This stuff is pure comfort food, the Indian macaroni and cheese (well, if your spicy-happy grandmother made macaroni and cheese). Flash-fried curd chiles serve as a garnish here, to be broken into bits with a spoon and mixed with the tangy, mild rice to give some crunch and salty heat.
Though often mixed with fried spices, curd rice at its most simple is nothing but a mixture of cooked rice and yogurt, and some people won't have it any other way. As with all comfort food, it's highly personal, so this is just the way I do it. Feel free to make this all your own. My curd rice is dry with a relatively high rice to yogurt ratio, but it has generous amounts of mustard seed, cumin, and asafoetida. I added pomegranate seeds for texture and flavor contrast, but you can skip it if you're not feeling up to the task peeling a pomegranate, or just use dried seeds instead. As none of these spices need to be ground and nothing needs to be chopped, you're almost done by the time the rice is cooked.
- 1 1/2 cups long grain rice
- 4 tablespoons unsalted butter
- Vegetable oil
- 10 curd chiles
- 1 tablespoon whole mustard seed
- 1 teaspoon whole cumin seed
- 1/2 teaspoon asafoetida (start with 1/4 teaspoon if you're less of a fan)
- 8 curry leaves
- 2 cups thick strained yogurt, preferably at room temperature
- 1 cup pomegranate seeds, fresh or dried
- Cilantro, for garnish
In large saucepan or rice cooker, combine rice, butter, 3 cups water, and 1 teaspoon salt. Cover and bring to boil, then reduce to a simmer and cook until rice is tender, about 20 minutes.
While rice is cooking, heat oil over high heat in slope-sided pan (if you have a wok, use it; if not, use small saucepan), just enough to coat bottom by 1/2 inch. When oil shimmers, add curd chiles. Toss continually until golden brown, 15-30 seconds. Set aside to drain.
Discard all but two tablespoons oil and return to heat. When oil shimmers, add mustard seeds and stir to coat in oil. When seeds begin to pop, add asafoetida, cumin, and curry leaves. Fry until aromatic, about 10 seconds, then remove from heat.
If using wok, add cooked rice to spice oil and mix to combine. Otherwise pour and mix spice oil into pot of cooked rice. Stir in yogurt and add salt to taste. Serve in small bowls with pomegranate seeds, cilantro sprigs, and a couple curd chiles to garnish.