Previous: The Sniper - Reflections
"Sure," said Isha, "Like Jira Basmati that you've been preparing the last few weeks, Nimbu Basmati is quick and easy to make yet it turns out looking alluring, smelling heavenly and tasting delicious."
"It combines Basmati fragrance with lime and lemony flavors and we flare up its presentation using golden glows of turmeric. So it uses mostly ingredients that you already know about."
She showed him photos of huge American mechanised rice harvesters and a Youtube video of rice harvesting done in smaller Japanese rice paddies.
He was amazed as he hadn't known how rice was harvested before. In the interim, she wrote down an Ingredients List for him, which read:
- 1 cup Rice (Long grain or Basmati)
- 2 cups warm Water
- 1/2 cup raw Cashew halves (or bits)
- 1/4 cup shredded fresh or dried Coconut (optional)
- 1/3 cup fresh Lemon or Lime Juice
- 1 and 1/2 teaspoon split Urad Dal
- 1 teaspoon black Mustard seeds
- 1/2 teaspoon Turmeric
- 2 tablespoon Oil or Ghee
- Chopped fresh Coriander (or Parsley) leaves to garnish
- Salt to taste
As he had been doing already, Hosh washed, drained and dried the rice. He put it into a sauce pan over double in size the quantity of rice, as he knew rice expands when cooked.
As Isha was a bit rushed for time today, he boiled the water, salt, and turmeric over moderate heat, and heated the oil over moderately low heat in another saucepan.
"Sauté the raw cashew halves or bits in the hot oil until they turn golden brown," said Isha, "although if you can't afford them or run out of them, you can skip them altogether."
Once done, she asked him to remove them with a slotted spoon and put them aside.
"Sauté the mustard seeds and Urad dal in the remaining hot oil until the mustard seeds crackle and the Urad dal darkens to a rich golden brown," she instructed, "Then add the rice to it."
She was delighted to see him work with a quiet efficiency and growing confidence that can only come from continued practise.
"Sauté for 1-2 minutes now, or until the grains are evenly whitish in colour," she continued, "Then add the boiling salted turmeric water. Stir once, raise the heat, and bring the water to a full boil."
"How long will it take to cook Ma," asked Hosh, "and how will I know when it's done?"
Once the water came to a full boil, she asked him to immediately reduce the heat to low, cover with a tight-fitting lid and gently let simmer, without stirring.
"It should take 15-20 minutes to cook on low heat now," she answered, "and you'll know as all the water will have been absorbed and the rice will have turned tender and flaky when you lift the lid. Same tests as for Jira Basmati."
"Just before serving, lightly spread and rake up the grains for presentation," she concluded before leaving him alone to finish preparing it, "add the cashew nuts, the lemon or lime juice, and the fresh herbs. Mix well and garnish each serving with fresh Coriander or Coconut."
Then she was gone, knowing that he will see it through. As she had expected, he did not let her down.
The next day they finished off what little was left of it, by garnishing the rice leftover from yesterday with fried onions, pieces of boiled egg and chopped fresh tomatoes.