Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 20 minutes
A few years back, while I was visiting family in Ahmedabad, my father and I went to have tea with his neighbors. The Sastrys are from the South Indian state of Karnataka. While we were having tea and the usual cookies and other obligatory snacks and making small talk, their elementary school–aged children came home from school. Mrs. Sastry excused herself to make a snack for the children. I heard her chopping something in the kitchen and offered to help. She said no, so I asked if I could watch her as she put together this snack. She said yes.
She heated up a generous glug of ghee in a wok, then she added mustard seeds, sliced ginger, shallots, curry leaves, and some hot chiles. To this she added a handful of chopped, roasted peanuts, a generous pinch of masala powder, and a couple of cups of cooked rice—presumably leftover from lunch—and gave everything a good toss. She squeezed some fresh lemon juice on top and garnished it with chopped cilantro. She then put some in bowls for the kids, who sat down and ate it with glee.
1 teaspoon plus 1 tablespoon ghee (store-bought or homemade), divided
1 teaspoon urad dal (split black lentils)
1 teaspoon chana dal (you may find this labeled as “split Desi chickpeas” or “split gram.”)
5 tablespoons roasted peanuts, divided
½ teaspoon cumin seeds
2 teaspoons shredded, dried, unsweetened coconut
3 dried red chiles de árbol, stemmed
1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
1 sprig curry leaves
2 shallots, thinly sliced
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 serrano pepper, cut in half lengthwise
2 cups|300 grams cooked and cooled long-grain white rice
1 teaspoon kosher salt
pinch granulated sugar
1 lemon, juiced
¼ cup|8 grams chopped fresh cilantro, for garnish
- Heat 1 teaspoon ghee in a skillet over medium heat. When the ghee is shimmering, add the urad dal, chana dal, 2 tablespoons peanuts, cumin seeds, coconut, and dried chiles. Stir and cook until everything is lightly toasted and fragrant, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and when cool enough to handle, grind in a spice grinder or coffee grinder, or with a mortar and pestle. Set this spice mix aside.
- Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon ghee in a heavy-bottomed saucepan over medium heat until very fragrant. Add the mustard seeds and cook until they start popping, about 30 seconds. Add the curry leaves and stir. Add the shallots, ginger, serrano, and remaining 3 tablespoons peanuts and mix well. Cook until the shallots are soft, 3 to 5 minutes. Add the rice and the spice mix, stirring gently so as not to break the rice grains. Add the salt, sugar, and lemon juice. Cook, gently tossing everything together for 5 to 7 minutes, until the rice is heated through. Garnish individual servings with a sprinkle of chopped cilantro.
Excerpted from I Am From Here: Stories and Recipes from a Southern Chef by Vishwesh Bhatt. Copyright © 2022 by Vishwesh Bhatt. Used with permission of the publisher, W. W. Norton & Company, Inc. All rights reserved.
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