Thursday, January 21, 2010

An Accidental Recipe

This is an accidental recipe full of familiar flavors: too much salt, too much grease, un-soft rice, brinjal/eggplant, lime juice.

Funnily enough, some discussion on BT brinjal had me buying two packets of the vegetable, the brinjal part of it, that is, not the BT. They didn’t look oversized or particularly beautiful, which meant that they probably weren’t extra-chemically treated than the other vegetables around them, so I brought them home. I made a simple stir-fry with one packet, but it was so salty that even the juice of one big lime couldn’t redeem it. I refrigerated it in despair, trying to put my fears in cold storage along with it, but come dinner tonight, I couldn’t ignore it any longer.

There was also some plain rice that went wrong very badly - I cannot cook rice to expert softness but I’m not this bad either - and by the time I scraped it out of the pressure cooker and into a container for the fridge and then brought it out again today, it was hard and dry.

At dinner a couple of hours ago, the rice was brought out and microwaved with some water, upon which it achieved its my-usual level of softness. It was then mixed with the eggplant curry in traditional style - full hand on, palm pressed, literally, into action - to ensure that the spices were well distributed and blended. Then it was tasted.

Voila! You know what it turned into? It turned into pulihora (lime rice) with the brinjals providing a - ahem - a wonderful accent. In one shot, I had it all - instant lime rice and a magically redeemed brinjal curry. The microwaving had turned the old, odd rice into rice of the perfect consistency for pulihora.

So here’s the method for the stir-fry, which is all that you need to know:

Depending on the size of the brinjal/eggplant, halve or cube 250 gm of the vegetable into salted water.

In a pan, heat 4 tsp of sesame/gingelly oil. Temper it with ½ a tsp of mustard seed, ¼ tsp of cumin, 1 tsp of urad dal (split, hulled black gram), a few curry leaves, 2 tsp of red chilli flakes (or 1-3 split, dry red chilli). The urad should turn pleasantly brown.

Add the brinjal and saute for about half a minute.

Add salt and turmeric.

Mix well and saute some more.

Turn the heat down to simmer and cook till the brinjals are at the almost-beginning-to-turn into-mush stage.

Douse liberally with lime juice.

Of course, if you want it exactly the way I came about the instant rice, you should oversalt it deliberately - that involves much overconfidence in one’s abilities to shake out the exact amount of salt that one deems right (or exactly too much) directly from the salt box into the pan. Then you can experiment with the amount of cooked rice that you need to add for the perfect mix I chanced upon.

If that sounds incoherent, you've got it - no, you've got ME - right. That's how I cook(ed).

Psst: Turns out I’m not the only bold one to put brinjal and lime/lemon rice together. Check out this and this.


  1. Hi
    I could not stop laughing,
    I need to wait for my rice to get overcooked with more salt to try this one. and I will wait!

  2. What is the BT brinjal that gave you a fear? No way, it is the world we live in.

    I am actually quite taken with your recipe.

  3. Hello sra. Have you tried making the rice 100% in the microwave. That's how I cook rice everything. 1 cup rice, 2 cups water, drops of oil to prevent the water from spilling over, 8-10 mins full power uncovered and 4 mnis covered at 50% power.Give it stir when done. Rice fluffy and moist.TADAAAA!!! :)

    Don't know whether they do BT thing here, but did you see size of those purple American Eggplants at the store here? Man! They are like Bheema Badanekayi in Bangalore, lot bigger than Indian ones. I don't buy them at all. Big is not better at all. I buy Japanese Eggplants which are smaller and yummy and $4 per pounds! Ouch.

    Have you seen "The accidental Husband" movie. Haha! Your tile reminded me of that.

    Just downloaded "Naked" from David Sadaris and ordered another book, used one fronm Amazon. Yet to read, got so depressed by the dark, gloomy, cloudy weather, went shopping and bought some soup bowls! :P

  4. LOL!!!
    Well, atleast you found a way to use up the brinjals. If it'd been me, I'd have put it in the fridge for two days and then thrown it out.

  5. Nivedita, you needn't wait, you know ;)

    Indo, no, the fear of too salty brinjal!

    Asha, no, I don't make rice in the MW, never tried, either.

  6. this hapeens mnytimes with me,..

  7. What a lovely accident this had turned to be ? I like the hand mixing way that's been described. I would to take mounds from your hand directly into my palms for this kind of rice that kind of serving will be perfect ;)

  8. Hahaha.....!! It's only now that I'm getting the rice right, mostly it used to be sticky rice :)

  9. hahah...that was a good laugh!..well maybe I will come one day and see exactly how much salt you put in..:)...nice pulihora by the way you ate it alone or The spouse had to also???.poor him!

  10. LOL! I too make such accidents and turn it into a different recipe. Nice idea to make it into pulihora. But where is the pic?

  11. I cannot believe/imagine brinjal pulihora ?? I imagine how much salt went in rice....

  12. hey there! the first documentary i made was called food?health?hope? after monsanto's logo without the question marks! bt cotton had just made its entry into our farmlands albeit discreetly without even the farmers knowing its long term repercussions. i remember during an interview with dr shiva she reminded us that most of these companies that control our food also control the pharma industries. corn soy cotton and now brinjal! i guess unless our sarkar thinks seriously abt labelling the nature of your brinjals will forever remain a mystery!

    u are pretty innovative though!

  13. Funny..But I always make lemon rice with gutti venkaya and I thought I have found the perfect side dish for lemon rice :(

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  15. sra, I have read Anita Shreve's "The Pilot's wife" and I think they made a movie or TV movie about that too. It's good. Thanks for Sedaris info, he is so hilarious. I am buying his Audio CD book of "Me talk pretty one day" just to hear his voice and his NC accent, it' s so funny, heard the sample at Amazon!I will check out "Home" too.

    I have a headache today. It's too cold here and I had to go out to shop for Trisha's college stuff, got me a headcold or something. We are driving there to UNC and drop'em off on Saturday.

  16. Sra, that is one witty post that slipped under my radar. I agree with Asha, nothing easier than making rice in the MW. I don't use oil though just 1:2 rice to water, 10 minutes uncovered and 2 minutes covered. Fluffy, soft rice in 12 minutes. You can't go wrong. Of course, I use basmati. Cooking time may vary depending on the type of rice.
    And salty or faulty sabzi of anything in my home stays in the fridge for a few days and gets thrown out on Sun, since Mon is trash day.

  17. This post is exactly why I love your blog. Sra you are awesome and I love the sense of humour. You know, the thing I am worried about (because I have tried and failed), is that in trying to deliberately create this dish the taste will not be exactly the same as the accidental putting together of it.

  18. You just made my day once again, Sra and thanks for that.
    Such stuff is what geniuses are made off. You know, not giving up and then having an "eureka" moment! :D

  19. I guess that must have tasted like vangi bhath! Nice discovery!

  20. Jayashree, oh, I do that too - this was an exception
    Mints, :)
    Notyet, it's unavoidable sometimes.
    Ni, you promise to visit and don't, come and I'll feed you just this way.
    Jyothsna, every day is a learning - and failing - process.
    Valli, The Spouse doesn't eat brinjal!
    Uma, this was written after the experience, so no pic!
    Cham, Neither could I, neither could I!
    Rajani, thanks. There was a huge protest in Sunday against BT Brinjal in Hyderabad, the minister was heckled. And TN has made statements that it won't allow BT without further study.
    Ruchika, really? Actually when you think of it, it's not really strange because both are celebratory dishes. But in AP, we don't really eat pulihora with any set accompaniment, as far as I know.
    Asha, I'm kind of struggling through that other book I told you about, the award-winning one, but it's getting better, let's see. How'd the trip go?
    Jaya, but the pressure cooker is so much faster, I just need to get the trick, but soft rice makes one eat more of it!
    Cynthia, thank you, thank you. What you said is true, v difficult to replicate accidental taste. Or accidental anything.
    Aparna, thank you, thank you. I had my eureka moment with rasam too!
    Divya, I've had vangi bhath only once, in school, and I don't even remember the taste.

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  22. I sometimes have problems with rice, too. It only happens when I hover over it. It's either too hard or too wet and mushy. Go figure.

    Good save on this, Sra. Usually nothing can cure a recipe that's too salty.