Pineapple Fried Rice

 Summer is here and so are the pineapples. The peak season for pineapples are between March and July, when they are at their delicious best, though they are available all through the year. The pineapples we get here are the Dole variety, coming to us all the way from Hawaii.
 “The most-visited tourist attraction in the state of Hawaii is the World War II Valor in the Pacific National Monument (also known as the Pearl Harbor bombing site). The second most visited attraction is about 20 miles north: the Dole pineapple plantation. In peak season between March and July, this tropical fruit evokes the 50th state in the Union for many.” writes the Smithsonian Magazine.

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“While its exact origins have yet to be determined, botanists agree that the pineapple originated in the Americas, most likely in the region where Argentina, Paraguay and Brazil meet . As to how the plant arrived, and was domesticated, in Hawaii is apocryphal. Some sources point to Spanish sailor Don Francisco de Paula Marin, who arrived in the Islands in the early 1790s. In addition to serving as an interpreter for King Kamehameha I, Marin had a reputation for being an ace horticulturalist credited with introducing citrus and mangoes to the island nation. He does, however, provide us with the first written record of this fruit in the New World, the simple January 1813 diary entry: “This day I planted pineapples and an orange tree.”

“The Hawaiian pineapple industry wouldn’t take a turn for the better until the United States’ annexation of Hawaii in 1898 after the Spanish American War and the arrival of 22-year-old Massachusetts native James Dole the following year.

Despite knowing nothing about canning, Dole opened the Hawaiian Pineapple Company in 1901.Dole was certainly not the first to introduce pineapple to the mainland American market. Rather, his business savvy and the economic conditions of the times allowed him to champion the fruit. Pineapple was cultivated in Florida, but recurring frosts destroyed the crops and what survived was of sub-par quality. Baltimore had a canning industry, but its fresh fruits were imported from the Bahamas, which heightened production costs due to importation taxes. With the combination of ideal growing conditions, the consolidation of cultivation and production and advertising that asserted the superiority of Hawaiian pineapple over all competitors, Hawaii was poised to dominate the canned pineapple trade. And it did. By the 1920s, it developed into a culinary fad, most notably in the form of upside down cake.

By 1923, Dole was the largest pineapple packer in the world.”

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 The first time I had ever been to a pineapple farm was during summer holidays as a kid. My paternal grand mom always took us grand kids to show us the country side when we visited her during our summer breaks, one day she sat us up during one of her many evening story telling sessions and asked, “Who among you want to go see the “Ananas” farm tomorrow , while also visiting the famous Bahubali/Gomateshwara statue ? “
(The monolith of Gomateshwara formed the nucleus around which the Jain Mutt and Basadis/Jain temple or shrine sprang up in the little village, in Karnataka, India. They drew 3 streams – devotees, lovers of art and students of history.Revered by Jains the world over, the statue of Gomateshwara stands as a true symbol of their faith)

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Many tiny little hands went up, we were always up for the adventure, they made the most memorable summer vacation times for us kids.
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True to her word, she took us to see the Gomateshwara statue first, which stood 45 feet tall over a small hillock surrounded by luscious greenery all around …..a scenic spot indeed! This was followed by a visit to the pineapple farm. Up until then I had always thought, these ananas/pineapples grew down from a bush never really thought they stood shining their golden light against the setting sun on top of the plant. The kind pineapple farmer gave us kids each a ripe pineapple when we returned home that evening, needless to say they were delicious to the last bit, so….. Yes ! summer time will always have pineapple memories for me. Be it India or America, a fruit is a fruit is a fruit, packed with summer sunshine and good memories !
   So here I sat in my little kitchen holding the precious fruit in hand rich in it’s history and the memories it brought back. The desire to create a fusion dish was strong, hence chose to make the Pineapple Fried Rice with a touch of Asian flavor, putting the teriyaki sauce I had in the freezer to good use along with the fried rice and Hawaiian fruit.
Ingredients
  • Basmati Rice – 2 cups
  • Sesame Oil – 2 1/2 Tbsp
  • Ginger – 1 ‘ (finely chopped)
  • Garlic – 3-4 cloves (finely chopped)
  • Green Onion – 4 (Chopped, with white and green parts separated)
  • Mixed Veggie – 1/2 Cup (chopped)
  • Salt – to taste
  • Red chili flakes – 1 tbsp, can also substitute with Sriracha sauce to amp the spice level
  • Red bell pepper – 1/2 cup (diced)
  • Cashew – 10- 15
  • Pineapple  bite size pieces – 1 cup
  • Teriyaki Sauce – 4 Tbsp

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Method :
  1.  Clean and cook the rice with 4 cups of water and salt to taste in a pressure cooker and set aside, after fluffing it with a fork, so they do not stick to each other. Adding a bit of oil or ghee while cooking serves this purpose well.
  2. In a wok add the oil, when warm  add the ginger, garlic and white part of spring onion. Saute until translucent. To this add the mixed veggies and the red chili flakes and gently stir till the veggies are partially cooked.
  3. Now add the red bell pepper, cashew nuts ad pineapple pieces and continue to stir until the vegetables are completely cooked. To this now add the Teriyaki sauce, and stir well. Add the cooked rice to the wok. Mix well until all of the rice and veggies are coated with the sauce. Garnish with green part of spring onion & serve hot.

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