Updated: Feb 1, 2021
In my previous post on Dessert rice, I alluded to my fascination with how versatile rice can be and how widely it's used. India's southern states have a dish - curd rice - which, as the name suggests, is fundamentally rice, curd, some spices, and occasionally some lentils. I want to take this opportunity today to introduce you to its' north Indian counterpart, which we refer to as Mehri in Jammu, Punjab and Himachal Pradesh. My exposure is a bit limited, so I do not know if this dish is prevalent outside these three states, and if it is, I would love to know about it.
This is a tangy and wholesome dish, packed with flavours and loads of tradition. While it does not necessarily need an occasion to be made, it is quite common to find this dish being made on festive days such as Naag-Panchmi.
The dish is usually topped off with a Ghee and spice Tarka which adds a whole new flavour dimension to the dish. If you have ever come across Dhal-Tarka (or Dhal-Fry) in a restaurant's menu and wondered what Tarka meant; it's essentially the process of cooking some spices in hot oils or Ghee to liberate their essential oils and flavours. The red you see in the photo below is the Tarka - Ghee infused with red chilli powder and asafoetida.
Before I walk you through the ingredients and steps, here are some relevant metrics for the recipe
Difficulty - Easy.
Prep time - none.
Cooking time - around 45 minutes.
Servings - around 5.
Rice - 2 cups
Curd - 3 cups. You can see our post on curd if you wish to make some yourself. A tangier curd is recommended.
Water - 4 cups
Mustard oil - 5 tbsp
Fenugreek seeds - 2 tsp
Dried Red chillies
Heeng/Asafoetida - 2 pinches
Ghee - 1tbsp
Salt - 3 tsp but adjust to taste
Haldi/Turmeric - 1 tsp
Red chilli powder - 1 tsp
Garam Masala - 0.5 tsp. You can see our post on Garam Masala if you want to make your own.
Cook the rice. I'm guessing you're familiar with how rice is cooked. So, I won't be getting into that detail.
While the rice is cooking, mix the curd and water. We are after a very runny consistency of the mixture, so you will have to mix a fair bit. Once mixed, leave aside; we will be using it a couple of steps later.
Heat the mustard oil on high heat in a wok. If you have been following our blog for a while, you will know the drill by now. But for new visitors, here is the idea. Mustard oil has a very pungent smell and taste. We bring it to its smoke point to temper the flavour and remove the pungency. Once the mustard oil is at the smoke point, reduce the heat to medium. We will be doing most of our cooking on medium heat.
Add the fenugreek seeds, dried red chillies, pinch asafoetida to the mustard oil and saute the contents. Continue to saute until they release their aroma.
Now, add a quarter of the cooked rice and the curd-water mixture from step 2 to the wok. Stir the contents well until the liquid comes to a boil.
Add the salt and Garam Masala to the wok. We must not add them until things come to a boil; otherwise, the curd will spoil, and our dish would be ruined.
Add in the remaining rice and mix everything well.
Simmer the gas and continue to stir until the dish thickens up. The dish needs to have a porridge-like consistency.
Now we will prepare the Tadka for this dish. In a frying pan, heat the Ghee.
Add the red chilli powder and a pinch of asafoetida to the Ghee and give everything a nice mix. Once the ghee is hot, turn off the flame. Pour the Ghee and spices into the wok and mix well.
That's it; your Mehri is ready. Bon appetite. As always, I'd love to hear what you have to say in the comments down below. See you in the next one.