Pearls of pomegranate red bedeck soft mounds of rice. The aroma of curry leaves and hing permeate the house. Mustard seeds splutter, chillies hiss. The moment of meeting is minutes away, when the fiery tadka meets a gentle mix of curd and rice to produce pure South Indian satisfaction.
My relationship with thayyir saadam has humble beginnings. Most of my childhood lunches were constituted of curd rice, eaten alone on a couch while the parents clocked in long hours at the office. My recipe was naive, until I was introduced to the elaborate thayyir saadam when it arrived in a classmate’s little red tiffin box. Over a decade later, that love story is still going strong. True lovers must adjust, however, so use mustard oil for extra tang and drop in some pomegranate seeds for a sweetish hint.
My affinity to curd rice is not only about the taste. The motion of folding curd and rice together relaxes my muscles, while proportioning the ingredients helps to focus my mind. The process of making thayyir saadam has gotten me through many a long night. Turns out, there’s more to its therapeutic properties than I would have thought. The tryptophan present in curd is a base for serotonin, that all-elusive natural mood regulator. Heavy on carbs, curd rice helps the brain absorb tryptophan better. Double whammy.
The fun, of course, is in eating it; better still, eating it with friends who relish the dish as much as I do. That the food that warms my heart does so to others to gives me great delight, even if they pick at the pomegranate seeds. Thayyir saadam is a little bit of my childhood, a little bit of home, a little love and delicate solace on a plate. And unlike most of my relationships, I’m committed to stick with this one.