Tag Archives: rice

Family friendly, hot pink rice and quinoa (Beetroot, butternut squash and Indian spices)

8 Nov

Family friendly, hot pink rice and quinoa (Beetroot, butternut squash and Indian spices)

We all know that there is a relationship between bright and deep coloured food and how alluring we find them and this seems as, if not more true with little people. I showed my toddler some Beetroot other day and thankfully he only had a vest on at the time. ‘Oooh, what’s that mumma’.

I’d caught his interest, clearly. I willed him to bite into a chunk as I let him mess about with it. I recalled a magazine editor telling me that her fussy eater showed no interest in food until he went fishing and caught a fish which he then wanted to eat as he was involved from catching it, to cooking it. Maybe this messy Beetroot was my boys fish?

He did bite into it, but he didn’t ingest any, it ended up in my palm. Great. But it did get me thinking about how I could get him to eat beetroot given that he liked colour. I thought about my visits to Mumbai and being surprised at the inclusion of Beetroot in so many dishes. ‘I thought beetroot is a western vegetable’, I questioned. You can imagine what they thought of that!

There was beetroot in masala sarnies (freaking awesome), beetroot in dosa, beet in chaat, beet in gram flour fritters even. I didn’t see any Beetroot in curries…why haven’t I made one yet? It transpired that Beetroot works pretty well with masala and everyone loves rice don’t they, especially kids.

My recipe today is deep, sweet, spicy and alluring. That just sounded a big like one of those dating adverts didn’t it? Or a blind date catch line. Jokes aside, it’s light, packed, juicy and beautiful.

Ingredients

250g cooked Beetroot, cut into chunks
200g basmati rice, washed
200g butternut squash, peeled and cubed
2 tbsp ground nut oil
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
One red chilli, finely chopped (optional)
One red onion, finely chopped
1/2 tsp turmeric
1/4 tsp black pepper
Salt to taste d
250g red and white quinoa (I used the merchant gourmet ready to eat pack)
200g basmati

Method
1. Par boil the rice, for about 8minutes until the rice has swelled and needs the starch removed. Wash the rice and drain the water and leave it to a side.
2. Boil the butternut squash until it is soft enough to piece all the way through. Drain and leave it to a side.
3. Heat the oil in a pan and add the cumin seeds, fennel seeds, turmeric and chilli. Allow the seeds to crackle and then add the onion and salt. Sauté until the onions are soft and lightly browned.
4. Stir in the Beetroot and butternut squash and then add the black pepper.
5. Blend the butternut squash and Beetroot smooth and turn the heat down to a flicker.
6. Introduce the rice and the quinoa and gently blend it all together. Cook for a further 6-7 minutes on a low flame until the rice is cooked.

Proper mock chicken curry

8 Aug

Proper mock chicken curry

 
It was my sister in laws birthday party this weekend just gone and one of the things I heard people talk eagerly about was the food.  More specifically, the meat dishes.  I made the chickpea curry, but it was undeniably the meat that got the hands rubbing with the the jack-in-the-box walk going towards the trays of brightly coloured animal curries.  So I had a good look at them.
 
They looked like thick and happy curries…the sort where you know balanced spices had infiltrated the meat.  One was green…but the green looked fresh and healthy, not bitterly blackened.  The other was juicy and red and looked quite luscious, full of aromatic spices.  I watched cousins and friends tuck in with both hands…lots of mmm’s and aahs.  ‘You don’t know what you’re missing’ they said shyly in between sucks and unrestrained noshing.  So it got me thinking, why do people just love a chicken curry? 
 
I converted to vegetarianism at the age of 12, so I do remember what a chicken curry tastes like and I know my dad made a scrumptious one. But why is it a national favourite? Why do I people get hankerings for it, define it as their weakness and why do mouths salivate at the thought of chicken curry? 
 
Is it the texture? You know, the fact that is has a bite and oozes with curry juices with every mouthful? Is it the flavour of chicken (eww), or is it that chicken just soaks up all the flavours of a curry completely, ravenously and then generously releases then with each bite? 
 
Being a vegetarian, I don’t miss or desire the flavour of chicken.  I don’t want to eat an animal and yes I am raising my little one as a vegetarian. But that doesn’t mean I don’t like food with a bite and food that does all of those sensational things I just described with chicken curry.  I haven’t yet shared a mock chicken curry recipe for a reason.  I am categorically saying that I find the meat replacements available widely in supermarkets, less than impressive.  They’re rubbery, rather dry and taste mushroomy.  Why would I want to make a curry out of that?! Gross.  Frankly, I find recipes shared in magazines using that meat replacing rather unappealing. Yuck.
 
Oh but the Soya and potato chunks dubbed as mock chicken in Wing Yip (oriental supermarket)…now that’s the stuff.  Whenever I make a curry out of that stuff we have finger licking, sighing, leftover watching and even picture-taking in abundance. I kid you not…this is the probably the best mock chicken for a curry that I’ve come across.
Image
 
Recipe for proper mock chicken curry
 
Ingredients
 
TKC vegetarian chicken pieces 500g
2tbsp vegetable oil
One medium sized red onion, finely diced
2 cloves of garlic
Thumb sized piece of ginger, minced
500ml water
3 tsp sambal oelek 
150ml blended tinned tomatoes
A squeeze of lemon juice
 
The spices; 1 tsp cumin seeds, 1/4 tsp turmeric powder, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1/2 tsp garam masala, 1 tsp paprika, salt to taste
 
Method 
1. Defrost the mock chicken and leave it to a side once defrosted
2. In a non stick pan heat the oil before adding cumin seeds and allowing them to sizzle. Then add the onion, salt and turmeric and sauté until the onion starts to soften. Stir in the garlic and ginger paste and sauté for another couple of minutes
3. Stir in the cumin powder, coriander powder, paprika and mix well and com for another minute.  Then add the lemon juice.
4. Stir in the mock chicken and coat in the paste ensuring full coverage.  Add the hot water and the tomatoes and then bring the curry to a simmer before sprinkling in the garam masala and blending in the sambal oelek.
5.  Turn the curry down to a gentle simmer on a low flame and cook for 20minutes.
Serve with rice, chapatti or pasta.
 
 

Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Rice

5 May

Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Rice

Do you have childhood memories of being cajoled into eating?

Shiny shoes with glistening buckles swung, knocking at the kitchen cupboards whilst I was perched onto a kitchen worktop in velvety dungarees and a sympathetic, fresh polo neck jumper. Mum or Dad leaned their tummy gently against my knees, for balance and in sing song and over-enthusiastic grins and upstretched eyebrows, they  transported ‘aeroplanes’ loaded with rice, bathed in tomato soup and widened their mouths, hoping that I’d mirror them.

It’s the sort of food that’s easy, juicy and sweet in a dribble inducing sort of way. Modest, economical but its familiarity and succulence is calming…but you know that I like to meander to new ways with gorgeous stuff. These days it’s a roasting red, spicy kick that I’m longing for. The thought of dried red chillies, releasing their sweet heat when soaked sets my heart a-flutter (but not on fire, I don’t go that far!). That’s why this recipe I’m about to share with you gives me my fix; I can change it to suit my mood. More or less heat, some veg, a bit of bite or crunch or something soft or squidgy. To be honest, I could make a meal out of this recipe, I don’t need much else.

Tomato and Roasted Red Pepper Rice

Serves 4-6

Ingredients

1 cup tomato pulp

2 tbsp. vegetable oil

200g of roasted red peppers (the jarred stuff is fine to use for this recipe)

4-5 shallots, finely chopped

7-8 curry leaves

2 tbsp.  Channa dhal (Bengal gram)

10-15 cashew nuts halved

2 red chillies and 1 green chilli (or to taste)

300g uncooked rice

The spices; ½ tsp. garam masala, ½ tsp. mustard seeds, 1 tsp. cumin seeds, pinch of asafoetida, salt to taste,

Method

  1.  Wash and boil the rice and then keep it to the side
  2. Whilst the rice is cooking, whizz (roughly) together the  tomatoes and the roasted red peppers to a deep red pulp
  3. Heat the oil in a deep pan, then add the asafoetida, cumin seeds, mustard seeds,  chillies, Bengal gram and curry leaves and cook until the gram is golden brown and crunchy
  4. Stir in the cashew nuts and stir until they’ve browned a little
  5. Bring it together with the onions, add the salt and sauté for a couple of minutes before bringing in the garlic and sauté until they have softened
  6. Add the tomatoes and red pepper and bring It to a gentle simmer before stirring in the garam masala and then stir in the cooked rice
  7. Serve with something yogurt and garnish with coriander.

Fragrant Jeera Rice and Then Some

25 Mar

Fragrant Jeera Rice and Then Some

I once caught a fine lady friend of ours scooping out the leftovers directly from the wok I’d cooked this rice in. With her long and dainty fingers.  Secret-eating-lady was back-turned to the kitchen door as I witnessed her hurriedly inhaling; it wasn’t even very much of a secret wolfing as the rest of us were nattering away in her (very) adjacent living room. Clearly, the temptation had taken over and she had succumbed. Sigh. It was quite undignified, but who can blame her?

I’m spending a fair bit of time in the garden these days, in between all of the foodness; I’m welcoming in the spring and summer. I’d hug it/them if I could.  I want it to be beautiful out there, for those many times that I am writing recipes.  I want to look out and see an array of colours and texture all wafting together, harmoniously. Delicious. Yet it is still rather nippy. Sometimes I don’t even notice my nose run.

So to warm myself up and wind down after a good day of grafting, I do what any other self-loving person would do. I eat carbs. I make mental lists whilst pounding down the streets on the way home, fantasising in pictures and sensations of all of the cheesy, bready dishes with mounds of steaming hot jewels of rice that I want to devour at that very instant. Of course the rice has to be steaming and must to be fluffy, well separated and pure for it to do the job.  My husband is quite the connoisseur when it comes to rice. I was once given the ‘wrong’ variety as a freebie. One forkful and that was it, he was done.

This recipe is very popular amongst my friends and family; it’s so easy to put together and you can vary it for your mood. These days I am obsessed with chargrilled artichoke hearts with chilli confetti (of course). I could happily eat a plate full of them mingled in with this rice dish. As its warming up out there, I like to mix the cooled rice jeera rice up with chopped avocado and some firm-ish cherry tomatoes. In fact, I don’t mind it with 5-spiced Pakchoi either thank you very much. For me, I could make a meal of sassed-up jeera-rice, but to take it from an on-your-lap Friday night telly meal, to the dining table you can serve this wonderful rice up with some luscious curry, or use it as a side dish. Right, now where’s the rice.

Serves 4-5

Ingredients

200g uncooked basmati rice (I’ve used Tilda)

2 green chillies

175g finely chopped shallots

2 tbsp. sesame oil

2 tsp. lemon juice

The spices; ½ tsp. ground nutmeg, ½ tsp. ground mace, 2 star anise, 1 stick cinnamon, 2 cloves, ½ tsp. black pepper, 2 bay leaves, 1 ½ tsp. cumin seeds

Method

  1. Start by cooking the rice. Wash it thoroughly, bring to a simmer and then boil uncovered for about 6-7 minutes before draining it of the starch. Bring it back onto the heat and when it’s steaming on a very low heat, give it another couple of minutes.
  2. Allow the rice to cool and in the meantime get the rest of it happening by heating the sesame oil on a medium to low flame; it will heat very quickly so add the cumin seeds, chillies, star anise, cinnamon, cloves and allow the cumin to sizzle.
  3. Add the onions, pepper, salt, nutmeg, bay leaf, mace, lemon juice and stir thoroughly. Soften the onion and then bring it together with the rice. Gently mix it in and give it a good toss before serving it up.

Spicy Rice Flour Dough Balls (My Very Popular Khichi)

31 Jan

Spicy Rice Flour Dough Balls (My Very Popular Khichi)

Hot summer days during the school holidays, mother and aunties (in the broader sense, meaning women of mum’s age) in the kitchen boisterous and rosy. The wooden fence between us and the neighbours has been worn down to stubble from ever frequent visits by the neighbours kids indelicately climbing over them and aunties leaning over the fence, chit-chatting languidly after a hard day’s work.

The kitchen was spicy-steamy even though the windows and doors were wide open; the gleeful kids were darting between kitchen and garden. My mum would pick the hottest and least breezy days to make rice flour poppadum’s and I was the contented assistant; these goings-on were tradition for summer holidays. Mum and aunts simmered the chillies and spices in hot water leaving us all coughing, before adding the flour to make dough. It’s OK; we had strawberries and fresh fruit juices to distract our throats. They rolled the oiled dough to poppadum shapes; just a couple of millimetres thick and it was my starring role to lay them onto cleaned (but unwanted) wafting saris in the garden.  I collected heavy stones and bricks, full of purpose in my loud yellow and green floral dresses, to ensure the saris were controlled and I lay the papdi (the particular variety of poppadum) neatly, not overlapping them.   Barefoot in on the summer garden slabs, I enjoyed the heat under my feet.  I’d find a shady spot to intermittently paint under, whilst I safeguarded the poppadum’s from birds and insects too, or maybe it was the Bollywood music booming (and women singing) from the kitchen that did that!

The plan was to let the sun dry the dough out completely. Once dried out and microwaved or fried they taste impressively crunchy and crispy. They are deeper and slightly chewier than the poppadums you will find in restaurants, but they remain my favourite variety.  The smooth and slippery dough itself is delectably Moorish. When steamed its spongy, a little chewy, overflowing with punch and undeniably gutsy. Funnily enough the steamed dough is often eaten as a snack, with a little oil that’s infused with salt and chilli powder. Greasy fingers are typically all that remain once a plate of these gently green balls are served. Try it; tell me how you like it.

Khichi

Deena’s Spicy Rice Flour Dough Balls; My Very Popular Kichi

Ingredients

3-4 green chillies, minced

800ml of water

1 ½ tsp. of cumin seeds

1 tsp. of carom seeds/ajwain

Salt to taste

½ tsp. of ground cinnamon

375g of rice flour

Method serves 4-5

  1. Pour the specified amount of water into a deep pan, before adding the spices and seasonings with the minced chillies and bring it to a gentle simmer. Turn the heat down and continue to simmer for 3-4 minutes
  2. Take a long wooden spoon and gently pour in the rice flour and beat into the water, avoiding clumps forming. Do this quickly, before removing the dough from the heat
  3. Pour the dough into a large plate and grease your palms. Form flattened balls of about 5-6cm diameter and dip your thumb in the centre to create a well (keep the well empty though) and then steam for about 15 minutes.
  4. Remove onto a plate and serve with oil infused with chilli powder and salt.

Deena’s No-Rice, Comforting Vegetable Khichdi

7 Nov

As the nights draw in and the brisk chill hits, as many of us emerge from work, it feels like it’s been evening just all day long. I love the scene of the streets in the evening; smoky and poetically aglow with fog misted street-light. With Christmas decorations and jingly background signatures already making an appearance, it’s starting to feel like a Dickensian Yuletide already. As I walk hurriedly, hugging myself under layers of wool and faux fur, I’m careful not to slip on the glistening paths that will lead me home to the sweet welcome of comfort food.

Comfort foods are gentle, nurturing and soothing. For me they are also foods that throw me back with duvet-soft smiles to good times; to times of being cajoled by my parents to protein-and-carb-up when I was an unwell girl, or times when I had been making beautiful memories whilst on dream-like holidays, cherishing birthday celebrations with family and friends, or those cosy nights in together – just my husband and I. It is times like these, that I want to be cuddled by the warmth of my home and soak up the gentle kisses of one of my all-time favourite comfort foods; Khichdi.

Khichdi is a buttery light blend of soft and smooth lentils and rice. I see Khichdi as one of the kings of traditional home-cooked food and unsurprisingly, it was popular with the great mughals. The magic of Khichdi is widely appreciated across Pakistan, northern India, eastern India and Bangladesh. The dish can also be found simmering away inside the kitchens of many Indian states like Bihar, Jharkhand, Uttar Pradesh, Odisha, Gujarat, Maharashtra, and Bengal (where it is called Bengali: খিচুড়ী khichuri). In Bengali tradition it is customary to cook Kichuri on rainy days.

Hugging a bowl of vegetable khichdi in the comfort of your home and listening to the patters, splashes and roars as the heavens unleash is incredibly soothing as we know, but as someone on a low GI diet I was dismayed to hear that Khichdi is not the way forward. The reason for traditional khichdi being a low GI diet faux-pas is much the same as why mashed potato would be so wrong, and that is that the rice in khichdi is cooked down to a mushy consistency which increases the GI level. When you love a food enough, there is usually a way to enjoy it in a healthier way so I have found a delicious solution using bulgur wheat that will definitely press all the right sensory buttons, perhaps leave you feeling a little virtuous and won’t make you feel sluggish!

My recipe includes vegetables, so you get a nutritious meal in a bowl. Now, for those of you already familiar with khichdi please don’t let your memories of eating stodgy and bland versions put you off this recipe. My dear friend did that very thing this weekend when I suggested making this dish, which I proclaimed I could eat all day long. ‘No…’ she stressed. ‘I won’t like it; it just doesn’t taste of anything’. I made it regardless as I do love a good challenge, but also I was certain that this recipe, spiked with warming ginger, garlic, whole spices and full of vegetables, could evoke an enchanted sigh from her.

Deena’s No-Rice, Comforting Vegetable Khichdi

Ingredients

300g of split green moong dhal

180g of Bulgur wheat

½ head of a small/medium cauliflower, cut into bite size florets

One small/medium potato, peeled and cubed

A large onion, diced

1/3 cup of green beans

1/3 cup of sweet corn kernels

A handful of green beans, chopped into bite size pieces

2 large and fat cloves of garlic, minced 1 tsp of minced ginger

3 tbsp of rapeseed oil

2-3 green chillies, finely chopped

The spices A pinch of asafoetida, ½ tsp turmeric, 3 cloves, 4-5 curry leaves, salt to taste, 1 tsp cumin seeds, ½ mustard seeds, ½ tsp coriander seeds ¼ tsp black pepper

Method

1. Set the mung dhal to boil for 20-25 minutes. It should turn to a mushy consistency, but not be completely smooth.

2. Soak the bulgur wheat in boiling water, filling the level to just a couple of centimetres above the bulgur wheat

3. In a large and deep bottomed pan, heat the oil and then add the asafoetida, turmeric, curry leaves, cloves, coriander seeds and mustard seeds. Allow the mustard seeds to pop, and then add the chillies and sauté for a minute on a low flame. Stir in the diced onion and sauté until they start to soften. Then add in the minced ginger and garlic and continue to sauté until the onions are transparent.

4. Mix in the cauliflower, potatoes and green beans and then add the salt and black pepper. Allow them to cook for 7-8 minutes, or until the potato is soft enough to pierce through.

5. Gently stir in the mung dhal and the bulgur wheat, with two cups of warm water and simmer on a medium to low flame for a further 7-8 minutes. The khichdi should not become solid, but remain a smooth consistency.  If it starts to turn solid, add more water, until it is smooth in texture.

Go on, Hug a bowl of this delcious stuff.

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