There is comfort in knowing that as long as you keep yogurt, rice, and spices on hand, you can always feed yourself and your family dinner. The recipe is pictured here with Padma Lakshmi's Green Mango Curry. If you can’t easily find some of these ingredients, they’re worth seeking out (try ordering them from Kalustyan’s, a beloved New York institution and one of author & Top Chef host Padma Lakshmi’s favorite stores), but it’s also okay to work with what you can get. If you’re thwarted finding urad dal, an Indian white gram lentil, for example, Lakshmi recommends frying cashews for a similar nutty crunch. And yogurt rice is certainly worth making even without the harder-to-replicate flavors of asafetida and curry leaves. Adapted slightly from Love, Loss, and What We Ate: A Memoir (Ecco, 2016). To read the full story, head here. —Genius Recipes
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Padma Lakshmi’s Yogurt Rice
8 to 10
cooked Basmati rice
plain whole-milk yogurt
1 1/2 teaspoons
teaspoons kosher salt, or to taste
peeled and diced English cucumbers (in spring or summer), or 2 cups fresh pomegranate seeds (in fall or winter)
white gram lentils (urad dal, found at Indian grocery stores,or chopped cashews are a good substitute)
black mustard seeds
asafoetida powder (found at Indian grocery stores)
1 to 2
medium green chiles (preferably serrano) with seeds, diced, or more to taste
medium curry leaves, torn into small pieces
Cilantro leaves or fresh curry leaves for garnish (optional)
To serve, mango or lime pickle or Padma's fresh green mango curry (as pictured and linked in the note above)
In a large bowl, combine the rice, yogurt, and salt, kneading them together with your hands. Then stir in the cucumber (in spring or summer) or the pomegranate seeds (in fall or winter). Set aside.
In a small saute pan, heat the canola oil over medium heat. After a few minutes, when the oil is hot and shimmering, add in the lentils. When they’re just beginning to turn golden (after about 3 minutes), add in the mustard seeds and asafoetida powder. Stir briefly. You will hear a popping sound when the mustard seeds begin to cook.
After just a minute, when the popping becomes more frequent, add in the chilies and curry leaves. Stir for 1 to 2 minutes, then remove the pan from the heat.
This dish should be served at room temperature, or cold, and it’s great for a summer lunch or dinner. If you’re making it ahead, just stir in a bit of water to loosen it up before serving; it should have a porridge or oatmeal-like consistency.
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