Lime/Lemon rice OR Elmichampazham chaadam

Lemon rice

It is easier to say lemon rice or limboo/nimboo chaawal:)!!

Have I told you earlier about A? I am sorry if this is a repetition but A is so witty I do not mind repeating this one from his repertoire of comments. A is a very close friend of P, so close that I quite often call him 'sowtan'!:) To most people, A at first sight, seems an over clean (he has this odd hobby of checking his cuffs and flicking non-existent dust particles quite often), no-nonsense guy and most probably his one liners will make you cross and put you off him. Once the ice is broken, A will have you screaming and doubling with laughter with his quick wit and presence of mind, and you will find yourself forgiving him for his constant digs and reveling in them.

One Saturday morning A landed in our house when I had just wrapped up the kitchen for the day. I hate spending too much time in the kitchen when I have a good book to devour. It so happened that I only made a simple vegetable pulao and some raita to go with it, that day.

A was surprised to see the kitchen closed and asked, "Aaj kitchen bandh?" (Is the kitchen closed today?"). I told him what was on the menu and about the book as he is a voracious reader himself.

This is what he had to say. "I had warned P about this. Marrying a Palakkad Iyer has its own hazards. Your menu will be limited to rice and rasam on Monday, rice and sambar on Tuesday, lemon rice on Wednesday, tamarind rice on Thursday and coconut rice on friday. On weekends, since it is a somewhat special day you will get treated to tomato rice on Saturday and pulao on Sunday. For special occasions you might turn lucky and get to eat fried rice. But whatever the day, the last course will be thair saadam and dessert will be rice payasam!" :)

I hardly ever make mixed rice though I do love tamarind rice and coconut rice a lot but when hit by time constraint or sheer laziness I usually resort to these flavourful and tasty, yet easy dishes. So while many end the standard cliche "when life hands you lemons.....," with exoticas like lemoncurd, lemon cheese tart etc., I simply end it with "mix up a lemon rice"!

For the record, A cannot do without his plateful of rice and dal for dinner!

Lemon rice is also a very 'photogenic' dish. I tried a traditional arrangement and a more modern approach. Both ways the rice looks quite attractive:). A dish for all times - may I say? In Tamil 'elmichampazham' is the word for 'ripe lemon' and 'chaadam' means 'rice', hence the rather long, tongue-twisting title.

Lemon rice diptych

Dish: Lemon rice, limboo chaawal or Elmichampazham chaadam
Yield: just enough for 2 rice lovers

Rice - 1 cup
Lemon - 1 TT ball sized
(bring out the juicy ones and not the ones that have dehydrated in the fridge!)

Turmeric powder - a generous pinch
Asafoetida - a pinch
Salt to taste
Sesame oil - 1tsp.
Mustard (rai) seeds - 1/2 tsp.
Bengal gram (chana dal) - 1tsp.
Split dehusked black gram (Urad dal) - 1tsp.
Broken cashews - 1 tbsp.
Curry leaves (Kadipatta) - 1 sprig (chopped fine)
Ginger - 1" (chopped fine)
Green chillies - 2 (chopped fine)

Cook rice (rice to water ratio should be 1:1.5 or 1:2) so that the grains are separate and rice is just done. You could add a little lime juice before cooking or add a teaspoon of oil to ensure that the grains are separate. Spread on a plate and cool completely otherwise the final product will come out sticky.

While the rice is cooling, go ahead with the chopping. Heat a heavy, wide wok with a tsp. of sesame oil. When hot, crackle the mustard seeds, add the bengal gram, black gram and cashews. Add the asafoetida, curryleaves, ginger and green chillies. Fry on low heat till the cashews turn evenly brown. Remove from heat.

Sprinkle the turmeric powder on the cooled rice. Fluff with a fork and put it in the wok with the seasoning. Squeeze lime and add the juice without the pits. Mix gently adding salt. It may require a tsp. of sesame oil if sticky. The rice should taste tarty but you could reduce the juice to suit your taste.

Serve with potato chips, fritters and pappadums.

Lean back and enjoy your book:).

Lemon rice

Yellow is a colour that has become synonymous with the fight against cancer. Barbara, of Winos and Foodies, a cancer survivor and fighter herself is hosting "The Taste of Yellow - 2009" as a mark of support to the Lance Armstrong Foundation. This is my contribution. I am of the firm belief that no disease can crush the spirit.

The event brings to mind several of my idols (Ramana Maharishi, Erma Bombeck, Lance Armstrong, my father-in-law (I am sorry I never really understood him enough) and so many friends. They are all fighters their own ways. They live in my heart one way or the other - through words of wisdom, through wit and humour, through their triumphs and the last one - my father-in-law is still remembered for his kindness and generosity. Thanks, Barbara for hosting and bringing them to my mind.

BTW, we are dealing with swine flu in Mumbai. It has not touched Thane yet but everyone is in as much risk since most of us travel to Mumbai to work. My husband bought four yellow masks, one for each of us. I found that I looked like a duck with the mask. We have been quacking since we tried it on. This phase too will pass, hopefully without claiming too many lives.

Take care and eat healthy.
More options with rice:
|Avadhi Tahiri Biryani | Baayamma Upma / Left over rice preparation |
| Beet Pulao | Bengali Khichuri | Bisi belebath |
|Chakra Pongal | Corn Rice - I |Corn Rice - II |
|Dal Khichdi |Kidney Bean and Brown Rice Risotto |Mint Rice - I |
|Orange Saffron Rice | Pal Payasam / Kheer | Thair Chaadam / Curd Rice |
|Vegetable Pulav | Venn Pongal |

Would you like to see my mother's recipe for authentic molagapodi OR Gunpowder? Visit Beyond Curries. The team at Beyond Curries endeavours to bring you the best of Indian Cuisine in one space.

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