(kheer made of rice)
(South Indian jalebi)
The main actor in this culinary drama, rice is heaped, steaming
and white, on the centre of the banana leaf, with a small puddle
of hot ghee dripped into its middle. The dal is mixed in, rapidly
followed by the tamarind-water rich sambhar, studded with onions,
potatoes, drumsticks or carrots. The next round could be with morkuzhambu
(the southern kadhi) made traditionally from yoghurt, coconut and
a few watery vegetables like cucumber or pumpkin.
More rice is eaten with the liquid rasam, and diners have to slurp
very fast to avoid losing it to the inexorable flow down the midrib
of the leaf. Second helpings of payasam are offered; however, it
is hard to down any more after steadily savouring each sumptuous
round of food! Moru, or buttermilk, or thair, or yoghurt is mixed
in with rice as the last course.
But this is only the standard celebratory lunch. In weddings with
a high budget, there may be many varieties of rice as part of the
meal: thenga shadam, rice mixed in with roasted coconut and spices
or lemon rice, with its tang of lemon juice and crunch of nuts and
chillies add interest and colour.