Toast to the Coconut with Tomato Coconut Rice

Coconut has long been maligned as a non-healthy food,”full of saturated fat and a potential risk to the heart. Its bad for your cholestrol levels and other such.” The cuisine that I have been raised on, however,includes coconut in some form or the other in almost 90% of its recipes. And this is my everyday food!!! I take heart (no pun intended), in the fact that no one in my circle of family or friends has showed anymore likelihood of being afflicted by heart disease than ones who have avoided coconuts their whole life. And with that thought, I present to thee another reason to gorge on this magnificent piece of my culinary life, the coconut.

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It takes all of 15 minutes to put together and the results are extremely good. The tanginess of the tomatoes is off-set by the sweetness of Coconut Milk, making for a delicious balance of flavors in every spoonful. Be sure to use fresh tomatoes and not the canned ones and definitely not concentrated pastes. It would, just not be the same.

Ingredients
2 1/2 cups basmati rice, washed and set aside for 30 mins
5 medium tomatoes,pureed
1 large onion,thinly sliced
1tbsp ginger+ garlic+green chilly paste,
cloves 2-3,
cinnamon stick 1/2″inch,
bay leaf 1 pc.
1 medium carrot,diced,
1/2 cup green peas
2 cups thick coconut milk + 3 cup water,mixed together
coconut oil, 4-5 tbsp

Method
Heat oil in a heavy bottomed pan, ona medium to high flame.Add bay leaf & whole garam masala.Stir for 1 minute.Add onions, fry till pink and add the paste. Fry for 1-2 minutes. Sprinkle water, if required. Add the tomatoes ,fry on high till the paste leaves oil. Add the veggies except peas. fry for another minute and add the soaked rice. Mix well . Add the milk & water mixture. and let it come to a boil. Add peas and salt. Reduce heat to low. Cover and cook on low flame till done (about 10 minutes). Transfer to serving bowl. If you wish to make it fancy or are serving this at a party, top with sliced tomatoes and coriander. Serve with mixed raita.

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Avre Bendi (Navy Beans in a Coconut, Chilly and Tamarind curry)

Avre Bendi

Avre = Navy Beans

Bendi = a spicy coconut, chilly and tamarind concoction.

and thus, Avre Bendi.

The beauty about so many of konkani curries are the fact that they use just these 3 ingredients, but just by varying the quantity of each or grounding it coarsely or finely, they change the taste and the texture of the curry. The second thing I love about these curries is that there is not much of sauteing or bhunoing involved. You cook the beans in the pressure cooking for upto 3 whistles and while that is happening you grind up the coconut, chillies and tamarind. Add the paste to the cooked beans with salt and bring to boil. Season. Thats it. I mean, all of this doesn’t take more than 10 mins. On the days that I make an authentic konkani meal, I finish all of the cooking– a curry, rice and a side dish in 20 minutes. Using all four burners at the same time, of course. Heck, I could give Rachel Ray a run for her money. 🙂

Beans are the biggest source of protein in many predominantly vegetarian cuisine. While, konkani cuisine is famous for its seafood preparations, it is not part of the everyday food. Except, by choice, that is. So, mostly,the daily food is rice, beans and a vegetable together with buttermilk. A complete meal. As I said before, the curries are defined by the quantities used and the texture into which it is ground. In the case of bendi, less of the coconut, more of the chillies and tamarind and ground into a fine paste. Bendi’s are seasoned with garlic. 

The recipe…

1 cup navy beans soaked over night and cooked till soft

1/4 cup grated coconut

8-10 dried red chillies

1/2 tsp tamarind paste / marble sized piece of tamarind , if using actual pods

3-4 garlic cloves

salt

oil for seasoning and roasting chillies

Roast the chillies in a little bit of oil on a low flame. You know they are roasted when they loose the wrinkly look and puff up. Cool them a little bit and then grind them up with coconut and tamarind into a fine paste. This takes some work , if you are using american blenders. Heat up the cooked beans till they start boiling, add the paste , salt and mix. The broth will start foaming and then settle down. The paste is cooked when all of the foam has died down. Remove from flame. Heat up oil and garlic together in a small pan. Never put garlic in hot oil. Always put it in the oil and then heat up the oil. This way the garlic cooks just enough and doesnt burn. Also, the oil gets infused with the garlic juices better. Add this tempering to the bendi and immediately cover up the pot. Mix the seasoning in before serving.

Today,I had these with boiled rice (parboiled rice in the US is just not the same). I used the ones I have from India. Most people in Mangalore still eat this rice as their daily rice. The younger generation, however, seem to prefer white rice. As for people like me, born and brought up in Bombay,white rice is daily rice and eating boiled rice is something that ups the exotic quotient.

Mom, Prawns and Rice

Mom's Prawn Pulao.

Try it once and it will become a staple in special days cooking!!! Thats all I am going to say about this wonderful dish.

Rice 3 cups (washed and dried)
Prawns 25-30
Water 6 cups

Pudina Leaves a fistful
Coriander Leaves a fistful
Green Chillies 4-6
Jeera 1 tsp
Coriander Seeds 1 tbsp
Grated Coconut 1/4 cup
Cinnamon 1' piece
Cloves 7-8
Badi Elaichi 1
Black Peppercorns 7-8
Bay Leaf 1

Onion 3 medium size finely chopped
Tomatoes 2 medium size finely chopped
Red Chilly pwd 1 tsp (optional)
Turmeric a pinch
Salt to taste

Roast grated coconut, jeera, coriander seeds, half the cloves, cinnamon and black peppercorns. Brown 1 finely chopped onion. Blend together into a fine paste with fresh coriander and mint leaves. Keep aside.

Heat oil. Add bay leaf, badi elaichi,remaining cloves, cinnamon, black peppers. When they start sputtering , add remaining onions and saute for a couple of mins. When translucent, add red chilly pwd, turmeric ,tomatoes, rice and saute till the rice becomes opaque. Add the paste made earlier, prawns and water. Bring to a boil. Add salt and cover. Cook on a medium low flame till all the water evaporates.
Garnish with fresh coriander and mint leaves.