How to prepare curds at home (for beginners):
For setting curds, warm milk slightly and pour into a earthern or ceramic bowl. Mix in a tsp of plain yoghurt, stir with a spoon, cover and keep in a warm place to ferment into curds. If you live in very cold regions you can keep this inside a hotpack vessel. Or cover it with a teacosy. The idea is to keep it warm enough to ferment. When it is solidly set, keep it inside the fridge. Now you can start making curds the next day onwards using a tsp of the curds you made with yoghurt at first. Remember to make it a routine to set curds when you boil milk for coffee in the morning. This way you have a constant supply of curds to be eaten with your South Indian Meal (or even to make Raitha with a North Indian Meal). Curds is very good for health as a source of calcium in your daily meals. The helpful bacteria in the curds (Yes, there are bacteria which are friendly and live in your stomach all the time!) helps digest your meals properly. Milk might not suit some people but curds overcomes this disadvantage as it is actually predigested in the fermentation process. It is the Indian equivalent of yoghurt, which can be prepared at home.
To make curd rice, first cook 1 cup of rice in 3 cups of water for more time than you cook for ordinary rice, say 10 minutes of pressure cooking instead of the 6 minutes needed for ordinary rice.
Take out the rice and in a vessel mash it when it is still hot with a broad spoon. Add a teaspoon of salt and mash further. Add cold water, about half a cup, to make it a soft, to a paste-like consistency.
Heat a tsp of cooking oil in a small pan. Splutter a tsp of mustard, 2 green chillis-slit lengthwise, a few curryleaves and a few slivers of ginger. Add a pinch of asofaetida after taking it off the heat. Pour this into the rice paste and mix well.
When rice is cool, add a big cup of thick fresh curd and mix well. There should be no lumps.
Add a few pieces of carrot and cucumber, cut into small cubes to garnish the rice. You can add seedless fresh green or black grapes too for special occasions.
Now curd rice is ready!