Spiced Urad Dal Rice

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Spiced Urad Dal Rice

Rather more than just a side dish, this spicy fragrant South Indian rice is full-flavored and delectable enough to be the centerpiece of a meal. The preparation's timing is somewhat involving, demanding soaking of ingredients both the night before and several hours prior to cooking as given in the recipe below, but the vigilance is well worth it not only for the taste but for the pungent aroma of dry toasted seeds and peppercorns that lingers in the kitchen for hours afterwards. And the actual cooking is quite straightforward and simple and takes little time.

Taken from Chandra Padmanabhan's delightful Dakshin with a few minor modifications for taste or ingredient availability, I served this rice with a mild, cooling and lightly spiced yogurt with chickpeas and tomatoes to balance its heat and make a delightful meal.

Spiced Urad Dal RiceSpiced Urad Dal Rice
Recipe by
Adapted from Dakshin: Vegetarian Cuisine from South India
Cuisine: Indian
Published on August 6, 2008

Spicy and fragrant rice with fried dals and cashews, seasoned with dry toasted seeds and peppercorns

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  • 1 tablespoon urad dal
  • 1 tablespoon chana dal
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 2 1/2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1/2 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup raw cashews, halved
  • 1 teaspoon brown mustard seeds
  • small handful of dried curry leaves
  • 4 red or Thai chilies, slit down one side
  • 1/2 teaspoon asafetida
  • 2 green chilies, seeded and diced
  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
Dry masala:
  • 2 tablespoons urad dal
  • 2 tablespoons sesame seeds
  • 2 tablespoons dried grated unsweetene coconut
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns
  • As preparation the night before making the rice, rinse one tablespoon each of the urad dal and chana dal under cold running water and soak for 1 hour under cold water in a bowl. Rinse and soak the 2 tablespoons of urad dal for the dry masala in the same way in a separate bowl. Drain each bowl of dal and leave to air dry overnight in separate strainers.

  • At the same time, or at least a few hours before cooking, rinse the rice under cold running water and let air dry in a strainer, shaking the rice once in a while to bring the moist grains to the surface.

  • Heat a small frying pan over medium heat and toss in the dried urad dal for the dry masala along with the sesame seeds, coconut and black peppercorns. Dry roast the ingredients while stirring until the urad dal is nicely browned — about 5 minutes. Remove to an electric grinder or small food processor and process to a fine powder. Set aside.

  • Bring 2 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan. As soon as the water comes to a boil, add the rice and immediately turn down the heat to low and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Cook undisturbed for exactly 15 minutes, without lifting the lid. Remove from heat and set aside.

  • Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of the olive oil in a frying pan over just less than medium heat. Toss in the cashews and stir-fry until browned to your liking. Remove with a slotted spatula and set aside.

  • Return the pan to the stove, turn up the heat to medium, and add the remaining 1 1/2 tablespoons of olive oil as well as the butter. Add the urad dal and chana dal as well as the brown mustard seeds, curry leaves, and red or Thai chilies. Stir once, then toss in the asafetida and continue to stir until the brown mustard seeds begin to sputter. Add the green chilies and sauté for 2 more minutes.

  • Remove the red or Thai chilies to set aside for garnish, and stir the contents of the pan into the warm rice. Add the salt and the dry masala and combine well.

  • Serve on a warm plate garnished with the red or Thai chilies.

Makes 4 servings


Poonam said...

Lovely blog! I liked all your recipes.

Thistlemoon said...

Yet another great recipe Lisa! I just love your blog! I am never disappointed.

karuna said...

tht is a nice recipe. its like kichadi. only thing its dry. the nuts and dal must be adding a nice crunchy texture. nice

Chef Jeena said...

Rice and lentils go together so very well. This really does look amazing I could eat it up in one.

Anonymous said...

I could easily enjoy this for dinner. . . it looks fabulous!

Laura Paterson said...

Yep - definitely a main meal rice dish... and be sure to make plenty for lunch the next day too!!

Ivy said...

What a great recipe. Lentils and rice is a great combination. Pity I am not familiar with a few of the spices.

Johanna GGG said...

sounds interesting but looks like a dish for the patient and chilli-loving (neither of which I am feeling right now) - do you eat the roasted thai chilli peppers?

Mallika said...

I saw a variation of this on Asha's blog and it has been my party trick ever since. Love this recipe.