Embi’s Curd Rice – Thair Saatham


I used to believe that only nice people could be good cooks. That theory flew out of the window when I came across 2 people; Jordan Phlamsay* and Embi* (*names have been changed to protect the innocent …..although I really should be changing my name not theirs..).

Embi was the domestic help my uncle employed in Singapore. I  grew to fear her deeply over my month-long visit. Embi used to work for a family that owned a restaurant in India and learnt all the secrets, but she refused to share them. She was also extremely arrogant and rude about her cooking abilities and would never allow us to watch her cook. Her glare was enough to stop a demon in his tracks, what can us mere mortals do but quiver? 

But my god, could she cook. I’m not usually a patient person, but I tried and I tried and I tried to be nice to her hoping she’d share a few recipes. The sacrifices I had to make..One day she finally caved in and gave me a couple of her recipes. Here is one of my absolute favourites; curd rice. It’s comfort food at its best. This is mostly Embi’s recipe, but over the years I’ve changed it slightly to suit our tastes. 

You will need:

(a) Mix well together
  • 2 cups yogurt
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup milk
(b) Main ingredients
  • 2 green chilies (chopped finely)
  • 1 small onion (diced finely)
  • 1 inch piece ginger (grated)
  • 1 small carrot (grated)
  • 1/4 cup fresh coriander (chopped finely)
  • 3 cups cooked rice
  • 1 and 1/2 teaspoons butter
  • Salt to taste
(c) Tadka
  • 2 teaspoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • Pinch of hing
  • 1/2 tablespoon raisins
  • 2 dried chillies (cut into small pieces)
  • 1 sprig curry leaves (remove stalk, cut leaves into small pieces)
  • Pinch of roasted red chili powder

Step 1: If the rice is freshly cooked, spread out on a tray to cool. For faster cooling, place tray of rice in fridge.
Step 2: In a large bowl, mix (a) and (b) together, mix well.
Step 3: Heat oil, add mustard seeds and hing. Once mustard seeds pop, add raisins. Raisins will start to swell. Add all the other ingredients, stir quickly and the remove from heat. Add this to the yogurt and rice mixture. Stir well, allow to cool. Best to leave the curd rice in the fridge for a couple of hours. If the rice is thick when it’s cool, add more yogurt or milk to lighten it up. Serve with spicy Indian pickles and papad. Enjoy!

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