It was a lazy holiday morning. I had been feeling too comfortable sitting at my desk with my coffee. I turned around and looked at the clock a few times contemplating possible quick lunch options. I am not sure why, one thing occurred repeatedly to me - RICE.
A one pot meal would surely do the deal and that was why. It was just me and the kids. They have always loved lemon rice and when asked, again they wished for the same.
Yes, sure, I had some fresh lemons in the fridge. I could cook up some lemon rice in a jiffy with lots of roasted peanuts for the crunch. Well, that would not be entirely enough. I would need to prepare a salad. Surely veggies are a must.
That would mean another few precious moments away from my desk. After a good thought and several looks exchanged between the clock, and myself and my poor veggie box and my poor self, I settled on using up the carrots.
I say poor veggie box because, the veggies appeared so utterly unrelated at the time.
I considered making carrot-lemon rice at first, but that wouldn't satisfy my creative itch which I always seem to get into whenever I enter the kitchen. It had to be something more, yet something simple.
Basmati rice - 1 cup making 3 cups of cooked rice (any long grain rice can be used)
Carrots - 2 long ones, washed well and grated (approx 1 & 1/2 cups)
Oil - 2 teaspoons
Mustard seeds - 1 teaspoon
Peanuts - 4 tablespoons
Yellow split peas - 1 teaspoon (chana dal or Bengal gram dal)
Split black gram - 1 teaspoon (urad dal)
A good pinch of Asafoetida
Spicy dry red chilli - 1 broken into 2
Salt to taste
Juice of half a large lemon
For the grinding:
Mustard seeds – 1 ½ teaspoons
Dry red chillies - 3 (I used 2 milder Kashmiri red chilies and 1 spicy red chili. You can choose as per tolerance)
Freshly shredded coconut - 1/2 cup
Asafoetida - 1/2 teaspoon
First cook the basmati rice in such a way as to keep the grains separate. While the rice is cooking, prepare a fine paste using shredded fresh coconut, dry red chilli, mustard seeds and asafoetida by grinding it in a spice grinder or mixing and adding small amounts of water. Do not add too much water.
Grate the carrots and set aside.
In a deep pan, heat the oil. Splutter the mustard seeds first. Add peanuts, yellow split peas, split black gram, dry red chilli, asafoetida, curry leaves and stir for a few seconds until the dals turn slightly golden. Add grated carrot, stir and cook until it softens.
Now add the prepared spice paste, mix well and cook stirring on and off. You will notice that the mix becomes slightly dry (but not fully) and the raw smell disappears. Turn off the heat and allow to cool for ten minutes. Allow the cooked rice to cool for a few minutes too.
Then add the cooked rice to the pan, mix with the carrot mix adding salt to taste and lemon juice.
Serve with salad and raita of your choice or with plain yogurt.
Note: this recipe works well with grated raw mango too.
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