Category Archives: Rice-Pulavs,Biryanis,Baaths

Vegetable Khichdi

This was tonight’s dinner, with yogurt and avocado slices in lieu of salad.

As I said to one of the school mums some time ago, converting the girls’ to avocado – we are not there yet with Shri though- has been one of the big culinary victories of the last year. They love it the way it is enjoyed best IMO –  au nature, or with a dressing of a little lime juice and sometimes dried basil flakes.

So that “salad” helped add interest to the meal tonight because  khichdi is not one of their prefered foods.

Vegetable Khichdi

3/4 cup of rice

2/3 or 3/4 cup of dhuli masoor daal (red lentils)

200 grams of diced pumpkin

5-6 tablespoons of frozen peas

1/2 tespoon of freshly grated ginger

1 medium sized onion, chopped fine

1 medium sized tomato, chopped fine

2 tablespoons of sunflower oil, 1 tablespoon of melted ghee

1/4 teaspoon each of the five paanchphoran spices (a little more of the fennel seeds)

3/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder

1/2 a teaspoon of coriander powder (optional)

1 and a half tablespoons of fresh green coriander leaves, chopped

Wash and soak the rice and daal separately for 2-3 hours.

In a pressure cooker, heat the oil and the ghee and then add the paanchphoran spices in the order suggested here.

Add the onion and fry till it starts to turn a golden color. Now add the pumpkin, and fry both together for a few minutes till the onion starts to turn golden brown and the pumpkin starts to soften and break up.  Now add the ginger, fry for half a minute, then add the tomato and fry the mixture till the oil starts to appear on the sides. Now add the dry spices and the peas and fry for a few minutes. Add the rice and daal after draining them of the water in which they were soaked, season with salt, pour in 4 cups of water, mix everything well  and cook for as long as required for most of the water to be absorbed and for the rice and daal to cook well (with my pressure cooker, this requires about 5-6 whistles).

Once the cooker has cooled enough for the lid to be lifted off easily, stir everything together once and garnish with fresh green coriander if possible.

Add more ghee to individual servings if you like.

Though I absolutely love the much simpler moong daal khichdi which is a staple of Gujarati thalis everywhere, I quite like this one too and it is such a convenient and quick one-pot-cooking type recipe.

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

Carrot and Green Bell Pepper Pulao

One day I will cook a “pilaf”, just to be able to post about it so I get to use the word pilaf, which I love  because it has such an exotic ring about it !

In the meanwhile – this is the recipe for the pulao I wrote about last summer but which I haven’t made since, until this past weekend. I have adapted it from the original recipe which is in Viji Varadrajan’s “Samayal”, a cookbook about the cuisine of the Tanjore and Palghat regions of southern India.

In the summer last year it was Noor who said she loved this pulao. Then on Sunday it was Indira who wanted to know if there’s be enough left over for Monday. I guess that means we can put it in the Favorites Foods column.  Or at least for now, for they may change their minds in some weeks in their sometimes fickle way 🙂

(An update to that from 15 Sep 2010 – Indira said again, when we had this for dinner last night, that she loves this pulav)

The use of the podi is what gives it it’s distinctive, delicious taste.

Carrot and Green Bell Pepper Pulao

Basmati rice – 1 cup

1 large green bell pepper, sliced fine

3 medium sized carrots, peeled and diced in to thin half-moons

1 tablespoon of Pitlai podi

3/4 teaspoon of turmeric powder

lime juice, to taste (but at least 1 tablespoon)

3/4 teaspoon of mustard seeds

8-10 curry leaves

salt, to taste (or say about 1 and a 1/2 teaspoons for the rice and 1/2 a teaspoon to be added while cooking the vegetables)
Wash and soak the rice in cold water for 20-30 minutes, then cook it with a little less than twice the amount of water (I use an electric rice cooker and therefore add 2 and a half cups of water) with salt added in.

Let the rice cool before you start to cook the vegetables so that you are able to separate the grains of rice gently, by hand or with a flat spoon, without breaking the grains.

In a large frying pan, heat the oil, then add the mustard seeds and the curry leaves. When these begin to crackle, add the carrots and fry them on a medium high heat till they are soft enough without being mushy (i.e. they should retain a bite).  A few minutes before you think the carrots will be done, add the bell pepper slices and fry everything together till the latter are cooked (I prefer that these should retain a bite too) as well.

Add the salt, the turmeric powder and Pitlai podi and fry everything for another couple of minutes.

Now add the rice, mix it with the vegetables, then put the lime juice and  toss everything together gently but quite well over 4-5 minutes.

This makes a very nice meal with varan and salad, or just a raita in the summer.





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

Yummy Vegetable Biryani

The recipe for this comes from Shefali.  She made an excellent vegetable biryani for the  birthday party we had for their son Vayun, and Noor, this last March. I had been meaning ever since to ask her for the recipe.

Then, when I was wondering what to make for dinner this last Saturday evening, to go with the tikki-chole and tandoori chicken that I was planning for the main course (we had Jenny,Stefan,and Uma and her parents’  Kate and Oliver come over to eat with us) , I remembered this biryani and felt it would round out the meal nicely.

Shefali very patiently explained the entire process to me – and it certainly is a long one – over the telephone, after which I did a trial run during the week. The girls especially loved the biryani , though Shri I guess would have liked me to not skip the fried onions that usually adorn a biryani. But there was so much oil/ghee that had gone in to the rice already, I decided I just had to skip this last bit of garnish !

Since the experiment worked out well I did make the biryani for dinner on Saturday too and our guests liked it a lot.

Instead of the traditional accompaniment of  raita, I made khamang kakdi to go with the biryani – as I wanted to include a salad on the table – and it wasn’t a bad combination.

The three girls had pasta, a leafy green salad and potato wedges that evening but I made enough so that Indira and Noor – and Shri and I, too – had the leftover biryani for lunch on Sunday and I have to say this is another dish that tastes even better the next day !

For the rice :

2 cups of Basmati rice

2 tablespoons of sunflower oil

3 bay leaves

3 pods (cracked) each of green and black cardamom

5 cloves

salt, to taste (I would add 1 teaspoon)

For the vegetable mixture:

2 tablespoons of oil

3 medium carrots, peeled, washed, sliced in half along the length then diced in to 1 cm wide pieces

3 medium potatoes, peeled, washed, sliced in half along the length then diced in to 1cm-2 cm wide pieces

150-200 gms of fresh green beans, ends trimmed then diced in to 1 inch pieces

250 gms of whisked yogurt

3/4 teaspoon each of turmeric powder, red chilly powder and garam masala powder

3 tablespoons of mint-coriander paste (made with equal amounts of the two herbs) or mint-coriander chutney (I had some in the fridge so this is what I used and it added a nice tangy touch, I think)

1 large onion, chopped very fine

2 tomatoes, chopped fine or an equivalent amount of canned tomato pulp

1 and a 1/2 teaspoon each of ginger and garlic pastes

salt, to taste (I would add about 1 1/2-2 teaspoons)

You’ll also be using:

approx. 120 ml of warm milk

a generous pinch of saffron strands (I used almost  3/4 of a tablespoon, I think)

2-4 tablespoons of melted ghee

1-2 tablespoons of fresh mint leaves for garnish

Wash and soak the rice for 30 minutes. Then in a rice cooker or large sauce pan, heat the oil for the rice,fry the whole spices till their aroma is released. Now add the rice after draining it and fry for 4-5 minutes. Add the salt, 3 cups of water and cook till all the water is absorbed and the rice is almost but not entirely cooked (it should have  just a little bite left).

While the rice cooks, soak the saffron strands in the milk and start to prepare the vegetable mixture. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a shallow frying pan and add the potatoes. Fry till they start to acquire a  crispy, golden color. Then add the carrots and the beans, and cook for a few minutes till they seem semi-cooked. Take the pan off the heat and let the vegetables cool.

Make a marinade for the vegetables by mixing the chutney and the turmeric powder, red chilly powder and garam masala powder in to the yoghurt. When the vegetables have cooled completely, add them to this mixture, toss everything together gently to coat the vegetables well and keep aside for at least an hour.

Now heat 1-2 tablespoons of oil in the same frying pan as the one used for the vegetables, and fry the chopped onion till it is a caramel-brown color. Add the ginger and garlic pastes and fry for another couple of minutes. Add the tomatoes next, and fry the mixture till the tomatoes are well-blended. Add the  marinated vegetables and cook everything together till the yogurt is absorbed but take the mixture off the heat before it goes too dry. Season with salt and toss in to the vegetables.

In a large baking dish, spread half the vegetable mixture, then spread half the rice over that (after gently fluffing the rice in the pan in which you cooked it to separate the grains. While doing this, also remove all the whole spices; the rice will have absorbed their flavors in any case). Sprinkle over, evenly , half the milk and saffron mixture , and half the ghee (I skipped this bit with the ghee the first time I made the biryani and it makes no big difference to the taste, I think). Now spread the remaining vegetable mixture, then the rest of the rice, followed by the remaining milk-saffron mixture and then the ghee. Garnish with fresh mint, wrap and seal the dish well with aluminum foil and bake in a pre-heated oven for 1 hour, at 170-180 degrees C.

After the end of the baking time, leave the dish in the oven for 15-20 minutes, then keep the dish well-covered till you are ready to serve/eat.

Then dig in with a large serving spoon to bring up all the yummy flavors, and eat slowly to savor them 🙂

This one is so worth the effort. Thanks again, Shefali !

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Filed under Baked Main Meal Dishes, Rice-Pulavs,Biryanis,Baaths