Tuesday, November 25, 2008

What's for lunch honey? Spicy potato 'n' peas rice

Lunch time is probably what we all look forward to at work, especially when the Monday morning blues hit hard...I packed this spicy rice for lunch one day and it sure did rattle our sleepy heads back to action! I quite like to pack different kinds of flavoured rice for lunch as it is 'spill-free' and easy to handle :-)
  • cooked basmati rice, 2 cups (for M & me)
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 1 potato, diced into small bits
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • a few curry leaves
  • oil, 2tbspns
  • 1/2 spoon jaggery (molasses), you could also use sugar
  • 1/4 tspn tamarind paste
  • for the spiced powder - 1 tbspn split chana dal, 1 tspn split urad dal, 5 dry red chillies, 1/4tspn jeera (cumin), 1/4tspn saunf (fennel seeds), a tiny bit of a cinnamon bark, 2 cloves
  • salt to taste
  1. Dry roast all the ingredients for the powder in a frying pan.
  2. When cool, grind in a blender to get a fairly coarse powder (neither too fine nor too coarse)
  3. Heat oil in a deep pan/wok.
  4. Add curry leaves.
  5. Next add chopped onion and saute for a while.
  6. Add potato and peas and cook till soft.
  7. Tip in the ground powder from your blender.
  8. Add jaggery, tamarind paste and salt.
  9. Mix well and cook for a couple of minutes.
  10. Once well amalgamated, add the cooked rice and mix well.
  11. Serve with plain yogurt.

For a variation, you can use brinjal (eggplant) or capsicum.

Friday, November 21, 2008

Tea-time Saturday Evening...

Ambode/Aamavadai (deep fried lentil fritters) with Ginger Chai...

A lazy Saturday afternoon, I woke up after a nice nap when M was strumming his guitar. We realised we hadn't had any lunch and it was almost tea-time. I decided to indulge in some sinful deep fried bliss...so the ambodes were made and devoured in no time along with some hot-spicy-sugary ginger tea - a combi that will get your tastebuds floating in ecstasy!
  • channadal (split yellow chickpeas) 1 large cup, soaked for about 4-5 hours
  • 6-7 dry red chillies
  • a small chunk of ginger
  • 1 tsp hing (asafoteida)
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • a handful of curry leaves, chopped
  • a small bunch of dill (sabbasige soppu) optional
  • salt to taste
  • oil for deep frying
  1. Grind the soaked channadal, red chillies, ginger and hing coarsely, without adding any water. However, if the mixture is too dry then you could add a spoonful of water.
  2. Transfer this to a wide bowl and add chopped onion, chopped curry leaves and salt (and chopped dill, if you wish)
  3. Take some lentil mixture, the size of a pingpong ball and flatten into a patty.
  4. Deep fry on medium flame until brown and crisp.

Ginger chai -

  • 1 cup water
  • 1 cup milk
  • a large chunk of ginger, about the size of your thumb.
  • tea powder/tea bags
  • sugar
  1. Heat the water in a saucepan and let it simmer.
  2. Wash and peel ginger and grate. Add this to the simmering water.
  3. Wait until it releases it's flavour and add 1 big spoon of tea leaves or 2-3 tea bags.
  4. Bring to a light boil.
  5. Next add milk and sugar and continue to boil till all the flavours blend in.
  6. Strain into mugs and enjoy!

Sitting in our balcony with hot 'n' crisp ambodes and lovely ginger chai, we were like two people in love all over again :-)

Pudina Chutney/Mint Chutney - a fridge essential if you snack often...

It's a good idea to have a jar of pudina chutney in your fridge. It's very versatile and you can dish up some really nice 'n' tangy snacks with it in no time...

  • 1 large bunch mint leaves
  • 1/2 bunch fresh coriander/cilantro
  • a thumb sized piece of ginger
  • 3 green/red fresh chillies (it's really up to you to either make it really hot or go easy on the spice)
  • salt

Simply grind all of the above into a smooth paste, with very little water. Store this in an airtight container in your fridge.

  • you can use it in sandwiches (see the following two recipes)
  • you can use it as a dip for bhajias/pakoras (deep fried fritters)
  • you can use it to spice up a salad
  • it is used in most chat recipes
  • and you can find a million other uses for it, just think, be creative and add some zest to your snacks!

Double Treat!

I tried these two recipes this week. Both use pretty much the same ingredients. Everytime I stock up my pantry I feel very good. But then, every single time, I end up just leaving everything in my fridge/cupboard till I have to throw them away and then I feel so miserable about it. I never seem to learn from these repeated acts of foolish carelessness. However, this time I was determined to make full and good use of my recent buys from the local Indian store.

The result was quite delicious! Atleast it had M nodding approvingly, so I'm beaming :-)

Try them, I'm sure you'll love them...
Trio Sandwiches -

  • 3 potatoes, boiled & peeled
  • paneer (Indian cottage cheese) - 1 medium chunk/slice about 200gms
  • button mushrooms, about 4
  • pudina (mint) chutney
  • bread
  • turneric powder, red chilli powder and salt
  1. Cut the paneer into fairly thin, small square slices. Place them, separate, in a wide pan/plate and coat them with the dry powders and leave this aside for about 15mins.
  2. Wash the mushrooms and slice them into half, not lengthwise, but like slicing a burger bun, in the middle. Coat them with the dry powders and leave this aside for about 15mins.
  3. Slice the boiled potatoes .
  4. Heat a frying pan. You need to roast/toast the paneer slices and mushrooms on a low flame. Dribble some olive oil.
  5. Once cooked, take off the frying pan.
  6. Now all that is left to do is to put the sandwich together.
  7. Take a slice of bread and spread the mint chutney. Place the potato slices.
  8. Next, another slice of bread with mint chutney, toasted mushrooms and paneer slices.
  9. Top this with the last slice of bread and lightly toast/grill the whole sandwich.
  10. Serve with tomato ketchup.

Simply yummy and oh-so-filling! Have fun!

Pocket full of yumm!

Had more paneer left, made these :-) Quick and easy treats and they look so cute!

  • 1 small cup paneer cubes
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 1/4 cup boiled potatoes (again left over from my last recipe)
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • a small chunk of ginger, grated
  • jeera (cumin seeds), turmeric powder, jeera powder, amchur (dry mango) powder, red chilli powder, salt and a pinch of sugar.
  • pita pockets, 4
  • fresh coriander
  • 4tbspns oil
  1. Heat oil in a deep pan and add jeera (cumin seeds).
  2. Add grated ginger and suate for a couple of minutes.
  3. Add chopped onion and suate for a while.
  4. Next add the diced tomato and cook till soft.
  5. Toss in the green peas and cook till done.
  6. Now put in the paneer and potato cubes and mix very gently (you don't want the paneer crumbling)
  7. Add all the dry masala powders and mix lightly.
  8. Coontinue to cook on low flame for about 5mins till everything is cooked.
  9. Garnish with fresh coriander.
  10. Cut the pita pockets in half and spread mint chutney on the insides.
  11. Fill the pockets with a big spoonful of the paneer-peas-potato masala.
  12. Serve with tomato ketchup.

Monday, November 17, 2008

Sprouting glory!

Here's another recipe on our 'mission - healthy eating' journey.
I thought of this to pack lunch for work. Lately M & I have been on a staple diet of hot chips and 'whatever on the menu' at work. Continuing our attempt to eat healthy, I made this for lunch tomorrow.

  • 2 cups green whole moong sprouts. Soak the moong for a couple of days making sure to change the water twice a day, otherwise you'll end up with a smell that makes the whole thing the least bit appetising!
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • 4-5 pods of garlic crushed
  • 2 tbspns olive oil
  • for flavour - salt, pepper, sugar, chat masala powder, amchur (dry mango) powder and tomato ketchup - all about a tspn each.
  • Rye bread or wholemeal bread to accompany.
  1. Start by pressure cooking the sprouts, don't overcook them, they'll turn into an unsightly mushy clump. Alternatively, you could microwave them till half cooked.
  2. Heat olive oil in a wok and add crushed garlic.
  3. Saute for a while and add the sliced onion. Saute for a while till done.
  4. Add tomato ketchup and all the powders mentioned above and give it a good mix.
  5. Toss in the cooked moong sprouts and mix.
  6. Serve with toasted bread.

It has an interesting flavour, it's tangy and different. Good for those days when you want a twist in your lunch box :-)

A bowlful of good health for dinner!

I woke up this morning with a shocking realisation of how unhealthy our diet is!! I thought it high time to take control of our lives and be more conscious of what we eat...maybe it was the guilt of the laddus & vada pav we devoured over the weekend, anyways it has opened our eyes to the painful reality of expanding waistlines and the miserable couch potato attitude. So, M & I are going to try to eat our way to a better 'us', a healthier and fitter 'us'. Wish us luck!
We start by having a wholesome veggies soup. Very easy 'n' quick.

  • 1 large bowl of mixed veggies - I used carrots, broccoli, peas, sweet corn and mushrooms. Dice the veggies to bite sized chunks. You could chop them up smaller if you wish. M likes the mushrooms chunky, so I don't chop them finely.
  • 3 cups water
  • 1 tspn cornflour
  • salt 'n' pepper
  • vinegar and soy sauce for flavour
  1. Bring water to a rapid boil in a saucepan.
  2. Add the veggies and boil further till they're cooked.
  3. In a small bowl, make a runny mixture of cornflour and water and add this to the boiling broth.
  4. Season with salt & pepper.
  5. You could use soy sauce and vinegar for added flavour.
  6. Serve with toasted garlic bread.

Great on a winter night!

Monday, November 10, 2008

I'm a woman, I hold the power to banish hunger in my house!

There are times when I'm totally lazy, yeah, which is most of the time actually, ahem. Anyways, I'm sure you know what I'm talking about, those times when cooking a simple meal, let alone a three course meal, is the least bit interesting. It's a time when I secretly blow a kiss in the air to the guys in the takeaways downstairs. If not for them, I'd be all irritable and grumpy and would just snap at M for no apparent reason. So, there was this one time when I was all of the above but a small voice in my head was saying something and it made so much sense! It said 'You are the provider of food. You have the power to soothe your man's growling tummy. You are the woman, you have the honour of feeding your loved ones!' It is so true, don't you think? Now, whenever panic hits, I simply call for the voice to give me that much needed pat on my back and the motivation to continue cooking, satisfying and loving!

Easy Chana (black chickpeas) Curry

Black chana (black chickpeas) is a good source of protien. M is not a big fan of it, but I thought I'd make something different for a change. This recipe is really easy. Jeera rice and chana curry is a good combo.

  • 2 cups chana (black chickpeas) soaked overnight
  • 1 large onion
  • a nice big chunk of ginger
  • a couple of pods of garlic
  • 2-3 fresh green/red chillies
  • 1 tspn jeera (cumin seeds)
  • 4 tspns tomato puree or one small tomato
  • dry masala powders - turmeric, jeera (cumin), dhania (coriander), amchur (dry mango)
  • 1/2 tspn sugar and salt to taste
  • fresh coriander
  • oil or ghee (clarified butter)
  1. Pressure cook the soaked chana.
  2. Grind into a paste - onion, garlic, ginger and chillies.
  3. Heat oil or ghee in a pan. When hot, add jeera.
  4. Now add the paste and cook till the oil separates.
  5. Add tomato puree and continue to cook. (if you're using fresh tomato, grind with the rest of the stuff in step 2)
  6. Stir in all the dry masala powders (about 1/2 a tspn each) and saute for a few minutes.
  7. Add salt and sugar.
  8. Pour in the cooked chana and simmer for a while till the chana soaks in all the flavours.
  9. Depending on how runny or thick you want your gravy, add water.
  10. Garnish with chopped coriander.

Easy and ready in a jiffy! But you do need to plan ahead as the chana needs to be soaked overnight.

'Peas' be with you! Jeera rice with green peas.

Jeera rice (cumin flavoured rice) is quick 'n' easy and goes really well with almost any curry. It's a step ahead from the plain basmati rice. So if you feel like adding a special touch to your menu, try jeera rice.
  • basmati rice 1 cup (serves 2)
  • 2 tbspns ghee (clarified butter)
  • 1 heaped tbspn jeera or cumin seeds
  • 2 small barks of cinnamon, some cloves, a couple of cardamom pods, 1/2 tspn peppercorns, a couple of bay leaves (I refer to this as whole garam masala)
  • a handful of cashewnuts
  • 1/2 cup greean peas
  • salt to taste

I use a pressure cooker for this one, but you could also use a deep nonstick saucepan.

  1. Heat the ghee and add the whole garam masala.
  2. Put in the jeera and cashews and saute for a few minutes till the cashews are roasted.
  3. Add the peas and saute for a couple of seconds.
  4. Wash the rice well and drain. Add the washed rice and stir lightly, mixing everything.
  5. Fry the rice on medium heat for a few minutes. The final product needs to be grainy rather than sticky, so the more you fry the rice, the better.
  6. Once done, add double the measure of water and salt to taste.
  7. If you're cooking in the pressure cooker allow 3 whistles.
  8. If you're cooking in the saucepan, cover and let simmer and cook till all the water evaporates.

Smells appetising, looks appetising and tastes great too!

Saturday, November 8, 2008

Go Green! - Flavoured Dill 'n' Spinach Rice

M has been hooked on to tennis on Wii from the time we've bought it. He is exhausted by the time he's done playing. I thought I'd make something packed with lots of nutrients to keep my man winning every tennis match he plays :-) Some motivation to eat healthy!
  • 1 cup cooked basmati rice
  • finely chopped dill and spinach (I used one bunch of dill and half a bunch of spinach)
  • 1 onion finely chopped
  • fresh green chillies chopped (optional)
  • 1 tspn chilli powder or rasam powder
  • a pinch of turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tspn sugar
  • one small piece of ginger, grated
  • for the seasoning - mustard seeds, asafotieda or hing, fennel seeds or saunf, cumin seeds, split urad dal, peanuts and some cashewnuts
  • 2teaspoons oil
  • salt to taste
  1. Heat oil in a wok and add mustard seeds. Once they splutter, add fennel seeds, cumin seeds, asafotieda and urad dal.
  2. Add chopped chillies and grated ginger.
  3. Add peanuts and cashewnuts and fry for a few minutes till they turn toasty and light brown.
  4. Add chopped onion and saute till it is cooked.
  5. Now add the chopped greens and cook for a few minutes.
  6. Add turmeric powder, chilli powder ( I used rasam powder), salt and sugar.
  7. Add the cooked rice and mix well.

The aroma of the herb and greens brought M to the kitchen with an inquisitive look in his eyes. I was sure that the exhaustion had made him really hungry for him to show an interest in what was cooking!

I served it with aloo raita. (diced cooked potato in spiced yoghurt)

I'm sending this recipe to Sowmya's SWC - Cooking with Greens.

Friday, November 7, 2008

The cupcake looks delicious! It is perfectly baked to a toasty brown and looks so tempting, I can hardly resist it. The icing is pink and rosy and there is a generous sprinkling of chocolate bits. Oh, how I want to eat it! But there is a voice in my head and it says ‘don’t give in!’ I do not want to listen to it; I want to do what I want to, to eat the cupcake. The voice does not want to give up either, ‘it only means extra hours at the gym!’ it says. But other people are eating, why aren’t they worried about the extra kilos? Why is the voice in my head annoying me? I did not ask for its advice. I just want to eat the pink cupcake. Scenes of me running on the treadmill, and sighing in front of the mirror flash in front of me. Now I am in a fix, torn between the sheer greed for the cupcake and anxiety about the kilos I seem to be taking on. What do I do? Should I listen to the voice or should I simply eat it? ‘You can’t have the cake and eat it too.’ Sounds familiar, I have heard it before. Is this what it means? I do not know, but I want to eat the cupcake! Slowly the voice is beginning to fade and I can no longer resist the urge. Suddenly, the only thing my eyes can see is the prefect pink cupcake. Everything else is a blur. I reach out and grab it before I can hear the voice again. I bite into the soft and crumbly cupcake and feel euphoria! It is delicious and creamy and sweet! Another bite and another and soon the moment is over. The voice is now louder than ever, shaking its head at my weakness. But I do not care anymore. I ate the cupcake, it was delicious and worth every single minute at the gym!

A futile attempt to eat healthy!

It was one of those days...we felt we were eating too much junk and needed to eat more responsibly. So off we went to the veggie market and bought a whole lot of healthy veggies and I dished up this easy stir fry.

  • mixed veggies - I used brocolli, cauliflower, snow peas, carrots, beans, babycorn and zucchini, wow! now that's what I call a lot of veggies!!
  • 1 large onion sliced
  • olive oil
  • salt 'n' pepper
  • crushed basil
  1. Parboil the veggies
  2. Heat olive oil in a wok and saute the onion.
  3. Stir in the veggies and toss on high flame till slightly cooked.
  4. Season with salt 'n' pepper and basil.

Healthy eating in a snap!! But sadly, the enthusiasm also ended in a snap...soon we were back to the normal oil 'n' sugar cravings!

Oily, but what the heck, very yummy!

M & I had this strong desire for Indian street food. I had a big chunk of cauliflower in my fridge for a while and I found the perfect excuse for Gobi Manchurian - cauliflower fritters in a spicy 'n' tangy sauce.
  • cauliflower florets 1 cup
  • corn flour 3 tbspns
  • chickpea flour 1 teaspoon (optional)
  • salt, red chilli powder and some cooking soda
  • oil for deep frying and for the sauce
  • 1 large onion finely chopped
  • ginger and garlic paste 2 teaspoons
  • 2 finely chopped fresh green chillies (optional)
  • vinegar, soy sauce, chilli sauce and tomato sauce - depending on how tangy you want it
  • fresh coriander or cilantro and spring onion to garnish
  1. Sprinkle the cauliflower florets with some salt and keep aside.
  2. Make a thin batter with cornflour, salt, chilli powder and a pinch of cooking soda.
  3. Dip the cauliflower florets in this batter and deep fry till they turn crispy and brown and drain on a kitchen towel.
  4. In a wok, heat the oil and saute the onions.
  5. Add ginger garlic paste and green chillies and saute for a few seconds.
  6. Next add all the other sauces and saute for a while.
  7. Add salt to taste.
  8. Add the fried florets and toss lightly.
  9. Garnish with fresh coriander and chopped spring onion.

You can substitute the cauliflower with babycorn for an interesting variation.

Mmmm, a definite tangy teaser this one!

A Riot of Flavours...Veggie Biriyani

I've always wanted to try this and I found an easy recipe on the biriyani masala packet. So, one evening, when M was busy assembling a chest of drawers we got from Ikea, I made him a tasty dinner.
  • basmati rice 1 cup (will serve 2)
  • mixed veggies - carrots, french beans, cauliflower, peas & potatoes - 2 cups
  • onion, 1 large
  • ginger and garlic paste, 1 teaspoon
  • tomato puree 2 tbspns
  • yoghurt 3 tbspns
  • turmeric powder, just a pinch
  • red chilli powder, 1/2 teaspoon
  • biriyani masala powder 2 teaspoons
  • ghee or clarified butter
  • salt to taste
  • fresh coriander or cilantro
  1. Cook rice and keep aside.
  2. Microwave or cook the veggies and keep aside.
  3. In a deep pan heat the ghee and saute the onions in it till tender.
  4. Add the ginger garlic paste and suate for a few seconds.
  5. Stir in the tomato puree, turmeric and chilli powder and cook till the ghee separates.
  6. Lower the heat and pour the yoghurt, stirring simultaneously.
  7. Add the biriyani masala powder and salt.
  8. Mix in the cooked veggies and cook for a few minutes.
  9. Take a wide bowl and layer it with some cooked rice.
  10. Next layer it with the biriyani masala mixture.
  11. Alternate the layers till you use up everything.
  12. Garnish with fresh coriander or cilantro.

You could also garnish it with fried onion. For an exotic touch, you can add some saffron to a part of the rice and use it as the top most layer.

M worked hard with the drawers, so I rewarded him with the yummy biriyani and some cool raita!

Quick, easy and an all time favourite!

I'm starting my blog post with a basic 'n' easy recipe - Curd Rice.
Different names, same thing - 'mosaranna', 'thair saadam' or 'yoghurt rice'.
Best eaten with spicy pickle and chips, this is an all time favourite comfort food. It also soothes a bad tummy and calms down an overloaded stomach!
  • cooked rice 1 cup (will serve 2)
  • yoghurt or buttermilk 2 cups
  • oil 1 teaspoon
  • for seasoning and flavour - mustard seeds, cumin seeds, asafotieda or hing, curry leaves, dry red chillies, fresh coriander or cilantro and salt.
  1. In a large bowl, pour the yoghurt or buttermilk. Add salt and mix.
  2. Heat the oil in a small frying pan or wok.
  3. Add mustard seeds and wait till they splutter. Then add all other ingredients and saute for a few seconds.
  4. Pour this seasoning into the yoghurt or buttermilk.
  5. Add rice and mix well.
  6. Garnish with fresh coriander or cilantro.

M & I love this on a hot, summer afternoon! You could also add some grapes, raisins, cashews or pomegranate. But we keep it simple, cool & refreshing.


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