No Fuss Spicy Tomato Rasam

Tangy Tomato Rasam

Tangy Tomato Rasam

She lies squinting in the afternoon sun. Looking up at the blazing ball of fire, she defies the curly strand resolutely falling her way. She wonders if hell was right in the middle of the sun. Would she go? Go to hell, that is. Umm.. she has her chances. Spilling milk, tearing pages off a school book or rather any book and stuffing ones mouth with heapfull of sugar does make one go straight to hell. For sure, thought she.
But then like how it is with most six-year olds, her thoughts jump from dreary to the quixotic in no time, wondering if the sun is made of honey or lime or both. The dreamy spell is broken by shrill cries of mother. Lengths of the roof covered in leaps and bounds, spirals of stairs run in twos and threes, the little girl runs blind, her curls flying behind her like a short cape. Huffs and pants, she stands erect and stares straight. A little sentinel to attention.

Flavored with garlic

Flavored with garlic

Mother hid a smile. She knew she was being appeased. Propitiated for those tight hugs and extra kisses, and for those moments when the curls would be delicately touched and taken behind a ear only to fall right back into an eye. For those special moments mother was being assuaged. Mother knew it. And she knew she knew it.

Well today no matter what, lunch will be eaten in peace sans objections, sans tantrums and grimaces, clever mother put out a plate which would have been shunned on any other day. But not today. Not after a morning of mess and shenanigans. And the little sentinel ate silently. The one with the largest sweet tooth, the stuffer of anything saccharine, sugar stealer, ingenious chocolate hider. That one, battled her candied tongue and slurped spicy tangy tomato rasam that day. Quietly. Obediently. Fully unaware that her runny nose needed all that pepper and spice. I know now for sure, coz she is me.

Choose fat, ripe and juicy ones

Choose fat, ripe and juicy ones

Cut to present day. And I war with my seven-year old to stop slurping the tangy South Indian soup. It has pepper and garlic and red chiles and its hot and medicinal. I mean, she is supposed to dislike it. All kids do. But here is mine. Sprawled on the floor, demanding more ghee and more rasam in her bowl of soft white rice. It’s close to eight years now, and I still stare at my girl in disbelief. She is so unlike me. Gone on the father, I mutter. Both have an unbelievable palette for spicy tangy tart stuff.

white rice is the best

white rice is the best

Saccharine love has diminished over the years, and rasam which was once gulped like venin, is now savoured with abundant paraphernalia.

Rasam is a South Indian tangy drink usually served with rice and other interesting sides. And if you are ever caught nursing a bad cold or a sore throat then this peppery drink will surely be guzzled down your food pipe… hot 😉

Lentils, lemon, beets are used to make a variety of rasam. But the most common and easiest and popular one is the tomato rasam. The method I use is handed over to me by my brother in laws wife, and it has never been easier to make it since. One of my most favourite ways lately.

that very essential dollop of ghee!

that very essential dollop of ghee!

Make sure you have a potful of hot boiled rice, white or brown. Some ghee to serve. And I usually accompany the meal with some vegetable side like the one shown below. A cabbage carrot beans melange. Dry sauté with a tempering of curry leaves, green chilies and garnished with grated coconut and cilantro.

keep it light and simple

keep it light and simple

I have no idea about the science behind this, but I am making this statement – Food, especially, Indian Food tastes better when you eat with your hands. Its more intimate, more comforting. I can’t explain. It just is. So try it. Learning to use chopsticks was hard?! try scooping off watery rasam from a flat plate with your fingers. That’s art too.

Tastes better when you dip your fingers in the bowl

Tastes better when you dip your fingers in the bowl

The Recipe:

Ingredients

  • 5-6 red ripe tomatoes, washed and chopped.
  • 1/2 tbsp of ghee
  • 1/2 tsp of mustard seeds
  • 1 sprig of curry leaf
  • 1 whole dried red chili
  • 1 small onion or few baby onions/shallots, thinly sliced
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1-2 tsp red chili powder or as per your taste
  • 1/2 tsp pepper powder
  • Juice of 1/2 a lime
  • 3-4 cloves of garlic, grated – optional.
  • coriander leaves to garnish.

Method

In a thick bottomed pan, heat ghee. Splutter mustard seeds. sauté red chili, curry leaves and sliced onions till pink. Throw in chopped tomatoes along with salt, turmeric and red chili powder. cover and cook till the tomatoes become mushy and fat leaves the sides. Approx 10 minutes. Once that is done, add 1 glassful of water. Give it a boil. Grate garlic and sprinkle pepper powder – give it another boil. Switch the flame off, mix in juice of 1/2 a lime and garnish with coriander leaves.

Serve hot!

Life's good

Life’s good

Note: Quantity of water can be increased or decreased according to the consistency you prefer. I like mine thin and runny, so I usually add more than a glassful.

Note: Tamarind, boiled lentils, rasam powder are all variations. You can try different types by adding these accordingly.

Note: For those who do not like to use onion and garlic, you can skip both, and flavour the soup with a bit of asofoetida or hing.

Eat it hot!

Eat it hot!

Its been one amazing year for Angie and her wonderful co hosts who throw this weekly visual potluck parties. So we are all celebrating! Thanks to the growing popularity and contribution to the event, the celebrations are extended for a two week program. Though I was unable to contribute to the last week’s appetiser and drink event, I make it up with another main course! So please run over to Angie’s First-Fiesta-Friday Anniversary and check out the various mouth watering link ups.

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Gulab Phirni / Rose Rice Pudding with fresh Fruits

There are always flowers for those who want to see them.
– Henri Matisse

Gulab Phirni

Gulab Phirni

When the occasion is pious. The mood festive. The spirit convivial. The ambience contagious. And the mind, harmonious – it is then, we make something sweet.

It’s exactly in these times, we don’t squirm to eat a cupful of our favourite dessert and amiably let our loved ones stuff our mouth with saccharine stuff. We relish every bite, enjoy every moment. It’s for these times that I reserve my quota of desserts or Indian mithais/sweets.

Colour

Colour

On one such radiant day, I put milk to boil, stirred in some ground fragrant basmati rice and lovingly flavoured it with cardamom, rose essence and saffron. Sounds divine, doesn’t it!?

The milk and rice simmered and nonchalantly thickened away, gloriously dancing with the aromatic spices. The result was this thick rice pudding, mildly sweet and abundantly gratified with chopped nuts and essence of roses.

Layered into Jars!

Layered into Jars!

Phirni or Firni is a mughal inspired North Indian/Pakistani milk-rice dessert, typically set in small clay pots and garnished with saffron and rose petals! How exotic does it sound!

A bit of pink

A bit of pink

So, I was calling for some flowers, marigold and jasmine to be exact, required to decorate my little temple. But then added a few roses at the last moment. Soon, my house emanated such dizzy whiffs of flowers, cardamom and boiled sweetened milk, that the effect made everyone say “whats cooking?” 🙂

A thing of beauty if joy forever

A thing of beauty if joy forever

He never cared for roses, still doesn’t. But I have a special affinity towards them. Roses are the ultimate romantic meridian of my firm belief in hope and love. And when I set up my shoot area with props and phirni cups and jars, the flowers hold a special place.

They brought such joy and beauty that John Keats ‘Endymion’ kept popping in my head. I played with the colours, the placements. I took innumerable shots(which were not so pleasurable when I sat down to edit 😉 ) The little girl danced about offering me any assistance that I called for. I was in my own space.. a very happy space indeed. It seems weird how something so trivial and ephemeral can lift my spirits and make me dream incredible dreams if only for some fleeting spell.

Garnish with rose petals

Garnish with rose petals

A couple of teaspoons of rose-water or essence and tiny petals from the roses take this dessert to really another realm. It’s not the taste of the petal though …it’s the perfume from the flower that lingers on your taste buds and make the entire ensemble so inviting.

Add freshness with fruits

Add freshness with fruits

I served the rice pudding with chopped fresh fruits green apples, pomegranate and orange segments. I wish had some berries, I can only imagine the tartness and all that juice from the colourful berries complimenting the cardamom and saffron!

Ideal party desserts

Ideal party desserts

The recipe:

Ingredients

  • 1 litre whole milk
  • 1/4 cup basmati rice, soaked for 30 minutes
  • a few strands of saffron, soaked in 2 tsp of milk
  • 1/2 cup sugar or as desired
  • pods of 1 cardamom – ground/powdered
  • 1/2 cup of chopped nuts like pistachios, almonds, cashew nuts
  • 2-3 drops of rose essence or 1 tbsp of rose water
  • 2 tbsp rose petals, I used the Indian rose, which has small thin natural petals. If the petals are huge, then chop or gently tear to smaller bits.
  • A cup of chopped fresh fruits to serve with
  • Method

    Grind soaked rice to a rava like consistency. Use few drops of milk if required. Keep aside. Heat milk in a thick bottomed pan or kadai. When it starts boiling away, lower the flame and stir in the ground rice. On a low flame, cook the ground rice in milk till it starts to thicken.

    It is imperative to stir in intervals to prevent burning and from lumps being formed. Once the rice is cooked and the mixture has thickened considerably, stir in sugar, saffron strands and ground cardamom. Add chopped nuts. Simmer again for a while. Once done. Add rose-water or essence. Give it a good mix. Cool the pudding. Refrigerate for 2-3 hours.

    Serve with rose petals, chopped nuts and fresh fruits.

    Thick creamy delicious pudding

    Thick creamy delicious pudding

    Note: Fruits like apples, banana, pomegranate, oranges, berries, kiwi, custard apple go very well with phirni.

    Make some, you won't regret

    Make some, you won’t regret

    This creamy dreamy dessert goes to Angie’s 31st Friday Fiesta – a weekly Visual Potluck.

    Tricolored Baked Rice Casserole

    Representing the Indian Flag

    Representing the Indian Flag

    “Are you ever going to post the tricolour rice or no?”, She seemed nettled.
    “Er.. but it’s so late, I could tell you now, on the phone” I sputtered.
    “No, no time! Put it up and I will catch it in between work’ And she bangs the phone.

    My sister – younger, smarter and definitely more headstrong than I have ever been, always gets her work done, somehow! No one says no to her, she makes sure of that. She thinks its her tenacious personality that gets it done when in real we do what she says because we love her. But we let her think otherwise ;).

    Indian Independence Day was on August 15th. And I am 12 days late. But like the sister exhorts – Tis better to be late than not post at all. So I put this up now. For one, because she badgered me for a detailed recipe. And for the fact that this one is worth posting!

    Creamy healthy and totally delicious

    Creamy healthy and totally delicious

    So like how it happens every morning of 15th August, we were getting ready for our National Flag hoisting. The child was excited. More so, because she was going to sing a very patriotic song. She had been rehearsing for the past 10 days and had held captive any audience she could find to practise her crooning.

    'Aao Bacho Tumhe Dikhaayen'

    ‘Aao Bacho Tumhe Dikhaayen’

    In between adjusting a tricolour sash, combing her hair, sticking various tricolored pictures on her skirt, she spoke persistently and tirelessly. Of matters mundane and routine. And then suddenly she squealed in delight, turned to me and said.. why don’t you make some lunch which is tricolour. I will call Saancha and Sanjana and you can take pictures too for your blog. Now, the picture bit was her act of luring me to make something fancy.

    Our lunch was patriotic indeed but in return I got her to get rid of all the gaudy stickers she piled on her skirt 😉

    Yumm

    Yumm

    Rice enveloped in creamy white sauce, dotted with carrot and beans, topped with an orange tomato marinara and a spicy spinach coriander puree, and finished with soft cheese – whats not to like in this! It is creamy soft pillowy flavourful and a delight in every bite. Worth a try, anytime!

    Enjoy it with some fresh baked bread

    Enjoy it with some fresh baked bread

    The recipe –

    Ingredients

  • 1 cup rice, boiled al dente. Brown Rice works beautifully, but I was going tricolour remember, so I chose to stick to white.
  • 1/2 cup minced carrot-beans and a few peas
  • 1 tsp butter
  • 1 tbsp flour
  • 1 cup milk
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • green chill sauce – optional.
  • 4 tbsp grated cheddar or mozzarella cheese
  • For the Orange Marinara: 3 medium-sized tomatoes, blanched whole in hot water. 5/6 pods of garlic, 3 whole red chilies or kashmiri red chilies, salt and pepper to taste, 1 tsp oregano. 1 tsp olive oil.

    For the Spinach Puree: 1 big bunch of spinach leaves, washed-blanched. 3 green chilies, a tiny piece of ginger, a pinch of sugar and salt.

    Method

    For the Rice:
    Heat butter in a wok, stir fry the vegetables till almost done. Add flour. Saute it as it coats the veggies. Pour milk, mix till the milk thickens. Add boiled rice, salt, pepper, green chill sauce if using. The white sauce will envelope the rice.This taste good as it is!

    For the Spinach Puree:
    Grind blanched spinach, along with salt, sugar, green chilies and ginger till smooth. You can adjust the quantity of the green chilies according to your taste. Keep aside.

    For the Orange Marinara:
    In a wok, heat oil, sauté garlic and red chilli. Add coarsely smashed blanched tomatoes. Season with salt, pepper and oregano. Cook covered on low heat till oil leaves sides. cool the mixture and grind to a fine orange paste. This marinara can be stored in the refrigerator for 3/4 days and is used as pizza toppings or in pastas/noodles or rice.

    Assembling:

    In a butter greased baking dish or casserole, make alternate layers of marinara, rice and spinach puree. Finally garnish with grated cheese. Bake at 200 C for 15 minutes or till the cheese melts and golden dots appear.

    Note: I didn’t do the traditional layering coz I wanted the tricolour pattern, I lay the rice and then poured the sauces to replicate the Indian National Flag.

    flavors all

    flavors all

    Ludicrous interpretation of the colours made me go wide-eyed with shock though amidst peals of incessant laughter. The girls all had appalling insight on this subject! The sublimity of the beautiful colours on our flag was then preached and lectured while their plates were licked clean!

    Courage, Peace and Prosperity

    Courage, Peace and Prosperity

    I am taking this to Angie’s 31st Friday Fiesta! Do pop over to see some delicious recipes!

    Thai Spiced Vegetable Brown Rice

    Thai Spiced Brown Rice with exotic vegetables

    Thai Spiced Brown Rice with exotic vegetables

    Its been quite sometime now since I started brown rice. And let me tell you the transfer has not been easy. Those who are used to eating soft white rice dotted with pure ghee will tell you why.

    Perfectly steamed gorgeously white rice is what it is because of what it is. Brown rice pales in front of it, literally. But I am girl on a mission. Mission to curb my growing waistline and lose some serious weight. So naturally I shun the shiny rice and ghee. Adopt the brown version and…my dal rice has never tasted the same again.

    I have to add paneer ;)

    I have to add paneer 😉

    I had to love what I embraced or I would be running back to my ex. So began my tryst with the healthier grain. Looking for ways to improvise it, I have tried innumerable options.
    Sautéing mushrooms and zucchini in some thai red curry paste and throwing in brown rice, seemed like a bit of an experiment. But what an attempt! That bowl was supposedly my lunch, but he and she took great big bites and kept asking for more. Now that’s a good way to rate my dishes, don’t you think?

    Something to drink with

    Something to drink with

    The recipe:

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup brown rice, cooked.
    • 1 medium sized onion, sliced thinly
    • 3 tbsp red curry paste
    • 1/2 tsp soy sauce
    • 1/2 tsp vinegar
    • 3/4 cloves of garlic
    • 1/2 cup mushrooms, sliced thinly
    • 1/4 cup zucchini, sliced thinly
    • 3 tbsp paneer small cubed
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • 2 tsp olive oil or any oil you wish
    • basil leaves and coriander leaves to garnish

    Method

    In a large skillet, heat oil. Saute garlic and onions till pink. Mix in the red curry paste. Fry till oil leaves the sides. Throw in the mushrooms and zucchini. Cover and cook till almost done. Mix in the brown rice along with soy and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper. Mix well. Garnish with cubed paneer, basil and cilantro leaves.

    Best with something cold to sip on.

    Simple and delicious

    Simple and delicious

    Note: Use any vegetable you like, carrots, broccoli, beans ..

    Note: Instead of paneer, boiled soy Nutrela nuggets taste great.

    Note: Adjust the quantity of red curry paste according to the heat you can take.

    Note: Boiling brown rice has been a continuous trial and error process with me. One of the recent methods and almost close to getting perfectly cooked rice is to soak the rice well for at least 2 hours, and then cook in a large pot of salted boiling water. Once the rice is cooked, strain the excess water and use.

    High on heat

    High on heat

    If you have any more ideas to deal with brown rice, please holler. I am listening.

    This is my entry to Angie’s Friday Fiesta #25. Sneak in to see some gorgeous recipes here. You will thank me for sure.

    Thai Green Curry

    Thai Green Curry on a bed of white rice

    Thai Green Curry on a bed of white rice

    I was going away on a holiday. Produce in the refrigerator waited to be used or trashed. Buying all the good stuff a couple of days before I go away is plain stupid of me.
    See, but this is what happens. I go grocery shopping thinking I will just pick up the most essential things, but then the colorful fresh vegetables gleam and glare and I end up losing myself and my money. I had very little time to use them all up. Phew!

    Well, to cut a long story short. A box full of broccoli, bell peppers, zucchini, baby corn and carrots needed to used – asap. Grilled vegetable salad were a passe. I craved for a spicy broth with them. So what better than a spicy curry laced with coconut milk and lemon grass. Yes, to finish off the vegetables I had to go buy some coconut milk and lemon grass 🙂 Thai Curry was on the cards.

    Fragrant Green curry

    Fragrant Green curry

    I made a green paste with easily available ingredients. Skipped galangal, used Indian green chilies, omitted the fish and shrimp sauces. And yes, it still tastes simply marvelous!
    Now, lemon grass and lemon rind are essential ingredients. You cannot go thai without them.

    Ingredients for the paste

    Ingredients for the paste

    Lemon grass is fragrant and is used as an addition to tea, and in preparations such as kadha, which is a traditional herbal ‘soup’ given in coughs, colds, etc. It has medicinal properties and is used extensively in Ayurvedic medicine. Helps in relieving cough and nasal congestion.

    Thai Green Curry Paste:

    Thai Green Curry Paste

    Thai Green Curry Paste

    Ingredients

    • 5-6 finely chopped lemon grass stem
    • 1 cup chopped coriander leaves
    • 1/4 cup chopped onions
    • 1 tbsp chopped garlic
    • 10 green chillies , roughly chopped
    • 1 tsp coriander seeds
    • 1 tsp cumin seeds
    • 1/2 tsp black peppercorns
    • a small piece of ginger
    • salt to taste
    • 1 tsp lemon juice
    • 1/4 tsp grated lemon rind

    Method

    Combine all the ingredients and blend in a mixer to a fine paste, using just enough water. Keep aside.

    Thai Green Curry with Vegetables

    Loaded with vegetables

    Loaded with vegetables

    Ingredients

    • 3/4 cup green curry paste
    • 1 1/2 cups coconut milk
    • 1 tbsp oil
    • 10-12 paneer/cottage cheese cubes
    • 1 and 1/2 cups of diced assorted vegetables – broccoli, baby corn, mushrooms, bell peppers, carrots
    • 1 onion, diced
    • a pinch of sugar
    • 8/10 leaves of basil, torn or chopped
    • salt to taste

    Method

    Heat the oil in a pot, add onions and the green curry paste and sauté on a medium flame for 1 minute. Add all the vegetables except paneer, sprinkle salt. Cover and let it cook till 3/4th done. Add the coconut milk, mix well and cook on a medium flame for a couple of minutes. Sprinkle sugar and salt, mix well and cook on a medium flame a minute or two. Mix in the diced paneer cubes. Top with torn basil leaves.

    Serve hot. You could serve the curry with rice or noodles or slurp it up like a spicy soup too.

    Note: Basil imparts a lovely flavor and fragrance to the curry. I didn’t have nay that day but top it on your curry and see the difference! Magical is the word.

    Spicy, yet mildly soothing

    Spicy, yet mildly soothing

    Serve on a bed of hot steaming white rice or some boiled noodles –

    A bowl of happiness

    A bowl of happiness

    Vegetarian Chili

    It was a cloudy cold evening, the sun ready to bid us adieu. Outside the breeze was crisp and biting. The White Plains country side offered such majestic views that I for once sat awestruck and tongue tied throughout the drive. It was my first visit in the US. You know how it is with the firsts. We always remember those moments vividly. What is it about them that makes it so special… is it the visuals? Or maybe the setting sun or those beautiful stone imperial houses which carry a sense of mystery around them. The triggers are many. But for me, one thing that remains etched in my memory is the aroma. The divine cumin flavored fragrance which was so intriguing that it haunts me even now.

    Vegetarian Chili with brown rice

    Vegetarian Chili with brown rice

    We were invited by his boss for dinner. I was to meet them for the first time. And I was anxious, not to forget vegetarian and exotic in my cuisine, 10 years back, included just chinese and pizza-burgers. I ate a bit before we left fearing that what would a firangi feed? Maybe canned food or some frozen pizza.

    Well, we reach his august house, set in the outskirts of White Plains, NY. Dreading an anxious evening ahead, I was at my reserved best. I had decided to speak little, smile more and hardly eat.
    Ah! well, preconceived notions about a culture or a country can be so misleading! It isn’t really what Hollywood or those silly sitcoms show you – realized it pretty soon.

    The Spens family turned to be the most gracious hosts, ever! They greet us like they have known us all their lives, the man’s formidable appearance gets shadowed by his bear hug, the lovely delicate wife’s soft warm hands envelope mine in simple affection. The kids are so well mannered and amiable that I vowed to trash all my prized albeit deceitful DVDs. The house inside is warm, cosy and so inviting, a contrast to the august exteriors. The genial ambience made me chatty and smiley more than what I had planned! 🙂

    Protein Packed

    Protein Packed

    Inside on the stove, sat a simmering pot. A pot which emanated such amazing whiffs of cumin and spices and tomatoes and garlic. The entire house radiated with its essences. Apparently Mr Spens is the cook in the family. And that night, he made us a bubbling pot of Mexican Chili, a vegetarian version of the famous Chili Con Carne. Chili is a spicy stew consisting of meat, spices, tomatoes and cheese. But te vegetarian version replaces the meat with a meat analogue, such as textured vegetable protein or tofu, or a starchy vegetable, such as potatoes. These chilis nearly always include beans.

    Goes great with rice

    Goes great with rice

    The Recipe:

    Ingredients

    • 2 cups cooked red kidney beans or rajma
    • 1 cup assorted vegetables, zucchini, broccoli, potatoes, mushrooms, chopped
    • 1/2 cup tofu – optional
    • 1/4 cup, mixed bell peppers, chopped
    • 1 big onion, chopped
    • 5-6 garlic cloves, minced
    • 3-4 green chilies, minced – optional
    • 2 tomatoes, red and ripe, chopped
    • 1 cup tomato puree
    • 1 tbsp olive oil
    • 2 tsp paprika or red chily powder
    • 1 tsp cumin powder
    • 1 tsp oregano powder
    • red chili flakes, optional
    • salt to taste
    • Cheese to garnish
    • Coriander leaves to garnish

    Method

    In a deep thick bottomed pot, heat oil. Saute onions, garlic and green chilies. Once slightly pink, then add the peppers. After a couple of minutes, add the tomatoes, along with some salt. Cover and cook till almost done. This will take about 10 minutes. At this stage add the chopped vegetables and pre cooked beans. Give it a mix. Add the tomato puree, along with paprika. Mix well and let the entire thing smolder for at least 15-20 minutes. Keep stirring in between to avoid burning.

    Season with cumin and oregano. Just before serving, garnish with cheese and chopped coriander leaves.

    Serve hot with rice or enjoy as it is.

    Rajma with vegetables

    Rajma with vegetables

    “Simmer… simmer as long as you can.. thats what brings out the flavors of the spices..”, he advices. He served the delicacy with basmati rice and some red wine. Needless to say, our dinner was divine.

    Memories

    Memories

    No matter how long I bubble, the spices I add or the beans I cook, I somehow fail to replicate the taste of the that night. Is it because it was my first, I wonder.

    Mexican Red Rice and a Burrito

    Mexican Red Bean and Corn Rice

    Mexican Red Bean and Corn Rice

    Mexican Rice is basically white rice simmered in a tangy tomato gravy – I lectured to my rapt mother. It’s a different feeling when you are educating someone who has actually tutored you all their life. The scene was no different from my 6-year-old playing teacher-teacher with me. Well.

    ‘Ah! Tomato bhaath’, mom said. I took a deep breath, ‘yes, tomato bhaath made a little differently’. Mom likes to relate anything she eats for the first time to something that she is familiar with. She does that a lot! For instance, Mexican chili is nothing but rajma rice with lot of vegetables for her or all our fancy dips are chutneys or Thai green curry is Kerala stew! But my almost 60 year old mum is game to new cuisines with such an infectious zest that she usually leaves you smiling and wondering what else could she come up with. 🙂
    Sweet mother of mine!

    I used corn and beans in my rice, topped with jalapeno and cheese.. umm yum! Wait, there is more. Layering with guacamole, fresh veggie salsa and loads of rice on soft tortillas – the lunch was a massive crowd pleaser and for once mother found nothing to compare it with. Yay!

    Mexican Red Rice Burrito

    Mexican Red Rice Burrito

    Mexican Red Corn Bean Rice

    Simmered in tangy skewed tomatoes

    Simmered in tangy skewed tomatoes

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup rice, washed and soaked for 30 minutes. I used white, can use brown rice too.
    • 1/2 cup boiled red kidney beans/rajma beans or any beans of your choice.
    • 1/4 cup corn kernels
    • 3-4 tomatoes, washed
    • 1-2 tsp olive oil, or any oil
    • 4-5 pods of garlic, minced
    • 1 medium-sized onion, chopped
    • 1/2 tsp red chili powder/paprika
    • 1 tsp oregano powder
    • 1/2 tsp cumin powder
    • salt and pepper to taste
    • Garnish: chopped jalapenos, corinader leaves and grated cheese

    Method

    In a pot of hot boiling water, make half way incisions on whole tomatoes, drop them in boiling water. After a couple of minutes. Remove the tomatoes, peel the skin, liquidize in a blender to get about a cup of tomato sauce.
    Now, in another pot, heat oil. Fry garlic and onions till they turn translucent. Then add corn and beans, along with the soaked rice(no water). Saute the rice, corn and beans for a couple of minutes. Now add tomato sauce, sprinkle cumin powder, salt, pepper, paprika and oregano. Simmer for another minute or so. To this add another 1/2 cup water. Cover and cook till the rice is almost done. If required, add more water. Once done, cover and keep for some time, say 10 minutes. The covering makes the rice fluffy and soft.
    Garnish with cheese, chopped jalapenos and coriander leaves.

    Melted Cheese, Jalapenos add magic

    Melted Cheese, Jalapenos add magic

    Mexican Rice Burrito

    This burrito is healthy, filling and so tasty! I made it with whole wheat chappathis/Indian flatbread, you could use corn tortillas too.

    Corn for a bite, beans for the texture

    Corn for a bite, beans for the texture

    To make 2 burrito:

    Ingredients

    • 2 tortillas, any kind. Corn, Maida/Flour tortillas can be used. I made mine with chappathis.
    • 4-6 tbsp of mexican rice, or as much as you want.
    • 2 tbsp of guacamole
    • 2 tbsp of tomato salsa OR 2 tbsp of freshly thinly sliced veggies like carrots, onions, cabbage, peppers – all mixed with salt and lemon juice.
    • 2 tbsp of jalapenos, minced
    • 2 tbsp grated cheese
    • sprinkling of mexican spice mix – I used a mixture of dried herbs like oregano and some chaat masala. Feel free to add any flavor you like.

    Method

    On a tortilla, spread 1 tbsp guacamole. Line your salsa or veggies in the center of the tortilla. Place 2 tbsp of mexican rice on the bed of veggie-guacamole. Now, top with jalapenos, cheese and mexican spice mix. Try to make a tight roll. Place a toothpick to hold it in place if required. Serve immediately.

    Note: The original recipe called for tomato salsa, I didn’t have any, so I substituted with mixed thinly sliced vegetables.

    Note: Mexican Spice Mix is readily available in stores, but since I had none, oregano and chat masala came to my rescue.

    Note: Serve the burrito with sour cream by side – divine!

    Note: The husband likes things crisp and extra roasted. So I roasted the filled burrito on a hot flat griddle again, with the help of little olive oil. You can serve the burrito as it is too.

    Makes a beautiful burrito

    Makes a beautiful burrito

    Purple Rice Bowl – Chinese Style

    I love vegetable markets. The kind where hawkers lure you with freshest produce, holler and vie for your attention, call out with all zest and confidence to take a quick ‘dekko’ at their treasures. I love to shop here.

    Purple Rice Bowl - Chinese Style

    Purple Rice Bowl – Chinese Style

    And in contrast we have the big uber cool fancy supermarkets which would get me all excited but mostly turned a dampner once entered. These stores are huge, catering to everything imaginable, from a match box to a television. Not to mention, groceries, produce and exotic imported vegetables and fruits. The produce particularly makes me regret coming to the stores and not going to the nearest vegetable markets. One chance view of their godowns/storehouses and the pathetic conditions in which the extra produce is stored, left me cringing for days.

    Little Rice Bowls

    Little Rice Bowls

    But of course, supermarkets versus hawker markets is a topic of debate to which we rather not get into now.
    Because now is the turn of this wonderful purply rice bowl that I quickly fixed for dinner tonight. One of the many mellifluous hawkers sold this to me in spite of profuse refusals. But he insisted on the ‘freshness and quality’. So I gave in to his selling strategy but only to pleasantly discover the truth in his words.

    Scallion leaves are a must

    Scallion leaves are a must

    A crisp bright colored cabbage actually calls for some fresh salad. But you know my intermittent relationship with salads. So I quit thinking of raw options and ventured into my most comfortable and favorite territory. Chinese 🙂

    Yes, Chinese styled rice, laced with minimal sauces, garnished with scallion leaves – made a delightful dinner!

    Say it with color

    Say it with color

    The Recipe:

    Ingredients

    • 1 cup rice, boiled so that each grain is separate
    • 3/4th cup purple cabbage, chopped fine
    • 1 onion, minced
    • 6-7 cloves of garlic, minced
    • 1 tiny piece of ginger, grated
    • 1 tbsp white vinegar
    • 2 tbsp oil
    • 1-2 tbsp green chili sauce – vary according to your taste
    • salt and pepper powder to taste
    • 2 tbsp scallion/spring onion leaves, minced

    Method

    In a wok, heat oil, stir fry ginger, garlic and onions, preferably on high, stir frying all the time. Keep the chopped cabbage ready. Once the onions turn translucent, throw in the cabbage along with salt. Stir fry and saute till 3/4th done. Try to keep the cabbage a wee bit crunchy.

    Add vinegar, green chili sauce, pepper and rice. Mix well. Garnish with scallion leaves.

    Serve hot with pan braised veggies or simply some Schezwan Sauce.

    Subtle Flavors

    Subtle Flavors

    I made some pan braised veggies, but could not get pictures for the same.
    Using vegetables like onion, bell peppers, broccoli, carrot, baby corn and bok choy, I saute them in oil along with loads of garlic and season them with little salt, pepper and vinegar. Thats it.
    They made a perfect colorful accompaniment to my subtle flavored rice.

    Purple Passion

    Purple Passion

    This is a handy recipe if you have:

    • left over rice
    • a ravenous stomach
    • no time
    • fussy taste buds craving something yummy all the time

    And oh I forgot, a nice fresh purple cabbage is also required 😉

    Pongal

    The husband gave up food 3 days back. Unusual weight gain was the culprit. As luck would have it, I’ve landed myself with a case of excessive extremism. My objection was deemed, un supportive, so I shut my case. I let nature take it’s course.
    But 3 days without food was enough to put the hungry back into track. He asked for something to “eat”. I silently heaved a sigh of relief, careful not to belittle his accomplishment, I suggested various healthy alternatives to break the fast.
    After careful deliberation, he whispered, “pongal”.

    An ideal breakfast

    An ideal breakfast

    Pongal is a south indian rice and lentil porridge or khichdi. It is minimally spiced smeared with the goodness of ghee. Being light on the digestive tract, it’s usually fed to all age groups, be it a 6 month old baby or an ailing 80 year old. Hing or asafoetida imparts a wonderful flavour to this soft slightly mashed, highly nutritious tamilian breakfast.

    Ingredients

    • 1/2 cup raw rice, washed, and soaked
    • 1/2 cup split yellow mung dal
    • 3 cups of water
    • 2 tbsp of ghee
    • 10 to 15 of whole peppercorns
    • 1 tsp Cumin seeds
    • Hing – 1 pinch
    • Cashew nuts – 10 to 15 broken
    • Ginger – 1 teaspoons finely minced
    • Curry leaves – 5-7 leaves
    • 2-3 dry red chilies
    • Salt
    • 1 medium sized piece of coconut, grated
    • Garnish: Chopped coriander

    Method

    Firstly, wipe the mung dal with a cloth. In a pan, heat ghee. Once hot, throw in the cumin seeds, red chilies, curry leaves, asafoetida, whole peppercorns and the dry wiped mung dal. Saute till the dal turns into a slightly darker shade of yellow. Now add the grated coconut, rice, water and salt. Pressure cook for 2-3 whistles. Else, cook in a pan, till it is of mashable consistency. Once done, remove in a bowl, garnish with chopped coriander and top it again with ghee.

    Roast the cashew nuts in slight ghee or just toast them. Use it as a garnish or throw in the pongal and mix well.

    To serve: you could serve it with coconut chutney or with cucumber raitha or simply with a bowl of curds.

    Healthy, Light and Yummy. Ideal for breakfasts. It’s filling and gives you enough energy to last a good couple of hours.

    It gives me inexplicable satisfaction to see my family well fed and well taken care of. When wholesome food like a simple humble pongal makes way into the systems of my loved ones, I relax and repose. At least for some time. Let my worries, worry me later.

    A South Indian Delicacy

    A South Indian Delicacy