Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Cooking is no rocket science

It has been a nice relaxed day. A holiday on day two of a working week is really nice. Gives you the feeling of an extended weekend. There was a holiday like "mahaul" at work yesterday and I think we all worked quite efficiently knowing that the day would be followed by a holiday. So no Monday morning blues this time.

For lunch we ordered some South Indian food and the kids/me dug into idli, dosa( no not hot samosa though that would have completed the rhyme), medu wada and puliyogaraye( yumm!). I have saved the extra sambhar and chutney for tomorrow morning when I plan to make some sooji upma( thinking aloud but maybe I could use the leftover beans, carrots and alu subzi for the upma, would save me the trouble of chopping and cooking and more importantly save me some time).

Having kind of done nothing through the day except eat, chat on the phone, drink cups of tea( yes, I normally allow myself only one cup of milk tea but have had four cups today) by evening I was feeling all set to cook. Yet I did not really want to slog it out in the kitchen, wanted the holiday feeling to continue( after all a holiday at the beginning of the week is quite a luxury especially if you have had a hectic weekend). So I decided to make some Jeera Pulao( I know this is really basic cooking and an apology for a recipe but maybe there are more Yans like me in this world who could benefit from the same or the more evolved ones who could maybe find a variation from their own).

Jeera Pulao


Rice: 2 cups( should suffice for a family of four), I love Delhi's obsession with Basmati, they are great for Pulaos. Pick up the Rozanna Basmati of any brand( Should cost you anywhere between Rs. 38/ to Rs. 45/ per kilo. You also get some wonderful Basmati at various wholesale markets in Delhi, Govindpur market behind Kalkaji or Possangipur which is close to Janakpuri to name a few). Though you will often find long grained rice being peddled as Basmati, lacks that distinctive aroma of Basmati.
Jeera: 1 tbsp
Ghee: 1 tbsp
Onions: 2, Finely sliced
Whole garam masala: Tej Patta, Cinnamon sticks(2/3), green cardamom(2/3)
Biryani Masala: 1 tsp(optional), I use it when I have it. Today I did not.


  • Soak the rice for at least half an hour( don't skip this step).
  • Heat ghee/oil in a pressure cooker( suggest you use a pressure cooker as that would save you from transferring from one dish to another), once the ghee starts bubbling add the jeera and whole spices. They will start giving out a nice aroma after two to three minutes, add the sliced onions and stir on high till the onions brown. If using the Biryani masala add it now. Next drain out the water and add the rice. Stir for a few minutes. Add salt to taste. Stir for a few minutes and let the rice mix well with the masala( onion and whole spices).
  • Add three and half cups of hot water. Cover the lid of the pressure cook and let it give out one whistle.
  • Switch off the gas and let the cooker cool down on its own( don't be in a hurry to open the lid of the cooker though the aroma would make you feel quite hungry).
  • Serve hot with a mixed daal( given that the rice is a little basic, needs to be served with a slightly elaborate spicy daal) and a tomato, onion raita.
My kids are having it with Rajma, mixed vegetable subzi and some plain dahi.

Bon Apettit!

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Cooking Under 10 minutes

The title of this post is inspired by a book written by the renowned celebrity chef Tarla Dalal. As she says " Cooking under 10 minutes is not an impossible feat if you follow certain guidelines like planning and using simpler methods of cooking". I have always loved making those no fuss recipes hence the one dish meals, cooking with leftovers to make them look and sound exotic etc. With leftovers half your job is already done so just add a dash of this and a dash of that and voila an entirely new dish is ready to be " set before the king".

Mushroom gets cooked really fast and is a workaholics delight. Ideal for those weekday evenings when you would like something different but are unwilling to slog it out in the kitchen.

Mushroom Quickie


Mushroom: 200 grams, quartered
Onion: 2/3 quartered, could also use shallots if you have the time and patience to peel them
Capsicum: Deseeded and cut into squares( ideally same size as the mushrooms and onions)
Oil: 1/2 tsp
Herbs: I have used Parsley but Oregano or Rosemary would work as well
Lime juice: About 1 tbsp
Maida: 1 tsp


Heat the oil in a non-stick pan(try and use olive oil). Saute the onions till translucent/glassy, add the mushrooms and stir on high flame for a few minutes. Next add the capsicum, lime juice and the herbs. Add salt to taste. The vegetables will give out some water. Add 1tsp of Maida or corn flour to gently coat the veggies. The lime juice gives the dish a nice fresh flavor.

This dish would go well with a pulao and raita. Would go equally well as a side dish with continental chicken preparations.

Vegetable Pulao


Mixed vegetables: Use finely chopped carrots/beans, shelled green peas, American sweet corn
Onions: Finely chopped
Jeera: 1 tsp
Basmati Rice: 2 cups( soak the rice for at least an hour before you start cooking for them to be really " khila khila" and long grained
Ghee: 1tsp. Could substitute with oil but I personally feel pulao tastes best with ghee


In an open pressure cooker heat the ghee, add jeera and saute for a few minutes till jeera gives out a nice distinctive aroma. Next drain out the water from the rice and add. Mix well and saute for a couple of minutes. Add the veggies, salt and 3.5 cups of hot water( hot water prevents the rice from sticking and also reduces the cooking time). Put the lid on the cooker and let it give outone whistle. Allow the pressure cooker to cool down. Serve the pulao hot accompanied by either dahi boondi( since the rice already has a lot of vegetables) or plain curd. This pulao also makes a good lunch box option. It is tasty and wholesome.

We are having the pulao with some fish curry and mushroom quickie. Watch this space for fish curry recipes.

P.S.: Tarla Dalal books are a must have for all vegetarian foodies. She tweaks global cuisine to create her own fusion food more suitable for the Indian palate, Oriental bhel to name one such recipe.