Saturday, May 31, 2014

Mamma's Pineapple Lemon Rice

Raised in Southern India, my carb of choice has to be hands-down, Rice.
Every vegetable or meat cooked in our home was designed to be eaten with rice or a rice flour dish. That kind of carb dependence takes a lot of years to outgrow, you know?!
I was lucky enough to be exposed to the melting pot of Indian cultures that is Mumbai where I kicked my rice dependency and happily embraced the flat-breads, fried breads and mainly, wheat!
But even then, my reboot meal remains rice.  Sometimes in my enthusiasm or distracted moments, I overestimate the amount of rice to cook. Mostly I cook a little extra because I love my leftovers. After a tiring day at the gym, or running too many errands for the kids, I would like to make a small meal of leftovers.
Now, this post is all about those says when you dont get to utilize those leftovers. In my mind, I always connect Lemon rice to our Summer Vacations. Mom always made a tangy, zesty lemon rice when she made too much rice or for the long train trips during Summer. Summer vacations meant taking a long, two-day ride in a chugging, diesel-engine train, all the way to the lower tip of the country, in sweltering heat.Budgets were low and outside food from peeps who didnt speak a language we could understand was out of the family rule book. So Mom made tried and tested menu items for the first day in the train. Nothing perishable could withstand the second day of the trip, when the bogeys turned into ovens and baked everything inside under the hot Andhra sun.  Mom's lemon rice was a life saver for the first day. She would also deep fry marinated Tuna pieces that had to be finished on the first day. She would make oil packed lemon pickles and Ginger in tamarind and jaggery, too. The next day there would be bread (which would be baked drier even in its unopened packing in the heat) and a jar of Kissan mixed fruit jam, to ease it down.
It may sound like the worst trip, but the kids had the most fun in those trips. We made new friends, sang and played, and climbed up and down the sleeper berth ladders a gazillion times while the grownups took a break from all the worrying and work and settled down to read or take naps. All of us looked forward to these trips, in short!
My Mom's lemon rice had been an inspiration to me always. She made it with almost al-dente rice, never sticky and tinged with that gorgeous yellow color from the turmeric. The tangy, comforting taste of the tempered rice always brings back a rush of childhood memories with it, that never fails to bring a smile to me.

Lemon Rice, made my Mom's way, served with my Chilli Chicken Curry. Mmmm, Heaven, I tell ya! 

A few days back, hubby brought home a huge pineapple, in season, from Costco. I had been looking at Pineapple recipes since that morning, but for some reason couldnt get my mind off Mom's lemon rice. Putting one and one together, I decided to make something different, yet simple for dinner and that is how this recipe was born.
So here goes:

2 cups Sona Masoori rice, cooked in 4 cups of water, and 1 tsp of salt and cooled. (you may also use leftover rice, from previous night)
2 cups (small) diced, ripe pineapples
1/4 cup fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 sprig curry leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
1 tsp split black gram
1 or 2 dry red chillies
1 tsp turmeric powder
2 tbsp oil

In a large nonstick pan, heat oil and temper the mustard seeds, black gram, curry leaves and dry red chillies in that order. Stir in the turmeric and add the diced pineapple. Add a tsp of salt. Saute until tender.
When the pineapple pieces are no longer crunchy, add the rice half cup at a time and incorporate into the tempering mix. Add lemon juice, salt and a tsp of sugar and stir well until well combined. Now cover and cook on low heat until the lid is steamed well. Takes about 15 minutes.

Serve warm, with a Spicy Chilli Chicken Curry or Cashew Chicken Curry or Mamma's Whole Chicken Curry in a Tomato Gravy.
It goes very well with Spicy Vegetarian Sides like Rajma, Chole or Paneer curries.

Enjoy!!! :-)

1 comment:

  1. Lovely recipe Nisha :). Loved your description of train rides. Truly said that the best time spent in childhood, without any effect of heat or cold.