Friday, May 23, 2014

Coconut Rice

Rice is the staple diet of South Indians and the South Indian cuisine is replete with mouth-watering variety of rice dishes, ranging from gravies and sauces that can be mixed into plain cooked rice to one-pot dishes like pongal, coconut rice, lemon rice, tamarind rice, curd rice, sesame seed rice, to mention just a few. The Tamil festivals of Pongal and Aadi Perukku are celebrations of the versatility of this grain and the rich cuisine it has spawned.

Among the several one pot rice dishes, coconut rice and lemon rice are the easiest and foolproof dishes to make. The ingredients for the two dishes are also commonly available now-a-days. Interestingly, after years of bad press coconut is also making a comeback as a good for you natural food. I make coconut rice often. I made it today and as I was making it I decided to take photos of the preparation and post it here. Below is the recipe for coconut rice.

What you will need: (see 2nd photo above)
(based on your taste and preferences, you can add more or less of the ingredients below)

long grain rice, 1 cup
grated coconut, fresh or dried, 2 tablespoons
coconut oil (can be substituted with any other oil) 1 tablespoon
salt to taste
black mustard seeds, a pinch (optional)
urad dal, 1/2 teaspoon (optional) 
chana dal, 1/2 teaspoon (optional)
one red chile (optional)
cashew or peanuts (optional)
asafoetida, a pinch (optional); asofoetida promotes digestion

1. Rinse the rice in cold water several times to remove as much starch as possible. The cooked rice has to be loose and fluffy to get the right texture for a tasty coconut rice. Cook the rice according to instructions. However, if the instructions call for 1:2 ratio of rice to water, reduce the amount of water to 1 1/2.

2. Transfer the cooked rice onto a baking dish and let it completely cool.

3. Meanwhile, heat oil in a skillet. If you are not planning to use any of the optional ingredients, simply roast the coconut in the oil till it turns golden brown. Add the roasted coconut to the rice. Add the desired amount of salt.

4. Blend the rice, salt and coconut with a spatula. You are done!

5. If you want to add any or all of the optional ingredients, this is the order in which you would proceed:

(All the roasting should be done in low heat)
a. Heat oil in a skillet and add the asafoetida
b. Add the mustard and let it pop
c. Add urad and chana dal and roast them till they turn gold brown
d. Add and roast the nuts till they turn golden
e. Add the chile
f. Add the coconut flakes and roast till they turn gold brown
(for reference, see the third photo)
g. Follow steps 3 and 4 above to finish the dish.

Thanks for visiting.

Friday, May 2, 2014

Repurposed Burlap

Growing up in India, burlap was a familiar object to me. Everything from rice to coal came packaged in large burlap sacs. After the rice or coal was used up, my mother would use the sacs as dry mops. The habit of reusing burlap has stayed with me even after I moved to the US. The basmati rice I buy come packaged in burlap bags. For a while, I have been reusing these burlap rice bags to make journal covers like the ones shown here.

After I make these covers, I am often left with remnants. Not wanting to throw these remnants away, I thought I could re-purpose them into coasters. It turned out to very well and I liked them so much I made several. They are extremely easy to make and except for some precise measuring, they require minimum sewing skills.

For this project, I re-purposed burlap rice bags. You can also buy burlap from craft stores like Michael's. It is inexpensive especially if you use a coupon. To make the coasters sturdy, I layered the burlap with a thick interfacing like Pellon Peltex and felt. You can get Peltex from fabric stores like JoAnn's and the felt I used was an inexpensive one from Michael's.

What you need to do is to decide the size of your coaster. If you want a 4" square coaster, then you cut 4" square piece of burlap, interfacing and felt each. (In a square, each side is equal, here each side is 4".)

Stack the three pieces one above the other with each side perfectly aligned. Sew them together using a zigzag stitch. You are done! It is really that easy:)

Thanks for visiting.