After posting two American sandwiches as picnic food, today I have two South Indian dishes that are great make-ahead meals and perfect picnic food. I remember my mom making these for our school picnics and we would be happy campers eating them on site.
Tamarind rice is perfect for picnics since the flavor gets time to meld and the more time the rice has a chance to absorb all the tangy & spicy flavors the better it tastes. Curd rice, if made with half yogurt & half milk, tastes sweet and not sour at all. All in all both these dishes are really close to heart and bring a ton of memories associated with picnics.
- Cook rice so that each grain is separate. Remove in a large, wide bowl to cool. Add a pinch of turmeric and salt, mix gently and set aside.
- Add 1 cup of hot water to tamarind and set aside until tamarind is soft. Squeeze and remove the stringy matter and keep the pulp to the side.
- Add 2tbsp oil in a medium pan, add peanuts and fry them on medium flame, stirring constantly until reddish and nicely fried on all sides. Keep aside.
- Add 1tbsp more oil to the same pan, add the dals and fry until they turn golden, next add mustard seeds and once the seeds start to splutter, add dry red chilies and hing.
- Once the red chilies turn slightly darker, add green chilies, curry leaves and ginger (if using). As soon as the mixture starts to smell fragrant, return the fried peanuts to the pan. Next slowly pour in the tamarind pulp.
- Lower the heat and simmer the mixture until thickened, takes about 8-10 minutes.
- Add the cooked tamarind mixture to the rice, season with salt; mix well, be gentle. Take care not to break the grains.
Cover and let the rice sit for at least 30 minutes to an hour before serving.
Notes: If you think the rice is not sour/ tangy enough, add some lemon juice. No one would even know that the sourness is coming from lemon.
- Mash rice a little bit, add turmeric, salt, yogurt and milk. Set aside.
- Heat 1tsp oil in a small sauce pan, add chana and urad dals and once they turn golden, add mustard seeds. Add dry red chili and hing once the seeds start to splutter. Next add ginger, green chilies and curry leaves. Fry until it starts to smell fragrant.
- Add the tempering to the rice mixture. Mix well. Check the seasonings and garnish with grated carrot.
- Serve at room temperature or chilled.
- Notes: If the rice soaks up all the yogurt and milk and seems dry, add some milk to make it more soupy.