Tag Archives: Curry Leaves

Brown Rice and Red Lentils with Raisins and Curry Leaves

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Brown Rice and Red Lentils with Raisins and Curry Leaves

I’ve never put together this particular combination together before.  I was adding spices as I went along. The combination of the brown rice and red lentils  go pretty well together because they cook for the same amount of time.  The red lentils almost disappear, adding a richness to the texture of the rice. It had a nutty flavor from the rice and a touch of sweetness from the raisins that goes really well with the cardamom flavors.  A great rice dish that goes with so many proteins like pork chops, gola kabobs (that’s how we ate them) and as a light meal by itself.

Brown rice and red lentils

Saute onion with curry leaves, cardamoms and cumin seeds

Add in raisins

Add rice and lentils

Serve with Gola Kabobs

Brown Rice and Red Lentils with Raisins and Curry Leaves

2 cups brown rice

1 cup red lentil

1/2 onion, chopped

4 tsp oil

12-15 fresh curry leaves

4 whole cloves

1/3 cup raisins

1 tsp salt

1 tsp cumin seeds

4-5 green cardamoms

3 black cardamoms

4 1/2 cups water

Wash lentils and brown rice and pick out any weird stuff.  In a large sauce pan heat oil and add onions.  Saute a few minutes and add all the remaining ingredients except for rice and lentils.  Stir fry for abut 2-3 minutes then add the rice and lentils.  Add 4 1/2 cups water and bring to a simmer.  Cover and let it cook over low heat until all the water is absorbed and rice and lentils are tender.  Serve with Gola Kabobs.

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Ghee 101 – making delicious clarified butter

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Ghee 101 – making delicious clarified butter

Ghee or clarified butter is a big part of South Asian cuisine.  It has such amazing flavor that a little goes a long way.  I’ve tried making ghee at home but it never seems to taste or smell like the amazing stuff we get back home (meaning the “homeland” of course).  In Bangladesh, there is a famous brand called “Baghabari Ghee” with a picture of a Royal Bengal Tiger on the label.  It’s famous flavor is renowned .  Every time I went home for a visit I would try to sneak a few jars of the stuff back with me.  I even tried to bribe my relatives who were going home to get me some ghee.  They would look at me in disbelief.  Really of all the things I could request someone bring back on a long journey and it’s ghee?  That’s a foodie for you.  I’m well-known for trying to schlep food in luggage.  One time I had curried Hilsa fish in my carry-on luggage (this was before the TSA liquid restrictions) and it exploded all over everything.  The WHOLE plane smelled like Bengali Hilsa Fish.  I tried to look innocent and blend, which is hard to do on a flight from Los Angeles to Boise, Idaho because I was the only brown person on the plane.  Flight attendants were walking back and forth sniffing the air and saying things like, “do you smell that?” or  “what is that smell?”

For years, my attempts at making ghee seemed a waste of time since I couldn’t tell the difference between the ghee or just regular butter.  Why bother if the flavor is not improved?  The whole idea behind a good ghee is to remove the milk protein from the butter leaving behind a nutty unclouded liquid.  My problem was that I was not heating it long enough at a low enough temperature.  The trick here is to use a heavy bottomed pan like a cast iron dutch oven or something similar and heat the butter for 20-30 minutes and to add curry leaves halfway through the process.  It’s also important NOT to stir the melted butter but to let it simmer unaided.  This helps to separate the milk proteins properly.  The curry leaves add a depth of flavor that I was missing all these years.  I have to say that this ghee smells and tastes even better than the famous “Baghabari Ghee”.  That’s one less thing that I have to hide in my luggage.

Melt butter over low heat

Heat for about 15 minutes before adding curry leaves to the melted butter

Heat another 15 minutes or so and when the liquid is clear with proteins separated in the bottom of the pan, take out the curry leaves

Strain out the proteins

The strained liquid should look clear with a nutty brown color

Ghee

How to make Ghee

1 pound unsalted butter

4-5 curry leaves

In a heavy bottomed pan melt the butter and let it simmer over very low heat.  Do not stir but keep an eye on the butter, when small brown chunks begin to appear on the bottom of the pan and the top part of the butter looks pretty clear (about 10-15 minutes) add curry leaves and continue to simmer for another 15 minutes.  When the top layer of butter looks light brown and very clear, take out the curry leaves and strain ghee through a fine mesh strainer into a mason jar.  Don’t throw away the brown protein bits.  Save them  to make Ghee Laddoos, a sweet treat made with the leftover protein (we don’t like to throw anything away).

Add chickpea and all-purpose flour along with sugar to the milk proteins leftover from making ghee

Ghee Laddoos

Ghee Laddoo

1/4 cup chickpea flour (besan)

1/4 cup all-purpose flour

1/4 cup sugar

In the same pan the ghee was made,  heat the browned leftover milk protein with 1/4 cup chickpea flour (Besan) and 1/4 cup of All-Purpose flour and 1/4 cup sugar.  Cook over medium heat  until everything is a nutty brown color and the sugar has incorporated well.  Roll into small balls and enjoy.

Lemon Rice ~South Indian Fried Rice

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Lemon Rice ~South Indian Fried Rice

South Indian Lemon Rice is one of those quick and easy dishes to prepare when you have some left over rice on hand or need to make a quick side dish that goes well with a variety of main dishes.  I love the fresh flavors and the unique taste of the curry leaves along with the crunch of the toasted cashews and split gram lentils.  No wonder it’s such a popular dish all over the Southern part of India.  The key to the flavor of this dish is keeping it at a high heat and allowing each ingredient to toast and pop to add to the depth of taste.  You have to work fast though and have all the ingredients nearby because it can burn really fast.  Recent studies have linked Turmeric with lower incidences of Alzheimer’s disease and as a great anti-inflammatory agent.  In this dish the Turmeric gives it that light, golden color with a hint of flavor that does not overshadow the lemony taste. A great way to get in some added health benefits while enjoying great taste.

Ingredients for Lemon Rice

What makes Lemon rice unique are the black mustard seeds, dried chilies and fresh curry leaves.

Heat mustard seeds and dried whole red chilies in hot oil until the seeds begin to pop and crackle

Add Sesame seeds and Split Gram lentils

Add raw, unsalted Cashews

Add golden raisins and Turmeric

Add the Curry Leaves and stir fry

Add Lemon zest and lemon juice

Mix in rice and toss

Delicious South Indian Lemon Rice

Here’s the Recipe:

Lemon Rice~South Indian Fried Rice

4 cups cooked rice (I prefer Basmati Rice)

5 tablespoons of vegetable oil

1/2 tsp black mustard seeds

5 dried red whole Chilies

1 tablespoon Split Gram yellow lentils

1 tsp raw Sesame Seeds

3 tablespoons Golden Raisins

1/4 cup raw unsalted Cashews

1 lemon, zested

Juice from one lemon

1 1/2 tsp Turmeric powder

2 tsp Kosher salt

10-12 fresh Curry Leaves

In a large wok or frying pan heat oil and stir fry mustard seeds and dried chilies until mustard seeds begin to pop.  Add in Sesame Seeds, lentils and salt and stir fry another 50 seconds.  Add in Cashews, Raisins and Turmeric stir fry a few seconds before adding in curry leaves and then the zest of one lemon and the juice of the entire lemon.  Stir to blend flavors and add in cooked rice, tossing well to coat.  Serve hot as a vegetarian dish or as a great side dish.