Rice Salad

It is the balmy days of summer. It is so short, that even before we realize it is gone. While growing up in India, sunny days were not a problem at all.  Mysore was so very well endowed with sunny days that the year we moved to Bangalore was an unhappy one, for Bangalore used to be a cloudy-cool hill station! Heck, it is no longer one. It feels much hotter and lot more uncomfortable these days. The green canopy around the K.R.Circle area and the one on R.V.Road is but history. Bangalore is not the garden city any more. A few years from now clean air for breathing will probably be sold in canisters in Bangalore. It is indeed so sad to see your beloved city die a slow suffocating death.

Coming back to summer, it is time for salads. It is a common tradition to start summer back home with Kosambari on Sri Ramanavani. It used to be around  the time that our  summer vacation started and my late maternal grandfather would take us kids (me, my sister,cousins and a bunch of others in the neighborhood) to his ancestral farms about couple of kilometer from our home, to the sacred Banni tree with a small concrete platform around it. He would also carry vats of Panaka a sweetened beverage which is supposed to have a cooling effect on the body, some spiced buttermilk and then huge baskets of Kosambari. We did all sit around the tree, pray to lord Rama, recite the Rama bhajane. Our din would by then invite farmhands working nearby and our neighboring farmers (mostly related to us)  and then we would all drink and eat. Back then there were no plastic cups and plates (thank god!!) We would be served on leafy plates called 'Mutukada ele' /Donne or on shreds of plantain leaves. Drinking was tricky. Grandpa would have carried only a few steel cups with him. We did take turns to drink out of it. But then we did have to pour the beverage into our mouth from a distance lest our lips touches the cup polluting it. Obviously others could not use the polluted cup unless it has been washed thoroughly and purified with the sprinkling of tamarind water. (Watch  old Kannda movies if you do not believe me) For us it was just a summer picnic that we would look forward to once our school closed for the year. I sometimes feel so sad that Sunny boy will never know what it is to eat Kosambari  on a leafy plate, or pour a drink into your mouth from a distance while others are breathing down on you waiting for their turn.He is growing up so far away from things that were the elements of childhood. We still own those farmlands but there is hardly any life left there. The mango orchards could not bear to be away from Grandpa, so they joined him soon afterwards. My last visit a few years back was disastrous. All the old trees were gone. Actually it was such a thick and green canopy back then but a mere fallow parched earth the last time I went there. I have decided not to go there anymore. It is not worth it. I cannot hear the wind whisper in my ears, I do not feel the leaves of the old trees coming to hug me as if they recognize me from the ages past,I do not hear the Nightingale sing sweet as the mangoes themselves,nor see Kingfisher sunning after a quick dip. The stream is all dried up, not even trace of sand, just parched earth mutely singing its own eulogy.
Change they say is part of life. But for me it is a sad tribute to a part of you that just died. It is sadder that Sunny boy can never know when I relate him the stories of my childhood.

This rice salad is my tribute to summer when cooking for long hours is rather tedious but fresh produce at the farm stand makes it difficult for you to stop cooking.
We will need,

Rice 2-3 cups  (cooked and cooled, preferably left over rice)
Peanut oil 1 tbsp
Zucchini/ Squash 1 medium diced
Carrot 2 diced
Onion 1 medium diced
Mushrooms a handful diced.

Toasted peanut oil 1 tbsp
Soy sauce 1 tbsp
Fresh green chillies 2 -3 minced
Garlic 2 cloves minced
Ginger 1/2" piece minced
Juice of a lime
Fresh Coriander a handful chopped
Basil leaves a handful chopped (optional)

  • Combine all the ingredients for the dressing in a bowl and sit it at  room temperature for at least 20 minutes. This mixture can also be whizzed in a blender for a more homogenous dressing.
  • Heat 1 tbsp of peanut oil in a wok and stir fry the onions, carrots till slightly caramelized about 5 minutes. Toss in the zucchini and Mushroom and fry for  another 2-3 minutes till the moisture is gone and the vegetables are crisp tender. Remove the vegetables into a bowl. 
  • Throw in the rice into the hot wok and toss around to slightly warm up the rice. Once the wok is cool,  throw in the vegetables and the dressing. Toss till everything is combined.
  • Check for seasonings and serve at room temperature.


Torviewtoronto said...

this looks wonderful deliciously done

Savi-Ruchi said...

beautifully written Smitha. A sad but a true story at every household these days :(

Hari Chandana P said...

Looks delicious :D
Indian Cuisine

Akila said...

Looks great... N I too feel sad about the trees

Kannada Cuisine said...

@torview, Akila...thanks

@Sushma..looks like it is the story of our generation :(

@Akhila..thanks for sharing the pain

Priya Suresh said...

Rice salad looks fantastic and prefect for anytime of the day.

Spice up the Curry said...

fantastic looking rice salad.. so yummy

hemalata said...

Delicious looking rice salad.

Unknown said...

Salad perfect for a hot summer day. I hear you about the changes. Mysore was my life until after my graduation and now I don't feel the urge to go back there, too many fond memories and the landscape is so different I feel almost like an alien there.