Curd Rice is an extremely common item on the menu of many South Indian vegetarian families on a daily basis. At the most basic level, the final serving of rice is mixed with curd (yoghurt) and salt and eaten as is or with pickle.
Curd Rice can be prepared in a myriad of ways and how simple or complicated you make it is upto you.My mum never had curd rice on the menu when we were growing up as the rice that we eat is the red rice and that is definitely not conducive to this dish - you need a soft white rice - also neither me nor my siblings like curd in general. However I now enjoy curd in a few dishes - with sweet curd with parathas, raita with biriyani, curd marinades for meat, curd based curries and the occasional curd rice. I'm not a lassi drinker, nor do I like plain yoghurt with my meals - much to the consternation of my MIL who serves curd with every meal and exclaims - "But you are South Indian!"
The method I have given below is the most elaborate curd rice that I prepare. You can use just one item in your seasoning if you prefer (I would advise combination of curry leaves and mustard seeds) and skip the vegetables completely. Go ahead - mix & match and suprise yourself with the results.
Fresh pomegrante pods also make their appearance in quite a few versions of this dish and give a nice sweet contrast and a change in texture when eating curd rice.
1-2 cups curd (how thick or watered down you like it is a matter of personal preference - beat lightly so its is smooth)
1/2 cup of groundnuts roasted & skinned ( I do this in the same pan that I use for cooking but before I start assembling the rest of the dish)
1 carrot grated
2 onions finely chopped
2-6 green chillies chopped (depending on how spicy you like it)
1/2" - 1" ginger grated or finely sliced
salt to taste
2- 3 dried red chillies
1 tsp mustard seeds
8-10 black peppercorns
1/2 tsp methi (fenugreek seeds)
1 tsp jeera seeds (cumin)
1 tsp ajwain (caraway / carom seeds)
a pinch of heeng (asafoetida)
1 tsp oil or ghee (don't use a strongly flavoured oil, as the rest of the ingredients have very delicate flavours)
You must note that all these tempering ingredients are very healthy and healing for the body in summer or good for the digestive system.
In the pan in which you roasted the groundnuts, add the oil and slowly start adding the tempering ingredients Methi & pepper go in first as they are the thickest & take the longest to cook.
The curry leaves and chillies go last as these will burn the fastest. You can add them once the jeera and mustard seeds start popping.
Now add the groundnuts, when they brown lightly, add the onions and green chillies and give a stir fry. The onions should remain crisp not soften.
Then add the carrot and give a quick twist in the pan and turn off the heat - you don't want to cook the carrot at all.
Let the mixture come down to room temperature then add the curd (else it could split) and let it soak for a few minutes - so the curd absorbs flavours as well as releases flavour into the other ingredients.
Tip: Keep a little extra rice on hand or add just half the curd at first and then slowly adjust the balance of rice to curd to suit you.