PUKKAI (SWEETENED COCONUT RICE)

This rice dish comes from my home town Kattankudy in the eastern part of Sri Lanka.

Traditionally made during auspicious occasions such as religious ceremonies, the beginning of a new venture or after the first harvest of paddy (rice) Pukkai is an inherent part of celebratory life in Kattankudy. It is usually made with white raw rice, fresh coconut milk, roasted moong dhal and sugar. These ingredients were readily available in any home back in the late twentieth century before the influx of other food ingredients. However, as I currently live in a country where I cannot obtain fresh coconut milk, I have substituted canned coconut milk. I used jaggery (caryota urens) instead of sugar as jaggery is unrefined and I like the taste of molasses that it provides. This rice dish is served in a plate with golden writings which are reserved for special occassions. I was lucky enough to inherit a few plates from my late parents!

This rice dish is made with cooked whole moong bean, rice and jaggery and called kichedy in other parts of Sri Lanka.

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serves 4-6                         Time: about 30 minutes

Ingredients:

250 grams white raw rice/ Egyptian rice/short grain rice (I used Turkish rice)

500ml water (you may need to adjust the quantity of water depending on the type of rice.When adding water make sure that you add hot water little at a time)

100-150 grams sugar/ jaggery (depending on your level of sweetness)

200 ml fresh thick coconut milk or canned coconut milk

a few cashew nuts and almonds or nuts of your choice

4 medjool or any dates,seeded and cut into a few pieces

1 tbsp ghee/ butter

3 cardamom pods

1 inch piece of cinnamon

a pinch of salt

(The above measurements and ingredients are a guideline. Feel free to adapt to suit your palate)

Method:

1.Wash the rice well with plenty of water.

2.Add 500 ml water to the rice and boil.

3.When the rice is halfway through its cooking stage, crush the spices and add.

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4.When the rice is almost done, add the coconut milk, jaggery /sugar and salt. Mix well and cook until the rice thickens. Make sure that you stir carefully as it may catch at the bottom.

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5.Fry the nuts in ghee or butter and then add the dates and at last raisins and add it to the rice.

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6.Transfer to a serving dish and spread the top with the spatula.You may use a little coconut milk to smooth the top.

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Serve hot or cold and enjoy!

 

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