It’s The Little Things ~ Samba Rice

munson downbound soo
john g. munson, heading down to the soo locks

juvenile golden eagle
fairly sure this is a juvenile golden eagle with either a raven or a crow chasing it ~ hard to tell from a photo so far away but check out the size of
this amazing raptor!
mission point, soo, mich.

lee tregurtha
lee a. tregurtha, upbound mission point

eastern bluebird
gorgeous male eastern bluebird enjoying the sunny new hampshire spring

When I feel a bit disjointed and out of my comfort zone, it’s the little things in life that appeal. It could be an unexpected song on the radio, an unexpected bird in the tree, an unexpected boat at the Soo, or an unexpected surprise in the kitchen.

I don’t deny that I often retreat to the kitchen.

While I can’t always control what’s going on around me, I can control what’s going onto my supper plate! Sometimes I should control that a bit more πŸ˜‰

muthu samba rice
muthu samba rice

For the longest time, I looked for seeraga samba rice that ISG talks about
with her delicious chicken biryani at Daily Musings.

Like many of my questions, it garnered me strange looks every time I asked:

“Pardon me, do you have seeraga samba rice”?

“What’s that madam, some nice basmati rice today”?

“No, I’m looking for Seeraga Samba rice, it’s very small, from the south of India, smaller than sona masuri”, I tried in vain to explain.

“Oh, yes”! (a little startled) “we have sona masuri rice, come right this way”!

At which point I smiled and gave up.

I forget where I finally stumbled upon a 5 kg bag of not seeraga, but at least samba rice. Of course I brought it home, but it had to wait until my open rice was finished before I tried it. While waiting, I checked through my cookbooks and googled, finding very little about this Muthu Samba rice I had purchased.

muthu samba
muthu samba rice

Interestingly, I found a large source of information right around the blog-corner at Food In The Main.

I came across Shammi’s first post — uh oh, now I’m a little nervous to cook this rice…

Then I read the follow-up post — sounding better, but I’m still a bit timid…

So the samba rice sat and I busied myself with other things… things that didn’t require rice. I was procrastinating, one of my true strengths! πŸ˜‰

Then came tonight, eve of the long weekend!
Both the kids are away. There’s nobody to cook for but me, and I wanted some comfort food — what else but sambhar!
That meant rice, so out came the muthu samba at last.

I opened the bag and oh, so gingerly, stuck my nose inside. Whew — nothing to worry about, smells like rice. I poured most of the contents into a lovely new container purchased just for that purpose. The tiny little grains looked for all the world like raw sugar, sparkling in the light. I tried to capture that with the camera but I did not do it justice.

sugar or samba
is it sugar, or samba?

That was all it took for me — trepidation disappeared and I was excited to cook the baby grains.

I googled the manufacturer and basically followed their recipe to cook the rice.

I rinsed one scant cup of muthu samba and drained it for 30 minutes. Rinsed again and drained a little longer. Placed in a large saucepan with about 1 2/3 c water, brought to a boil, lowered the heat to lowest setting and cooked, covered, ten minutes. I turned off the heat and, steeling myself for the moment of truth, carefully opened the lid..

moment of truth
hmm… it looks like rice…

Ok, there was a new aroma, but I would definitely not call it unpleasant. I waved off that steam, fluffed the rice up with a fork, and recovered. Let it sit another 10 minutes or so, uncovered and waved off that steam. This time I tasted and honestly, I found it delicious. Almost like silk, those tiny pearls of ricey goodness. Hooray!

I chose a strong veg for the sambhar, just in case — fresh collard greens (next best thing to kohlrabi greens), chopped well and cooked right in the dal. I tossed in a few dried jackfruit chips for good measure. Of course this cooked up so green that it was more like dal saag, but with the usual treatment of tamrarind and sambhar powder, it tasted good enough. Something about it reminded me a little of gongura dal. Since I’ve been reading about Ethiopian cooking and the classic dish gomen (collard greens stew), I added a wee bit of korarima (Ethiopian cardamom) at the last. We’ll see what that tastes like tomorrow!

muthu samba with green sambhar
muthu samba rice with very green sambhar

Here is an interesting and seemingly thorough treatment of many rice varieties.
I can’t vouch for the veracity of the info, but scroll down to the samba entry and find a reference to aforementioned Shayamala πŸ˜‰

So there you have it, one humble opinion. Muthu Samba will definitely be eaten with relish here, and I don’t mean the hot dog variety (though I can’t wait to have this rice with pickle!).

In the words of my darling daughter, “peace out”!

eastern bluebird
eastern bluebird again

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6 Comments »

  1. shyam said

    Oh god… I’m so embarrassed about my post re muthu samba rice – but at least I know now for sure that it’s MEANT to smell like that, so thank you, Linda πŸ™‚ You’re so open to new things… I really admire that.

    Aw, I wouldn’t be embarassed Shammi, you were just being honest. Anyway I’m going to try your dosas when the weather gets hot! πŸ˜‰

  2. Sra said

    Linda, I once read that an original Tamil biriyani (if there could be original Tamil and biriyani in the same breath) is made without tomatoes, green chillies and basmati rice, and that the rice of choice is jeeraga samba. I’ve always seen it and smelt it in the store but don’t think I’ve ever bought it, must do that soon.

    Maybe I should try asking for it by that name — jeeraga!

  3. I didnt even know about this rice, if you had to search for this rice for so long i am sure i woudnt get it here . Ha ha i love the idea you smelling,wht did you think it would smell too πŸ˜‰

    Oh, never know Finla — you may find it if you ask — I guess it has several names but ‘samba’ is constant πŸ™‚

    And yes, I thought it might smell, I was nervous! But it was ok after all — even my son has enjoyed this rice and he is ‘picky’ πŸ˜‰

  4. indosungod said

    Sorry for the hunt Linda. I’d make it easy for you. Seeraga (seeragam by the way is Tamil word for cumin, jeera is the Hindisized word for the same). In Indian grocery stores here you would look for Kal Jeera rice and that is the one I am using now and very happy with it.

    Muthu Samba is the Srilankan rice variety someare really shiny white and some with a pinkish tinge. They look really good but I have not tried them. Let me talk with my Srilankan friend and get back to you if the smell is natural or if Shammi ran into a bad batch.

    The blue bird is something we have been catching sight of more and more and they are beautiful.

    Ah, somehow I think I may have seen Kal Jeera! Thanks for clearing that up ISG. Anyway I have alot of this one to use up now. Glad you’re enjoying some spring birds too! πŸ™‚

  5. BongMom said

    Wow you do go to some length to cook Indian Food Linda πŸ™‚ Never heard of seeraga samba rice, sounds like a dancing girl.

    But I read Indo’s comment and Kali Jeera rice is a wonderful short grained rice. We use it for our Paayesh when we run out of the short-grained variety straight from Home.

    I’ll try it first chance I get, S. BTW your Goan Shrimp curry is fast becoming my new favorite thing πŸ™‚

  6. Shri said

    Just came across your post… I was looking for Jeeraka/ Seeraga Samba rice and how to cook it.
    I came across a small pack of Samba rice and wanted to see if it was the same. Lovely post. Thanks for the tips.

    Hello Shri, and so sorry for the long overdue response — I’ve been on the internet cul-de-sac for some time — back on the highway now! Thanks for your nice comment πŸ™‚

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