Wednesday, 9 December 2015

Common-place Curd Rice



A rapturous look spreads on my son’s face when I announce his evening snack menu, as he returns home ravenously from school.

As you may know, my son is an ardent connoisseur of not-so-gourmet foods…Oh! You didn’t? Read on….

So what is this special treat that he’s waiting to devour?

It’s the routine, humble, mushy, mother-friendly, easy to prepare, stomach soother and filler,


Yours Truly Ubiquitously,


Image source


Thayir Saadam a.k.a Curd Rice


Curd Rice, the intrinsic component of every meal in most South-Indian families, be it here in India or abroad. The vital finale to every meal. Ask any true-blooded Tam-Brahm, and he will vehemently agree that without downing a few mouthfuls of this meek fare his meal feels incomplete!

Surprisingly enough, I detested this agglomerated white mess during my childhood!

My horror at opening my lunch at school – the third compartment of my three-tiered ‘tiffin- box' to find it staring up at me along with sour whiff!!   
  

Oh! The injustice of having to suffer this ignominious dish which strongly underlined my ‘Madrasi*’ origins, while my friends gloriously devoured their smelly-yet-having-cult-status ‘Mooli-Parathas with…..ugghh….Shalgam Acchar’! My tears and protests rang loud, clear and consistent enough to ward away my mum from packing this quick-fix meal as my lunch for a long time to come! What an abhorrent little monster I must have been!
  
All the same, I distinctly remember that the same thayir saadam held enormous fascination and appeal to me when it was dispensed differently!

Travelling by train to the native village, deep in South India, was a two-day train journey that warranted carrying large baskets of rations to suffice the entire family's appetites for that period. 
And of course, curd rice smuggled its way along with the other goodies. The travel version of it, was prepared with extra care by mum. She added lots of creamy milk, a splash of curd, and some seasoning to the nicely mashed rice, tempering it with mustard seeds, finely chopped green chillies, ginger and curry leaves.

My disdain for thayir sadaam forgotten temporarily, I would eat it with much gusto out of a plastic plate along with crispy potato-chilly wafers, while the adults favored the accompaniment of fried salty-spicy, sun-dried chillies - mor-milagais with it!

Summer vacations spent in the native village home of my grandparents are some of my happiest childhood memories! The evening supper for all us grand-kids was a comparatively frugal one, as a respite to the womenfolk after their exertions in the kitchen through the day. For me, it was probably the most memorable meal of the day!

One of my many periammas (Badi maasis, mom’s elder sisters) blended massive quantities of plain rice with copious amounts of thick curd, a little milk to reduce the sourness, and a pinch of salt to produce a large vessel full of curd rice. We kids sat in a semi-circle around my super-efficient periamma who would then dole out a generous dollop of the creamy rice with a spot of spicy sambhar/vetta-kozhumbu at its center onto the palm of each child, one by one. In the background we would hear Thatha (grandpa) fiddling with the old radio to listen to the evening news while simultaneously eavesdropping on gossip from the periammas and Paati (grandma)! This irresistible combination of food for the stomach and fodder for the brain was such that, one could hardly wait for the cycle to complete and his turn to come up again. In a matter of minutes the entire vessel would be empty, the large platoon of kids satiated with minimum fuss! Burrp…

Coming back to adulthood, my equation with curd rice turned considerably more congenial, post marriage when I took charge of the hitherto alien department of cooking in my new household. I discovered it to be one of the most simple and satiating meals with the accompaniment of a spicy mango pickle to come up with, especially when the fridge was under-stocked, patience and energy running on low reserve at the end of a trying day at work!
Further admiration for the same boring meal, increased when I discovered that my colleagues at work showed a lot of interest in polishing off my hastily prepared and packed ‘Dahi-Bhath’ at lunch and pressed me to part with its recipe, including how to set curd from milk! 
I was incredulous at first at this piece of seeming ignorance! That people still lived an everyday life without home-made curd/dahi/yoghurt was news to me! I enthralled the ignoramuses with my culinary secrets and provided them with detailed scripts of the ‘complex’ recipe for preparing authentic South-Indian Curd Rice replete with garnishing et al. It also included the path-breaking revelations of ‘DIY curd-making at home manual’!

From being a loathsome filler, curd rice was turning to be something of a sublime star dish!
Especially considering its popular appearances in dinner buffets in its super-glam avatar with toppings of fresh and dry-fruits!

Image source
 
With the advent of my children, I developed a grudging favor, bordering on respect for this humble chow!  

Image source

The bowl of curd rice, that patiently awaited the hungry picky eaters, post a dinner party, or one that was thoughtfully dispensed before a party in anticipation of returning home hungry and cranky! The only meal I could safely feed and depend on, during our travels without worrying about tummy-upsets and also the only meal to provide succor to already upset ones! The meal that compensated for ill-prepared and badly turned out, over-spicy cookery experiments!

Yes, many a time has this thayir saadam or its lowly counterpart mor-saadam (made with mor or buttermilk instead of curd, when one is running short of curds) come to my rescue - this white knight with its spicy pickle armor!

It’s your lucky day folks, as I share my fail-safe recipe for this dish that is so 'motherly'

Comforting and Benevolent, Thayir Saadam’!

Actually on second thoughts, I realize many seriously-minded culinary writers will distress and take offense to my treading on their territory! So maybe, it still is your lucky day that I will not be sharing my personal recipe but instead be sharing equally worthy/worthier recipes!

(Yes….you guessed right! Too lazy to pen down!!)






Madrasi*- General addressal used for persons from South India. Factually pertaining to persons native to Madras, the erstwhile Chennai, also known as Tamilians. eg. S.Ramanujam, Sir C.V Raman, Abdul Kalam, Vishwanathan Anand, Sunder Picchai and many more.


Did you know?

Other synonyms for Curd rice or Yoghurt rice are: 


  • Thayir soru - In general parlay in Tamil Nadu
 
  • Bagalabath, Bahalabath, Mosaru-Anna – In Karnataka

  • Daddojanam, Dhadhiyonnam, Dahi AnnamIn Andhra Pradesh and also by Iyengars

It also called as ‘ Temple spiced curd rice’ as it is popularly offered as a naivedhyam to the Gods and later distributed as prasadam in Vaishnavite temples

  • Dahi Chawal – In North India

  • Dahi Bhath – In Maharashtra


Health Benefits of Curd Rice: Besides being a wholesome, cooling meal, the curds in curd rice contain useful bacteria that improve digestion and promote immunity. Curds provide an excellent source of Calcium for maintaining good bones and teeth, especially useful for lactose intolerant persons, good for healthy skin and hair and helpful in combating stress and anxiety.

Hope I have sufficiently done my bit to promote this mundane, benign food! Take my word for it.....tuck into a bowlful of it, and watch as the creamy rice with a subtle tang fills you up and miraculously drives away the blues! 
 


And yeah Mom! I know you'll be smugly smiling when you read this! All this coming from that finicky li’l brat who shunned this very soul-food!

 



Have any interesting tales of your trysts with similar soul-foods? 
Do share, would love to hear!





Copyright © 2015 KALA RAVI

36 comments:

  1. Curd rice is most comforting for any South Indian... I love it to the core... yummy and nice presentation. Great Kala!

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  2. Verily true Well written. Keep it up

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  3. Kala, very well written. You have nicely put the experience of all Tambrahms of their staple food, thayir sadam, in an interesting way.

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    1. Thank you so much Mama! High time 'thayir saadam'got its due!!

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  4. I am a North Indian who loves South Indian food. I prefer curd rice to dal chawal any day. The issue with me is I never get it right and authentic. And please do not refer any links promising culinary expertise because they never help me. By the way how old are your children?

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    1. Hey Ana! Glad to know you like this humble meal too!The recipe is pretty simple, a no brainer actually! The secret's in getting the curd right,the rice soft! Thanks for dropping by...

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  5. Aw.. thats so sweet. Nothing can bring more happiness other than a nice warm plate of curd rice.

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    1. Thanks much Lata! I know the feeling...:)

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  6. Having lived in Trichy and Bangalore, I was fortunate to relish authentic curd rice. Today, curd rice is an intrinsic part of my menu. Love it.

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    1. How lovely Alka! Once you get used to eating it, it gradually becomes addicting!! No, seriously it does! And nothing more satiating, than simple curd rice...eh?!

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  7. Great writing from the heart touching many

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  8. Nostalgia time - all the way from screaming about it in school to...

    Btw, we were on a trek in Sikkim and there was no curds to be got for love or for money. At the end of the trek, believe it or not, the group of us discussed all night about the various ways to eat curd rice - with mor milagai, with mahanikkazhangu oorugai, with manatthakkali, with vetta kozhambu, with naarthangai oorugai....THAT was the night when I realized that there were a lot more ways to eat curd rice than I had dreamt of :) (AND, when we were waiting in the Calcutta Airport to board our flight to Chennai, calls were flying from every corner to Chennai and the Airport reverberated to the words 'Curd Rice' :) People back home must have been wondering about their spouses slavering at the thought of what is otherwise a routine dish twice a day at least :) )

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    1. OMG...you have revealed some Thayir Saadam combos which I never knew existed! Hahaha! Seriously, thank you so much for sharing your trysts with 'our'common soul-food! It is a fact that people not exposed to this humble fare think we are raving and making much ado about something so basic!
      Thanks for sharing this enlightening bit of trivia, and thanks for dropping by!!

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  9. I guess I'll be in minority here; never relished 'thayir sadam' as is - however, I do like rice and curd separately, and mixed in my plate :)
    Yes, go figure - I'm super strange.
    By the way, glorious ode to a staple dish that I know many can relate to
    Nice one, Kala.

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    1. Yes, I am trying to figure...you like Dahi and Chawal...is my verdict...also known as thayir saadam....hahaha!! Every dog has his day...today it was thayir saadam's turn to get its due credit!! Thanks for dropping by Sid!

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  10. Nothing superlative than that it sadam to conclude your meal. Heavenly.
    Beautifully penned Kala. Yet another masterpiece of writing.

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    1. Hi Chitra. Thanks for those lovely words! Glad you enjoyed reading :)

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  11. Never thought Thayir Saadam could be so tasty even while reading.Good writing.Cheers to Thayir Saadam

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    1. Thanks ma!! You share most of the credit for this and much more!! Love always :))

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  12. You can write just about anything and make it interesting - very interesting. Enjoyed reading this one. :)

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    1. Thank you for that Shantala! So glad you enjoyed!

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  13. It's amazing how one dish can form memories for you for a whole life time, isn't it? And "Ask any true-blooded Tam-Brahm, and he will vehemently agree that without downing a few mouthfuls of this meek fare his meal feels incomplete!" left me nodding hard because every house I have visited (I have many Tam Brahm friends) has served me curd-rice.

    Like your name, this post is a work of art, Kala! :)

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    1. Thank you Vishal for sharing your experience with this meal! And thanks for the lovely words :)

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  14. My daily comfort food. Our day ends with curd rice and I have equally fond memories of it while growing up. Some old habits die hard, I guess. Interesting to see your journey with curd rice, Kala :)

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    1. True...curd rice is now ingrained in my DNA! Thanks for dropping by!

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  15. Your details are very noteworthy and I am sure many enjoy curd rice, but somehow it is not one of my favorite dishes.

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  16. Aah an ode to curd rice! As a tam brahm growing up in Maharashtra, I've had the exact same experience with curd rice in my dabba :) The sour whiff, oh my god! How I hated it! And now my toddler is a curd rice monster. She cannot do without it even for a day. Love everything about this post, Kala!

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  17. Hi Hema. Thanks for the lovely words! I am glad you could empathize with my feelings. And your little one seems really smart to have figured out, the coolest wholesome meal, this early on :) Really glad to have you on my space.

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  18. You got me nostalgic Kala. Two-day train journey to the South was my annual trip, too. And yes curd rice, tamarind rice, bread n jam were the staple pack.

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  19. The best part about my 5yr stay in Bangalore was the food. I love authentic South Indian food, especially idli and curd rice. Goes well with the weather too. Yum post Kala.

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  20. Lovely write-up Kala...I love south Indian food but never thought of adding pomegranate to curd rice. I have it when I don't like eating vegetables. I love tamarind rice too.

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    1. I am glad you enjoyed the post Upasna. Thanks and happy rice-eating :)

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