Sunday, October 4, 2009

Cumin Rice with Cashews and Raisins

More than six months after our return from Kerala, we still can't stop making this aromatic, earthy rice we discovered in cooking school. It's fantastic with curries or thoren! The only modifications we've made are to use shallots instead of onions and to substitute cooked brown rice for more traditional white basmati rice. The cashews and raisins are an easy way to turn an otherwise humble rice dish into something impressive.

One of our biggest take-aways from learning to cook South Indian food is the value of black pepper as a centerpiece spice rather than a finishing touch. Resist the temptation to just grind in a few shakes of black pepper and call it a day--measuring out the full 1/2 teaspoon, you'll see how much more it is, and using that much black pepper really makes a difference for the final product.

3 cups long-grain brown rice or brown basmati rice, cooked
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 and 1/2 teaspoons whole cumin seeds
1 teaspoon urad dal (optional)
1 cup very thinly sliced shallots
1/2 teaspoon freshly-ground black pepper
a pinch of turmeric
1 tablespoon butter or coconut oil
1/4 cup cashews
1/4 cup raisins

Heat the olive oil in a large wok over medium-high heat. Add the cumin and urad dal and stir until dal is brown, then add the shallots and saute until starting to brown. Now add the pepper and turmeric, stir to coat the shallots, and fold in the cooked rice. Stir well, ensuring that the shallots and spices get mixed in well. Salt to taste and set aside.

In a small skillet, heat the butter or coconut oil and saute the cashews until just barely starting to color. Add the raisins and continue stirring for about a minute longer, until raisins are puffy. Remove from heat, sprinkle raisins and cashews on the rice and serve.


Anonymous said...

My husband who is from Kerala loved it! Made it with cabbage but have to try it with kale. I also love that you guys cook in coconut oil. Smell and tastes heavenly!

jacob mathew said...

Glad that you are still cooking what you discovered here and the lovely additions you make the dish superb. No harm in using brown rice . In fact shallots are tastier and healthier. The presence of pepper and turmeric makes it healthier or you can call the anti inflammatory food too. We are also coming with a new website called www.keralacooking . Carry on the experiments and write about it . Thank you for keeping the fire lit still .

I Heart Kale said...

The new website looks great, Jacob! I just passed it on to a friend who is interested in the cooking residency. Thanks for stopping by.

Neen said...

Interesting about the black pepper. I wonder if that's a Kerala/South India only thing? Haven't run across it yet in my other Indian recipe sources. Must experiment!

I Heart Kale said...

Black pepper is native to South India, so I'd imagine it might be more popular there. It's really amazing what a different flavor you get using it as a centerpiece spice rather than as an afterthought!