Maappillai samba (red rice) pulav

Any time I start one of my food experiments my poor family starts to worry as they are the guinea pigs. But, nothing ventured, nothing gained right? I had a bunch of farm fresh organic spinach and wanted to pair it with this lovely maappillai samba rice that I had. Definitely needed a protein to complete the meal and so I decided to add black eyed peas to the pulav. Result…. a tasty and highly nutritious dish that is a complete meal.

This red rice “maappillai samba” is a rice that should be a regular part of our lifestyle, especially for children.  It develops body strength and is said to make them more alert, less prone to tiredness and sickness. It is also know to regulate blood sugar and has numerous other health benefits. I cannot say enough about our traditional rices and I urge you to come up with different ways of incorporating them in your daily diet. 

Spinach (I used amaranth/அரைக்கீரை) – 1 bunch, finely chopped
Rice – 1 cup 
Black eyed peas – 1/2 cup
Onions – 1, thinly sliced
Garlic – 2 cloves, crushed
Ginger- 1 tsp, grated
Pumpkin seeds – 1/4 cup
Poppy seeds – 1 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Fennel seeds – 1/2 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Chat masala – 1 tsp
Pulav masala – 1-2 tsp
Red chilli powder – to taste 
Salt – to taste 
Oil – 2 tbsp

Pulav spices 
Cinnamon stick – 2 one inch pieces
Black cardamom – 2
Bay leaves – 2
Cloves – 6
Star anise – 1
Mace – 1

Wash and soak the rice in two cups of water for 2-3 hours. In a kadai, add 1 tbsp of oil, add the fennel seeds and pulav spices. When they splutter, add the rice and fry well. Transfer to another container, add the two cups of water it was soaking in and salt. Cover and cook in pressure for 10 whistles. You can cook the black eyed peas in another container with some water in the cooker at the same time. 

Meanwhile, wash and finely chop the spinach. Dry roast the pumpkin seeds and set aside. In the remaining oil, first fry the sliced onions, remove when caramelised and set aside. Add the jeera, poppy seeds, ginger and garlic to the remaining oil and then the spinach. Add turmeric powder, chat masala, pulav masala, chilli powder and salt. Cook till spinach is cooked and dry. Once the rice is done, allow it to cool down and then add it to the spinach along with the black eyed peas. Stir gently adding salt if necessary. Finally fold in the onions and pumpkin seeds. We had it with a cucumber raita on the side as this turned out to be a meal in itself. Serves 4.

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