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About Changing Tastes and Lemon Rice (Elumichampazham Sadam)

Lemon Rice

Isn't it amazing, how as we grow up, our tastes change and how the same things that used to make us screw up our noses as children, we now, actually enjoy? The other day, I suddenly realized that my taste preferences have changed so much over the years.

Growing up, I detested garlic. My mom would put whole roasted garlic in her curries that over the course of the cooking, would become soft and delicate. I would spend an inordinate amount of time ladling out the curry on to my plate being careful not get any garlic. If I did get any, I would industriously pick them out and dunk them onto my mom's plate.

Flowers

These days, I pick them out and serve myself. I love the flavor and melt in your mouth texture of whole garlic that has been cooked for eons in the curry absorbing all the flavors and becoming surprisingly sweet over the roasting process. And, I use copious amounts of the bulb in my cooking!

Another thing I would not touch before was flavored rice. As you probably know rice is the staple grain of most Asians. This was even more so, in the case of South Indians, as I am. The generic rule of thumb is that the North has wheat and other grains as staples, of which, they make breads and the South sticks to rice and rice sticks to them.

Lemon Rice Close up

But for as long as I remember, and that hasn't changed a whole lot even now, I was not a voracious rice eater. In fact, my mom had to put her foot down and insist that I had to have atleast one serving of rice per week for me eat it. I much preferred the lighter rotis. I always felt the rice filled me up sooner and, hence, took away my joy of eating. The only exception to this was, ofcourse, Biriyani, which, I would hog..:)

So, anyway, in the South, they make many flavored rice items like coconut rice, tamarind rice, lemon rice etc. etc. These are usually eaten for breakfast (see, rice for breakfast!) and evening snacks. And, for that reason, they are usually easy to put together with already cooked rice. I would NOT touch them whenever it was made at home. So, well, it sort of stopped being made.

Lemon Rice 2

Mr. FSK on the other hand simply loves rice. But, poor boy, doesn't get to eat much of it because of me. But then, he is happy with his bread too. Since, coming to the US, I have started eating more rice. Part of it is because of Mr. FSK but also because I realized rice is easier to make into a meal. Now, you see, ease was not my consideration before as I wasn't doing the cooking.

It started with tamarind rice. We get amazing tamarind rice paste at the temple nearby. The other day, I decided to try my hand at Lemon Rice. I think acidity doesn't take well to a child's taste buds and that is probably the reason, I never liked this tangy rice much. But these days, acid is the by-word in cooking and all. So, lo and behold, I actually liked my lemon rice. Though I do think mine was a much milder version that what I remember it to be, and better for that! :)


Lemon Rice (Elumichampazham Sadam)

2 cups cooked long grain rice
juice of one lemon
2-3 Asian green hot chillies ( as per heat preference)
1 tsp turmeric powder (this gives the characteristic yellow color to the rice)
1 tsp cumin powder
5-6 curry leaves
1-1/2 tsp mustard seeds
1 T split yellow peas
1 tsp urad dal
salt to taste
2 T ghee (you can also use sesame oil, peanut oil or vegetable oil)

Saute the mustard, split peas and urad dal in the oil until the mustard start popping. Add the curry leaves and chillies and saute for a couple of minutes until the leaves become paler. Add the dry spices and fry in the oil.

Slowly stir in the rice, being careful not to break the grains. Stir in the lemon juice. Cover and cook for 5 minutes. Garnish with chopped coriander and serve. You can also top with roasted peanuts or cashews.
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