Friday, January 25, 2008

Thayir Saadam (Curd Rice) - quintessential comfort food

There is Thayir Saadam

* A mix of rice and yogurt, often with seasonings and garnishings - an essential aspect of the traditional south indian meal. And often considered a soporific - eat a meal of rice and yogurt with pickle and soon you'll be ready to take a nap!
* A Chennai Tamil term used to denote a boring, dorky, risk-averse person. "Seriyaana thayir saadam!" - a phrase heard when ridiculing someone who goes by the book.

And then there is a Milquetoast

* One who has a meek, timid, unassertive nature

That sounds like our thayir saadam alright! :)


Growing up in Chennai, on a primarily rice-based diet, we ended most meals with a dollop of curd rice - often we just mixed the curd into the rice on our plates, sometimes my mum would mix the rice in advance - maybe season it, add some more molagas or even some grapes - every variation led to satisfying flavours. And the longer the rice sat and the flavours seeped in, the better it tasted!

Thayir saadam now even seems to have a hipness factor to it -
Krd Rys in to-go boxes - guess Chennai truly can't do without it!


Comfort food

* Food that comforts or affords solace,
hence any food (frequently with a high sugar or carbohydrate content) that is associated with childhood or with home cooking
[Oxford English Dictionary]
Food prepared in a traditional style having a usually nostalgic and sentimental appeal [Merriam-Webster Collegiate Dictionary]


Guess thayir saadam scores on all counts here - carbohydrates? Hell, yes! Nostalgia - full of it! Lots of pleasant memories of growing up and of home cooking - apparently, I often have this stupid grin on my face when I'm digging into a bowl of curd rice - can't help it, can I? The flavours, the memories, the aromas, *so* good!

A key aspect of curd rice has always been the home-made yogurt - freshly set yogurt is the best - soft, smooth, room-temperature, melting in the mouth!

Thayir Saadam
Call me a milquetoast, but I love it!

Servings: 2

1 cup brown rice (any kind would work here)

1.5-2 cups of home-made curd
1 t mustard

1 t urad dal

5-6 curry leaves

2-3 green chillies - chopped

1" ginger - grated

1 t sesame oil


2 T pomegranate arils

Wash the rice and cook it in 2+ cups of water till it is totally done and soft.

Heat the oil in a work, add the mustard and let it splutter.
Add the urad dal and curry leaves and saute for a minute.
Throw in the ginger and green chillies and saute a bit more.
Mash the rice before stirring it into this garnish mixture.
Let the rice cool down a bit before stirring in the yogurt.

Garnish with the pomegranate arils. Or maybe with sliced grapes. Or even cherry tomatoes. Or just cilantro. There is so much one can use here!

We often eat this with some pickle - avakkai, vadu mangai and gongura are favourites.

This goes to Meeta for her Monthly Mingle - the theme this time is Comfort Foods.

Am also sending this to the Skinny Gourmet for her Food for Thought event - in honour of how evocative this simple dish is - all the fabulous memories it brings back of growing up in Chennai, humid summer days, home food, family dinners ...


aforkfulofspaghetti said...

Well, that looks absolutely gorgeous, so I'm looking forward to trying the recipe soon! Thank you for sharing...

Asha said...

We call it Mosaranna and I LOVE LOVE LOVE it!:))
AFAM (sra)is Pomegranate this month too, three birds in one?;D

Richa said...

yumm :)
and makes such a good travel treat..

Namratha said...

Couldn't agree more Kay, Curd rice is no doubt the most comforting food! Not a day goes by at home without this simple yet highly satisfying dish :)Looks gr8!

bee said...

try it with rose matta rice. very creamy. just this morning i was looking at this recipe in pedatha's book, and yours looks identical, pomegranate and all. delish.

Cynthia said...

I am here licking my lips at the creamy goodness of this dish.

Susan from Food Blogga said...

I think it's telling that so many cultures have variations of creamy rice pudding desserts. I think it should how universally comforting it is, indeed! Yours looks scrumptious.

Sagari said...

this is one of the most comfortingggg food kaykat
nice pics

Sig said...

that is the sexiest curd rice I've seen... :)

A World in a PAN said...

I love this recipe! When I was littlem the only dessert my grandmother (on my father side) know how to do was "arroz con leche" (rice in milk). So I will try this variation of the milk and rice theme.
I'd love to have this recipe in my website! Let me know if I may.

TBC said...

Curd rice is comfort food to me too.:)
Beautiful pic!

Aparna said...

This is the ultimate in comfort foods, for me anyways.

Meeta said...

Oh yes, this does look great! Brilliant entry.

Kribha said...

Who can resist this bowl od thayir saadam. I love o have it with some vadu manga or curd chillies.