“Autumn is the second Spring, the only difference is the color expressed by the foliage”; I got this caption from the local botanical garden advertisement. And not to say fell in the love with nature once again. If you ask me, how I want to connect my love and memories, I do explicitly with the season. Truly, these two seasons are the medley of the extremes and go well with their delicate transitions, giving the hope that things do mend well. Every culture celebrates it in various ways. Well, it’s again that time of the year, which gives me immense nostalgia.
If you are from India, you can well relate this time of the year with Navratri or Durga Puja or Dusshera. Belonging to the Eastern part of India we celebrate it as Durga Puja in the state of Odisha. This time of the year is very lovely, with faint chilled wind blowing in the early morning and evenings and schools having a week long vacation for Puja. There is celebration all around the city, the houses gear up with shopping clothes and gifts for friends and relatives. Among all this hustle and bustle one thing that’s more important is planning the traditional Durga Puja food and I think there are many which are kin to this festival, but probably Kanika is something my mom never missed any year.
Kanika is a mildly sweet fragrant rice flavored with some spices and ghee (the clarified butter) loaded with cashew nuts and raisins and is colored with the turmeric. The basic feature of the rice is the well separated puffed grains embellished with a perfect shine from the Ghee. And though the recipe is very simple with few ingredients, the basic features are never to be neglected. I remember my mom cooking it with utmost care, so that not a single grain is mashed. Traditionally, it was considered as the first test for the newly married bride to check her potent in calculation of rice and water. Good old stories I heard from Granny, how she passed her test in the kitchen. Continuing the family tradition, I have always had Kanika in my festive platter during Durga Puja.
Here goes the recipe:
- Basmati Rice – 1 cup
- Bay Leaves – 2
- Cinnamon Stick – 1
- Green Cardamom – 2
- Clarified butter – 4 tbsp
- Salt – 1/2 tsp
- Turmeric – 1 tsp
- Sugar – 1/3 cup
- Cashew nuts – handful
- Raisins – handful
- Water – 2 cup
Steps of Preparation:
- Rinse well the Basmati rice till the water is clear and soak it for 30 mins.
- Heat a pot, add the clarified butter or ghee.
- Stir fry the cashew nuts and raisins, till golden brown. This step has to be done in medium heat with caution as it gets easily burned out.
- Add all the whole spices (bay leaves, cardamom and cinnamon).
- Once these releases the flavor in the clarified butter, add the rice and saute it till its translucent and shiny.
- Add the salt, turmeric and sugar and mix it to coat well. Do mix with caution, making sure no grains are broken.
- Add 2 cups of water, cover it and let it cook on medium flame till the rice puffs and water dries out.
The sweet rice is a lovely combination with milder Dalma or spicy Aloo dum during festivities. Where as some Sundays it goes really well with Chicken or Mutton Kassa.