Tomato Rice

Tomato Rice

This dish was created by my mom as a healthy packed lunch for my sister when she started working. Made from cooked rice, this is easy to assemble and make. It is a delicious lunch option.

Ingredients

(Serves 5 persons)

Rice 2 cups, cooked

Tomatoes 2 large, sliced

Onions 2 medium, sliced

Coconut oil 1 tbsp

Mustard seeds 1 tsp

Sambar powder 5 tbsps

Salt to taste

Curry leaves for garnish

Method

Heat the oil in a heavy bottomed wok and add the mustard seeds.

When the seeds stop sputtering, add the onions. Sauté till they turn a light brown.

Add the tomatoes and curry leaves. Cook on medium heat till they soften.

Add the sambar powder and sauté for two minutes.

Add the rice and salt and mix well till the masala coats the rice grains completely

Serve hot.

Khaman Dhokla

Khaman Dhokla

This is actually known as just khaman in Gujarat, but as a pan-Indian dish it is known as dhokla. Filled with protein, this is a light snack that is good any time of the day.

Ingredients

(Serves 5)

Chickpea flour or besan 1 cup (136 g)

Semolina or suji 1 tbsp

Turmeric 1/2 tsp

Water 3/4 cup

Sugar 1 tsp

Oil 1 tbsp

Lemon juice 1 tbsp

Salt 1/2 tsp

Baking soda 1 tsp

Ginger 1” piece

Green chillies 3

Grated coconut 1 tbsp

For tempering:

Mustard seeds 1 tsp

Oil 1 tbsp

Sugar 1 tsp

Curry leaves few sprigs

Coriander leaves for garnish

Asafoetida 1/2 tsp

Salt 1/2 tsp

Green chillies 5

Method

Mix the chickpea flour, suji, baking soda and turmeric together in a bowl.

In another bowl mix the water, oil, sugar, salt and lemon juice. Stir well till the sugar dissolves.

Add to the dry ingredients and whisk well to form a batter.

Pour into a greased tray and steam for 20 minutes.

Heat oil in a frying pan and add the mustard seeds. When they stop sputtering, add the curry leaves and asafoetida. Add the asafoetida and salt and add three tablespoons of water. Stir till the sugar dissolves. Add the green chillies and cool for two minutes.

Pour over the cooked dhokla. Garnish with scraped coconut and coriander leaves.

Slice and serve.

Vegetable Pulao

Vegetable Pulao

I could never understand how much time my aunt would spend on making Vegetable Pulao, ensuring each piece was of the same size, blanching and frying each kind of vegetable separately and then bringing it all together to make the final dish. Till the Covid-19 pandemic locked us in our homes. I found myself enjoying the care in cooking and the precision of each step in the making of a dish. I learnt to enjoy the magic of botany and chemistry in the process of cooking.

Ingredients

Basmati rice 2 cups

Cauliflower 1 cup of florets, each 1” thick

Carrots 1 cup of 1” cubes

Frozen peas 1 cup

Potatoes 2 medium, cut into 1” cubes

Onion 1 medium, sliced

Cumin seeds 1 tsp

Cinnamon 1” piece

Ginger 2” piece, crushed

Bay leaf 1

Peppercorns 1 tbsp

Cloves 4

Oil 5 tbsps

Method

Soak the rice for 20 minutes and drain.

Boil a pan of water with 2 tablespoons of salt and blanch the vegetables separately. Don’t blanch the peas.

Heat the oil in a iron pot — I use Le Creuset — and fry the onion slices till they are brown and keep aside.

Fry the blanched vegetables separately and keep aside. Don’t fry the peas.

Add the cumin seeds. When they stop sputtering, add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves and peppercorns.

Add the crushed ginger and sauté for a few minutes.

Add the peas and the drained rice. Add the fried vegetables and salt to taste.

Mix well and add enough water to cover the rice and 1” above.

Bring to a boil, reduce the flame, cover and cook till the rice is cooked and the water is completely absorbed.

Garnish with fried onions and serve hot.

Saag Gosht (Spinach with Mutton)

Saag Gosht (Spinach with Mutton)

Spinach with mutton is a combo that few can say no to. Winter is a season when spinach is available in plenty and this is something that tastes delicious as temperatures plunge.

Ingredients

(Serves 5)

Mutton 500 g

Spinach 500 g

Yoghurt 1 cup

Red chilli powder 2 tbsps

Salt to taste

Turmeric 1 tsp

Coriander powder 1 tsp

Pepper powder 1/2 tsp

Ginger 2” piece

Garlic 6 cloves

Onion 1 large, chopped

Tomato 1 large, chopped

Bay leaf 1

Cumin seeds 1 tsp

Cinnamon stick 1” piece

Cloves 3

Vegetable oil 2 tbsps

Method

Divide the ginger into two and crush one half with three cloves of garlic. Slice the other half into slivers. Slice the rest of the garlic cloves.

Marinate the mutton with the crushed ginger-garlic paste, yoghurt, chilli powder, salt, coriander powder and pepper powder. Rest in the refrigerator for 3-4 hours.

Boil the spinach and purée in a blender.

Pour oil in a pressure cooker and add cumin seeds. When they stop sputtering, add the bay leaf, cinnamon and cloves.

Add the onions and sauté till they turn translucent.

Add the garlic slices and fry for a few seconds. Be careful not to burn the garlic or the curry will turn bitter.

Add the marinated mutton and fry for five minutes. Add the tomatoes.

Add about half a cup of water and cook on high for one whistle. Reduce the heat and cook for three whistles. Let the cooker cool.

Add the puréed spinach and cook till the gravy thickens.

Garnish with the ginger slices and serve hot with rice, paranthas or whole wheat bread.

Ajwain puri (Fried bread with caraway seeds)

Ajwain puri (Fried bread with caraway seeds)

A version of the Indian puri or fried bread that has the nutty flavour of caraway seeds. It is easy to make using the recipe given here by adding caraway seeds when making the dough.

Ingredients

(Serves 5)
Wheat flour (atta) 3 cups (400 g)
Caraway seeds 3 tsp
Salt to taste
Water as needed
Oil for frying

Method

Follow the method given to make puris.

Moong Dal

Moong Dal

When we were a newly married couple, my husband and I used to cook dinner together. We had a lovely terrace off the kitchen in our first home. We would take a drink each — my preferred drink was and is Coca Cola — and we would concoct all kinds of delectable dishes. One of our favourites was the simple moong dal, made with tomatoes, onions, garlic and fresh coriander leaves. We would team it with paranthas or rotis and rice and with fried fish or prawns as a side dish.

Ingredients

(Serves 3)

Moong dal, split 1/2 cup
Onion 1 medium, chopped
Tomatoes 2 medium, chopped
Green chillies 2, chopped
Garlic 5 cloves, chopped
Turmeric 1/2 tsp
Red chilli powder 1 tsp
Cumin seeds 1/2 tsp
Ghee 1 tsp
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves for garnish, chopped

Method

Wash and drain the moong dal. Add the onions, tomatoes, green chillies and garlic. Add water and boil.

Add salt, turmeric and red chilli powder. Simmer till the dal is cooked completely. Add water as needed.

Heat the ghee in a small frying pan and cumin seeds. When they stop sputtering, add them to the dal.

Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice or roti.

Lauki Chana Dal (Bottle gourd with Bengal gram)

Lauki Chana Dal (Bottle gourd with Bengal gram)

I was not a big fan of the bottle gourd or any member of the squash family. Till I got a bumper crop from the garden and the fresh bottle gourd with firm fleshy white meat and no seeds or very tender seeds turned me into a fan. The only dish I would make from bottle gourd or lauki was kofta curry. Then I tried my hand at this humble dal and surprised myself at how tasty it turned out. Using chana dal (split Bengal gram) gives the dish a lovely creamy texture.

Creamy and wholesome

Ingredients

(Serves 4 persons)

Bottle gourd or lauki 1 1/2 cups, peeled and cubed
Chana dal 1/4 cup
Onion 1, chopped
Tomato 1 large, chopped
Mustard seeds 1 tsp
Garlic 4 cloves, chopped
Red chilli powder 1 tsp
Coriander powder 1 tsp
Turmeric 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste
Oil 1 tbsp
Coriander leaves a few sprigs, chopped
Mint a few leaves

Method

Soak the chana dal in water for 30 minutes. Drain.

Add oil to the pressure cooker and sputter the mustard seeds. Add the onions and fry till they turn translucent. Add the garlic and fry for a few seconds. Add the tomatoes and fry till they soften. Add the spices. Saute for 1 minute.

Add the chana dal and the cubed lauki. Add salt and mix well. Fry for two minutes. Add enough water to cover the dal. Close the lid and let it cook on high flame for one whistle and on low flame for four whistles. Switch off the heat and let the pressure cooker cool.

Take the lid off and check the gravy. If needed, heat it till the gravy thickens.

Garnish with coriander leaves and mint and serve hot with rice or bread.

Ada, health meets taste

Ada, health meets taste

This is comfort food, especially in winter. The aroma of the pancake cooking on a hot griddle will set your taste buds working overtime. This is a healthy option for breakfast, packed with proteins from all the variety of lentils that go into the batter.

Comfort food

Ingredients

(Serves 6 persons)

Idli rice 1/4 cup
Urad dal 1/4 cup
Moong dal 1/4 cup
Arhar dal 1/4 cup
Chana dal 1/4 cup
Masoor dal 1/4 cup
Whole red chillies 4
Til oil
Onions 2 medium, sliced
Green chillies 2
Ginger 1” piece
Curry leaves 4 sprigs
Asafoetida powder 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste

Method

Mix the first seven ingredients in a bowl, add water and soak overnight.

In the morning, drain and wash the the soaked rice and lentils.

Grind it along with the onions, green chillies, ginger and curry leaves.

Add the asafoetida and salt and mix well.

Heat a griddle and apply oil. Pour a ladleful of batter and spread it like a pancake. Flip it over after 30 seconds.

Use all the batter to make similar pancakes.

Serve with idli chutney powder, onion chutney or pickle.

Prawn biryani

Prawn biryani

This is a dish that I have been making for the last 20 years and it is a family favourite. The flavours of yoghurt, spices, coconut and green chillies make for a delicious combination.

Ingredients

(Serves 4 persons)

Prawns 500 g, cleaned and deveined
Basmati rice 1 1/2 cups, soaked for 15 minutes
Water 1 1/2 cups
Onions 2 medium plus 1 small, sliced
Tomatoes 2, chopped
Garlic 4 cloves
Ginger 1″ piece
Green chillies 3
Grated coconut 2 tbsp
Coriander leaves 1/2 cup, chopped
Mint leaves , a few sprigs, chopped
Thick curd 3 tbsp
Garam masala 1 tsp
Cashew nuts 8 whole
Raisins 10
Oil 5 tbsps

Whole spices for rice:
Cinnamon 1″ piece
Cloves 2
Star anise 1
Bay leaf 1
Ghee 1 tbsp
Salt to taste

Marinade for prawns:
Red chilli powder 1 tsp
Turmeric 1/2 tsp
Pepper 1/2 tsp
Salt to taste

Method

Marinate the prawns in the spices and keep it aside.

Cook the rice with the whole spices, salt and the ghee in the microwave for 15 minutes.

Grind together the green chillies, coconut, garlic, ginger and yoghurt.

Heat oil in a heavy bottomed deep vessel and fry the marinated prawns. When the water has evaporated, add two sliced onions. Saute till they become translucent. Add the tomatoes, ground paste, coriander leaves and mint leaves. Add 1/2 cup water and cook till the gravy thickens.

Add the cooked rice and cook on a slow fire for three minutes.

In a small frying pan, heat 1 tsp of ghee and separately saute the raisins, cashew nuts and one small sliced onion. Garnish the biryani and serve hot.