My interest in genetic manipulations aside, today was a bang on start crazy day. Thunderstorms kept me awake and up and fidgety from an ungodly hour. Clearly the singing of ” brown paper packages ” works only in movies. Bright and early and in this case it was bright and early and a wee bit cranky cause of all the missed sleep, missed school bus and more! There was this real need to whip up breakfast, lunch dinner and after school snack in about an hour’s time. Make that for 4 please!
For those days when you want something quick and easy, nutritious and guilt free, lip-smacking but not having to do gob smacking work and of course if you absolutely need to clean only one pan or pot, then this works wonders.
Please, while I absolutely and fervently hope to use and definitely advocate the utilization of fresh vegetables, a steady supply of fresh frozen organic ones are at hand too as a lifesaver / stopgap for me. This recipe is so versatile that you can add and reduce the number of vegetables or combinations of it based on the contents of your refrigerator or rather your freezer.
Best summarized by Curnonsky on cooking, perfection, and simplicity “In cooking, as in all the arts, simplicity is the sign of perfection.” Presenting a simple one pot meal that is so perfect that you just need an accompaniment of cool cucumber raita and roasted papad, and you have a winner on your hands.
Prep time : 10 min Cook time : 20-25 min Serves : 4-6
Long grained / Basmati Rice : 2 Cups
Vegetables and Herbs:
Onion: 1 medium or large, chopped or diced fine
Tomatoes : 2 medium-sized ones, diced fine
Peas and Carrots : 1/4 cup ( frozen or fresh, diced)
Mint sprigs : a few, chopped roughly to yield 2 Tbsp.
Fresh Curry leaves: 2-3
Grated Ginger : 1 tsp.
Cardamom : 1( cracked open)
Cinnamon stick: 1 inch
Bay leaf : 1
Mustard seeds: 1 tsp.
Cumin Seeds: 1 tsp.
Fennel seeds: 1/2 tsp.
Masala Powders, Salt and Oil
Sambar Masala powder: 1 tsp
Garam Masala Powder : 1 tsp ( optional)
Red chili powder : 1 tsp.
Salt : 1 – 1.5 tsp.
Oil : 2 Tbsp.
Fresh chopped cilantro : 2 Tbsp.
In a wide saucepan or deep skillet ( must have lid) add in the oil and on heating add in the whole spices. The spices sizzle and yield an aroma that is quite good. Add in the curry leaves and grated ginger now.
Add in the chopped onion and sauté then very well . Add in the chopped mint, followed by the peas and carrots. Stir for a good couple of minutes so the carrots and peas start to stew a bit.
Add in the chopped tomatoes next and sauté for a minute or two and then add in the salt. Based on how juicy your tomatoes are, the next step will take any from a couple of minutes to about 5 or so. Let the juices of the tomato and veggies reduce a bit.
Add in the Sambar masala powder, Garam masala powder and chili powder. Stir very well and let it remain for a minute to shuck off its raw taste.
Meanwhile wash the rice very well .
Add in the washed rice to this tomato and vegetable mix in the pan. Stir in the rice very well so it gets coated with the spices, oil and vegetables.
Add in 4 cups of water ( 2 cups of basmati rice is usually cooked in about 4 cups of water to yield soft , fluffy grains. You might need to adjust the water based on the rice used) and cover and cook for about 15 minutes or so. Do not stir in between. Do cook on medium heat as well.
Once done , fluff up the rice, garnish with chopped cilantro and serve hot with cool raita and fresh roasted papad.
Ever heard this song from the movie ” Howrah Bridge”?
Mera Naam Chin-Chin-Chu
Chin-Chin-Chu, Baaba Chin-Chin-Chu
Raat Chaandani, Main Aur Tu
“Hello, Mister, How Do You Do?”
Ilove Geeta Dutt’s vocals in this and the lovely Helen gyrating to this peppy number. But this is as authentic representation of the land of Confucius as the cuisine from my birthland espousing the Indo – Chinese fare. Authenticity apart, if we do not innovate then we probably would never have anything new to go by at all.
This weekend, I found myself in of those health stores and I spotted a pack of sprouted, non GMO,organic tofu – extra firm. I wanted to make something that would appeal to all 3 A’s but would appeal more to A1 if I dump some hot sauce in it.
So here we go, Tofu Chili Stir Fry served with hot steaming rice. C’mon , it would be hard to resist this fare. The best part is it takes only a few min to cook.
Active prep : 15 min
Marination & resting: 30-60 min
Cook time : 15 min
Ingredients for Tofu Pepper Chili Stir fry:
Tofu : 1 big log/block – extra firm.
Bell peppers: Mixed colors , cut in big pieces : 2 cups
Onion : Medium size, red, Cut in strips
Ginger garlic paste: 1 tsp.
Veg Oil : 2 Tbsp.
Stir fry/ Soy sauce : 1 tsp.
Hot chili ketchup : 1 tsp.
Red chili flakes/ powder : 1/2 tsp. (Optional)
Corn flour : 1 tsp + 2 Tbsp. water
Salt to taste
Fresh Cilantro : Chopped : 1/4 cup.
Ginger garlic paste : 1 tsp.
Honey : 1/2 tsp.
Cornflour : 2 tsp.
Soy sauce/ Stir fry sauce : 1 Tbsp.
Salt : A pinch
Prep the tofu first :
Wrap the tofu block in paper towels, and express out the moisture. It helps, if you place something of a heavy nature on it and drain it out if required through the colander. Take care to not to smush it. We need to cut it in cubes. This could take anywhere from 15 – 30 minutes depending on the nature of your tofu.
Once drained, cut the tofu into big cubes.
Mix everything listed in the marinade to make a thick paste of sorts. Toss the cubes of tofu in it. Let it marinate for about 15 minutes. If you can wait a bit longer, you can let it sit for about an hour.
In a big wok or skillet, add in 1 tbsp. of oil and when heated, add in the pieces of tofu to sauté/ brown it evenly on all sides. Remove and set aside.
Add in one more tbsp. of oil in the same skillet and add in the ginger-garlic paste, red chili flakes /powder and thin strips of onion. Cook the onion till it is translucent and then add in the mixed peppers and a bit of salt. Cook the peppers till it retains a bit of a bite in it.You want the peppers nearly cooked but not completely cooked, so you will have a bit of crunch to it.
Add in the sauces, ketchup and the cornflour paste and the cubes of sautéed tofu.
Stir, check for salt and garnish with fresh cilantro and serve hot with steaming cup of rice.
Quick Veg Tossed Rice:
Prep time : 10 min Cook time : 15 min Serves : 4
Frozen peas and Carrots mix : 1/2 cup
Onions: thin strips : 1/4 cup
Butter : unsalted : 1 Tbsp.
Oil : 1 tsp.
Cumin seeds: 1 tsp.
Black peppercorns: 1/4 tsp.
Bay leaves: 2
Green Cardamom: 1
Salt : 1 tsp./ to taste
Basmati Rice: 1.5 cups
Water : 3 cups
In a big non stick sauce pan ( this needs to have a lid) , add in the tbsp. of butter and oil and warm it.
Once it heats, add in the cumin seeds. Add in the whole spices as well.
Add in the thin strips of onions and saute till well cooked.
Now add in the peas and carrots and stir for about a couple of minutes.
Add in the washed rice and stir it too along with the spices and veggies for another minute or two.
Salt it with about a tsp of salt. Mix well.
Add about 3 cups of water , give it a stir and cover and cook for about 15 minutes in medium to high heat.
You should have perfectly cooked rice in that time.
Turn off the flame and then gently toss it with a fork and serve.
It’s 9 AM and the third day of the summer break. I am absolutely impressed with all three of my kids ability to hibernate , yes hibernate in summer. To give them credit, its only the third official day of summer break and I wait for them to get super bored. Bored to the point that cataloguing the library books in the attic ( yes, I have a secret compulsion to catalog the huge collection we seem to be growing in the bookshelf) would actually seem fun ( at this point you can of course picture me rubbing my hands in glee – much like the super villain in disney movies). This of course is apart from the near daily dips in the pool and xbox and pursuing their artistic ability ( read violin, piano) and productive use of their time ( read cycling, FLL leagues, engineering buildups and simple joy of reading a book ). Whew ! Summer time was so much simpler when I was growing up, you actually got to do nothing so many times. And then of course, we could play kho-kho outside and indulge in nimbu -paani and spiced buttermilk and of course all those yummy fruits which were summer seasonal. Add to this, I could manage to scrape my foot, knee and a lot more in the evening games. Climbing trees never looked more fun. I can only reminisce about those days again. Wish my mind and body exuded that flexibility again. Imaginations.. Ah, you weren’t taught to imagine, you just did. I know simple as it was, I just remember going on , on my world tours through the wonderful world of reading. And then of course I grew up !!!!
Life’s experiences aside, I suppose making silk out of sow’s ears was something I admired my maternal grandmother for. Oh , here was this lady phenomenal in just about everything, she could sew,cook and I mean by cooking create wonderful things from stuff in her pantry. Oh and painting, she was absolutely wonderful. Always had a smile and a story and more importantly could make do with what was readily available. A very well learned person, erudite and very inspiring. This creation is greatly inspired by her versatility and cooking prowess.
Rummaging the fridge and pantry for the ingredients yielded:
Ivy Gourd – About 2 handfuls
Long purple Brinjal – 2
Green Moong dal sprouts – one small cup
red potato – medium sized – 1
red onion – 1 – large
Curry leaves – a bunch
Fresh green coriander – a handful
Basmati rice – 1.25 cups
Split Urad dal – 2 tsp for seasoning
Black mustard seeds – 1 tsp for seasoning
Asafoetida – A pinch
curry powder – 1 tsp
Sambar powder 2 tsp
Necessary ( evil) Lubricants :
4 tsp of fat of your choice- oil or butter or clarified butter if you have a devil may care attitude
Prep Work: (Btw this is a parallel process operation)
Wash and cook the basmati rice in the required quantity of water. The grains need be cooked as in tender and separate.
Chop all the veggies – Now you can choose any shape you like, I simply diced them all.( onion chopper to the rescue)
I also nuked the ivy gourd , chopped potatoes and sprouts for about a couple of min in the microwave to facilitate the cooking process.
Heat the oil in the wok and in the seasonings – Asafoetida,Mustard seeds,Urad dal and curry leaves. Add a pinch of mustard powder of desired.
Add the cut onions and saute till tender, and then add in the cut eggplant . Add in the nuked veggies then.Once tender add in the salt and curry powder and sambar powder
In a couple of minutes you will have a wonderful aroma wafting from the wok.
Plate out the rice and use a fork to spread it out.Let it cool for about 5 -7 min.
Then gently toss it in with curried vegetables in the wok. ( the idea is to gently fold it in, other wise you can get huge gooey ball of masala rice 🙂 )..
Garnish with the cut coriander leaves.
Oh yeah ! Lunch is served !!!
End result :Delectable !!!!Just lip smacking . Serve it up with a bowl of plain yogurt, and a slices of cucumber to round off the balance.
You can definitely add in any mixture of vegetables.Do balance it out with the spices though.
Want to try this version mimicking the north side of the Vindhyas – Use Pulav masala and cinnamon and cloves for seasoning and your palate will be surprised at the new flavors.
Want to add in more protein – try adding in a mixed bunch of sprouts – truly yummy combination along with roasted peanuts or cashwenuts.
Want to have real low spice levels, just use salt and pepper and green chillies for seasoning.
Cleaning out the fridge was never more satisfying ….