Recipes: Spinach Rice

I love one pot meals. The chance to have a complete meal without getting many dishes and pots and pans dirty is great! The children love spinach and have been asking me to make spinach rice for a while now. So I decided to make it last week. This is slightly different from the way I usually make it, so thought to document it here.

Spinach Rice

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup spinach, washed and chopped
  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 4-5 pods of garlic
  • 1-1.5 inch ginger
  • 1 large or 2 medium-sized onions
  • 1 medium-sized green capsicum
  • 4-6 green chillies (depending on the size and your spice tolerance)
  • 1 bunch of coriander leaves
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tsp fennel seeds
  • 4-5 cardamom pods
  • 4-5 pieces of clove
  • 2 inch piece of cinnamon
  • 2-3 cashew nuts
  • 1 Bay leaf
  • 1 tbsp ghee
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  • Wash the spinach thoroughly and keep aside.
  • Wash the basmati rice well, soak it in water for 20-30 minutes and then drain and keep aside.
  • In a dry skillet, dry roast the cumin seeds, coriander seeds, fennel seeds, cardamom, cloves and cinnamon till they are done and emit and nice aroma. Keep aside to cool.
  • Soak the cashew nuts in warm water or milk for 10 minutes to soften it up.
  • Chop the onion, green capsicum, green chillies, ginger and garlic and keep aside.
  • In a blender blend everything – the spinach, green capsicum, green chillies, coriander, onion, ginger, garlic, cashew nuts and spices to a smooth paste and keep aside.
  • Heat a pan with the ghee and when the ghee warms up, add the bay leaf and stir for a couple of seconds.
  • Then add the spinach paste and stir well. Season with salt and let it cook well, making sure it is still a vibrant green colour.
  • Take the washed and drained rice and add to this paste. Transfer to a rice cooker and cook with 3/4 cup (or as you need for your rice) of water. Once cooked, let it sit for a while before you take it out of the cooker.
  • Serve hot with some crisps and a raita of your choice.

Notes:

  • If you are cooking in your stovetop when you add the rice to the spinach paste, let it mix for a minute, then add the water and any seasoning you want and cook covered on a low to medium flame till done. Let it sit for a while before opening the cover.
  • You can also make the paste in advance and store it in the fridge or freeze it. When you want to make the rice the next day, just add it to the rice in the rice cooker or on the stovetop and continue as above.
  • I didn’t have any coriander with me but had Green Chutney at home. So I substituted coriander with a couple of tbsps of this Chutney.

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Recipe: White Pumpkin Rasavangi

The word Rasavangi is very evocative and exotic, isn’t it? In Marathi (or rather the Bambaiya Hindi which is spoken in Mumbai), Vangi means Brinjal or Aubergine. And Rasa in most Indian languages brings to mind a gravy. So I always thought Rasavangi is brinjal cooked in gravy. It was only recently I learnt that it is, in fact, a South Indian term and most probably used by the Brahmins. All this time, I used to call this dish a Pumpkin Sambhar. Anyway, here’s the Rasavangi I made recently.

White Pumpkin Rasavangi

Ingredients:

  • 1 large white pumpkin, peeled and chopped into small pieces after discarding the seeds and fibre
  • 1 lemons sized ball of tamarind, soaked in hot water for 20-30 minutes, then squeezed so the fibres are removed and the tamarind water separated
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 cup toor dal
  • 2-3 tbsp chana dal

To be ground into a paste:

  • 1/2 cup grated coconut
  • 6-8 dried red chillies
  • 2 tbsp coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp chana dal
  • 2 tbsp oil

To Temper:

  • 1 tbsp oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp broken urad dal
  • 5-6 curry leaves

Method:

  • Cook the toor and chana dal until they lose their shape. Whisk them well till it becomes a homogeneous mixture. Keep aside
  • In a pan, take 2 tbsp oil and when the oil warms, add the dried red chillies, coriander seeds and chana dal and stir until they start becoming red. Then add the coconut and keep stirring till the coconut becomes reddish brown and loses all moisture and becomes completely dry. Keep aside to cool.
  • When cool, blend to a fine powder. If your blender can’t do this, you can also add water and blend it to a fine paste.
  • In the same pan, put the chopped pumpkin and turmeric powder with just enough water to cover the bottom of the pan and ensure it does not burn. You can also add a bit of salt here so the pumpkin is not bland.
  • Cook the pumpkin till it becomes tender. At this point add the tamarind water and boil until the raw smell of the tamarind goes away.
  • Now add the cooked dals and the ground paste and check for seasoning. When the Rasavangi starts to boil again, remove from the flame.
  • Take a smaller skillet and pour in the remaining 1 tbsp oil. When the oil heats up, add the mustard seeds and let it splutter. Then add the urad dal and let it brown slightly. Add the curry leaves and switch off the flame. Pour this seasoning over the Rasavangi.
  • Serve hot as a gravy with rice or even as an accompaniment to a traditional South Indian meal. If serving as an accompaniment, make it thicker than usual. This can also be eaten with Indian flatbreads.

 

Recipes: Raw Mango Thokku

A thokku is a pickle which is cooked down to a paste. In normal pickles, you don’t cook them (or barely cook them) allowing the vegetables (or fruits) to absorb the spices from the spice paste that coats them. In a thokku, you cook it down until there is no moisture left in the vegetable (or fruit) and this can also be made with herbs like coriander (or cilantro as it is called in North America) or curry leaves.

A thokku can be eaten not only with rice or flatbreads, but you can eat it as a stuffing in a sandwich. The raw mango thokku is an all-time favourite pickle and I have been known for eating it as it is, that’s how much I love it!

Last year in December, when my mum was with me, one day when I was wondering if I should make my instant mango pickle with the raw mangoes that S brought home, she asked me if I wanted to make this raw mango thokku. Me being me, I instantly said yes and learnt it from her. Since then I’ve made it at least once a month, fine-tuning my recipe. I am now confident of this recipe enough to share with everyone.

This is an easy recipe, just a little tedious. For around 4 largish mangoes, it usually takes me an hour from start to finish. If you are making more, perhaps for the whole year, then yes it can even take the whole day!

Raw Mango Thokku

Ingredients:

  • 4 large raw mangoes
  • 4-6 tbsps gingelly oil
  • 1 tbsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp turmeric powder
  • 4 tbsp red chilli powder (approximately)
  • ½ cup jaggery
  • ½ tsp fenugreek seed powder
  • Salt to taste

Method:

  • Wash and dry the mangoes thoroughly.
  • Peel the skin and chop the flesh into small pieces, the smaller the better. Discard the seed.
  • In a large pan, heat the gingelly oil and when it starts smoking, add in the mustard seeds. When the seeds pop, pour in the chopped mangoes and stir well to cover all the pieces with the oil.
  • Stir well and cover and let it cook for a couple of minutes. Then add turmeric powder and salt and stir well and cook for 2 minutes.
  • Now add the chilli powder and continue to cook. You can do a taste test at this point to check for seasoning and the level of chillies in the thokku. When you feel it is slightly spicier than you can handle, that’s what you are looking for.
  • Add the jaggery (optional, you can omit this completely or even add some brown sugar) and let it cook till the oil starts leaving the sides of the pan. Add more oil if your thokku starts to stick to the bottom of the pan.
  • Just when it is ready, add the fenugreek powder and remove from the gas.
  • When the thokku is cool, remove it to a jar and enjoy!

Notes:

  • I have found that the best way to cut the mangoes is to peel them with the peeler (after you have removed the skin).
  • Peel the flesh until you come to the seed, and then chop the remaining flesh finely. This way, the flesh breaks down fast and you get a smooth paste like thokku.
  • In the photo below, (I made this version about a month back), I have chopped the flesh and you can still see the slightly grainy cubes which have not melted into a paste.
  • You can also grate the mango flesh.

Recipes: Vegetable Upma

This is another typical South Indian recipe which is made across the four southern states. Different families use slightly different ingredients to make it theirs and you can too play around with the basic recipe.

Since S’ uncle’s death ceremony rituals are not yet done, we, because we belong to the same family/clan, are also bound by the rules that govern his own family. This includes eating ‘Satvik‘ food which means that we don’t add onions or garlic to our meals till everything is done. So I made this Upma a Jain version without adding any onions or garlic. I’ve put notes after the recipe should you wish to add them when you make this dish.

Mixed Vegetable Upma

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup semolina
  • 1 cup mixed vegetables (I used french beans, carrots, frozen green peas and frozen corn), chopped into small pieces
  • 2 green chillies, chopped
  • 1-inch piece of ginger, chopped
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 tsp split urad dal
  • 4-5 curry leaves
  • Salt to taste
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1 tbsp ghee (optional)
  • 1-litre water

Method:

  • In a deepish pan, dry roast the semolina till it starts to emit an aroma. Make sure you stir constantly so it does not brown. Remove into a plate and keep aside.
  • Boil around a litre of water and keep it hot.
  • In the same pan, heat the oil and when it warms, add in the mustard seeds. When the mustard seeds pop, add the urad dal and let it brown. Then add the green chillies and ginger and stir for a couple of seconds.
  • Now add the mixed vegetables and season with salt accordingly and let the vegetables cook.
  • When the vegetables are 80% cooked, add the roasted semolina and stir well to mix. Now add the hot water, a little at a time let the semolina cook well.
  • When the semolina and vegetables are completely cooked, add a little bit more water and check for seasoning. Add a dollop of ghee (if using) and remove from the fire.
  • Serve hot with any chutney of your choice.

Notes:

  • As I  mentioned earlier, this was made without any onions, so if you want to add onions to your recipe, add finely chopped onions after you add the mustard seeds, urad dal, green chillies and ginger and let it become translucent.
  • In addition to the vegetables I have used, you can also use potatoes, cauliflower, broccoli etc.

Recipe: Dum Paneer Kali Mirch

A couple of weeks back, I was searching for recipes to make when I chanced upon this recipe in NDTV food which was a pure paneer recipe. It intrigued me enough that I decided to make it, after making some changes to it based on what I had at home. It was super delicious and it’s a definite keeper at home.

This recipe cooks on dum in the last stage which essentially means cooking it in its own steam and not let the steam escape. I have cooked something on dum on a stovetop for the first time and it was achievement unlocked for me with this recipe!

Dum Paneer Kali Mirch

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups paneer, chopped into biggish chunks
  • 2-3 pieces of clove
  • 2-3 pieces of cardamom pods
  • 1 inch piece of cinnamon
  • 2 medium-sized onions, finely chopped
  • 3-4 garlic pods
  • 1 inch piece of ginger
  • 4 green chillies (use a lesser number if you are using the smaller green chillies as they tend to be spicier)
  • 10 pieces of cashew nuts soaked in warm milk for 20 mins and then blended to a smooth paste
  • 1 small cup of beaten yoghurt
  • 1 tsp coriander powder
  • 1 tsp pepper powder
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric powder
  • 1/2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 1 tsp garam masala powder
  • 2 tbsp oil
  • Salt to taste
  • 1 tsp freshly cracked pepper (to garnish)
  • Coriander leaves to garnish

Method:

  • Heat 1 tbsp oil in a pan and add the onions and on fry them on a medium to low flame. We need to brown the onions, but not burn it, so you need to keep stirring. When nice and brown, cool it, blend into a fine paste and keep aside.
  • Grind the ginger, garlic and green chillies to a fine paste and keep aside.
  • In the same pan, add the remaining oil and fry the dry whole spices – cloves, cinnamon and cardamom and let them fry till the oil becomes fragrant.
  • Now add the browned onion paste and let it fry for around 5 minutes till the oil starts leaving the sides of the pan.
  • At this point, add the ginger-garlic-chilli paste and saute for a few minutes.
  • After this, add the cashew paste and let it cook for a few minutes.
  • Next, add the beaten yoghurt and the dry spices – turmeric powder, chilli powder, pepper powder and garam masala and let it cook.
  • Add some water to bring it to the consistency you want and let it come to a rolling boil.
  • Add the paneer/cottage cheese and salt and any extra water should you need.
  • Now you need to cook it in dum. What it means is that you cook it in its own juice with no steam being able to escape. You seal the pan with aluminium foil and then cover it with the lid of the pan and let it cook on a low flame for 5-10 minutes.
  • Remove the foil, garnish with coriander seeds and cracked pepper and serve hot with any rice dish or even Indian flatbreads. I served this with a simple pulao.

Simply delicious!!