Quinoa Vegetable Melange -Versatile Quinoa to the rescue! One pot meal :-)

I so seriously am not pregnant. There is no justification for this craving for quinoa, other than the fact that I am now ” flu -recovered”. And I am looking for a quick fix dinner  or lunch ensemble that has all the veggies and proteins channeled through nuts ( ok in this case restricted to the peanuts) in a one pot meal. Whew!

In all fairness, I suppose brown rice or broken wheat could provide this similarly. But hey, like i said ..its a craving ! Now until the few years ago, Quinoa blissfully did not exist in my world. I did indulge guilt free in the basmati rice version of this .. Aaah heavenly! What is it about the age and mid riff..I fear they are directly proportional. Wisdoms dawn on you with age and a good cup of tea :-)..

I am digressing , folks. Anyways back to Quinoa..which apparently is a pseudocereal and is related to beets and tumbleweeds ( see what I mean about family 🙂 ..) has taken a rather prominent  place of pride in our grocery errand run.

Anyways, back to the one pot meal that can be cooked in a jiffy and can be indulged guilt free and can satisfy the spicy tooth ( hey if you can have a sweet tooth and , I presume there is a spicy one as well ..) and yes actually taste good and not like the “health protein bar , that is mostly tasteless but is g(o)od for you” kind.

Assemble it up 🙂

  1. Cooked Quinoa : 2 cups or so. (Dry Quinoa : 1 cup  is to 1.5 cups of water. I just pressure cook it in and it is nice and  sprightly. Not mushy at all ) 
  2. Thai Chillies : Green : 4 : Minced  ( adjust the spice according to your plate)
  3. Frozen peas and carrots : 1 cup . Thawed or nuked in the microwave for about a min.
  4. Bell pepper : choose your kind. I used the red one. 1/2 to a 1 ,deseeded,  chopped finely
  5. French beans : 1/2 cup chopped finely
  6. Onion : 1  Chopped finely.( I did not have one one hand and had no intention for running to the store either ). Again Viewers/ cook’s discretion.
  7. Dry roasted salted peanuts : 1/2 cup chopped roughly
  8. Olive Oil : 2 -3 tsp
  9. Mustard Seeds : 1/4 tsp
  10. Urad Dal : 1/4 tsp ( the washed, dry, halved kind !)
  11. Turmeric powder : 1/4 tsp
  12. Asafoetida : a pinch
  13. A bunch of fresh cilantro : finely chopped
  14. Salt : to taste

The Process :

  1. In a  large wok or skillet, add the oil.
  2. Once the oil is heated, add the tempering of mustard seeds , Urad dal, green chillies and turmeric powder along with a pinch of Asafoetida. ( yep the mustard seeds are sputtering and the dal with turn a lovely shade of light brown.)
  3. Add the Onions if you decide to include it, and let it brown. Then add the peppers and the rest of the veggies. The idea is to keep the veggie cooked but crunchy. This should take about 5-7  minutes depending on a variety of factors including the freshness of the veggies and simmer of your flame on the gas  stove.
  4. Once this is done, toss in the cooked quinoa. And add the salt.
  5. Add the chopped peanuts as well. And mix well again.
  6. By now your kitchen will smell heavenly and the mix on in your skillet will resemble the picture below 🙂
  7. Add the cilantro and dig in!

Variations:

  • As always, the choice of your veggies are your personal preference. Cauliflower and broccoli are great variations to this fare.
  • Now most of the spices , I used here are very basic Indian spices. Again you can experiment with fennel seeds and sticks of cinnamon here or a bay leaf to the temper mix and completely have a different flavor to this dish.
  • This can be made totally nut free.. Just don’t add the peanuts. On the other hand, I have experimented with toasted almonds and it tasted just awesome as well !
  • A dash of lemon just before serving will refresh the dish as well.

Ginger Chai – Warding off the flu blues !

As much as I can curse my genetic make up for the susceptibility to the rhino virus, it is an indisputable fact that when it comes to the flu season, I lose! As gracious as it may sound (harboring suspiciously on borderline sarcasm) I try to beat it with my cure all – Ginger tea!  You really cannot go wrong with this 🙂

You know the thing about colds right?  something about a week with medicine and 7 days without it.. right!..  Treat the symptoms, but suffer through the bout 🙁

Anyways, day 2 with my tryst with the flu, loaded up with Tylenol cold and flu ( severe!) and sharpening my drowsy, medicine clouded brain on the keyboard, I decide to enthrall my audience ( sic !) …wonder if invalidity has something to do with weird proportionality on creativity .. hmm.

For a fresh cup of my cure all tea  – The magic ingredients are???

  1. Fresh ginger : 1/4 of an inch : grated finely
  2. Few sprigs of tulsi leaves aka holy basil ( Ocimum sanctum)
  3. Black cloves – just 1- break it part of grind it fresh!
  4. Ground fresh cardamom : a pinch
  5. A pinch of fresh ground black pepper ( yes black pepper !)
  6. Black tea leaves – 1 tsp
  7. Water : 1/2 cup
  8. 1% milk : 1/2 cup
  9. Sugar : Optional  ( I use honey )

Boil 1/2 cup of water with ginger and holy basil leaves . This should take you about a couple of minutes.

Note:  you are not reducing the quantity of water, you are just allowing it to steep in the flavors  of ginger and basil.

Add the tea leaves and the rest of the fresh ground spices. About a minute later, add the milk. Sweeten with sugar, brown sugar or honey.

Filter it and enjoy!

Quick Pointers:

  1. Do not have fresh ginger ?- add dried ginger powder 🙂 works like a charm too.
  2. You can always add cinnamon to add the extra touch of flavor
  3. The steps are not daunting- I just like to steep in the flavors of ginger and holy basil.
  4. Fresh Mint leaves  too can be added and gives nice touch.
  5. As a last resort, do not have holy basil , add in the tulsi tea bags. But the other kind of basil – the one we use for italian seasoning will not work 🙂

Signing off!

Besan Ladoos – Rich, Globes of heaven made in a Jiffy!

Besan ladoos.. Chick pea flour Ladoos,.. A gazillion recipes you can find if you troll the web.. What’s special about this one here?

Well,just that you can be done pretty quick using the microwave  for cooking rather than slaving over the stove ,frying the besan to get the right roast mix.

Again , did I mention, theatrics are part of this family ?  or rather the particular incident that led to delicious ladoos emerging from the kitchen of this queen.

The background:

A3 (my youngest) : “Mommy, if I eat this veggie aka broccoli, can you please make Ladoos?”

Mommy (me) :  ” You know we do not negotiate on the eating of veggies. They are good for you. They build muscles and you can be big and strong like your older brother. Or like daddy” Yada yada yada  and you know how the routine goes… As I expound the virtues of green goodness in ones’s life , I am surreptiously interrupted by ..

A3 : “Yeah , yeah.. but will you still make ladoos?” All of innocence (as much as can be mustered on an impish 4 year old’s face)  he declared “It is your anniversary. I love you mommy ! ”

Okay now, totally suckered by the charm and the demand, I decided to make a real quick ladoos , Besan aka chickpea flour Ladoos 🙂 Goodies are great, but I totally did not feel like slaving away in the kitchen for this delicacy.

Quick Pantry Check List

  1. Besan or Chickpea flour – I used the ladoo flour  – 2 cups
  2. Sugar powdered – 1 cup
  3. Clarified butter – ghee – 4 tablespoons.
  4. Chopped cashew nuts, almonds and walnuts – 1/2 cup
  5. Cardamom powder – a pinch

The procedure….Go on try it .. Its not that hard 🙂  

  1. Heat 4 tablespoons of ghee (clarified butter) in a microwave safe bowl on high for 2 min or so. Yep, you need to get it in the liquid state 🙂 but not the smoking hot one .
  2. Add the 2 cups of flour  to the  the melted ghee and stir in gently. Do note that stirring in gently will avoid lumps .
  3. Microwave it again on high for 3 minutes. Stir in well.and gently break ay lumps.
  4. Microwave it again for 2 minutes. Take it out and  stir again. By now the faint aroma of the besan with ghee would start wafting in your kitchen. Don’t be fooled yet! We are halfway there.
  5. Again microwave it for 5 min .. But this time in intervals of 1 min with stirring.
  6. When I took out the mix after the last interval of stirring, the Besan was nice light brown and my kitchen smelled very heavenly 🙂
  7. I added a pinch of the saffron strands( I know its customary  soak it in warm milk and then add it) but I just added here  along with the cardamom powder  and 1/2 cup of chopped nuts. (Note : I did not fry these nuts in ghee or even toast them)
  8. Microwave it again for 1 min.
  9. Let it stand  for a few seconds and add  1 cup of powdered sugar to this.
  10. Mix it nice and thorough.
  11. Make ladoos or balls out of these .. Now unless you have heat proof hands, it is not wise to dig in immediately. So I say wait about 5 min!
  12. Don’t be shy as you pack these heaps of  mix into ball shapes. I actually noticed it glistening after I made sure they were a nice sphere by adding a few extra rolls in my  hands.
  13. I made about 16 medium sized balls out of these..
  14. Let it stand for a few minutes and indulge 🙂

The fine print:-)

  1. If you use the Ladoo flour from the indian grocery stores, you do get the nice crunchy texture. Say you don’t have it, don’t panic :-). Just add 2 cups  of regular Besan or chickpea flour and a tablespoon of sooji or rava (cream of wheat in coarse form) to get the crutch. I would say add it it to the very final stage of microwaving , just before the saffron and nut goodies get added.
  2. If you get lazy and do not go thorough with the entire process of frying the besan in microwave (the nice light brown color of the besan with aroma wafting ), you will still have ladoos albeit with a raw taste. Experience does wonders 🙂 (At this point author is nodding her head sagely 🙂 )
  3. I used 4 tablespoons of unmelted / softened  ghee. It will be a bit more in the volume in the liquid form.
  4. Size of the ladoos – make it smaller if you are attempting it for a party. Make more that way 🙂 sneaky .. sneaky…
  5. The sugar to besan ratio , I personally like it at this level. You  could increase it of course per your convenience, I did not try this with brown sugar. Maybe next time !
  6. Ladoos not happening???.. balls breaking off? Add more ghee or maybe you can sprinkle with warm milk – note sprinkle, not add it in!. Shelf life will be considerably lower if you do decide sprinkle with milk.

 

Cooking time : about 40 min , including the ladoo making process.

Yield : About 16-25  depending on the size of the ladoos and in this case considerably less after sampling !

Verdict : Sinful and worth the effort!

Signing off..

I give in!

I have been gently prodded, bugged and more or less nudged to compile my list of experiments, recipes and the general affirmations and decimations that stewed in my kitchen!..Well affirmations more so, and decimations when I finally utilize my organic and molecular chemistry aka common sense in most cases to figure out why certain experiments did not really fare well..

Well here I am after so many odd years of kitchen chemistry and well meaning friends to embark on this journey, so to speak!

Salute!