Coconut Rice

my favorite dish amma made was coconut rice. The distinct tastes of toasted coconut and tender rice meld into each other, and every grain of rice is flavored by the rich, fragrant ghee, the nutty fried dal and cashew nuts, and the curry leaves. Coconut rice is made in many different ways. Some cooks add fresh coconut, while others fry it before mixing it with the rice. Another version calls for rice cooked in coconut milk. The following is my mother’s version, rich with fresh coconut toasted in ghee. 4 cups cooked long-grain rice Salt to taste ½ cup ghee 3 cups freshly grated coconut 1½ teaspoons mustard seeds 1½ tablespoons each cleaned urad dal and chana dal 2 dried red cayenne, serrano, or Thai chilies, halved ½ cup halved cashew nuts ¼ teaspoon asafetida powder 15 to 20 fresh curry leaves Spread the cooked rice in a large, flat dish, sprinkle it with salt, and stir to combine. Heat half of the ghee in a large heavy skillet over medium heat, and add the grated coconut. Reduce the heat, and panfry the coconut over medium-low heat until the flakes turn golden brown, approximately six to eight minutes. Remove it from the stove and spread the coconut over the rice. Heat the remaining ghee in the skillet and add the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds start sputtering, add the dal and fry them until they turn golden brown. Lower the heat, and add red chili peppers, cashew nuts, asafetida powder, and curry leaves. Fry until the cashew pieces are slightly browned. Remove it from the stove and pour it over the rice. Stir gently to coat the rice with fried coconut and spices. This rice dish tastes good served warm or cold.