Green Earth Recently we have been seeing a lot of squirrels in and around the house scurrying around. Just the other day we saw one come very close to the back door. They are usually very skittish and do not venture that close to human beings though they like to snack on my tomatoes and blue berries. The sightings of black squirrels which is very rare has been increasing. But these observations came to mind only after seeing this article "Where have the Acorns gone" in the newspaper this morning. Looks like the acorns have completely disappeared this year, leaving the squirrels and other creatures depending on them for food to starve. Hopefully the disapperance of the acorns is part of the boom bust cycle and nothing more.
Tamarind Rice has been a favorite of mine from as long as I can remember. The tangy spicy rice was always welcome with some fried vadagamas (Indian chips). This is also a handy dish to carry when travelling because of its ability to keep even when the weather is very hot and humid. The sauce for making the rice is cooked down to remove any moisture. It tastes better and better as it ages. We pack this quiet often when going on road trips. Along with thayir sadam (Curd Rice) makes for perfect travel food. I usually add onions and garlic while making the sauce, which I did not do here. This particular batch was made for the temple and I remember a friend mentioning that onions and garlic should not be added to the food offered at the temple. To explain further this food is not offered to the gods but for people who want to buy food to eat when they visit the temple. I do not particularly subscribe to this belief but wanted to respect the others who do. The dish did not miss the absence of onions and garlic. The next time I make it I am not going to add them either.
Recipe for 3 Cups of Rice
1. 3 Cups Basmati rice cooked with sesame oil and a few pinches of salt.
Spread the rice to cool on a platter
2. Tamarind pulp from a lemon sized ball of tamarind
3. Seasonings: Curry leaves,asfoetida, mustard
3b. 2 tsp each of Chana dal and urad dal and 1 heaped tbsp of roasted peanuts
4. 3 tsp of turmeric powder
5. 1/2 tbsp Sesame oil
6. Salt to taste
7. 3 tsp canola oil (use sesame oil if preferred)
For the Spice Powder
1. 1 1/2 tbsp Chana Dal (Kadalai Paruppu)
2. 3/4 tbsp urad dal
3. 6 red chillies
4. 1/2 tsp methi seeds
5. 1/2 tbsp coriander seeds
6. a few pepper corns
Roast the above and blend to a powder (I made it slightly coarse, a fine powder is ok as well)
1. In a wide mouthed kadai heat the canola oil and when hot add the chana and urad dal and let them brown, add the asfoetida, mustard seeds and curry leaves.
2. When the mustard starts to pop add the peanuts and saute for a minute.
3. Now add the tamarind pulp with a bit of water, liquid should be about a cup and half
4. Add the turmeric powder to the liquid. Continue to boil till the raw smell leaves and the tamarind starts to thicken. Add salt.
5. Now add the spice powder and continue to reduce till no moisture is left.
6. **The sesame oil can be added at this point and cooked for a minute or more. (optional)
7. Let the savce cool for a while
8. Add the sauce to the cooked and cooled rice, mix gently so as to not break the rice.
9. Now heat the sesame oil slightly and pour over the rice and mix.
** I follow this method when preparing the sauce ahead of time. If adding sauce to cooked rice immediately this step can be skipped.