Betel leaf rice (made with seeraga samba rice)
This is a recipe from the Kongunadu region that is largely missing from our tables these days. These traditional recipes were always made keeping in mind the health benefits of the ingredients and allowed for including such ingredients in a tasty form in such recipes. Let us just take a look at the health benefits of the seeraga samba rice and betel leaves before moving on to the recipe.
Though traditionally made with seeraga samba rice, this recipe can also be made with basmati rice. The seeraga samba is a small grain, flavourful rice that contains selenium which helps to prevent the cancer of colon and intestine. It is high in fibre and anti-oxidants that help to remove free radicals from colon and intestine. It also has phytonutrients which help to fight breast cancer and strengthens the heart and helps in lowering cholesterol. This is a slightly more expensive rice and is largely used in biryanis in Tamil Nadu. Very similar to the Gobindobhog in West Bengal, it is truly a rice for the Gods.
The betel leaf is mostly used after meals as an aid to digestion. The leaves are full of vitamin C, thiamine, niacin, riboflavin and carotene and are a great source of calcium.
Seeraga samba rice 1 cup
Betel leaves – 5
Garlic cloves (chopped finely) – 8-10
Black pepper – 1 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Fennel seeds – 1 tsp
Coriander seeds – 2 tsp
Sesame seeds (white) – 1 tsp
For the rice
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Chana dal – 1 tbsp
Urad dal – 1 tsp
Kalpasi (stone flower) – 1/2 tsp
Cloves – 3
Peanuts – 2 tbsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig
Peanut oil – 3 tbsp
Salt – to taste
Soak the rice in sufficient water for 30 mins and the pressure cook with 1.5 cups of water for two whistles. Set aside and to cool.
In a kadai dry roast the ingredients for the masala mix, cook and grind to a coarse powder. In the same kadai, add the peanut oil and fry the peanuts and set aside. Pop the mustard seeds in the remaining oil and then add chana dal, urad dal, kalpasi and cloves. When golden brown, remove and set aside. Add the chopped garlic in the same oil and fry till they brown and lose the raw garlic smell. Add the betel leaves that have been torn by hand into inch long pieces and fry till they wilt. Put the peanuts, fried dals and ground masala mix into this and add the cooled down rice. Add salt to taste and mix gently till well mixed. Garnish with curry leaves. Serve with a simple raita as this is a very flavourful rice. Serves 2-3.