Thursday, April 03, 2008

1001 South Indian 'Variety Rice'

:. Variety Rice – A Primer .:
Variety rice or Kalavai Sadam ( Mixed rice) as it is known in Tamil is a popular travel dish. It is so popular among travelers that it is referred to as Kattu Sadam ( packed rice).Variety rice is just cooked rice mixed with flavouring and a variety of goodies to create a quick meal. Papad / Vadam / Pickles are served as accompaniments. Traditionally a dozen types of variety rice are normally cooked. This cookbook expands the definition to showcase many more varieties. The recipes in this table are arranged in increasing order of difficulty. Recipe number 000 is the simplest to cook and 999 the toughest.

If you have come here looking for traditional Kalavai Sadam / Variety rice, they are all here, but buried deep inside. Recipe numbers 711 – 718 covers traditional Variety rice – Coconut rice, lemon rice etc. Apart from the handful of traditional variety rice, hundreds more can be cooked by changing the base, flavouring and goodies used.

Change Base :
Don’t be shocked to see Puffed rice / Rice flakes listed here. These are just processed rice and can be used to create some of the easiest, tastiest and quickest rice dishes. Puffed rice is eaten as a staple food in parts of north Karnataka and Bengal. They require little or no cooking and so you can make your dishes in no time at all. It is a pity that the easy to cook, nutritious and cheap rice flakes / puffed rice do not enjoy the reverence accorded to the better marketed corn flakes / popcorn. Rayalaseema’s Buggani is nothing but a variety rice made using puffed rice. The Tamil Avil Uppuma is a variety rice prepared using rice flakes instead of rice. Replace cooked rice with rice flakes in Tamarind rice and you get Puli Avil.
The simplest ‘variety rice’ you can cook up is recipe number 000 which is just moist puffed rice mixed with Poriyals( dry vegetable curries), Podis ( Spicy lentil powders) or Pickles. This gives you a great tasting dish, but is not considered a traditional recipe, which usually calls for cooked rice.
Moving down the table, you can use different types of rice (Long grained / medium grained) Each will impart its own taste, texture and flavor to the dish.
Most rice is usually polished to give it the coveted pure white colour. This is at the cost of many nutrients and fiber in the outer layers getting polished away. Use unpolished rice and you get a dish which might not look great, but would be far more nutritious.

Most rice used in South India is parboiled rice (rice steamed in husk and dried). Though it takes longer to cook, it is more nutritious and easily digestible than raw rice. Stir frying rice imparts a nutty flavor and also prevents rice from sticking to each other.

There is an implicit assumption that certain kinds of recipes demand certain kinds of rice. For example, Basmati is not traditionally used for curd rice or tamarind rice, most probably because Basmati was just not available down south. Similarly, new varieties of rice like the Ponni and the Sona masoori were not available 50 years back. So the traditional recipes were not able to call upon these delightful varieties. But we now have easy access to a wide variety of rice from across the world. Rice is a favourite the world over and hundreds of delicious rice varieties are cultivated across the world. Fortunately, almost all these varieties are cooked the same way. Some may require a the use of bit more or less water, but do not let this trivial detail stop you from discovering the treasurehouse of rice. Experiment with many different varieties and cook up never-before-cooked variety rice.

Change flavouring :

Cooked rice tastes great with just about anything. Many ‘variety rice’ recipes call for no extra flavouring. Just add ghee to hot cooked rice and ghee rice is ready. Add boiled tuvar dal to ghee rice and you have Paruppu sadam, another favourite, though not recognized as a Kalavai Sadam. Mix in yougurt to cooked rice and Thayir sadam is ready. However, many other kinds of variety rices like coconut rice or lemon rice require extra flavouring as listed in column 2.
Flavouring for all kinds of variety rice is almost the same. A mixture of fried mustard, urad dal, chana dal, chili, asafetida and curry leaves form the basic flavouring. Nuts like peanuts / cashew may also be added. Different combinations of these spices and different methods of cooking them gives us scores of flavouring.

Change Goodies
Don’t be shocked to see Poriyals / Podis / Pickles listed in column 3. Any poriyal (dry vegetable curry), pickle or podi ( spiced lentil powder) mixed with rice gives a Kalavai Sadam, though these are traditionally not recognized as such. Apart from these, all the other goodies listed are traditional and are widely used.

Play by varying these building blocks to cook up a never ending variety of rice dishes. Be bold and experiment and you have enough variety rice recipes to last a lifetime.

And this goes to Easycrafts Variety rice event.

1 comment:

easycrafts said...

Thanks for adding this lovely and informative post on rice varieties to the event..

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"It is extraordinary to me that the idea of creating thousands of recipes by mixing building blocks takes immediately to people or it doesn’t take at all. .... If it doesn’t grab a person right away, ... you can talk to him for years and show him demos, and it doesn’t make any difference. They just don’t seem able to grasp the concept, simple as it is". ( Thanks Warren Buffett !)

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