This rice preparation – native to the south of India – would make a nice meal on a summer day, with a raita on the side and perhaps a light vegetable dish such as cauliflower with paanchphoran or beans poriyal or jeera aloo.
I have adapted the recipe from “Samayal”, a cookbook by Viji Vardarajan. To make it interesting for the customers of the local boulangerie – where they served this today with mint- and coriander-flavored chicken, pumpkin raita and salad greens- I skipped the green chillies in the original recipe and added cashew nuts on a whim.
1 and a 1/2 cups of Basmati rice
2 large tomatoes, chopped fine
1 small onion, chopped fine
3 tablespoons of oil plus 1 teaspoon to add to the water in which the rice will be cooked.
1/4 of a teaspoon of mustard seeds
1/4 of a teaspoon of cumin seeds
1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric powder
a few curry leaves
50-60 grams of cashew nuts, halved and then fried lightly for a minute or so in a teaspoon of oil
Wash and soak the rice in cold water for 30 minutes , then drain the water and cook the rice with 1/2 a teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of oil in 2 and a quarter cups of water.
When the rice has cooled a little, separate the grains a little with a fork.
Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the mustard seeds. When these start to pop, add the curry leaves, fry for a couple of seconds and add the cumin seeds. As soon as they start to darken in color, add the onions and fry fora few minutes till they begin to look translucent. Now add the tomatoes, cover the pan and cook till the tomatoes are quite soft and their juice has almost dried up.
Add the turmeric, fry the mixture for another minute, then add the rice and toss everything together. Cover the pan and cook the rice for 6-7 minutes, turning over the rice a couple of times till all of it acquires a uniform yellow color. Just before taking the pan off the heat, mix in the cashew nuts.