August 25, 2022
Tamarind Jasmine Rice
2 cups uncooked jasmine rice (Three Horses brand)
1 ½ cups water, for rice
1 tablespoon tamarind puree
¼ cup water, for tamarind
1 tablespoon light brown sugar or jaggery
¼ cup plus 1 tablespoon chana dal, divided
1 tablespoon urad dal (whole without the skin)
6 red dried chiles, divided
2 teaspoons coriander seeds
2 teaspoons black mustard seeds, divided
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1 teaspoon black peppercorn
2 pinches hing, asafoetida
2 teaspoons salt
1 tablespoon sesame oil
½ cup raw, unroasted peanuts
10 curry leaves
1. Cook the rice. Wash the rice, place it in a pot, add the cooking water, and turn the heat to medium high. When the water comes to a boil, turn the heat down and simmer. Place a lid slightly ajar on the pot, and cook until the water evaporates, about 8 minutes. Turn the heat off, place the lid flat on the pot and let the rice sit for at least 5 minutes. Then, transfer the cooked rice to a large tray. With a spatula, spread the rice into a thin layer to cool. You can also place this tray in the fridge to cool even more. Day-old rice works well too. I love jasmine rice in this recipe - it’s at once just sticky enough but not too sticky. I always recommend looking for Three Horses brand - it’s the best quality Jasmine rice you can purchase. Keep in mind, use any substitutions you would like - farro, brown rice, quinoa, even cauliflower rice.
2. Soak the chana dal. In ample water, soak ¼ cup of the chana dal. This will sit and soak until Step 6, when you’ll drain it and add it to the final tempering. I prefer this extra step because while chana dal is a softer dal, it can be a little too hard in dishes if you don’t soak it first. There is no need to cook it because we want a slight crunch at the end.
3. Make the tamarind water. Place the tamarind puree, the ¼ cup water, and the brown sugar in a bowl and stir until blended. Set aside.
4. Make the spice mix. Heat a dry pan over medium-high heat. When warm, add 1 tablespoon of the chana dal, the urad, and 4 dried chiles broken into pieces. These go in first because they take slightly longer to cook. Stir and cook for 1 minute. Add the coriander, 1 teaspoon mustard, cumin, fenugreek, and peppercorn. Shake the pan and cook for another minute or two until all the ingredients smell fragrant and turn slightly reddish brown. Be careful not to burn the spices or you’ll have to start again. Once the spices cool for at least 5 minutes, transfer all the ingredients to a coffee grinder reserved for spices or a Vita mix dry jug. Grind this mixture down into a fine powder and transfer to a glass jar. This will make about ½ cup. You can store any extra for another batch later.
5. Make the tamarind ‘sauce’ and flavor the rice. Add 2 tablespoons of this spice mixture to the tamarind water from Step 2. Add the hing and the salt and stir until blended. Transfer this mixture to a pot. Heat over medium-high, simmer, and stir until the mixture thickens, about 3 minutes. Turn the heat off, and pour this mixture over the rice. Stir the rice until the mixture is evenly distributed and every kernel of rice is coated with tamarind. I prefer this amount of tamarind. If you would like more, just double the tamarind puree and water - you’ll increase the simmer time as well to 5 minutes.
6. Prepare the tempering and finish the rice. In a frying pan, heat the oil over medium-high heat. When hot, add 1 teaspoon of mustard seeds, 2 dried red chiles (broken into pieces), and the peanuts. Stir and cook for 1 minute until the peanuts brown slightly. Then, carefully add the drained chana dal from Step 2. Try to drain away as much moisture as possible. (I place the drained dal on a dish towel until I’m ready to use it.). The less moisture, the faster it will brown. Be careful, any added moisture can splash when it hits the oil. Once slightly brown, add the curry leaves and cook them until they turn slightly brown as well and curl up. Pour this entire mixture over the tamarind rice, distributing it evenly across the top. For a prettier display, I sometimes distribute the tempering just one one half of the dish and then let my guests mix it as they serve themselves. Not a fan of peanuts? Use any raw nut including cashews, pistachios, or pine nuts. Leave the nuts out if you prefer.
Enjoy this dish as a meal, as a snack, or paired with yogurt. All of the spices including the curry leaves are edible.
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