For the July 4th holiday, I was in Alabama visiting my parents and celebrating my mother’s 70th birthday. The weekend was filled with a lot of cooking, note-taking, eating and some quality laying around. I learned a lot of recipes I’ll share with you from that visit in the coming weeks.
To give you a taste, this is a recipe my mom taught me when my parents came to visit a few weeks back. She prepared a lemon rice with fresh fenugreek leaves and cashews that is so flavorful, it disappeared almost as soon as it was put down on the table. I thought it would be perfect to prepare for a picnic with friends and it did not disappoint. I adapted the recipe to use dill that I had received in my farm share.
Whenever I get a bunch of dill, I find it difficult to use a lot at a time, but what’s great about this recipe is that you can actually use it all in one go. Kind of counter-intuitive to other recipes using dill, you cook it down a bit before adding in the rice (2 cups). If you don’t cook it down, the flavor of dill will be too overpowering; you just want the recipe to get at its essence. My mother has made this variation before as well and included fried raw peanuts instead of cashews so the recipe is quite flexible depending on what nuts or herbs you have on hand.
The lemon and the dill give this rice a nice summery taste. To add some extra flavor, I mixed in some vangi baath powder. If you don’t have this powder you can buy it online or sub in some sambar or curry powder.
I served this rice with spinach raita. Hope this recipe helps to put your summer dill to good use!
2 cups basmati rice
2/3 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 bunch of dill, chopped
1/2 cup cashew, chopped in half (you can put less, but I like a lot)
1/2 onion, chopped
2 tablespoons vegetable oil + 1 teaspoon oil
pinch of hing asafetida
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon urad dal
1/2 teaspoon chana dal
1 dried red chili, broken in half
5 curry leaves
1 tablespoon vangi baath powder (can sub in sambar or curry powder)
juice of half a lemon
salt to taste
Mix turmeric with rice and water and cook (If you have day-old rice this is best so the rice does not get mushy).
In a small pan under low heat, add in 1 teaspoon of oil and the cashews. Fry them for a few minutes, until they start to brown a bit and you can smell them roasting. Put the cashews aside in a bowl.
In a non-stick pan, under medium, heat oil. Put in the asafetida, black mustard seeds, urad dal and chana dal and shake up the pot. When the mustard seeds start to pop and the dals start to brown, add in the dried red chili. Turn the heat to low and add in the curry leaves (the oil will spurt so watch out). Coat the red chili and curry leaves with oil.
Add in the onion and dill and cook for about 20 minutes. You want the onion to be fried a bit and the dill to be cooked down. Add in the vangi baath powder at this point and mix well. Cook for about 2 minutes.
Next add in the yellow rice and salt to taste and mix well. Mix in the cashews (and save a few for garnish). Squeeze the lemon juice on top and mix. Garnish with the rest of the cashews. Serve hot or room temp at a picnic.