A couple of months ago, a neighbor gave me boxes of masala mixes. I used one, got shocked with the heat, so the second box stayed in the fridge for a while probably waiting for me to muster enough courage to take on the heat challenge again.
I felt brave enough yesterday so I opened the box, dumped the contents into a bowl, mixed it with coconut milk and made a paste. I used about three quarters of the mixture to marinate a whole butterflied chicken. The remaining portion, I used to cook my rice.
What is masala? In South Asian cooking, it is a generic term that refers to spice mixes. Ginger, onion, garlic and chili are the most basic components but masala can include a lot of other spices like cumin, turmeric, cinnamon, coriander seeds and cloves.
You can make this rice dish with a masala mix from the grocery or you can make your own spice concoction. The downside to using a ready-made mix is that you can’t add or subtract to the base flavor. Sam actually found the flavor a tad cloying, something that could have been remedied had I prepared my own masala. Next time, that’s what I’ll do. So, if you want to try this dish or something similar, I urge you to make your own masala mix. I also recommend dry roasting the spices in an oil-free pan before grinding them to a paste. Dry roasting really releases their aroma and flavor.
- 1 c. of rice (Basmati is ideal but most long-grain varieties will do)
- about 1 tsp. of masala mix stirred with 2 to 3 tbsps. of coconut milk to make a paste
- 4 tbsps. of butter
- about 2 c. of diced vegetables (I used eggplants, tomatoes and snow peas; feel free to use whatever vegetables you prefer)
- 1 onion, thinly sliced
- 1 tsp. of minced garlic
- about ¾ c. of oyster mushrooms
- salt (I used Himalayan black salt)
- slivers of scallions
- Cook the rice as you ordinarily would but stir in the masala paste before switching on the rice cooker. Sprinkling with salt is optional. When done, fluff up the rice by raking through lightly with a fork.
- Heat the butter in a frying pan or wok. Add the vegetables, onion and garlic. Sprinkle with salt. Stir fry for about a minute to a minute and a half depending on your choice of vegetables and the size of the cut.
- Add the mushrooms, sprinkle with salt once more and cook for 30 to 45 seconds depending on the size of the mushrooms.
- Add the rice. Stir and toss just until heated through.
- Sprinkle with scallions.
- Serve the masala rice with oyster mushrooms and vegetables at once.