Tag Archives: rice

Shopping with pani puri.

Tom took me along on his shopping trip yesterday, to a few stores and shops including a multi-story big box that had features of a Super Wal-Mart, Costco, and a department store. The escalators were ramps that accommodated shopping carts, and we visited all the floors and departments, but never found a C-battery or anyone who knew what that was. Tom wasn’t very sure himself, but some new baby equipment wants them. Oh well.

I was fascinated by the many varieties of basmati rice, both packaged and in large bins where women in pretty clothes were scooping up their favorite type. I love basmati rice and used to buy it in 25# bags myself; I came home with a jar of the Brown Basmati.

The packaged rice is one of many products and ads that feature a photo of a famous movie star, often a Khan, or the “Big B,” Amitabh Bachchan. I don’t have a hope of keeping all these celebrities straight, but a couple of them have leading roles in an unusually good Bollywood movie we are currently watching here (over the course of three nights, because it’s close to four hours long): “Lagaan.” Oh, and on the route between the different shops, whose car did our driver point out but that of the very Aamir Khan himself. Mumbai is the center of Bollywood, did you know?

Women were also filling bags with large-crystal sugar from a great bulk bin.



We ate several pani puri snacks and another type of snack at a stand in the food department of the store. For us to take our fill of those savory treats cost less than 100 rupees which Tom said was about $1.10.


From this store we drove to that quiet neighborhood Tom introduced me to on my first day here, where is found their favorite market.

The shopkeepers know at least the names of vegetables and how to count in English so I was able to complete the purchase of some carrots, zucchini, peppers and broccoli while Tom went to the next stand where we found leeks and potatoes from which he is going to make soup.

Are those red carrots really carrots? I’ll cook them today and find out.

We brought all our loot home and then Tom cooked up a big delicious dinner featuring mutton chops, pesto green beans, tomato salad and more. It was the first meal of not particularly Indian food that I’ve had in ten days.

Baby “Raj” had stayed home with his mama. They are eating well and building strength and we are all enjoying the early Getting to Know You period. Well, not quite all: Huckleberry Cat has led a very sheltered life until this point and he doesn’t feel entirely positive about the strange creature who suddenly showed up.

As I write, it is a lazy Sunday afternoon. I’ve been holding a sleeping baby for an hour while chatting with Kate and Tom about so many things India, seeds that could germinate into future blog posts. Now I’m back here typing with two fingers to finish this one. My mind will immediately and irresistibly start gathering threads of images and impressions to weave into the next scrap of cloth I hope to share with you, of this colorful tapestry that is Bombay.

Sticky Rice

Ten years ago we had a Laotian neighbor who invited us to her wedding, where we experienced our first Thai sticky rice. Moist and chewy, but at the same time clean and dry enough to pick up with our hands out of a giant basket on the buffet table. It was aromatic, but different from jasmine rice.

Some years after getting the recipe from our friend I produced a good batch; she had moved away by then. The first several times it scorched cooking in a regular pot, but eventually I read online that what I needed for success was a certain type of basket steamer, which I bought at a Southeast Asian store for under $10.

It’s so easy now to make this kind of rice. Start with a bag labeled Sweet Rice that is found at the same kind of store. The typical Japanese/Chinese/Korean Asian market near here doesn’t even have it.  I don’t have to measure, but I put three or four cups of sweet rice into a bowl for soaking, and then rinse it several times until the water is almost clear. Tonight I used four cups.

You have to soak it most of the day if you are using cold water, but I read somewhere that I could use hot water for soaking and it would only require an hour or two. So I almost always do it that way.

After soaking, heat some water in the steamer pot, drain the rice into the basket over the sink, and set the basket of rice over the steaming water. Put a sizable lid from some other pot over it to keep the steam in.It takes about 20 minutes to cook; sometimes I turn the lump of rice over midway.

When it is tender, dump it out on to a board or mat big enough that you can spread it out with a fork to cool it down, to keep it from overcooking into a soggy lump. At this point you can form it into balls, as I did for my grandchildren last week–balls that can be dipped in a coconut sauce. I often put a pile into a bowl and ladle Thai stew over it.

But tonight I mixed the cooked and still warm rice with sweetened coconut milk to which lime juice had been added, to make a platform for chunks of mango. Those are not ants, but black sesame seeds sprinkled on top, as I assured my husband.

A can of coconut milk, 1/3 cup sugar, 1/2 teaspoon salt and 2 tablespoons lime juice boiled together made the sauce that I poured over the rice that was still warm, then pressed it into a shallow pie plate and a pasta bowl. Within ten minutes it was firm enough to cut into wedges with a knife. It got even firmer when cold. This dish is called, naturally, Sticky Rice with Mango.

Indian Rice Pudding

With the temperature in the 30’s there in the North Country, it wasn’t surprising that we desired comfort food. Rice pudding came to one daughter’s mind, and passed from there to mine, where the idea germinated into a Google search, and from there sprouted plans to use ingredients on hand.

Judging from the variety of methods and ingredients, I think you could have success with many different combinations. I didn’t write down what I came up with, but I think I can remember…

While the 1/2 cup of jasmine rice was soaking in warm water, I chopped 1/3 cup almonds.

One recipe called for “dried fruit” and suggested almonds, pistachios, and raisins. I found some currants to go with the almonds. The cardamom was for later on.

The yellow stuff is ghee, which I had brought along on the previous trip and forgotten to take home.

Lucky me, because I wanted it to for sautéeing the almonds and about 1/3 cup currants. If there is any better smell in the culinary world than this, I haven’t met it. I cooked the almonds and currants until the almonds were toasty brown.

In the meantime the rice had soaked for half an hour and after draining I added it to a quart of milk. (Some recipes used half coconut milk, and I have made many puddings without dairy, using primarily coconut milk, during church fasts.)

This pot needed frequent stirring over medium-low heat so that the pudding wouldn’t stick and burn. After perhaps 15 minutes it had thickened a bit and the rice was tender. That was the signal to add 3 tablespoons of sugar and 1/2 teaspoon of cardamom, along with the ghee mixture.

After a few more minutes of cooking, the pudding was even thicker, and ready to eat. But we waited a while until it had cooled to warm.
It had a good flavor, but we had been looking forward to a more runny pudding. If I make this sort of thing again I think I’ll try using 50% more milk.