The little boy closed his mouth tightly, refusing to drink the milk. His mother was at the end of her patience and worried because shouldn’t all children be drinking milk? But when she consulted the pediatrician, he just laughed. ‘Give him curd or buttermilk. They have all the nutrients that he needs,’ he advised much to her chagrin! For the record, the boy drank buttermilk and ate curd happily and is none the worse for it as an adult. I should know, he is my nephew.
Curd is an integral part of meals across the country as it is perfect to balance the spicy Indian meals. It is made into kadhi, raita, mixed with rice, eaten plain or as a dessert added with sugar. And then there are the delectable dishes like mishti doi (curd sweetened with palm jaggery), tall glasses of sweet and salt lassi, and chhaas/mattha – plain and spiced.
South Indians can’t do without their curd rice at the end of every meal. After the spicy courses of sambar and rasam rice in a typical meal, the curd/buttermilk rice is not only cooling, but also neutralises the pungency caused by the earlier courses.
It helps digestion by strengthening the lining of the small intestines and cooling the system. Fresh curd that is not sour has the ability to counter some bacteria and my kids had happily eaten curd rice even when they had fever and were none the worse for it.
Buttermilk is even better, as it is more easily digested without losing any nutrients of curd, except the fat content of course! It is more easily assimilated and retains all the nutrients including calcium than curd which is denser – even low fat ones.
Buttermilk and roasted methi powder is a nervine tonic and excellent for the brain. It is an excellent antidote for sunstrokes when added with a little salt, lemon juice and coriander leaves. If you want to have shiny black hair, take buttermilk and with a spoonful of paste of curry leaves every day. If you want specific recipes, do leave a comment!
Today we have plain and flavoured yoghurt and probiotic curd, which are touted as being indispensable for digestion and good health. And so you end up paying a bomb for them, which to my mind is completely unnecessary. The humble curd is also a probiotic food, can be easily made at home, is cheaper even when store-bought and is in no way inferior to its fancy cousins just because it doesn’t come in tony packs.
And now we come to that manna from heaven on a hot day or even a cool day for that matter – curd rice! Eaten with a spicy seasoning, it is great, but even without any tadka, it can be delicious. It is stuff of millions of lunch boxes of kids and adults alike in the southern states!
There are as many recipes for this cooling and yummy dish as there are regions and cooks, so versatile and suitable for adaption it is. The garnishes themselves must run into hundreds, I bet!
Here is the traditional curd rice recipe:
Rice – 1 cup
Milk – 1cup
Curd ¼ cup
Mustard – ½ tsp
Urad dal – ½ tsp
Ginger (Grated) -1 tsp
Green chillies – 2
Salt to taste
Oil – 1 tsp
Add 3 cups of water and cook rice till very soft. Mash it well while still hot. Warm the milk and add to the mashed rice. Add salt and curd and mix well. Prepare the tadka with the given ingredients and tip it in. If you are adding coriander, chop it fine and add at the end as garnish. Use your imagination while garnishing.
Note: Don’t add milk till the rice is completely mashed as this is the trick for a creamy curd rice. Adding milk prevents the rice from becoming sour, as the warm milk and curd ferment perfectly in a couple of hours and remain fresh in the lunch box or to be eaten later.
The author is your regular neighborhood granny. Loves cooking, feeding her friends and family, telling tales and reading children’s books among others — on her Kindle. She is comfortable with people her age, older than her and of course all youngsters right down to infants. And oh, she is in tune with the times too. She has seen the telegram transform into Twitter and telephone into WhatsApp. You could call her Gadget Granny Seeta, if you like. She loves saying that the tip of her tongue is in the fingers on her keyboard!