As you might have noticed from my last recipe-I am a bit of a rice fanatic. In all my life when I cook curry dishes I want “PLAIN WHITE RICE” with it. When I go out to eat where-ever I insist on plain white rice with my dish. The only time I have rice differently is when it’s an egg-fried rice dish and then it’s okay because that is the main dish. No curry dishes to go with it.
There is a reason for this. Being Bengali we (me an’ my sisters) grew up eating rice and curry everyday! The most delicious curry in the world of course because my mum’s is the best. We can all cook in the family but one thing we are agreed on is that my mum makes the best Bengali curry we know! ( I know it’s subjective and biased because she’s our mum, but so what?? You vote for YOUR mum :-))
So eating spicy curry everyday does have it’s consequences. And the curry isn’t just a veggie curry….oh no it aint. There’s a meat curry (chicken or lamb-yum), a fish curry and the veggie dish (be it a curry or fried) is just a side dish. Even the Bengali (Sylheti) word for veggie curry “niramisha” I’ve come to understand as meaning “without meat”. It’s actually a negative word. What’s for dinner mum? Lo and behold if the word “niramisha” was the answer…..I would go into a nasty tantrum and jump up and down with my skinny brown legs (I was a kid then…or did you think I was doing it now??) and then she’d say “……and chicken/lamb….and I’d look sheepishly at her and smile. Oh and fish was NOT an option fro me as a kid! Fish was the same as a side dish. To eat after the meat dish! But there had to be a meat dish!!
So, where was I?? Oh yeah why plain rice…..?? As we got older you see all the old Bengali people getting the following diseases: Gastritis, Diabetes, Heart Disease, Cancer…..! So you think about it! My mum cooks her curries with the minimal amount of cooking oil. The meat (both chicken and lamb) is dropped in boiling water, then rinsed before cooking. The water is discarded. You’d be amazed at what that water looks like and how it smells. This practice I also sometimes follow (depending where the meat came from) when cooking Bengali curries. One of the many culprits (of heart disease) is a rice dish called “pilaw rice”(my father preached since we were kids-he doesn’t eat pilaw rice and he also doesn’t have heart disease). The rice is fried and cooked with ghee (clarified butter very bad for your arteries) and vegetables and meat are added. So in the end you have a delicious rice dish…..too dry to eat on it’s own, so the meat curry goes on top of it. This is a dish made for special occasion: guests or Eid celebrations (our religious festival).
The above info is based on eating meat everyday and as much as possible. Things have changed now. My diet includes meat 3-4 times a week and the amount of meat is usually a fraction of that which I used to eat. I alternate with fish and vegetarian days. I don’t plan this, I just eat what I want.
So now I present you with my first “rice” dish!
2 cups of long grained rice (basmati or another)
600ml of coconut milk if freshly made or 400ml tinned coconut milk + 200ml water
8 leaves of saw leaf herb chopped (or small bunch of coriander)
1 cup of fresh mint leaves, chopped
4 Thai chillies (green or red)
2 tablespoons of vegetable oil
ꉻ ꉻ ꉻ
Wash two cups of long-grain white rice. I used the longest grain Jasmine rice I could find. Basmati would’ve been better but it was too expensive.
Heat the oil in a saucepan and put the rice in. Be careful here because the rice is wet and the oil is hot, so it will spit. Stir continuously otherwise the rice will stick to the bottom of the pan and burn.
Add the coconut milk, bay leaf and salt and stir. The coconut milk level should be half an inch above the rice. Cook the rice on a medium flame until the liquid is absorbed. Then lower the flame as small as possible and leave with a lid on fro about 10 minutes.
Check if rice is done. Then add in the saw leaf herb, mint and chillies.
That’s it!! A simple dish. Over the next week or two I’ll add some dishes this can accompany.
Prep time 10 min
Cook time 15 min
I got this recipe from the following website: