I love rice. Is it any surprise? Any self respecting South Indian would. I cannot do without rice. It is very very hard for me to give it up for anything in the world. In today's world, where everyone is so afraid of eating those dreaded 'carbs', I boldly go where other fear to tread. I eat rice without any qualms at all. In my opinion, rice cannot be all that bad considering us South Indians have eaten it for generations without ill effects. I think people are carrying this NO CARBS or the CaRBS ARE REALLY BAD FOR YOU a little too far.
I think the problem mainly lies in the fact that back in the day, people would eat just that. Nowadays, the variety of food available for daily consumption is mind boggling. So, in addition to eating normal everyday food, we tend to over indulge ourselves with desserts, sugars, fats etc..
Now to come to our dish of the day - Carrot Capsicum Rice. This recipe is adapted from Viji Varadarajan's book - "Samayal". This is an immensely simple but very tasty rice dish, which can be easily served up as a one dish meal along with a raita or curds. It does not have too many ingredients and so the flavor of the carrots and the capsicum really comes through. I have tweaked her recipe slightly, with the addition of onions,red chillies and asafoetida.
2 cups Basmati rice
400 grams Carrots grated
400 grams Capsicum diced finely
2 large Onions diced finely
3 tablespoons chopped Coriander leaves
1/2 teaspoon Mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon Cumin seeds(jeera)
2-3 Dried Red Chillies
10-12 Curry leaves
4 tablespoons Oil
1/4 teaspoon Asafoetida
1/2 teaspoon Turmeric powder
2 to 3 spoons Pitlai powder ( recipe follows)
1 tablespoon Lime juice
Salt to taste
3 tablespoons Coriander seeds (Dhania)
1 tablespoon Bengal gram dal (Chana dal)
2 Red Chillies
1/4 teaspoon Asafoetida
2 tablespoons Coconut grated
1 teaspoon Oil
Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil and fry the coriander seeds, red chillies, asafoetida and Bengal gram till golden and fragrant. Keep aside.
Heat remaining oil and add the coconut. Fry till golden brown. Keep aside.
When all ingredients are cool, grind to a fine powder.
This is a versatile taste powder which can be used to flavor vegetables and other rice dishes also.
Boil the rice with double the amount of water till fluffy and cooked. Keep aside.
Heat the oil. Add the mustard seeds and when they crackle, add the cumin, red chillies and curry leaves.
When cumin turns golden, add the onions, asafoetida and turmeric powder. Fry till translucent.
Then add the carrot and capsicum. Fry for a few minutes. Do not let the vegetables become too soft.
Add the salt, pitlai powder and rice.
Add the lime juice and turn it a few times. Garnish with coriander leaves.
Serve hot with raita or simpler still, just curd (yoghurt).