Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Coriander Rice (Cilantro Rice)

Recent visit to an Asian cash and carry shop here was mainly to buy some beetel leaves but just as always I was on my shopping spree and bought two big bunches of coriander leaves. They are far cheaper in these stores than in the supermarket (which is not very typical though). Everytime I buy coriander I always get reminded of the days in Chennai where the vegetable vendor would always give handful of coriander leaves and curry leaves free of cost whenever you buy stuff from them. I remember being quite demanding even that young and would always ask him to give more of it for which I am not to blame coz they are so aromatic. While I always used to win in Chennai, I found it hard to believe that the vegetable vendors in Bangalore were not even aware of this practise and will not budge. I used to visit my husband over weekends while he was working there and my routine was to take a nap after a hard bus journey and buy the vegetables as early as possible. At that time it used to take forever for me to finish cooking a meal !!
Coming back to the present, I always find mixed rice more handy than full fledged sambar, rasam etc mainly coz I can get almost the same nutrition from just one dish. That being my theory behind going for variety rice, I will share my recipe with you. Before I get on with that, I would like to share my learning about the health benefit of coriander. Coriander, also called cilantro in the USA, though primarily used as a garnish is said to have quite a few health benefits like helping us fight urinary tract infection, lower blood sugar and also help lower bad cholesterol (LDL) and increase good cholesterol (HDL). I was surprised to learn that coriander also helps fight salmonella infection. Like most green leafy vegetables, it is supposed to be a good source of iron and dietary fibre and also helps in digestion and relieve colic. Now for my recipe that can serve upto three people...
1 teaspoon urd dal
1 teaspoon channa dal (kadalai paruppu)
¼ teaspoon tamarind paste
1 big bunch of coriander leaves (I wouldn’t use the stems in this recipe)
4-5 green chillies
1 cup rice
1 cup chopped onions
1 cup baby corn chopped
1 cup boiled and cubed potato
Cooking oil
Spices like a cinnamom stick, a clove, a bay leaf, a piece of mace
3 pinches turmeric powder
Mustard seeds
Salt to taste
Rinse the rice in water and drain the water. In general the rice we get abroad is clean and hence I just rinse once so I minimise the loss of nutrients. In a kadai or deep dish add 1 teaspoon oil and the spices. Once the spices are half fried, add the rinsed drained rice. Fry until it turns bright white. You may want to use wooden ladle to do this so you do not break the rice grains as they become brittle while frying. Pressure cook the rice, I usually use 1:1 ratio for rice and water if I want the grains nice and separate but I think most people use double the water. While the rice is cooking, roast channa dal until it turns golden brown and roast urd dal until it turns golden brown as well and keep aside. It usually takes me longer to roast channa dal so I do not do both together fearing charring of dal. Put the coriander and green chillies in the kadai and just wilt the coriander (this will not take more than a minute). Grind the dals, coriander, chillies along with tamarind paste to yield a smooth paste. In the kadai, add about 1 teaspoon oil and add mustard seeds followed by turmeric powder and asafoetida. Add chopped onions and baby corn. I chose baby corn because it is almost bland and will not interfere with the taste and flavours of coriander and also coz it will be a bit crunchy to eat. Once the babycorn is cooked add the ground paste and cook for a minute. Now add the potatoes, stir and then add the rice. Remember that if rice is very hot, it could turn mushy easily when stirred so it is a good idea to let the rice cool for a while. As it is important to have atleast one serving of starchy vegetables everyday, I added some potatoes. Add required amount of salt and serve hot.
Though the recipe seems long, it can be done well sequentially – fry rice and while it is cooking, roast dals and coriander for the paste and while they are cooling, temper and add onions and baby corn. You could treat yourself by garnishing with fried cashews too.

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