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.

Chicken Tetrazzini

Chicken Tetrazzini

I use spaghetti instead of linguine to make chicken tetrazzini as I feel it holds its shape better. Also the sauce adheres better, making for a tastier dish. The combination of full cream and garlic lends a rich flavour to the chicken tetrazzini.

Ingredients

Spaghetti 500 g, cooked al dente

Boneless chicken breasts 3

Vegetable oil 1/3 cup

Salt and pepper to taste

Butter 1 tbsp

Olive oil 2 tbsp

Button mushrooms 250 g, sliced

Onion 1 large, chopped

Frozen peas 1 cup

Garlic 5 cloves, minced

Full cream 2 cups

Full cream milk 500 ml

All-purpose flour 1/3 cup

White wine 1/3 cup

Italian herbs 3 tbsps

White bread 6 slices, toasted and ground coarsely into crumbs

Cheddar cheese 1 cup, grated

Method

Cook and drain the spaghetti and keep it aside.

Lightly sprinkle salt and pepper on the chicken breasts. Pour the vegetable oil into a heavy bottomed frying pan and fry the chicken breasts till they are golden brown. Let the chicken cool and shred roughly.

Add the butter and olive oil to the same pan and fry the mushrooms till they are brown. Add the onions and fry till they are soft and translucent.

Add the minced garlic and fry for a few seconds. Add the wine and cook till it evaporates. Remove to a bowl.

Add butter and olive oil to the same pan and add flour. Roast till the raw smell of the flour disappears.

Add the milk, constantly stirring to prevent any lumps from forming. Add salt and pepper.

Add the cream. Simmer for two minutes.

Add the shredded chicken, the mushroom mixture and frozen peas to the sauce.

Switch off the heat and add spaghetti to the sauce.

Grease a baking casserole with olive oil and add the spaghetti and sauce.

Mix the bread crumbs with Italian herbs and spread over the spaghetti.

Sprinkle generously with the grated cheese.

Bake in a 180 degree C oven for 25 minutes till the cheese bubbles.

Serve hot with focaccia bread and salad.

Peas Pulao

Peas Pulao

I started making this as a young mother when trying to feed a fussy baby. He was such a nightmare to feed that I had to take him to the terrace with his tricycle and he would deign to take a bite after a round of the terrace garden. Or I would stand him before the window and while he watched the children pour out of the school opposite, I would shovel food into his mouth. Peas Pulao was a dish that he liked and it was easier to feed him. This was a way for me to get him to eat rice and vegetables.

Ingredients

(Serves 4)
Basmati rice 1 cup (200 g)
Peas 1 cup, frozen or fresh
Cumin seeds 1 tsp
Bay leaf 1
Black pepper whole 1 tbsp
Cloves 3
Ginger 1″ piece, crushed
Salt to taste
Water as needed
Vegetable oil 2 tbsps

Method

Wash and drain the rice.

Heat the pressure cooker and add the oil.

Add the cumin seeds, bay leaf, cloves and pepper. Add the crushed ginger and saute for a few minutes.

Add the peas and rice and mix well. Add salt.

Add enough water to cover the rice and 1″ above.

Close the lid and cook on high heat for one whistle. Reduce the heat and cook for another ten minutes. Switch off the heat and let the cooker stand till the pressure falls. Fluff the rice with a fork and serve hot with cucumber or tomato raita.









Mutter-paneer (Peas and Cottage Cheese Curry)

Mutter-paneer (Peas and Cottage Cheese Curry)

Mutter-paneer is a dish that I make very often. It is light and it’s refreshing taste of tomato and garlic makes it the best accompaniment for rotis or rice. You can use fresh or frozen peas. If using fresh peas, you need to cook it a little longer. Use paneer or cottage cheese cubes.

Fresh taste

Ingredients

(Serves 5)

Peas 250 g

Paneer or cottage cheese 200 g, cut into cubes

Tomatoes 2 medium

Onion 1 large

Garlic 5 cloves

Ginger 1” piece

Green chillies 2, split

Coriander leaves for gatnish

Turmeric 1/2 tsp

Red chilli powder 1 tbsp

Oil 2 tbsp

Cumin seeds 1 tsp

Salt to taste

Method

Grind the onion, tomatoes, ginger and garlic in a blender.

Heat oil in a wok and add the cumin seeds. When they stop sputtering, add the ground paste. Fry for about three minutes till the oil begins to separate from the edges.

Add the turmeric and red chilli powder and cook till blended in well, about two minutes.

Add the peas and mix well. Add about a cup and a half of water and salt. Bring to a boil and add the paneer cubes. Add the split green chillies.

Cook covered on a low flame till the gravy thickens.

Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with ajwain puris, roti or rice.

Mutter-mushroom Curry (Peas and Mushroom Curry)

Mutter-mushroom Curry (Peas and Mushroom Curry)

The combination of mushrooms and peas in a delicately flavoured tomato gravy is delicious. This is a dish that I fell in love with when I was a young girl. I loved the version of this curry sold at a restaurant called Chic Fish near my home. I have experimented till I have managed to get the same taste and texture.

Mutter-mushroom Curry

Ingredients

Peas 1 cup, fresh or frozen
Button mushroom 250 g, sliced
Onion 1 large, roughly chopped
Tomatoes 2 large, roughly chopped
Garlic 4 cloves
Ginger 1” piece
Green chillies 2, sliced on a slant
Red chilli powder 1 tsp
Turmeric powder 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds 1/2 tsp
Oil 1 tbsp
Salt to taste
Coriander leaves for garnish
Cream 1 tbsp for garnish

Method

Grind the onion, tomato, garlic and ginger to a fine paste.

Pour oil into a hot wok and add the cumin seeds. When they stop sputtering, add the ground paste. Sauté till oil begins to leave the sides of wok.

Saute till oil leaves the sides of the pan

Add the red chilli powder and turmeric powder. Fry for 1 minute on medium heat.

Add the mushrooms
Add the peas

Add the peas and mushrooms. Add salt and 1 cup water. Bring to a boil and reduce the heat. Cover and cook for 5-8 minutes till the peas and mushrooms are cooked. The gravy would have thickened as well.

Take the curry into a serving dish and garnish with the cream, coriander leaves and sliced green chillies.

Serve hot with rice or bread.