Southern Snacks Cookbook

The Southern Sympathy Cookbook

I'm P.C., and I have studied food and cooking around the world, mostly by eating, but also through serious study. Coursework at Le Cordon Bleu London and intensive courses in Morocco, Thailand and France have broadened my culinary skill and palate. But my kitchen of choice is at home, cooking like most people, experimenting with unique but practical ideas.

I live, mostly in my kitchen, in my hometown of Memphis, Tennessee.

Curried Rice Salad

Curried Rice Salad

What is summer without the cold salad? Potato salad is the standard sidekick to all of the season’s outdoor events, closely followed I would say by pasta salad, and maybe a good bean salad. And I love all of those things. But for something charmingly different with a whiff of the exotic, this curried rice bowl will surprise and impress everyone at the table. My mom made a curried rice salad for years, and she has told me many times that I should put it on the blog, and told me the cookbook where I would find her recipe. But there is no rice salad recipe in that cookbook, so I started from scratch, creating a heavenly flavored and brightly hued rice studded with crunchy nuts, sweet dried fruits, tangy green onions and a creamy dressing that is light and not at all cloying. A bowl of this sunny salad brightens up any buffet. 

This salad makes a huge amount to serve a big crowd but keeps in the fridge for several days to eat off of, making it a perfect take-along for a lake or beach weekend. It is wonderful at a cook-out, but also packs beautifully for a picnic. Leftovers make a fabulous packed lunch as well.

There is some method involved in cooking the rice so you get it as fluffy and separated as possible. It starts with rinsing the rice to remove the starch. Add the salt directly to the rice, and don’t be stingy. It is very hard to get cooked rice seasoned, so start from the beginning. Placing a towel over the pot before covering it absorbs some of the steam to keep the rice from getting sticky, and spreading it out on a pan helps in this, as it does cooling in it more quickly. (p.s., this is an excellent method for making a curried rice to serve hot as well, just serve after fluffing). The dressing is creamy and tangy but flavoring the rice as it cooks really makes all the difference.

Curried Rice Salad

For the Rice:

2 cups long grain white rice

1 Tablespoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon mild curry powder

¼ teaspoon cumin

¼ inch piece of fresh ginger

4 cups vegetable broth

For the Dressing:

¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons plain yogurt

¼ cup plus 2 Tablespoons olive oil

2 teaspoon rice vinegar

1 ½ teaspoons mild curry powder

1½ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon cumin

½ teaspoon turmeric

Several grinds of black pepper

For the Salad:

¼ cup finely chopped cilantro

¼ cup finely chopped mint

4 green onions, white and light green parts, finely chopped

¾ cup golden raisins

¾ cup dried cranberries

¾ cup roasted cashews, roughly broken

For the Rice:

Place the rice in a fine mesh strainer and rinse very thoroughly until the water runs almost clear. Transfer the rice to a large pot with a tight-fitting lid and sprinkle over the salt, curry powder and cumin. Grate the ginger on a microplane grater over the rice, then pour in the broth and stir. Bring to a boil and boil until almost all the water is absorbed and little steam vents form in the top rice, about 10 – 12 minutes, stirring a few times to prevent sticking. Remove from the heat, place a tea towel over the top of the pot, then tightly cover with the lid. Set aside for 15 minutes, then fluff with a fork. When the rice is cooked, spread out on a foil lined rimmed baking sheet to cool. This helps it cool faster and not clump together.

For the Dressing and Salad:

Whisk all the dressing ingredients together until smooth in a small bowl. Return the cooled rice to the pot (or another large bowl) and pour over the dressing. Stir with a spatula to coat the rice. Add the green onions, raisins, cranberries and cashews and stir to distribute evenly. Fluff with a fork to break up any clumps. Transfer to a serving bowl, cover and refrigerate for several hours, or up to 2 days.

Serves 10 – 12

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