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Cook this: Fancy yellow rice — kaha bath — from Milk, Spice and Curry Leaves


Our cookbook of the week is Milk, Spice and Curry Leaves by Ruwanmali Samarakoon-Amunugama. Tomorrow, we’ll feature an interview with the author.

To try another recipe from the book, check out: Cashew nut curry (kadju maluwa) and chicken curry (kukul mas curry).

Kaha bath (fancy yellow rice) was the among the first recipes Ruwanmali Samarakoon-Amunugama started documenting in her notebook as a teenager. In her family’s Port Coquitlam, B.C. kitchen, she would watch her mother prepare the special dish for every dinner party she hosted.

“Twenty people would come to the house and she would begin with this, and she would prep all day,” says Samarakoon-Amunugama.

“She was very particular about the time she would insert that cinnamon stick into the rice … And then when she would serve the rice on the platter, she was so careful about how she’d spoon it onto the dishes, sprinkle it with either parsley or mint, the cashew nuts and raisins that she had prepared, and those lightly fried eggs on the top.”

You can also serve it plain, without any of the garnishes — as they did often at home — Samarakoon-Amunugama adds. With the toppings, it can be a meal in itself, but she likes to pair it with kukul mas curry (chicken curry): “It is so delicious.”

FANCY YELLOW RICE

Kaha Bath

Rice:
1/4 cup (50 mL) ghee or butter
1/2 small red onion, very finely chopped
8 cardamom pods
8 whole cloves
4–6 white peppercorns or 8–10 black peppercorns
4 cups (1 L) basmati rice, washed and drained
1/2 tsp (2 mL) ground turmeric (or a few saffron strands), dissolved in 2 tbsp (30 mL) of boiling water
2-inch (5-cm)-long piece of pandanus leaf, fresh or frozen
1/2 tsp (2 mL) salt
1 (2-inch/5-cm) cinnamon stick

Garnish:
Olive oil
1/4 cup (50 mL) golden or dark raisins
1/4 cup (50 mL) cashew nuts (whole or halved)
8 small hard-boiled eggs, peeled and kept whole
1 tbsp (15 mL) finely chopped fresh mint

Step 1

In a small pot, melt the ghee (or butter) over medium-high heat. When the butter is hot, add the onion and fry until golden. Add 2 cups (500 mL) tepid water to the pot.

Step 2

Add the cardamom pods, cloves and peppercorns to the ghee and onion mixture. Cook, stirring occasionally, for 3 minutes to release and combine all the flavours.

Step 3

Pour the ghee mixture into the rice cooker or the pot you are using to cook the rice. Add the washed and drained rice and the necessary amount of water required to cook the rice. Pour the dissolved turmeric (or saffron) over the rice, insert the pandanus leaf into the rice and add salt to taste. Let cook, covered.

Step 4

After 15 minutes, insert the cinnamon stick directly into the rice and leave it there until ready to serve (even after the rice has finished cooking, approximately 20–25 minutes).

Step 5

If you have cooked the rice in a rice cooker, keep it on the warm setting until you are ready to plate on serving dishes.

Step 6

To make the garnish, in a shallow frying pan over medium-high heat, add about 2 tbsp (30 mL) of oil. When the oil is hot (but not smoking), add the raisins and turn down the heat to medium. The raisins will initially balloon or swell up. Fry until lightly browned, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, and then remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set onto paper towels to absorb any excess oil and let cool.

Step 7

While the oil is still hot, add the cashews. Watch them carefully, as nuts cook quickly and can burn easily. Stirring gently, occasionally turn the cashews in the pan with a spoon to ensure even browning on all sides. Fry until golden brown, about 3 minutes, and then remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and set onto paper towels to absorb any excess oil and let cool.

Step 8

Before frying the hard-boiled eggs, carefully prick them all over their surface with a fork. (This will prevent them from bursting when they are placed into the hot oil.) You may want to wipe out the pan and use fresh oil for frying the eggs, as there may be pieces of nuts in the oil now. If so, use 2 tbsp (30 mL) of oil again, warm it over medium-high heat and turn down the heat to medium, once you’ve added the eggs. Fry the eggs one or two at a time (depending on the size of the pan). The surface of the eggs will bubble. (This is fine, as the skins will shrink down when cooled.) Gently roll the eggs around in the pan with a spoon to ensure even browning on all sides, being careful not to break them. They should be fried just until they are light golden brown in colour on all sides, about 3 minutes per egg. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon, set on paper towels and gently pat dry (to absorb excess oil), and let cool. Once they have cooled, halve each one lengthwise.

Step 9

To serve, give the rice a stir/fluff with a fork and spoon the rice out onto one large or two medium-size serving platters. Remove the pandanus leaf and cinnamon stick from the rice. Sprinkle the top of the rice with the fried raisins and cashew nuts. Arrange the sliced eggs (yolks facing down) in a ring on top of the rice. Finish with a sprinkling of mint.

Serves: 8

Note: The use of pandanus leaves is distinctive to Sri Lankan cooking, and a little bit of the leaf is used in most curries. You need only use a small (1-inch/2.5-cm) piece for curries and a couple of larger (2-inch/5-cm) pieces for rice dishes. It is a tough, fibrous leaf, so it is recommended that it be removed from dishes prior to serving. Fresh pandanus leaves may be cut and stored in the freezer.

Recipe by Ruwanmali Samarakoon-Amunugama, from Milk, Spice and Curry Leaves , copyright © 2020 by Ruwanmali Samarakoon-Amunugama. Reprinted with permission of TouchWood Editions.

Copyright Postmedia Network Inc., 2020

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