Given that rice is grown throughout southern India, it makes sense that there are so many variations on how to serve it. A staple dish of the January harvest festival known as Pongal, this creamy spiced rice is seasoned with curry leaves, mustard seeds, chiles, and ginger. It first appeared as part of the digital edition of our August/September 2014 special India issue.
- 1 cup basmati rice, rinsed until water runs clear
- 3 tbsp. canola oil
- 1 tsp. black mustard seeds
- 6 fresh or frozen curry leaves
- 2 small green Thai chiles or 1 serrano, minced
- 1 (3") piece ginger, peeled and minced
- 1⁄2 cup whole milk
- 1⁄2 cup plain full-fat yogurt
- Kosher salt, to taste
Bring 6 cups water to a boil in a 4–qt. saucepan. Add rice; cook, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender, 10–12 minutes. Drain rice and transfer to a bowl. Add oil to pan; heat over medium-high. Cook mustard seeds and curry leaves until seeds pop, 1–2 minutes. Add chiles and ginger; cook until golden, 1–2 minutes and add to bowl with rice. In another bowl, whisk milk, yogurt, and salt until smooth; stir into rice.