Tag Archives: vegetarian

Millet, Rice and lentil Khichdi and what comfort means to me

6 Jun

Simple things in life are the ones that give us comfort. Its the simple stuff that really makes life extraordinary.

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To me comfort means several things: ( in no particular order)

1. My favourite Rosemunde Pilcher book  – The Shell seekers that I can read over and over again;

2. Snuggling into my little  one, early in the morning after I put my alarm on snooze;

3. Sleeping in my tattered t shirt that I refuse to throw out even though it is beyond repair;

4. A breakfast of  fried egg and toast

5. My parents’ presence around me that calms me down and gives me strength to focus

6. Flipping through my latest issue of the BBC GoodFood Magazine

7. My husband relating his day’s events to me in the evening over his cup of tea

8. Spotting my friend’s “good morning” message on my phone the first thing in the morning

9. Nibbling on a piece of dark chocolate after lunch

10. Digging into some hot and steaming vegetable khichdi

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Every day there is a  time that I take to zone out and do stuff that puts me in my comfort zone. I cherish that space. I value the reassurance it gives me.

The recipe I share today is of this humble vegetable Khichdi ( savory porridge) in this rushed post. It is more for me to record this recipe for future use.  For long I had been thinking of ways to use some organic millet and Khichdi seemed to be the only plausible way to use it.  I made this one-pot meal which can double up as lunch and dinner. The next day the leftovers can be combined with whole wheat flour to roll out parathas for breakfast. That’s versatile Khichdi for you.

Ingredients

3/4 cup basmati rice

3/4 cup yellow lentils ( yellow moong split)

1 cup millet

Salt as per taste

1 tsp tumeric

1/2 tsp red chilli powder (optional)

2 onions, chopped

1 carrot, medium-sized, chopped

6-7 string beans, chopped

few florets of broccoli

1/4 cup corn

Tempering

2 table spoons of clarified butter

1 tsp cumin seeds

1 inch cinnamon stick, broken into pieces,

3 pieces of cardamom

2 bay leaves

Preparation

1. Soak rice, lentil and millet in water for an hour

2. Heat the ghee in a pressure cooker or a large pan. Splutter the cumin seeds and fry all the tempering ingredients.

3. Add the chopped onions and fry until translucent. To this add all the vegetables and give it a quick stir.

4. To this add the soaked rice, lentil and millet and mix well.

5. Add enough water to cover this rice-vegetable mixture to submerge it completely and a bit more ( 3 cms or so)

6. Pressure cook this until 3 whistles and let it be on the low heat for 7 -8 minutes. If you are cooking this in a pan, let the mixture come to a boil and then let it cook slow and nice for as long as it takes to cook the grains and lentils.

7. Once the pressure is fizzled,  give the khichi a good mix and add water to make it more runny, if you like. Serve it hot with a dollop of ghee on top with pickles and raita.

These days, I desperately seek my comfort pockets. I sit there and try to be thoughtless. With my parents visiting us these days, these comfort pockets are easy to come by. These deeply nourish me like the Khichdi recipe I shared today. Do try it and savour the comfort it will give you.

What does comfort mean to you?

Do you know of other ways to use millet?

{friendship series} A terrific Dum Aloo recipe

21 Feb

Two years back I badgered some of my closest friends to share their favourite recipes with me. Soon enough I collected a good number of their favorite recipes for the ” Friendship Series”. Now that I have tried their recipes and I think each of them is absolutely stunning and worthy of all the praises that I can possibly shower. Apart from the agenda that included collecting of recipes, I wanted to capture the essence of my relationship with all these beautiful people. In this post, I share a wonderful recipe of Dum Aloo that my dear friend Ankur shared with me.

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I met Ankur in 2005 as a colleague with the first company I worked for after completing my Masters. My first impression of her was that she was extremely fastidious and diligent as far as her work was concerned. Also, I noticed she laughed a lot. A lot. Her infectious laughter drew me to her and we started interacting a lot more. She admired the way I could put my eye liner in a few strong strokes while I tried to absorb her indefatigable zest for life. We bonded over office gossip, short lived crushes and conversations about food and cooking.

BedmiPuri9Ankur has always been a good sounding board and even after we moved countries with our respective spouses and (now) children, we never lost touch. An occasional email, a quick phone call or chats on gmail have been ways that we have kept in touch. Sharing recipes. pictures of our children helps us keep track of what’s going on in each other’s lives. Recently, Ankur has taken to baking like a fish takes to water and it is amazing how quickly she is churning out one baked treat after the other.

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Some of my favourite moments with Ankur have been on our all-friends trip to Goa. It was once in a life time kind of carefree trip where we roamed on bikes far and wide on the roads of Goa.

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Ankur is a terrific  cook and it is no surprise that I turn back to her recipes time and again. This Dum Aloo recipe uses next to zilch amount of oil and is so quick to prep and whip up. This has become my go-to recipe whenever I have guests to entertain. As a brilliant accompaniment, I serve this dum aloo with Ankur’s very own”Bedmi Puri” recipe which I will include in the next post. 

Sneak peek at the luscious Bedmi Puri ( next post)

Sneak peek at the luscious Bedmi Puri ( next post)

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My friendship stories with Ankur will continue in the next post with her luscious “Bedmi Puri” Recipe which is a western U.P. specialty.

Until then, a brilliant weekend to one and all.

P.S. If you are interested in reading some exciting fantasy fiction, you can head over to my other blog to catch up with a book I had written last year for a competition. I am posting chapter by chapter, once every week.

On why there is no need to lead a deficient life & a healthy Vegetable Couscous recipe

15 Feb

Now if all the Valentines gifts have been unwrapped and the chocolate puddings have been licked off the spoon, can we talk about something serious today? Not serious as much as important. Have you been feeling a little under the weather lately? For the past lets say one or two or three months or even more than a year? When I say under the weather, I mean a few aches and pains in the body, wee bit tiredness to chronic fatigue and mild depression even on a sunny day. Well then it is something you should not simply sit upon and do nothing about.

I started experiencing these symptoms for as long as I can remember. A year or two years perhaps but I attributed it to the fact that I was prone to depression from time to time. But lately for the past several months I began to experience chronic fatigue. The inability to get up from my bed to do normal chores and to go about my hectic day made me feel terrible. I suspected it had something to do with the new work-out routine or a change in diet perhaps. I respected my body’s wishes and didn’t push myself and waited for it to reach back to me with refilled buckets of energy. Unfortunately it did not happen. This lack of energy, a general lassitude and mild every-day depression began to affect me and the people that I love the most in my life. It was during a rigourous interval training session with my trainer that I confided feeling low and he remarked that I wasn’t giving my best to the routine. He then suggested to get my blood checked for Vitamin D deficiency and Thyroid. I got my tests done and found out that I had a Vitamin D deficiency. I was prescribed Vitamin D3 along with Calcium by the doctor.  It has been two weeks since I have started with the medication and I feel better already. I feel energized or perhaps these are my normal energy levels that are being restored. My moods aren’t dark and gloomy and I look forward to each day with renewed optimism.

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There is no feeling bigger, greater than feeling like your own self. 

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Vitamin D deficiency occurs for the following reason:

  • Darker skin. The darker your skin the more sun you need to get the same amount of vitamin D as a fair-skinned person.
  • If you spend a lot of time indoors during the day.  I stay indoors in office most of the time and when I go home its quite late.
  • If you cover your skin all of the time. If you wear sunscreen or wear full sleeves clothes
  • If you have been a vegetarian all your life. Growing up I have had a vegetarian diet thereby excluding crucial Vitamin D food sources such as Fish, eggs (very sparingly) and liver.
  • You are obese. Vitamin D is extracted from the blood by fat cells and people with body mass index of 30 or greater often have low blood levels of vitamin D.

And many more. You can look up for material on the internet to educate yourself on the causes of this deficiency.

Suffering from Vitamin D deficiency can have several implications:

  • Not having enough Vitamin D through food sources or the sun or supplements can lead to your body absorbing less calcium and there by affecting calcium metabolism in the body
  • The above reason would lead to the general aches and pains in the body
  • Not feeling enough sun is a common cause for depression as well
  • Above all the fatigue is killing.
  • Long term deficiencies lead to  increased risk of death from cardiovascular diseases, asthma in children and even cancer.

I am not a medical practitioner but since the time I got to know of my deficient levels which in turn made me live a deficient life, I educated myself about its implications and causes. Hence by all means you can question all the matter that has been included in the post but if you do feel any thing like I have felt in the past 1 year or so, its worth considering a blood test.

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Since good health is the topic for the day, I have included a healthy couscous recipe which is not only filling but also extremely healthy. The couscous that we get in a packet here is pre-cooked so all that is needed is soaking it in hot stock or simply boiling water. The coucous fluffs up beautifully absorbing the flavour of the liquid of choice. To this I added some stir fried vegetables such as broccoli, aubergines, beans, carrots, onions etc. Basically, you can add any vegetable that you like. I used up the lot that was in my vegetable tray for a week and couldn’t think of a better way of using them up.

It is one of my favourite recipes that is extremely easy to whip up and is delicious too. I alter the quantity of couscous and use more vegetables to make it healthier. You can reverse the equation and make it couscous heavy and less vegetables. The other option to make this dish rich is to add lightly fried paneer or even raisins and nuts. Eggs match well too. So the versatility of this recipe is boundless. You can use a vegetarian stock or a chicken stock and the couscous swells up beautifully to the chosen flavour.

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With this I come to the end of my post. My next post would be about a chocolate pistachio fudge which is beyond addcitive. I share my foodie life on Instagram at @sliceofmylyfe and if you like what I do on my blog, I am sure you would love my Instagram feed even more.Happy weekend everybody!

A healthy start to the New Year – Baked Eggs with Spinach, Mushrooms and Tomatoes

18 Jan

How is the New Year treating you guys? Mine doesn’t seem very different from the last year. It is just as hectic at work and I am yet to figure out how to strike a balance between my personal and professional life.

But I am a firm believer that when life hands you bitter lemons,  its wise make a pickle out of it. So I have tweaked my strategy a bit and instead of continuously cribbing about how my work life is eating into my personal time, I have decided to make the most of whatever time I do get outside of my work life. As a part of this strategy, I decided I would definitely try and do things /activities which I may have not done before. One of which is this blog has rarely seen healthy recipes written about and discussed. One primary change that I would try and usher in would be to showcase as many healthy recipes as possible. Since my battle with the bulge is legendary and all I do is use this space to crib about how all my diet and exercise strategies have been nothing but colossal flops. Also inspired by this, I would like to have a culinary bucket list for this year to sort out. I have plenty planned for my blog and I can’t wait to unveil it little by little.

So to mark the beginning of the New year, I have something that is not only delectable but is also very healthy. Its baked eggs with mushroom, spinach and tomatoes. I wanted to try baking in a mud vessel to see if there is any difference in the taste. But I was disappointed to observe that there was none at all. But mud vessels made great props for photography. Also, it  took ages to bake.

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Hope you try this interesting way to baking eggs with vegetables. It is sumptuous to say the least.

Wishing everyone a beautiful year ahead with lots of happiness, health and prosperity.

Spunky Chinese Fried Rice to Liven Up a Weeknight Dinner

23 Nov

It is rare that I experiment with nouvelle cuisine on a weekday. Weekdays  are chaste days ( only with regards to food) where the Routine is the Master and we are nothing but mere serfs to it. Week night dinners are the only meals that dear hubby and I have together and so it has to be simple and quick.  Then we get on with our cleaning, reading, some email checking or whatever we choose to do before we call it a night. For some reason, I haven’t been feeling the weekday pressure for quite many days. Probably it may have to do with the fact that the weather is glorious in Bahrain and it is a pleasure to wake up early and hit the gym. On one such weekday, I was felt a burgeoning urge to do something different and hassle the Big Routine. I was in no mood to refer recipe books and only wanted to make the most of what I had in my refrigerator. Once the ingredients gathered themselves, I chopped and hopped around the kitchen. Some sauces, a few condiments and a quarter of an hour later, I realized I made myself some spunky Chinese fried rice. This would be my first ever foray into the Chinese style of cooking and I was extremely happy with the way the fried rice turned out. It was full of flavour, the right amount of heat and quite enough on its own.

Recipe for Chinese Fried Rice ( Chicken)

Ingredients

Cooked rice – about 3 cups( left over rice works the best)

Salt to taste

Pepper – 1/2 tsp or according to taste

oil

Oyster sauce  – 2- 3 tablespoon ( I like the strong flavour)

Soy sauce – 2 tablespoon

white vinegar – as per taste ( I enjoy my fried rice a little tart)

Chicken ( shredded and half cooked) – 1 to 1 and a half cups ( I bought mine stir fry ready and  marinated from the super market.  But I feel that the flavour would be more wholesome if you marinate it at home in the spices of your choice)

Cabbage, chopped – 1/2 cup

beans, chopped – 1/2 or less ( these are not appreciated in my home)

mushrooms, chopped – 1/2 cup

capsicum, chopped – 1/2 cup or less

carrots, chopped – 1/2 cup

green chillies, chopped – according to taste and they serve as garnish too

spring onions, chopped – 1/2 cup and more for garnish

garlic and ginger paste – about 1 and half tablespoons

Preparation

1. Heat some oil in a non-stick frying pan and shallow fry/stir fry the marinated chicken and keep aside

2. In another wok, heat some oil and saute the garlic-ginger paste.

3. When the ginger garlic paste is done, add the chopped veggies and stir continuously. Do not over do it.

4. To this, add the said quantities of salt, pepper, oyster sauce, soy sauce and white vinegar and stir well.

5. Keep the flame from a medium to high all the times so that the contents do not remain soggy.

6. Add chicken pieces to and stir again. Check to taste and add more salt or sauce as per requirement.

7. Finally add the rice and mix well.

8. Garnish with chopped spring onions leaves and green/red chillies.

For vegetarians an easy substitution would be tofu or just the stir fried vegetables should do the trick.

I couldn’t believe it was so easy to put together and waited to see the reaction on my hubby’s face when I announced that there would be some Chinese Fried Rice for dinner. As expected, he was pleasantly surprised by the detour. When I saw him tuck into this rice preparation, I realized breaking the Routine once in while is good. The other thing I realized was, probably this was the only way I was going to have my Chinese Fried Rice from now on.

 

Weekend Dinner – Veg. Lasagne, Whole Meal Loaf & Tomato – Feta Salad

26 Aug

You must all know Mimi by now. What you may not know about her is, she is a very peculiar toddler. While I know of kids who love to eat out and gorge on fried chips, munchies, chocolates, biscuits, flavoured milk, burgers and cola, my child detests it with all her might. She prefers eating home-made meals. Hot and piping, right off the stove. Going out with her never means a break for me from the kitchen. I have to make her meal, feed her and only then step out. Else I have to carry her dinner of roti & sabji or dosa & sambar and feed her on the go. When I rant about it to my girlfriends, they feel, I am blessed. They narrate to me their struggles of trying to get their children to eat home cooked meals.

After all this while, I realize, I am truly blessed, for various reasons. Mimi’s habits not only ensure that she eats  healthy and fresh meals  but also prompts me to try different cuisines in my kitchen. One such weekend dinner was about experimenting with Italian. Vegetarian only.

I prepped up for some vegetarian lasagna, a crusty loaf and some easy tomato – feta gorgeousness of a salad.

Vegetarian Lasagna : The silly thing about reading recipes is that they make you feel that it is the simplest thing in the world to do. But when you get around doing it with your bare hands, you realize you completely lack co-ordination. It happens to me all the time. Lasagna was tricky to make especially the boiling of the sheets. I wanted it all ‘al-dente’ and micro observed to get it right. But when I was done, peeling them off of each other was a task that took me the maximum amount of time. The vegetable part was easy since it was just about going chop, chop, chop. The white bechamel sauce was something I make  regularly so that did not take any time either. Layering was enjoyable like artwork. Cheese scraping was done by my friend Namit to help me get the dinner on the table before the clock struck mid night. The result was remarkable and worth all the effort. Mimi loved it and had an extra  helping. This is definitely winner of a recipe.

Recipe for Veg. Lasagna

Ingredients

Lasagna sheets  – use as required, I had to use about 24 of them since I had a large tray to fill

Salt to taste

White Sauce* – 1 1/2 cups – 2 cups

Cheddar cheese grated – 1 cup ( more the better)

Oil – 2 tbsp

Butter- 2 tbsp

Garlic crushed – 8 cloves

Onions chopped – 2 medium

Mushrooms  chopped finely – 7-8 nos.

Brinjal / aubergine chopped finely – 1 large

Zucchini chopped – 2 medium

Capsicum chopped – 1 no.

Tomatoes chopped – 4 medium

Dry Basil – 1 tsp

Dry Oregano – 1 tsp

Maggi vegetable stock – 1 small cube

Fresh Parsley chopped  – about a handful or less

Preparation

1. Heat a lot of water in a deep pan. Add enough salt such that the water tastes like sea water. Add lasagna sheets and a little olive oil to the water. Boil it for 10 minutes and take them out. Spread them out carefully without burning your fingers and cover with a damp cloth.

2. In a separate pan, heat oil & butter. Saute the chopped onion till they are translucent and then add crushed garlic. Add the Maggi vegetable stock cube. You will see it dissolving in the oil in sometime.

3. Add all the chopped vegetables except capsicum and tomatoes. Let them cook. Add salt but with care since the Maggi vegetable stock has a lot of salt in it already.

4. Now add the tomatoes and cook for about 2-3 minutes. Once they turn soft add capsicum, dry basil, dry oregano and parsley. Mix well and cook for some more time. Take it off the stove.

5. Preheat the oven to 200C  and butter your baking dish.

6.First lay down a the first layer of the pasta and then the white sauce on top of it. Then put another layer of pasta and a layer of the vegetable mixture. A layer of pasta and then the white sauce. Alternate layers like that and fill up the baking dish.

7. Once the last layer of pasta has been laid, spread grated cheese on top and cover completely. Shove it in the preheated oven for about 20-22 minutes or until the cheese has turned golden. Serve hot.

*Notes – For the white sauce/bechamel sauce,  you need 4 Tbsp of all-purpose flour, 2 cups of hot milk, 2 tbsp of butter, salt to taste and pepper.

To prepare- Take a heavy bottomed pan, put it on the stove and melt the butter first. Add the flour and stir well. Do not let it brown and cook well for about 2 minutes. Add the two cups of hot milk and stir continuously. You will find that the sauce has thickened. Add salt and pepper and let it cook for another 2 minutes. Remove from fire and let it cool. While using if the sauce has thickened too much then you could add a wee bit milk and heat it a bit to loosen it.

Whole Meal Loaf – Sometimes I feel, we demand a level of convenience that is immodest. But when you make bread with your bare hands, kneading and toiling , it presents itself as the most humbling experience. I followed the same recipe as in the post about Nigella Lawson’s bread. Only that I shaped it like a baton and made some deep gashes  atop to give it a rustic feel. The loaf was crusty on the outside and on the inside the crumb was a delight to bite on. I made some garlic infused olive oil which was such a splendid accompaniment along with blobs of butter.


Tomato-Feta Salad – First, this salad is such a stunner to look at. Second it demands nothing out of you except a few firm and sweet tomatoes sliced and arranged on a plate adorned with a few pinches of feta. No seasonings required to perk it up. The feta does what is required of it, that is, give it that tangy-salty twist.

 

 

The dinner goes down as one of the most memorable ones. To be able to put a smile on my family’s and friend’s faces makes it worth my while. Every attempt that I have made that seemed outside my comfort zone has met with mixed results. But it is only practising the craft again and again that has made all the difference.

There is so much more that I yearn to learn through such wonderful dinners.

For the beautiful collage and photographs I have my friend, Namit to thank. While I was busy preparing the dinner, he made use of that time to click some wonderful frames. Thank you so much for your patience.

A Vegetable and Paneer Quiche from Scraps

24 May

I have been fond of Quiche since the time I tasted it first during my visit to the US. It was 2007. My client’s office had a lovely cafeteria that served sumptuous food and huge portions. I always struggled trying to finished my portion which was almost always wasted despite my best efforts. I was a vegetarian back then and was pretty pleased to see ample options wherever I chose to dine in the US. Mexican by far, had endless options and the chef who was always eager to please, would easily convert a meat based dish into a vegetarian version to my delight. I have only fond memories of good food and lovely people in the US.

Fast forward, 2011 and I am still fond of Quiche and the incredible variations you can make of this exotic sounding humble dish. I have had meat based, vegetarian based and all sorts of Quiche. I also find it interesting that a Quiche could be easily devoured no matter, any time of the day or night. I could have a hearty breakfast with Quiche and some black coffee or break into a Quiche and salad lunch and last but not the least, an early supper with Quiche and some hearty soup. Wow! I can visualize all that spread already.

But I made this particular vegetarian version as  desperate breakfast attempt. We had just a day before we were to embark on a  3 week trip to London, and my refrigerator was stark naked. It is not a heartening sight since I always stock it up to the brim with wanted and unwanted stuff. Since the trip was planned, I made it a point to empty and use what was already there. I had just the amount of flour, some butter, some frozen vegetables and 4 eggs. I worked at dough to make the crust with some butter but soon found out why shortening was used usually. It was extremely difficult to make the crust but I did manage somehow after a lot of crumbling and breakouts.

The Recipe for Vegetable Quiche

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup all-purpose flour + a little more when you roll out to make the crust
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • dash salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter( or substitute 3 Tbsp of shortening)
  • 3 to 4 tablespoons milk

Filling

  • 2 cups shredded sharp Cheddar cheese ( I did not have any so I skipped this but inclusion of cheese would take it to new levels of gooey deliciousness)
  • 1/2 cups frozen peas and diced carrots, beans cooked and well-drained
  • 1/2 cup frozen paneer
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder(optional)
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1/2 cup chopped onion
  • 1 1/4 cups milk
  • 4 eggs, beaten

Preparation:

  • Combine flour, 1/4 teaspoon oregano.
  • Cut in 3 tablespoons butter and 3 tablespoons shortening (or all butter like I did) until mixture resembles coarse crumbs.
  • Sprinkle with the milk, one tablespoon at a time, mixing until dry ingredients are moistened. Shape dough into a ball. Roll out on a lightly floured surface to form a circle 12-inches in diameter.
  • Line a 9-inch pie plate with pastry; turn under edges and flute, forming a rather high rim.

For filling,

  • Combine cheese, vegetables, flour,  salt, oregano, garlic powder, and pepper; gently toss.
  • Place cheese mixture in bottom of pie crust. ( I skipped this)
  • Melt butter in a skillet; saute onion until tender, about 5 minutes.
  • Sprinkle onion over cheese mixture.
  • Combine milk and eggs; pour over cheese mixture.
  • Add the paneer pieces
  • Bake at 350° 45 to 50 minutes, or until a knife inserted in the center comes out clean.
  • Let vegetable Quiche stand 10 to 12 minutes before serving.
So all  the Quiche was devoured that day for Breakfast/Brunch, lunch and as an evening snack. All the time I enjoyed eating it, I wondered as to why I never tried making this incredibly easy Snack before. Made a mental note to try it with different combination such as zucchini and broccoli, chicken and paneer and much more.
I was really happy that I was able to use the scraps from my fridge and convert it into this delightful dish.
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