A wonderful and prosperous New Year wishes to you dear readers of PanCuisine. I hope 2014 is treating you well already. Rice represents fertility and prosperity in most cultures, and so i am kick-starting my first post here with a Rice dish.
Today's dish is a rice gruel dish called Napniniag Gaan, a typical Rongmei dish that i grew up on, loved by the young and old. The word gruel is somehow associated with poverty, and the reason for that are many i suppose, but this dish is supper rich. The preparation of this dish is similar to the Thai rice gruel, where it differs is the use of fermented lard/pork fat. Fermented lard is the central flavouring agent in most of the vegetable curries among the Rongmei Nagas residing in Tamenglong, my home town.
Since i did not have fermented lard, i used the fat reduction from my pork chops. What i normally do is strain the remaining fat-oil, store it in the fridge, and use it in my vegetable curries. This dish is pure comfort food for me. Rice gruel is for me, what a soup would be for a westerner. It makes me feel closer to my roots, it reminds me of my Grand mom's kitchen, all the heart warming food enjoyed near the hearth with my many cousins. It evokes a lot of happy memories.
The hero of the dish is the dried Gongura leaves, Gankhiang in Rongmei. There are two varieties of this leaf, differentiated by the flower it produces, red or white. The white flower variety is the one i am using today. The red flower gongura leaves are available in plenty here in Hyderabad, used in varied ways by the locals in their cooking.
Anyway, I added fresh pork fat as well, just because :). When buying pork chops, if the fat is too big, what i do is cut off major chunk of the fat and freeze it for later use. It always come in handy for a dish like this one. This recipe is sufficient for 3-4 people. This is a great way to use up left over rice. as well. This dish is a meal in itself, but most families back at home prefer to have this served with rice, yes rice, and some spicy chutney. You can cook this dish in a pressure cooker or a deep bottomed pot. Here is the recipe.
2 Cups - Cooked leftover rice (if using raw rice, 2 handful of rice will do)
4 Cups + 3 Cups - Water
1 - Onion
Thumb sized - Fresh Ginger
5 Pods - Garlic
2 Cups - Dried Gankhiang/Gongura
1 Tbsp - Lard
1 Think Chunk - Fresh Pork Fat
1 Tbsp - Bamboo Shoot
4 - Red dried Chillies
1-2 Tsp - Turmeric Powder
Salt - As per taste
It is easiest to cook this in the pressure cooker. Put the rice and 4 cups of water, some salt and bring it to a rolling boil. Let cook for about 5-10 minutes. Take the pressure off, then add the remaining water and the rest of the ingredients, check the salt and spice (chili heat), put the cooker back in the stove and let it cook open for a good 15-20 minutes. Once done, serve it piping hot. Enjoy a warm, rich, gruel goodness!!!