One soupy thayir saadham, please

Recently, I had the rare “opportunity” to cook for myself. Or should I say I was forced to? Apparently, this rare opportunity comes only when I get “freedom” — when my wife isn’t at home and has gone for vacation.

But, to tell the truth, I never felt the need to cook (especially for myself). It is always like “why bother” or “why to cook for just one” and I would make do with takeaways, biscuits or khakras and tea.

So, one fine day finally, I took my time off from my hectic TV watching schedule and lazing around. And, this write-up is about me testing a recipe that I wanted to try for quite some time.

My first try at the recipe. Beetroot and a small onion were the only vegetables I could find at my home when I decided to make thayir saadham. So, be it

Thayir Saadham or curd rice as it is more commonly known is a recipe that I had wanted to try for a long time. And mind you, this dish isn’t short of fans and the number is increasing. It might be due to the cosmopolitan nature that our cities are becoming that it is gaining popularity. And, for all we know, it might have been a poor man’s dish that has been improvised upon to suit modern tastes and save time. In fact, if you dice in stone veggies, you don’t need any separate curry. The original thayir saadham recipe that I know was very simple to make and didn’t include veggies.

And, there are some reasons why I wanted to try thayir saadham recipe. One of them is to test whether I can cook, at least to my satisfaction and expectation if not exceed it. While I am not picky about my food, at times I criticize when my wife puts more than a pinch of salt. But yes, I’ve also felt that criticizing someone is very easy. Second reason is that I want the next generation to know about our culture, our food, etc. But to teach them that, I need to learn quite a bit myself.

So, after watching a couple of videos and reading the recipe, I started. I recommend that if you’re trying something new, especially a new recipe, you should do it when you have good amount of time by your side — which is why I tried it on my off day.

So, though I read and reread the recipe, I did my own thing with it. So, as I didn’t have all the ingredients that were mentioned in the recipe, I did with whatever I had at my disposal. And, as I had warned my wife against keeping any perishable items in the refrigerator or outside I had to make do with only beetroot and a small piece of onion that I used in place of all the veggies mentioned in the recipe.

As I had no green chili at that time, I substituted it with black pepper powder. So, the first time I made thayir saadham it was just up to the mark. From the first morsel, I felt that something was missing but couldn’t quite place it. And, it wasn’t until finishing the first serving that I realized star was — it was the pinch of salt.

My soupy thayir saadham which includes potatoes, tomatoes, onions, etc

The next day, I was game for another try. This time, with more energy, vigor and concentration. After getting the veggies that were needed for the recipe — which included potatoes, tomatoes, onions, ginger, curry leaves (kadipatta) and coriander leaves (dhania) — I started.

I first cut the beetroot, potatoes and onion and put them in a cooker. While those were cooking, I started arranging the other ingredients. I cut the green chillies and ginger. I mixed my spices, which included some turmeric powder, dhaniya powder, pepper powder and pinch of salt. I kept the mustard seeds in separate bowl so that it’s easier. When the cooker whistled, I was ready to mix them in a deep pan. First, I heated the oil and put the mustard seeds so that they could pop. Next, I put the curry leaves, ginger chillies and the masala mix. After which, I added the veggies (with the water in the vessel. I had put water in the vessel contrasting veggies so that they could well). I kept the flame at minimum and let it simmer for around 45 minutes. I kept checking on it now and then. I was too eager to know whether it was cooking well and didn’t want it to overcook or worse fry it lest it becomes inedible.

At last, when it is done, it looked more like a soup than like curd rice. But it tasted great, which was a surprise for me. In fact, it tasted exactly as I wanted — not too spicy, but not too bland either.