17 January 2013

Greens Mixed Rice

Kalantha saadam (literally "mixed rice") is a delicious group of South Indian dishes, that include lemon rice, tomato rice, coconut rice, and tamarind rice. This one isn't quite so common, but I still found it to be delicious. If you're looking to develop your own type of kalantha saadam, here are some considerations:

1) The rice should be separate and fluffy. It's why I frequently call for basmati rice in these specific recipes.
2) The dish itself should end up dry. Even in the case of tomato rice, where you have a fair bit of wet ingredients (i.e., fresh tomato), you still want to cook the spice mix down until the liquid evaporates enough to make the rice stay fluffy, dry, and separate. Mushy or wet kalantha saadam is an embarrassment. If it ever happens to you, add a bunch of other vegetables, and call it something else.
3) Nuts are always appreciated. No exceptions (unless you have some kind of horrible allergy).
4) Curry leaves are nice to have, but aren't strictly required. If you can't find it, leave it out.
5) You're focusing on the /rice/ and anything else that is with it is a condiment. That is, the bulk of the dish should be rice. The spice blend is a seasoning.
6) These are all my own opinions. If you show this to another Indian, they'll likely nod along to a couple of points, and then scream and rage with fury at the rest. This is the beauty of the food of my country. It's varied in the extreme, while still being delicious. Everyone who cooks (and frequently, even those who eat) will have strong opinions on how it should be done. That is OK.

This is a picture of what it looks like. (Please click the small picture to see the bigger version.) Notice how the rice dominates the whole thing.This is good. This is but my own version; where you can substitute, I have made notes. In this version, I skipped the nuts, but I added a large handful of curry leaves, and a few heaping tablespoons of dried fenugreek leaves. You may also add dill, cilantro, parsley, basil, or any other fresh herbs you like.

4 cups cooked rice
1 bunch collard greens (you can also use kale, any fresh herbs of your liking, or spinach. if using spinach, don't microwave. I used collard greens, curry leaves, and fenugreek leaves)
1/3 cup water
1 onion
1 TB canola oil (peanut, or other vegetable oils are fine too)
1 tsp mustard seed
1 tsp urad daal
1/2 tsp cumin seed
3 tsp sesame seed (optional)
1/4 cup roasted nuts (optional)
1 tsp red pepper flakes
1/2 tsp turmeric

Chop the greens (but not the herbs) roughly. In a large microwave safe container, add the water and the greens. Microwave for 6 minutes, until lightly wilted.

While the greens cook, chop the onion, and gather your spices. Heat up your wok over high heat. Add the oil, and let it get hot. Add the mustard seeds, and let them pop. Add the urad daal, cumin seeds, and sesame seeds. Let the cumin and sesame seeds pop. You might want to use your lid, because they will violently pop all over the place. Once the popping subsides, add your onions, and drop down the heat to medium (so the onions don't burn).

When the greens are wilted, chop as finely as you can with the chopping blade of your food processor. Don't add the water from the steaming unless you absolutely need it. Because they've wilted down, you should be able to fit the entire bunch of collard greens along with any herbs you like into a 7-cup food processor (which is the kind I have). This will make short work of the greens. Chop until finely processed.

Crank up the heat of the wok to as high as it'll go. Add the greens, some turmeric powder, red pepper flakes, and the roasted nuts. Toss to combine with the spices, and continue to cook for 2 minutes. Turn off the heat, and toss the greens with the cooked rice.

Serve piping hot, with any vegetable side that you like.