A Newbie Cook’s Guide to Great Curd Rice

A Newbie Cook’s Guide to Great Curd Rice

Fond Memories of A Simple Dish

Curd Rice is one dish that is a subject of many, many family tales of many, many families from South India. Surely, it would be impossible to spot a South Indian without a lingering memory of the Thayir Saadham as it is known in Tamil. After a child in the family has gone through the weaning function (where the child gets introduced to cooked food and grains for the first time) curd rice is the dish that the child frequently has. You will hear tales of “Nila Choru” (roughly translated, “food in the moonlight), when the mother feeds her child, resting on her waist. She tells the child fairy tales of the moon and the child wonder-eyed at the marvel that is the moon finishes off the meal in no time. On all these occasions, the curd rice is the delicious constant.
Unsurprisingly, my fondest memories of this rice, are associated with Amma. When the five of us siblings went to the school in Ahmedabad, early in the morning, Amma used to make curd rice even at that hour and used to give the rice in our outstretched hands – one at a time, as we took turns to gulp the curd rice down. The accompaniment to these dollops of this rice was Vadu Mangai Pickle Water (Tender Mango pickle water). Ask any Tamilian and he will vividly remember this combo from his or her childhood. You don’t have to look far to know about the popularity of this simple dish. According to this Divya Kanchibotla of NDTV Food, “Eating Curd Rice Makes You a Happy Person, Seriously! article. Arguably then, the world is clearly a fan!
NDTV Food: Eating Curd Rice Makes You A Happy Person, Seriously! Pic Credit: NDTV Food

The Wayanad Surprise

On a shooting trip to Wayanad in Kerala a few years ago, I remember a long day at shoot, which wound up past the hotel restaurant’s working hours. However, the extremely hospitable and friendly people at Hotel Green Gates, Wayanad served us great food even at that unearthly hour. While we were finishing the meal, I was looking around with hope, trying to spot my favorite dish somewhere. I didn’t. But soon, to my delight, the restaurant manager brought in a large bowl of curd rice. I remember him telling me – I know how much a Tamilian loves this rice at the end of the meal. I couldn’t thank him enough. It was an absolute delight.

The Ultimate Comfort Food

To me, curd rice is the ultimate comfort food. At any time of the day, whatever the degree of hunger, it is always my go-to food. It is a ridiculously easy dish to whip up, and I haven’t found one person who is not fond of this dish. It is that popular, seriously.  In its simplest form, the rice mixed with curd becomes slightly more gourmet when you add the tempering of mustard seeds, and the curry leaves. Amma used to tell me that my eldest brother, Bala, as a child, used to call it the “Kallu Saadham” meaning “Stone Rice” referring to the mustard seeds in the rice.

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