use 2 to cut down the heat)
2 tablespoons ghee
1 teaspoon black mustard seed
1 tablespoon whole raw cashews, coarsely chopped
1 tablespoon dry-roasted unsalted Spanish peanuts, coarsely chopped
1 cup shredded coconut
1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh cilantro
10-15 curry leaves
1 teaspoon salt
In a 2-quart saucepan, cover the rice with water. Gently swish the water until the water becomes cloudy and drain the water. Repeat this 3- times until the water runs clear. Cover with 1 1/2 cups cold water and soak for 20-30 minutes
Bring the rice and water to a boil over medium-high heat. Cook, uncovered, stirring once or twice for 5-6 minutes until most of the liquid has evaporated. Lower the heat as far as possible and cover and cook for 5 minutes. Turn off the burner.
Meanwhile in a skillet, place 1 tablespoon urad dal, 1 tablespoon chana dal, and 3 chilis (use 1 chili if you would like it less spicy). Heat over medium-high heat, shaking the pan occasionally, for 2-3 minutes or until the dals turn golden brown and chilies slightly blackened. Transfer to a plate and let it cool. Grind in a spice grinder until the mixture is the texture of finely ground black pepper.
In the same skillet, heat the ghee over medium-heat. Add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to pop, cover the skillet with a lid. As soon as the popping subsides, add 1 tablespoon of urad dal, 1 tablespoon of chana dal, 1 dried red chili, cashews and peanuts. Stir fry for 30 seconds or until the dals turn golden brown. Be careful not to burn it.
Stir in the coconut, cilantro and curry leaves and cook, stirring constantly, for 2-4 minutes or until the coconut is golden brown.
Add the coconut mixture, dal chili blend and salt to the cooked rice. Mix well.