I have read many bloggers waxing eloquent on one particular dish in the past - The Curd Rice. In the world of burgers and pizzas this dish may be considered an anachronism…but as far as I am concerned, there is hardly any food to beat the therapeutic effect of a good plate of curd rice. If the south Indians can proudly patent any of their idiosyncracies, it would definitely be this. Call it the Thayir Saadam, Masaranna, Bagala Bhaath or simply the utterly homely ‘thayirinjaam’ as it is called in Tam-Bram household, it is for me an irresistible panacea. A rose by any name would smell as sweet…and curd rice by any nomenclature would taste as divine. The best thing about curd rice is that one does not require formal training to make it. For an ideal Curd Rice, the rice has to be cooked rather well… The more mashable the rice is, the better the taste. For that taste that will bring a glazed look into the eyes of a seasoned gourmand, the curd has to be fresh. Mashed rice and beaten fresh curds should be made for each other. Then comes the ultimate secret. Salt. The amount of salt added should be so precise that it doesn’t upset the alliance of rice and curds. Basically, that is IT! Your curd rice is ready. Eat it with lemon pickle, mango ( baby mangos pickled as vadumanga, or midi or kadugumanga) pickle and be ready to be transported to the seventh heaven of sheer pleasure! But if you want to be ostentatious about your curd rice experience there is a wide choice of seasoning. Simply season it with spluttered sarson, urad daal and curd chillies ( thayir moLagais) Garnish with finely chopped grated coconut, green chillies, fresh ginger, kadi patha and dhaniya patha. Eat it with Marathankalikkai vathal fried in ghee. Eat it with dry Naarthagai Pickle Garnish with finely diced cucumber, raw mangos, green grapes or pomegranate seeds ( fresh) As seasoning optional add chana daal, a pinch of hing. Chop onion, tomatoes green chillies, ginger, dhaniya patha and kadi patha finely, Heat a spoon of ghee; add sarson, urad daal and the chopped things fry till onion and tomatoes are done and pour into the prepared curd rice mix. Eat it with pickled greenpepper. Try even weirdo combinations like Pappads, Chutney Powder or even the ‘Rasaththadi’. Eat with Magani kkizhangu ( mahaliberu ….or sarsaparilla)pickle. I have found that though the curd rice is a favourite among southies, all my North Indian friends also relish it. It is always a part of my parties. If I am low or moody, all I need is a helping of curd rice to pick me up again. On hot summer days, it keeps me cool and during winter, it warms the cockles of my heart. I recently saw advertisements for KRD RYS… I hope I got the spelling right… it looked something like that…may be I was not paying much attention as I was watching South Indian actor, Prakash Raj ( Rai) hungrily… Not because he is one of my favourite actors in Tamil but because, he was devouring the new brand of Curd Rice to hit the market. I was so thrilled to see that somebody had finally managed to successfully commercialize something that was hitherto essentially a domestic experience. Am sure it will be a hit. We get thick buttermilk called Laban here in the <?XML:NAMESPACE PREFIX = ST1 /><ST1LACE>Middle East</ST1LACE>. It is ideal for making Curd Rice. It is fresh and thick and ready for use; unlike in the case of yoghurt which needs to be beaten or whisked first. Like I said earlier anyone with a little sense can make a decent Curd Rice… But sadly I have tasted disastrous curd rices too… Well…It takes all kinds to make this world. The most sacrilegious thing you can do to Curd Rice is to make it with sour curd. And then to serve it with old pickle is like adding insult to injury. Still, the rhythmic call of ‘Thayir saadam, thayir sadam…thayir sadam…” in Aaarkonam, Erode and Salem Stations when you try to grab a few winks inside a train is an unforgettable experience. My memories of curd rice are of school days, when during lunch hours , I’ll open the steel dabba ( lunch box) and spoon in cold curd rice and pickle. Yummm! Or of Mom making her special Pulav and a curd rice and Aloo roast as accompaniment… or of the curd rice mixed by a mom or grandma or grand-aunt in a big vessel and give helpings to us children… or mixing a rather loose version of curd rice for small kids and little scoops you push into your kids’ mouth as they zoom around driving imaginary cars and trucks… Or just curling up on the sofa with a plate of curd rice pickle, a bottle of water to swig from and the TV tuned to your favourite channel or balancing the book you are in a hurry to finish… Hmmm… I could go on and on! So now you know my secret. I take solace from my comfort food- Curd Rice.