As I was thinking about what to make for dinner this week (and what to drink with it), I realized I needed some inspiration. I pulled out my recipe binder and started flipping through. Hidden far in the back was a hand written recipe for coconut rice in a handwriting I didn’t recognize at first.
When I was in high school (seemingly forever ago) I worked for this great family, taking care of their children and helping them around the house. Being from South India originally, they taught me a lot about Indian cooking, but even more about myself. They were just those beautiful, warm people who you can’t help but grow, simply from being around them. Banu, the mom, had written out this recipe for me after I started asking LOTS of questions about her cooking. She even gave me some traditional ingredients so I could practice at home; she was very supportive. She would not, however, be supportive of part II of this post which is all about the chicken curry smothering this rice (they were hardcore vegetarians, which I clearly, am not).
This is truly a recipe of nostalgia for me. Plus, Indian food + hoppy beer is basically a match made in heaven. An added bonus is that Oskar Blues Brewery now distributes in Cin sity (woooooot), which means I can get all the Old Chub, and Dale’s Pale Ale (an all time favorite), that I can drink. Pairing this spicy dish with their G’Knight Imperial Red IPA is a must do. It’s hoppy and malty, but very well balanced. Has a dry note at the end and isn’t too sweet (which is nice considering its sizable 8.7% ABV). PLUS it comes in 16 oz cans, which means 4 more ounces of delicious beer per can for you, my friend.
Traditional South Indian Coconut Rice
2-3 tbsp light oil (like vegetable)
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 or 2 small green chilies, ribs and seeds mostly removed; chopped
1 – 1.5 cups cashews and or peanuts (not roasted)
– plus –
1/3 package or ~ 1 cup of shredded (unsweetened) coconut. I found mine at a ginormous grocery store in the frozen “ethnic” section. If you’re lucky enough to have a good Indian store nearby, they should have it also, in the frozen section.
1 1/2 cups uncooked basmati rice
Start by making the rice, following package instructions. If you’re making the curry, you can do this toward the beginning of making the curry and once done, set in a bowl in the fridge. It is better not to use hot rice for this, so you could even cook the rice a night ahead of time. Would be a great use for leftover rice!
Add your mustard seeds to HOT oil. I used my big ass non-stick wok for this, which worked awesome. Once the seeds are done popping, add your chopped green chilies, and nuts (a combo is fun, but if you only have one that is fine), stir well. Turn heat down to medium. Add the thawed coconut (microwave beforehand if you need to for a minute), and stir, toasting the coconut and nuts for about 5 minutes or so, or until the coconut and nuts have a nice toasty appearance. Then add your rice, stirring well until warmed through completely a couple minutes. I added a bit more oil right as I added the rice to make sure it didn’t stick.
If you’re not into the spicy thing, then feel free to take down the chili action in this (1 chili or less). If you are a chili-head, add the chilies with the seeds and ribs. I tend to be like a 7 out of 10 spicy and this is about where this dish falls. Top this rice with your favorite Indian dish. I just recently learned how to make saag paneer from Cook’s Illustrated: www.cooksillustrated.com (my all time favorite foodie magazine) and it is so easy!! That would be great with this. Or you could hold tight and top with my very own chicken curry (part II of this post). Not to brag or anything but this meal once won a beer and food pairing contest. There might have only been four of us in the competition, but victory never tasted so good.
As always, let me know what YOU think about all my jibber-jabber. If you try a recipe I would LOVE feedback!! Loved it? Hated it? Added something that made it even more amazing? Holler at me.