Thursday, December 27, 2012

One Pot Meal- Khichdi

What is the easiest thing to make after a long day out? Dal and Rice. Easier than that? Put the dal and rice together to make Khichdi :) It is my go to food when i am in a hurry. A lot of people don't like the look of it. But for me, it figures on top of my comfort food list. Hot and spicy, with a big dollop of ghee and my meal is taken care of!
To make it a little more healthy, i add some veggies to it. My Gujarati colleague told me that they normally pre soak the rice and lentils, fry the vegetables separately, and then cook everything together in a big pot. But when you are short of time and don't have the patience to go through any process, it is ok to take a short cut. Here is how i do it.

Preparation Time: 15 Minutes
Cooking Time: 20 Minutes
Difficulty: Very Low


There are some basic ingredients that need to go in. Beyond that, you can just add whatever you want. I just chopped up a little bit of this and that of whatever i had.
For the tadka:

Ghee                       1 tbsp
Mustard seeds         1 tsp
Cumin Seeds            1 tsp
Hing                         1 pinch
Turmeric                    1 pinch

Other Ingredients:

Assorted vegetables        1 cup
Rice                                1 cup
Dal                                 1/2 cup
Salt                                 to taste
Green Chillies                 Slit, as per your requirement
Ginger+ garlic                  1 tsp, chopped
Onion                               1, sliced


Wash the rice and dal and keep it aside. I normally use 1:1 mixture of moong and toor dal. Chop all the vegetables that you are putting in. I added potato, beans, capsicum and green peas. You can also add  Cauliflower, brinjal, carrots, double beans- anything goes!
In the pressure cooker, add the ghee and all the tadka ingredients one by one. I had fresh turmeric with me. So i skipped the turmeric powder in the tadka.
Now add the onions and fry well.
Once the onions turn brown, add all the other ingredients except the rice and lentils.
After it all fries for a few minutes, add the washed rice and lentils. Saute for five minutes.Add enough water for the rice and dal to cook. Adjust seasoning. Cover and pressure cook on low for two whistles.
Mash it a little after it is done. Check for seasoning. Add some ghee on top and mix well. Be generous this one time. It is the ghee that enhances the taste. :) Scoop out into a bowl, curl up in your favorite spot and eat a hearty meal!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Basil Pesto

I make pasta on a regular basis. One of the main reasons is that it takes very less time to toss a big bowl of pasta. Until now, i always made fresh pasta sauce each time i would cook pasta. Last week, I bought a whole big bag of basil and did not know what to do with it. That is when i set out to make and store Basil pesto. I did not have pine nuts at hand. I knew that the neighboring supermarket had it. But i certainly was not going to buy the pricey pine nuts just to make use of the basil that was going waste. I did not have to look far for replacement. I had peanuts at home! I set out to roasting them and getting rid of the peel. In less than half hour, i had my basil pesto ready, to make pasta a couple of times over!
Preparation Time: 30 minutes
Yield                     : 100 gms of pesto sauce 


Basil leaves             2 cups packed 
Peanuts                   a handful
Garlic                      3-4 pods
Olive Oil                  2 Tbsp
Salt and pepper       to taste                

That is it. 6 ingredients and you are good to go! 


Wash the basil well and dry it on a kitchen towel or paper napkin.

Dry roast the peanuts and remove the peel. 

Now in a mixer, add the remaining ingredients. 
Give it a whizz. Doesnt matter if a couple of things are coarse. I like to retain a little bit of a crunch while making it. That is all there is to the recipe :) Your lovely green pesto sauce is ready to be used! 
Mix it in with some cheese as you use it. Store in an air tight bottle and keep it in the fridge for upto a week. All you would need it to boil some pasta, saute some veggies in olive oil and seasoning, mix the sauce and cheese and toss everything together! I also secretly spike some of this in my salad for that kick! Just get innovative and maybe even use it as a spread for the sandwich. So many uses and so simple to make! 

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Foxnut or Makhana Seeds as a Snack

I am the five meals a day person. Small portions, almost healthy food. One disadvantage of this method is that you are never full. Always on the lookout for the next thing to much on. It is at times like these that small batches of healthy snacks come handy. I normally have a box of spiced avil/flattened rice, dry fruits or khakhra. My recent addition to this list is Makhana seeds. They are white seeds, appear like puffed pop corn and are available in most super markets. At places like Food World and MK Retail, i have found them to be pricey. My neighborhood supermarket, for some strange reason, sells a 100 gram pack for 35 rupees. If you have seen Makhana, you know that 100 g is a lot. It is known to be fat free and packed with protein and carbs.

So what i do is really simple. Spread it out on a microwave safe plate. Microwave on high for 3 mins. Take it out. Sprinkle black salt and pepper or chaat masala and red chilli, any combination of spices of your choice. Mix well. Microwave again for 2 mins.
There you go! Your healthy snack is ready! Pop it in as is like pop corn to accompany a hot cup of chai. Or mix in it with veggies and pudina chutney.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Pumpkin and Sweet Potato Soup

I love one pot meals. Khichdi, Bisi bele baath, pasta or a heartwarming soup. With the nip in the air becoming a little too hard to bear, i was craving for something warm and light for dinner. I had a quarter of a pumpkin and one sweet potato. With yellow sunshine in mind, i set out to make a soup with what i had.

Preparation Time: 15 Mins
Cooking Time :      15 Mins


Pumpkin                    1 cup, chopped into cubes
Sweet Potato             1 cup, chopped into cubes
Onion                         1 , sliced
Garlic                         3 cloves, sliced
Ginger                        1 inch, sliced
Salt                             to taste
Pepper                        to taste
Cumin Powder            1/2 tsp
Lemongrass                 a few sprigs
Milk                            half a cup
Water                         1 1/2 cups


Chop the ingredients as mentioned above.

In a pressure cooker, add some olive oil and some butter. Add in the ingredients shown above and saute for a few minutes.
Now add the diced pumpkin and sweet potato and toss. Add the water, salt to taste and the lemongrass.

Cover and pressure cook on low flame until two whistles. Let it cool. Once it has cooled, take off the lemon grass, add the veggies with the stock to a mixer and puree it well. It should have a smooth consistency. 
Now in a deep pan, add in the vegetable puree, some pepper powder and cumin powder.

Let the mixture boil for a minute. Lower the heat and mix in the milk. Give it a stir and turn off the heat.
Transfer the hot soup into your bowl. Top it with a basil leaf. Serve with any bread of your choice or khakhra. Enjoy your soup - a little sweet from the veggies, hot from the pepper and zingy from the ginger.

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Easy Cut Mango Pickle

I was in for a surprise recently when my neighborhood grocery store started stocking banana flower, raw mango, fresh turmeric, kumquat and many other veggies and fruits that i generally don't get to see. So though it was off season, i bought one raw mango to give the cut mango pickle a try.

Preparation Time - 15 Mins


Raw Mango           1 No.
Salt                        1 tsp
Red Chili Powder   1 tsp
Mustard                 1 tsp
Fenugreek Seeds   1/2 tsp
Hing                      a big pinch
Oil                         for tempering


Wash the mango and wipe it dry. Chop it into bite sized pieces.
Now add to this the salt, chili powder and asafoetida. Mix well and leave for a few minutes.
In your tadka ladle, add the oil. One it starts smoking, add in the mustard. When it splutters, add the crushed fenugreek seeds.

 Turn off the heat. Pour it on the mango. Mix well. Transfer the mango into a sterilized glass bottle. 

This takes just a couple of minutes to put together. Adds a tang when accompanied with rice or roti. Stays for a week when refrigerated. But since it is not very heavy on oil and spice, one tends to eat more of it. So a small batch like this,will get finished before you know it!
My favorite way of eating this is with potato chips.