Enjoying Red Rice in Summer

Lunch today is

  • Thondi Rice from Wayanad (organic red rice)
  • Kumbalanga-manga kootan (ash gourd and raw mango cooked in a coconut curry)
  • Avarakkai thoran (flat beans stir-fried with flavoured dessicated coconut)
  • Mathanga Erissery (yellow pumpkin, red cowpeas and coconut curry) 
  • Nurukku manga achar (instant cut mango pickle)

 We decided to start the Vishu week with a nice Kerala  lunch today. Our rice of choice is as always, red rice. We are frequently asked if it’s possible to enjoy red rice during summer. And our answer is yes, yes, and yes!

 Red rice can be eaten throughout the year. It is satiating, high in fibre and is simply delicious with traditional curries. The sweltering heat in summer generally slows down cooking in many South Indian homes. However, in households like ours, red rice continues to hold sway for lunch. In fact, lunch is the only full meal we have. We enjoy a bountiful variety of summer fruits for breakfast. Dinner is invariably a light kanji, tiffin or nothing at all.

 We continue to relish the bold and tasty Thondi, the small-grained and nutty Kuruva, the soft Uma, the long and versatile Jyoti rice and any other red rice available. This year, we have a new red rice, Kunju Kunju that carries its own tale. Red rice can keep us satiated for a long period of time and prevents us from snacking unnecessarily.

While red red remains our all-time favourite, we like to change  our curries according to the season. During summer, when  gourds, pumpkin, cucumber, jackfruit and mango are in season these become our mainstay. They help us beat the summer heat too. Being the land of coconuts our cuisine is full of it, the good fat. In summer most of us like to include buttermilk in our curries. Most of these dishes require very little or no oil for cooking.

 Even though today's lunch was not a sadya I decided to make a payasam or kheer. I wanted to try out how the delicious gobinda bhog aval works in a payasam. It was pretty good, has a rich creamy taste, very similar to  pal Ada prathaman ( this is a milk based kheer made with pre made rice flour pieces). We had it warm with the lunch and had it as chilled dessert the next day.

You’re probably wondering - isn’t this a bit too much for lunch? Well, not really. Parboiled red rices are not heavy. If cooked well and eaten in moderate quantities with light creamy gravies that are cooling, these rices are very enjoyable. Try it and you’ll know what I mean. 

 We’d love to know your experience of eating red rice in summer. Do you have special recipes or any tips on red rice? Do share with us. 

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