One word that comes to mind when I think of yogurt rice – comfort food – okay, two words :)! Yogurt rice is simple, filling, easy-to-digest and delicious soul food. Very versatile – it can be had as is with just yogurt and rice or garnished to make it an exquisite treat.
Ingredients (serves 4):
- Rice (1 cup)
- Yogurt (2 cups)
- Crushed Ginger (1 tsp)
- Dried Red Chilly (1)
- Curry leaves (7-10)
- Grapes (optional) (a handful)
- Cucumber (grated) (3/4 cup)
- Coriander leaves (finely cut) (1 tbsp)
- Mustard seeds (1 tsp)
- Asafetida (hing) powder (1 pinch)
- Oil (1 tsp)
- Cook (I usually pressure cook) the rice until it is very well done. I overcook it slightly by adding more water before pressure cooking and letting it cook slightly longer (2 whistles and 6 minutes on simmer).
- As soon as the rice is cooked, mash it and let it cool.
- Once rice has reached room temperature, add salt, yogurt and water till you get the desired consistency.
- Add grated cucumbers and grapes at this stage if you are planning to add them.
- In a separate pan, heat the oil on medium heat, and add mustard seeds. When they sputter, add the asafetida, curry leaves, crushed ginger, dry chillies and turn off the heat in a minute or two.
- Add the seasoning to the rice and yogurt, garnish with coriander leaves.
Sweet (rice, grapes, yogurt), sour (yogurt – is store-bought or sour yogurt is being used), salty (salt), bitter (curry leaves and coriander leaves, mustard seeds), pungent (mustard seeds, red chillies, ginger), astringent (asafetida, curry leaves, coriander leaves, cucumber).
Well cooked rice is a grain that is nourishing and easy to digest. So, it is good for all the doshas, especially vata, but in excess can be kapha aggravating. In Ayurveda, it is always recommended to consume yogurt in a diluted form, like buttermilk, to make it more digestible. That is why we add water in the yogurt rice recipe above. Yogurt by nature is heavy, sticky and hard to digest. This makes it a kapha aggravating food. Store bought yogurts and sour yogurts are pitta aggravating in addition. To make home-made yogurt, boil some milk in a container, let it cool down and add a tablespoon of yogurt with live lactobacillus culture in it. Mix it well, cover and keep it for a few hours. The duration for yogurt to be formed depends on the climate – in a warm climate, yogurt gets ready in a 4-5 hours. If you live in a cooler climate, try keeping the covered vessel in the oven with the light turned on. It should set overnight. Home-made yogurt that is not sour, is not pitta aggravating. Addition of spices like ginger, mustard seeds, chillies increase the heating quality of the yogurt rice to complement the heavy, cold and kapha like nature of the rice and yogurt mixture. Asafetida, ginger, curry leaves also increase the digestibility of the dish.
Overall a very sattvic food, yogurt rice is a staple in most South Indian homes. As always, use fresh ingredients and don’t overdo the saltiness, sourness and pungency of the dish to increase sattva and prevent rajas from taking over. Avoid stale ingredients to prevent the tamasic qualities from increasing.