Some time ago, I learnt that the coriander plant, aside from containing powerful antioxidants, was actually considered a great herb for diabetics, helping lower blood sugar, I began using it all the more liberally. Of course, it may not have any direct effect on diabetes, claims which I always take with a pinch of salt, but it is obvious that the good effects are plenty.
Not everyone likes coriander leaves. A lot of people shun it because they feel it tastes soapy. Fortunately I'm not one of them, because I'd be missing out on all the nutrition a bunch of these leaves can provide.
Coriander leaves are added to chutneys. They are added as garnish to soups, sambars, rasams. They are added to homemade bakes like breads. In most of these cases, coriander leaves are relegated to a more secondary role - that of taste enhancer. Coriander rice is the one recipe that can celebrate the leaves to their full extent. They take the centerstage, so to speak. I came across a really good recipe in a South Indian recipe book some years ago; was it Chandra Padmanabhan? It's now become a regular item at home, whenever I come across a really large fresh bunch of coriander leaves.
For this, I use half of a big bunch of fresh coriander leaves. I make a paste with the leaves, one onion and a green chilli, using requisite water. I set this aside to be used later.
Meanwhile the rice has been set on the stove, around one cup of it boiling lightly in a pan of water. When cooked, the grains must remain firm in consistency. If you use low glycemic (Moolgiri) rice or long-grained basmati rice that are higher in amylose starch, then the grains do not stick together, because of the nature of this starch. Amylose is better for diabetics. Sticky short-grained rice is best avoided. Even better, nutrition-wise, is brown long-grained basmati rice. Use the rice of your choice.
Once the rice is cooked to the desired fluffy consistency, I drain it and set it aside to cool.
I prefer adding vegetables to my rice. It makes it nutrient dense and also reduces the rice portion of the meal, lowering the glycemic index of the whole meal. I ready about a cup of the following:
- cauliflower florets
- potatoes (best avoided if it is a diabetic meal), cubed
- green beans, sliced diagonally
- carrots, diced
- paneer or cottage cheese, cubed
I steam all of the above, except for the paneer. I set these aside to cool.
Meanwhile, I also ready the following for the seasoning:
- a teaspoon of cut cashews
- one teaspoon of mustard seeds
- one teaspoon of urad dal
- a sprig of curry leaves
- a pinch of hing (asafetida) powder
- one onion, cut up into thin slivers
In a large pan, I heat about a tablespoon of rice bran oil. In the hot oil, I allow the mustard seeds to splutter, then I add the urad dal, stirring till it turns a golden hue. Then I add the hing (asafetida) and handful of curry leaves, allowing it to turn crisp.
To the above, I add the onion slivers, stirring it on low heat till it turns a crisp brown. To this I add the coriander puree, stirring it well. The coriander puree has a raw taste to it. Let this cook under the heat, till the smell is more blander and the flavors have mixed a bit. Let the paste dry out, with water evaporating. This might take about five to ten minutes, depending on the quantity.
To the above, add in the steamed vegetables and the paneer cubes. Stir it all together so that the thickened paste is evenly coated onto everything. Add necessary salt, and some chilli powder if the spiciness feels insufficient. Stir for about a couple of minutes.
Turn off the stove. Add the cooked rice and gently fold it into the coated vegetables. Rice breaks up easily, so gentle pressure is sufficient. Use a fork instead of a spoon.
In a small seasoning pan, heat a teaspoon of ghee. Gently fry the cut cashew till golden. Add the cashew to the rice. Discard the excess ghee if you are health conscious and need to watch your cholesterol. The fried cashew will release the required aroma all by itself.
Serve with a side of pickle, chilled raita and roasted papad.