Why didn’t anybody tell me that linseeds (or flaxseeds, which is their other name) were so incredibly aromatic and tasty when roasted and powdered? All this while I’d been – well, not exactly put off by flaxseeds, but sort of avoiding them because they had this label of “health food”. The product information on the packs said I could add the seeds to salads or cereals or yogurt – none of which really appealed to me.
But I went ahead and bought a pack the other week, despite not quite knowing what to really do with the seeds. The first couple of times I added a tablespoon of the linseeds to my cereal, as per the suggestions on the pack. The seeds tasted ok, but I didn’t find them particularly moreish. Then I thought that perhaps roasting them would help – they tasted better, but there was no particular change in the aroma of the finished dish.
And then, while making a batch of paruppu podi, I decided to dry-roast some flaxseeds along with the dals and powder them. I knew that at the very least they wouldn’t add a nasty taste, and at best they would be an added health boost to a protein-rich powder. Again, no particular change in the aroma of the paruppu podi, not even when the dals and seeds were being milled into powder.
But when I had the podi with rice and a bit of ghee one night, I was completely surprised by the amazing taste! Yes, paruppu podi is an aromatic, tasty preparation, especially mixed with some ghee added to hot white rice... but this was something else again. I wasn’t entirely sure what I’d done for it to have the extra oomph, until I remembered the linseeds. Surely they couldn’t have been the reason?
Of course I had to double-check this... so I roasted 3 tbsp of linseeds with 3 tbsp coriander seeds (and I would have roasted 2 tbsp urad dal with this, but I had store-bought roasted urad dal powder to use up) and cooled and powdered them.... and ohhh yeah! The linseeds finally came into their own, with a flavour reminiscent of roasted sesame seeds, but not as strong.
I made spiced rice with this powder for Pete and me that night to go with our special egg curry dinner, and he absolutely loved it.
A latecomer I might be to the delights of flax seeds, but now that I’m finally on board, it's going to be flaxseeds, flaxseeds all the way!
Recipe for: Flaxseed/linseed powder spiced rice
3 tbsp coriander seeds
3 tbsp golden flax seeds
2 tbsp urad dal
2 dried red chillies (optional, or to taste)
1 medium onion, chopped fine
2 tsp mustard seeds
a few curry leaves (fresh or frozen)
1/4 tsp hing/asafoetida powder
Salt to taste
1 tbsp oil
4 cups cooked rice
1. On medium heat, dry roast the coriander seeds, urad dal, flax seeds and red chillies till the seeds are a darker shade and the urad dal is golden.
Cool and powder finely. (If you are using ready-bought roasted urad dal powder like I did, mix 2 tbsp of this after grinding the roasted coriander-flaxseeds).
2. Heat the oil in a large pan and add the asafoetida powder, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Cover the let the mustard seeds pop.
3. Add the finely chopped onions and fry them on med-low heat till they are translucent and soft.
4. Add the cooked rice to the softened onions and mix it in carefully.
5. Now sprinkle 3 tbsp of the roasted flaxseed-coriander powder along with salt to taste on the rice
and mix till well amalgamated, taking care not to break the rice grains. Taste and check to see if more powder needs to be added.
Make sure the rice is thoroughly heated, then serve hot with a gravy curry, or with a dry curry and a raita, or even by itself with something crunchy on the side.