Curd rice is an Indian dish of basmati rice flavored with tangy yogurt, often seasoned with chilis, mustard seeds and curry leaves or cilantro. It is typically served at the end of multi-course South Indian meals, but in my context I'm happy to have it as a side dish with some dal, curry and Indian pickles, or even just as a light meal on its own, often using leftover rice.
In fact, that is exactly how today's version came about. I had some leftover short-grain brown rice, not basmati at all. Still, I thought of curd rice but decided to flavor it differently, with a whole lot of scallions (green onions), which I love. It must have been pretty good, I had to arm-wrestle my better half for the last bite!
If you do this, or anything, really, with leftover rice that has been refrigerated, it is important to reheat it even if you want ultimately to eat it at room temperature. When rice is refrigerated, the starch goes retrograde, meaning it becomes crystalline and hard and expels water. This is exactly the same process that happens as bread goes stale. Simply reheating to around 200 degrees causes those crystals to soften back up.
Scallion Curd Rice
Vegetarian and gluten-free
- 3 tablespoons butter, ghee, or vegetable oil
- 2 tablespoons black mustard seeds (don't substitute yellow/brown mustard seeds)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons grated fresh ginger
- 1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper
- 1 to 1 1/4 cups plain yogurt
- 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
- Fresh ground black pepper
- 4 cups cooked brown rice, room temperature (about 1 3/4 cups uncooked, cooked in whatever way you prefer. I use a rice cooker.)
- 6 scallions, thinly sliced, divided
- In a small skillet, heat the butter over medium heat. When it is starting to shimmer, add the mustard seed and cook for about 10 seconds. Stir in the ginger and cayenne pepper and continue to stir and cook for another 20 seconds. Transfer the contents of the skillet to a medium bowl.
- To the same bowl, add 1 cup yogurt, salt, and several generous grinds of pepper, and whisk thoroughly. Fold in the rice and then the scallions, reserving some for garnish. Taste and adjust seasoning. Adding more yogurt, salt or cayenne if needed.
- Garnish with the reserved scallions and serve.