Category Archives: Quick Meal Ideas

Broccoli,Baby Potato and Tomato Salad

Yesterday, when I realized suddenly that I did not have as much time to cook dinner as I had initially thought, I decided to make this salad on a whim, to go with grilled pesto and onion toast.

I kept the broccoli florets quite small and since the salad also had the girls’ favorite tomate marzounette (a type of small-sized tomatoes that have an oblong shape and are grown from a variety native to San Marzano in Italy) they ate it without comment.

I haven’t combined them before, but potatoes and broccoli do seem to go well together. I can even see this salad as part of a more formal meal, with baby potatoes in place of the regular sort for a nice touch.

Broccoli, Potato and Tomato Salad

steamed broccoli florets

boiled, peeled and diced potatoes (the potatoes should be firm, not overcooked) OR boiled and peeled baby potatoes

cherry tomatoes, sliced in to halves (or quartered lengthwise if the tomatoes are the marzounette variety)

Put the tomatoes, the broccoli and the potatoes in to a large salad bowl. Add some olive oil, toss the vegetables lightly in it, and leave aside for an hour.

Just before serving, sprinkle some sea-salt and lime juice and mix the salad.

Light, colorful, GOOD ! Definitely one to make again.

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Filed under Quick Meal Ideas, Salads

Jenny’s Spinach Pie

I ate this once last summer at Jenny’s and it was really quite nice.

So earlier today evening, when I happened to be in her kitchen as she made it for guests that she will have at lunch tomorrow, I noted down the quantities of the ingredients as she cooked.

It looked quite simple to put together, so I am going to try and make it some time soon.

Spinach Pie

2 rolls of store-bought pie crust

a kilo of frozen,very very finely chopped spinach

3-4 tablespoons of creme fraiche

a 210 gm bag of Gruyere cheese

salt and pepper to taste

1 large onion, chopped fine

1 egg, lightly whisked

De-frost the spinach and squeeze out all the water.

In a pan, heat a little oil and fry the onion for a while.

In a mixing bowl, combine the spinach, the onion, the seasoning, the cheese and the creme fraiche.

Place one of the pie crusts at the bottom of a pie dish. Fill with the spinach mixture and spread it evenly. Cover with the second pie crust.

Brush the top with the egg and bake at 175degreesC till done.

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Filed under Baked Main Meal Dishes, Easy One Pot Cooking, Quick Meal Ideas, Versatile Accompaniments

Italian Rice Salad with Tuna, Vegetables and Cheese

At the buffet served after the OIB graduation ceremony held at the CIV tonight – I was there to help with the aperitif and the buffet – there was a delicious rice salad which was contributed by the mum of a student in the Italian section.

Here’s the recipe, as I remember it, which she told me as we served the crowd so I hope I’ve got the details right !

Italian Rice Salad

Cooked and cooled rice (from a region in Italy, if I understood her right, near the one that arborio rice come from) tossed with canned tuna (with the oil), olives, capers, very finely sliced raw carrots(or they may have been very lightly steamed), tomatoes (optional) and small pieces of provolone cheese. Though I forgot to ask if she had used any herbs, I don’t think there was any  seasoning in the salad other than salt.

I am going to try this soon as it would make such a simple, fresh and delicious summer meal though I’ll have to figure out first what the rice variety she’d used might be.  I wonder if it is Carnaroli?  The name she used sounded sort of like that from what I remember and when I google Arborio, I find many references to the Carnaroli rice variety as a great base for risottos and salads – indeed for the former it appears to be a better choice than Arborio.

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Filed under Easy One Pot Cooking, Picnic Food, Quick Meal Ideas, Rice-Pulavs,Biryanis,Baaths, Salads

Warm Spinach and Fennel Salad

At the same hotel – the Sophia Country Club – where I had the avocado and orange salad, I also had a dish for lunch one afternoon which had a very new and unlikely – to me – combination of finely sliced fennel and spinach leaves.

The vegetables seemed to make up a sort of warm salad that included some kind of seafood.

I had only the vegetables from this dish, however, and the combination was surprisingly good.

I need to figure out now how they’d been cooked together.

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Filed under Quick Meal Ideas, Salads, Versatile Accompaniments

Thakkali Sadam or Tomato Fried Rice

This rice preparation – native to the south of India – would make a nice meal on a summer day, with a raita on the side and perhaps a light vegetable dish such as cauliflower with paanchphoran or beans poriyal or jeera aloo.

I have adapted the recipe from “Samayal”, a cookbook by Viji Vardarajan. To make it interesting for the customers of the local boulangerie – where they served this today with mint- and coriander-flavored chicken, pumpkin raita and salad greens- I skipped the green chillies in the original recipe and added cashew nuts on a whim.

Thakkali Sadam

1 and a 1/2 cups of Basmati rice

2 large tomatoes, chopped fine

1 small onion, chopped fine

3 tablespoons of oil plus 1 teaspoon to add to the water in which the rice will be cooked.

1/4 of a teaspoon of mustard seeds

1/4 of a teaspoon of cumin seeds

1/2 a teaspoon of turmeric powder

a few curry leaves

50-60 grams of cashew nuts, halved and then fried lightly for a minute or so in a teaspoon of oil

Wash and soak the rice in cold water for 30 minutes , then drain the water and cook the rice with 1/2 a teaspoon of salt and 1 teaspoon of oil in 2 and a quarter cups of water.

When the rice has cooled a little, separate the grains a little with a fork.

Heat the oil in a large frying pan and add the mustard seeds. When these start to pop, add the curry leaves, fry for a couple of seconds and add the cumin seeds. As soon as they start to darken in color, add the onions and fry fora few minutes till they begin to look translucent. Now add the tomatoes, cover the pan and cook till the tomatoes are quite soft and their juice has almost dried up.

Add the turmeric, fry the mixture for another minute, then add the rice and toss everything together. Cover the pan and cook the rice for 6-7 minutes, turning over the rice a couple of times till all of it acquires a uniform yellow color. Just before taking the pan off the heat, mix in the cashew nuts.

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Filed under Easy One Pot Cooking, Quick Meal Ideas, Rice-Pulavs,Biryanis,Baaths

Rava Idlis

This is another of Pooja’s recipes, adapted a little by me.

Maybe I ought to start paying her a royalty for all these inspirations !

Thanks to this one, the girls loved their gouter today and I am looking forward to having the idlis for dinner tonight, with sambhar.

In the background – Ruhin’s artwork, from a year or so ago, which Boudi creatively transformed in to a set of place mats for us.

Rava Idlis

1 cup of suji/semolina/rava, slightly roasted

1 and a 1/2 cups of smooth yogurt

1 large carrot, finely grated

1 or 2 tablespoons of cashew nuts, sliced in half

5-6 curry leaves, finely chopped

1/2 a teaspoon of mustard seeds

2 teaspoons of sunflower oil

salt to taste

1 teaspoon of Eno fruit salt

Mix the yogurt in to the rava, adding a little water – about 1/2 to 1/3 of a small cup – if the batter seems too thick.

Heat 2 teaspoons of oil in a small frying pan, then add the mustard seeds. When these start to pop, add the curry leaves, fry for a few seconds and then pour this mixture in to the rava batter. Now mix in the rest of the ingredients and stir thoroughly.

Lightly oil the idli mold, pour about 2 tablespoons of batter in each section and steam the idlis till done. This will take about 15 minutes.

Take the idlis out with a butter knife.

The top of some of the idlis was a little damp still when I took them out of their molds but the moisture dried up in a few minutes.

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Filed under Breakfast Ideas, Picnic Food, Quick Meal Ideas, Starters and Snacks

Curried Potatoes aka Rasedar Aloo Tamatar

Shri loves this potato curry – he calls it aloo shak, which is probably an Indori name for it since he talks fondly of having eaten this many times in the sarafa bazaar of Indore – with puris and if he had his way this is what I would make each time we have friends over for a meal.

Yesterday, for dinner with Vishal and Shefali’s family, we had this curry with palak puris.  And it was so pleasing to see Twisha and Vayun enjoy the carrot salad I had made to go with the aloo-puri as much as Shri, Indira and Noor do.

Curries Potatoes/Rasedar Aloo Tamatar

600 gms of potatoes (enough for 4-6 people)

300 gms of tomatoes or an equivalent amount of canned tomato pulp (about 6 tablespoons)

4-5 tablespoons of oil

1/4 teaspoon each of the ingredients of paanchphoran – mustard seeds, cumin seeds, fennel seeds, nigella seeds and fenugreek seeds

1/2 teaspoon of turmeric powder

1/2 or 3/4 teaspoon of coriander powder

1/4 teaspoon of kashmiri red chilli powder (or to taste)

2 small cloves of garlic, peeled and chopped fine

1 teaspoon of kasoori methi and/or 1/2 a teaspoon of garam masala (optional)

1 large dry red chili (optional), broken in half

salt to taste

fresh, green coriander,chopped fine

Leave the tomatoes in very hot water – freshly boiled – till their skin comes off easily.  Then drain and leave aside to cool.

In the meanwhile cook the potatoes, till they are soft, in a pressure cooker. When the cooker has cooled a bit, open the lid, drain the water, take out the potatoes in a colander and leave aside to dry and cool.

Peel and chop the tomatoes in to very fine pieces.

When the potatoes are cold, peel them and dice them in to small pieces.

In a large frying pan, heat the oil and put in the  red chili, the mustard seeds and the nigella seeds. When the mustard seeds begin to pop, add the fennel seeds, fry for a couple of seconds, then add the garlic and fry for a few seconds till the garlic loses it’s raw look. Now add the cumin seeds and fenugreek seeds and fry for just another couple of seconds else the fenugreek seeds can burn and will develop a bitter taste.

Add the tomatoes next and cook on medium heat till their juice starts to dry up. Then add all the dry spices and fry for a minute or so, till the oil starts to appear on the sides of the mixture. Now stir in the kasoori methi and fry for another few seconds.

Add the potatoes, along with salt. Fry for a few minutes till the potatoes are  well-coated with the tomato mixture.  Then add about 2 cups of water and simmer the curry for a while till the gravy is as thick as you like (add more water if needed). Once way to ensure the curry is well-done is to let it simmer, stirring occasionally, till the surface starts to acquire a rich red color/glaze.

Garnish with green coriander , if you haven’t used kasoori methi.

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Filed under Curries, Everyday Subzis, Picnic Food, Quick Meal Ideas