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Showing posts with label rice recipe. Show all posts
Showing posts with label rice recipe. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 8, 2021

Manabasa Gurubar : Breaking caste barriers













The story behind Manabasa Gurubar. Taken from a 15th-century text, namely 'Laxmi Purana', that is read in almost every Odia home on Thursdays during the Hindu month of Margashira. 


A story that is helmed by the two protagonists, Maa Lakshmi and Sriya Chandaluni. One woman who supports another in the garb of a Goddess who blesses her disciplined and hardworking devotee irrespective of the latter's social standing. Cleanliness (or rather being industrious) is the key to appeasing the Goddess we are told.

Next is the character of Lord Balabhadra ( Jaganaath's elder brother). He epitomizes the high-handedness of a patriarchal society meting out unjust punishment to women for crossing their boundaries. In this case, by visiting the adobe of a 'Chandala' or social outcaste.

Lastly, the character of Lord Jagannath, Maa Lakshmi's husband who fails to stand up for her. He is torn between his elder brother and his wife. 

The transgression is followed by the banishment of the Goddess from her home. Then begins the 'Lakshmi-chawda' ( roughly translated into one abandoned by Lakshmi) phase of Princes who are turned into paupers. In a dramatic turn of events, the siblings are even denied food and water as the elements of nature conspire with the Goddess to bring the former to their senses. A beautifully narrated episode that establishes the Goddess's all-encompassing role as the center of the Universe.

The final redemption of the siblings is when they hungrily partake food at another 'Chandala' home (a test devised by Maa Lakshmi) thereby completing the cycle and vindicating the Goddess's stance. Food is positioned as the common denominator in this story. No one is above it. Hence to this date, people from all castes are allowed to partake in the 'Mahaprasad' from the same pot at the Jagannath Dham in Puri. The concept of 'Makara' or 'Sangata' seems to have evolved from the same philosophy. 

It's a story that seems to be quite ahead of its time. Sadly the Lakshmi Purana has been turned into just another 'holy book' that is read for the sake of it. While it does have its share of clich├ęs and parts of it may not be relevant in today's date, it is a timeless tale. And the feminist and socialist tone is in sync with the period during which it was written. 

Jau / Jukha

'Jau' or rice from the season's harvest cooked with a trickle of milk, a dash of sugar and a single Annapurna(Pandan) leaf is one of the most important 'bhoga' or offerings made by my mother on Manabasa Gurubar. This is not 'kheer' or dessert but something which can be eaten as a main dish. 

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup new rice (aromatic is preferred)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2-3 tsp sugar
  • a pinch of salt
  • 1-2 Pandan leaves
  • 5-6 cups water

Method - Bring the water to a boil in a thick-bottomed vessel. Wash the rice thoroughly and drain it. Add to the boiling water and stir it so that it doesn't catch at the bottom.

Add the salt. Lower the flame and let it cook till the rice is cooked. Add the Pandan leaves and cook for 15-20 mins longer so that the grains start to disintegrate. Top with more hot water if required.

Add 1/4 cup milk, 2-3 tsp sugar and a pinch of salt. Remove from flame and eat warm with a simple fry (or 'bhaja') or just by itself.

Various kinds of Pitha are also an important part of the Manabasa bhoga. Usually, a different kind is made every 'Manabasa pali' or Thursday. Kakara Pitha (image below) made with rice flour and stuffed with coconut jaggery is one of the mandatory pithas made in our home.




Thursday, December 22, 2016

Fried Forbidden Rice ( Easy Chinese Fried Rice recipe with Black Rice )

Fried rice with black rice ! I could almost imagine a pair of slit eyes fixed on me in a stern stare even as the 'Fu Manchu' mustache quivered ever so slightly in anger. I barely suppressed a laugh as I imagined the receding hairline that lay hidden beneath the Imperial crown. Would he have lunged at me and snatched away my delectable meal ? Or would he have ordered the royal guards to behead me ? After all, I was relishing the 'Forbidden rice' which was exclusively meant for the Chinese emperor.

No, I am not referring to a certain Timur/ Taimur who is once again hogging the limelight after all these years. Nor do I have anything against his infant namesake who might end up being the butt of all kinds of 'lame' jokes. For those who missed the humor, the original Taimur was actually lame as suggests his nickname 'Timur-e-Lang'. The guy is rumored to have perished while trying to get past the great wall so it must have been someone from the Ming dynasty who forbid the peasant class from consuming  black rice. But anyways, the point is that this strikingly beautiful hued rice was once the exclusive forte of the royals. And for a good reason !

Those who have been following my blog religiously must be quite aware that I have been smitten with it for sometime. And though this one is yet another of my experiments with the nutty flavored rice which turns a deep purple once cooked, it made me fall in love with it once again. For the umpteenth time .

Quick, easy-to-prepare and heavenly in taste, this one is a must-try. Read on for the recipe -


















Preparation Time - 10 mins

Ingredients -

  • 2 cups cooked black rice
  • 2 tsp apple cider vinegar ( or rice vinegar )
  • 1 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 teaspoon (heaped) brown sugar
  • 3-4 finely chopped garlic cloves 
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped carrot pieces 
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped spring onions 
  • 1/4 tsp chilli powder
  • 1 tsp sesame oil
  • salt to taste

Preparation - Take the vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, chili powder, 2 pinch salt and 3 tsp water in a cup. Mix well.

Cooking - Heat a skillet. Add the sesame oil.

Once oil is hot, thrown in the garlic and let it release it's aroma.

Add the vegetable and saute on high for 2 mins.

Add the sauce and cook for a minute.

Stir in the cooked black rice. Stir fry on high for 2-3 mins.

Adjust salt.

































Remove from the flame and serve hot with some fried tofu.























Check Out more Black Rice Recipes. 

Monday, October 10, 2016

Raavan Bhaat ( Happy Dusshera )

It is Dusshera eve and the little voice in my head wants to have a free rein over my thoughts and potentially, any actions originating from them. Now this seemingly harmless voice has got me into trouble quite a few times in the past and hence I was not too keen to listen to it. And I guess neither would you if it keeps popping sacrilegious questions like 'Why do we celebrate the death of a devil who obviously died eons ago ( sometime during in the 'Treta Yug' ? Huh !! ). There are no written records about his life except for a few poetic accounts written by sages who might have been high on 'God-knows-what' substance.'

Or the pensive 'Was Ravan really so bad ?. The poor guy had only kidnapped another man's wife and taken her to another country. Something that can be effectively dealt under Section 360 and 365 of the Indian penal Code.'

Sometimes it borders on the outrageous. 'Where was the feminist lobby when Lakshman lopped off Srupanekha's nose ? For God's sake, she had merely indulged in some harmless adam-teasing !! In a country where women are burnt with acid, stabbed or even mowed down for repulsing the advances of certain men and these men then go scot-free, why was this 'khap'/'panchayat' style justice (or rather injustice) meted out to her. Should not they have demanded equal rights for women ? Or sat on a 'dharna' ?

By now you must have understood how dangerous this 'little voice' can become if not squashed in the nick of time. But as it happens more often than not, I ended up listening to it for a wee bit longer than advisable. No, it is not that I am being too soft. Rather it was the 'something' that it kept repeating. Strangely enough, it made a lot more sense than the other thoughts going around in my mind.

'Evil', as it told me, 'resides in each one of us. Each one of us is blessed those ten heads just like the much feared and sometimes revered demon'. And before I could counter it with a 'Whoa, you think I am bonkers ?', it quickly pointed out that the heads are merely symbolic. 'They stand for those ten traits that lead us to the path of evil and the subsequent downfall. Ego, attachment, anger, hatred, fear, jealousy, greed, lust, insensitivity and delusion, all of these ultimately corrupt a person. Hence it more sense for us to pledge to give up a bad habit on this day instead of thronging some overcrowded venue and participate in the burning of a effigy. It is just good money going up in bad smoke !!' it reasoned.

It does make sense, doesn't it ? Pick at least one bad habit that you have been planning to give up. Or, if you imagine yourself to be 'perfection personified' , just think about what has been making you unhappy or dissatisfied in the last couple of days. Once you are able to pinpoint the cause, I am sure you can trace it back to one of these ten evils and take corrective measures to get rid of it. It won't be easy but it will help you avoid bigger pitfalls in the long run.

The little voice has certainly redeemed itself to some extent. Maybe I will be more open to it when it pops around the corner the next time. But for now, let us come to this delicious recipe taken from Vikas Khanna's 'My Great Indian Cookbook'. Named after the demon for it supposedly prohibitive spice content, it is smoking hot, tangy and plain mind-blowing in every sense of the word. No wonder, I had to pair it with some chilled lassi to soothe my screaming palate.

Read on for the recipe -






Preparation Time - 25 mins

Ingredients -
  • 3 cups cooked Rice (Basmati or any other fragrant variety)
  • 1 1/2 tsp tamarind juice ( as per taste )
  • 2 tsp powdered jaggery ( as per taste )
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • 2-3 pinch asafoetida
  • 2 sprig curry leaves
  • 2-3 dry red chili
  • 2 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
For the spice powder -
  • 2 tbsp channa dal
  • 2 tbsp urad dal
  • 1/4 cup peanuts
  • 2 tsp sesame seeds
  • 5-6 red chilis ( you can double the quantity if you can bear the heat )
  • 2 tsp fenugreek seeds
  • 1/2 tsp coriander seeds

Preparation - Dry roast all the ingredients for the spice powder till fragrant. Remove from flame and transfer into a blender jar. Grind into a fine powder.

















Cooking - Heat a wok. Add the mustard seeds, asafoetida, red chillis and curry leaves. Once the seeds start spluttering, add the tamarind paste and powdered jaggery along with 1/2 cup warm water.

Let it boil and then the reduce flame to a simmer. Once it turns thick, add the cooked rice along with the powdered spice and salt to taste.

Toss gently to ensure that the spices get distributed evenly without ever breaking the grains.

Remove from the flame and serve .



Saturday, July 30, 2016

Paneer Tawa Pulao ( Lunchbox special )

I love making various kinds of rice dishes for my kid. They are super easy to make and very much filling. Adding veggies, eggs, paneer, beans or even chicken boosts the overall nutritional profile of the dish. Plus there is the taste factor which is the ultimate clincher !

Tawa rice is a just another kind of pulao which is cooked on a shallow vessel which allows each grain/vegetable to get coated with the oil/ghee/butter and gives it a slightly burnt/smokey (depends on how long you prefer to cook) flavor .

This time I made Tawa pulao with some leftover paneer cubes and veggies. Used very less spices as per my kid's request so you will need to add more as per your taste. Read on for the recipe -

















Preparation Time - 10 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 1/2 cups cooked Jeera rice 
  • 100 gm paneer (cut into small cubes )
  • 1/3 cup green peas
  • 1/4 cup chopped carrots
  • 1/2 of an onion (chopped into small pieces)
  • 1/2 tsp finely chopped garlic
  • 1 inch long cinnamon
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1 green cardamom
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 red chilli whole ( less spicy )
  • a pinch of garam masala
  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 1 tsp butter
  • salt to taste
  • cilantro for garnishing

Preparation - Put the paneer cubes into a bowl of warm water to which you have added sufficient salt. Let it soak for 5-6 mins.

Cooking - Heat the ghee in a skillet. Add the paneer cubes (drained on a kitchen towel) and fry on low heat to a golden brown. Remove and keep aside.

Add the whole spices and fry till fragrant. Now add the garlic and fry to a light brown. 

The onions go in next. They need to be fried till translucent .

Put in the veggies, sprinkle a bit of salt and turn up the flame a bit. Sprinkle water at regular intervals and let the veggie cook in the steam and brown up a bit at the same time.

The rice goes in at last along with the paneer cubes. Season with salt and garam masala. Turn up the flame as you toss the ingredients to distribute the flavour evenly. Garnish with chopped cilantro and remove from the flame.

Serve warm/hot with some kachumbar or even pickle.

















Note - Have used a steel tiffinbox for the presentation to create an awareness about the need to ditch plastic. It is not only harmful for the environment but the chemicals leached when we put hot food in plastic containers are carcinogenic in nature. Let us join hands and make a pledge to reduce the use of plastic with this post !

Monday, July 11, 2016

Black Rice Risotto ( Comfort food takes a Vegan turn )

Khichdi for the Indians. Risotto for the Italians. Comfort food can take any name but ultimately it is all about conveying the feeling of sheer happiness. The feeling of being connected to everything dear yet the euphoria of soaring in the clouds without any strings attached. That's the magic of comfort food. It makes you feel alive all over. Again and again.

And that's precisely why we go seeking for our grandmother's or mother's recipes when we are feeling low. It triggers all those childhood memories of being held in a warm embrace, being rocked to comfort and then being pampered silly with the dish of our choice. Of the phenomenal taste of all those slow cooked recipes that only love and patience can achieve. And lots of patience is what it takes to cook up a risotto. Especially when you are making it black rice.

Unlike the traditional variety that calls for the use of wine and cheese, I made one without using either. I added a touch of vinegar to get that acidity and used some almond milk towards the end for that creamy texture. Cooked it in a open shallow pan by adding just enough liquid at regular intervals. And loved the way it turned out. Nice, rich, creamy and nutty. 

Read on for the recipe -


















Preparation Time - 90 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1/2 cup Black rice
  • 8 almonds 
  • 1/2 tsp pepper
  • 1 medium sized onion
  • 3-4 garlic cloves
  • 1 1/4 tsp apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 4 cups vegetable broth ( optional , I use water )
  • salt to taste
  • parsley for garnishing


Preparation - Wash and soak the black rice overnight.

Soak the almonds separately.

Peel the almonds and grind into a fine paste . Dilute with 1/2 cup water and grind for another 30 seconds. Strain the almond milk.

Cooking - Heat the olive oil in a pan. Add finely chopped onions and garlic. Saute till the onions just start to caramelize.

Add the drained rice and give it a gentle stir.

Add 1 cup broth/water along with the vinegar. Sprinkle some salt. Let it cook uncovered till the liquid is almost absorbed/evaporated.

Add another cup of liquid and let it cook. Repeat the process till the rice is mushy and the risotto looks creamy.

Add the almond milk and the coarsely ground pepper. Stir it in . Adjust the salt if required.

Remove from the flame .

Garnish with chopped parsley and serve warm.





Friday, July 1, 2016

Riiz Bi Sh'arieh ( A Lebanese Rice Delight )

While breads are the Middle eastern staple, they do possess quite a variety of rice dishes in their repertoire. I have already blogged about the Moudardara which is a kind of Lebanese khichidi. What strikes me about these rice varieties is the fact that they are so frugal with hardly a handful of ingredients and yet turn out to be amazingly flavorsome. It is the perfect accompaniment with their rich meat and vegetable gravies.

As I focus my attention on the Lebanese platter, I realize that there is lot that is yet to be explored. While the world drools over sinful desserts like Baklava, Basbousa and Kunafeh, the everyday dishes from the region are quite healthy. There is a heavy dependence on  garlic, olive oil and a handful of aromatic seasoning to prepare these dishes which can definitely be termed heart-healthy.

Today's recipe is a simple 'Riiz Bi Sh'arieh' which is a mix of long grained rice and fine noodles cooked together with only butter/olive oil used for the seasoning. While it is very easy to prepare, we need to note that the noodles need to be roasted to just that right shade of brown without ever burning it ( personally I don't mind leaving it a golden brown rather than taking a with risk burning it ). It can be garnished with handful of pine nuts and a dash of pepper to add a festive touch but I am definitely sticking to the plain version.

Read on for the recipe -


















Preparation Time - 15 mins ( 30 mins standby )

Ingredients -
  • 1 cup long grained Basmati
  • 1/2 cup thin vermicelli ( seviyan )
  • 3 tsp olive oil ( You can use butter but olive oil is healthier )
  • salt to taste
  • 2 cups water

Preparation - Wash the rice and soak it in water for half an hour. Drain and keep aside.

Cooking - Heat the olive oil in a deep pan. Once it is fragrant, add the vermicelli and roast on a low flame till it turns a rich brown.

Add the rice along with 2 cups water and salt.

Cook covered for 12-15 mins ( or the time specified on the rice packet ).

Remove from flame and let it stand covered for 10 mins. Use a fork to fluff it up.

Serve with a meat or vegetable gravy or even with a lentil curry of your choice.


















Or even with some fried prawns.


Thursday, June 30, 2016

Carrot Rice ( A light and healthy Lunchbox favorite )

Some days back I had done a lunchbox collaboration with a few of my blogger friends where we had shared quite diverse and easy recipes that could fit in for breakfast, lunch or even the smaller breaks. Now it is almost 4 weeks since the schools have reopened and most of us would have exhausted the multiple permutations and combinations of those recipes. Even kiddo has started getting bored with some of the stuff that I put into his box. Hence, it is time to work out on a fresh set of recipes.

With rice dishes being his favorite, I almost always turn to some version of a pulao or fried rice by the end of every week (blame it on the weegarlickend blues that stay-at-home moms get). Recently I tried out this rather simple but very delicious 'Carrot rice' recipe for his box. Limiting the spice content for the monsoon season which adversely affects digestion and enriching it with loads of antioxidants ( read carrot and garlic), I have kept it filling as well as healthy. And if you have any doubts about the carbs in rice, kids really need those carbs given that they are quite prone to running around all day. 

Read on for the recipe -

















Preparation Time - 10 mins

Ingredients -

  • 2 cups cooked rice
  • 1 cup grated carrot
  • 1 small onion ( finely chopped )
  • 3-4 garlic flakes ( finely chopped )
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1/2 inch cinnamon
  • 1 green chili ( optional )
  • 1/2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1/2 tsp ghee
  • 1 tsp oil
  • pinch of turmeric
  • salt to taste
  • 2 tsp chopped cilantro for garnishing

Cooking - Heat 1 tsp oil in a non-stick pan. Add the cloves and cinnamon. Fry till fragrant.

Add the finely chopped onion and garlic. Throw in the whole green chili as we just want a little flavor and not the heat.

Once the onion is translucent, add the grated carrot and fry for 3-4 mins.

Add the cooked rice along with salt and a pinch of turmeric. Toss lightly for 3 mins.

Finally add chopped cilantro , ghee and lemon juice. Mix gently and remove from flame.

Let it cool down a bit before packing it into the lunchbox. Or have it right away if not in the mood to do any cooking.


















For more lunchbox recipes check HERE .

Sunday, May 17, 2015

Gatta Pulao ( No onion No garlic version )

For someone living south of the state of Rajasthan, the term 'gatta' sounds almost alien. Quite a few of us have grown up thinking that 'gatta' is just another vegetable that could be native to the arid lands of the state. So, it was quite a surprise when I had a chance to taste the famous delicacy. 'Gatta' is nothing but 'besan'/'gram flour dumplings that are first cooked in boiling water, cooled, fried and then later added to any dish. It serves as a substitute for vegetables which are hard to come by in a desert.

It is when most of us want to try such exotic dishes, that we seek to connect with someone who has had experience/expertise with it. And that is where 'TalkToChef' comes in with help at hand. It is  a platform that allows one to connect with real chefs and get any cooking queries answered on a real time basis. TalkToChef is not about recipes but real folks who are ready to dish out information with their vast culinary experience. Make your meals healthier and fix any last minutes issues with expert help so that you do not have to rely on takeaways or frozen meals.Their mantra is simple and can be summed up in the following words - "we envision every table adorned with a home cooked meal as if it were prepared by a professional chef". 

If spicy curries are not your thing and you prefer the sheer comfort of rice dishes, this is another 'gatta' recipe that you must try. While chopped onions and garlic paste do form a part of this rich pulao, I have kept this version 'niramish' so that it can be had on fasting days too. Read on -




















Preparation Time - 30-45 mins

Ingredients -

For the Gatta -

  • 1 cup besan
  • 2 tsp curd
  • 2 tsp oil
  • 1/3 tsp chili powder
  • 1/2 tsp crushed coriander seeds
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • a pinch of asafoetida
  • salt to taste



For the pulao -


  • 3 cups cooked rice ( use Basmati or Jeera rice )
  • 1/2 cup green peas
  • 1/2 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/2 tsp chili powder (optional)
  • 1/5 tsp garam masala
  • 2 pinch turmeric
  • 2-3 green cardamom
  • 1 1/2 inch cinnamon stick
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 1 black cardamom
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 3-4 tbsp raisins
  • 3-4 tbsp broken cashews
  • 3 tsp ghee
  • 1 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • cilantro for garnishing

Preparation - Take all the ingredients for the 'gatta' in a mixing bowl. Mix together into a tight dough. If it feels too dry, sprinkle a few drops of water. Cover with a cloth and keep aside for 10-15 mins.

Divide into 3-4 portions. Roll each portion into a sausage like cylinder .

Boil water in a saucepan. Add the cylinders into the water and allow to cook for 12-13 mins. Remove from the water and keep aside till cool. Cut into smaller portions of about an inch long.

Cooking - Heat the oil and ghee in a wok. Add the 'gatta' and fry lightly for 2-3 mins. Remove and keep aside.

Add the whole spices and cumin seeds. Fry till fragrant and then add the raisins and cashews. Add the green peas after 30 seconds. Fry for 2-3 mins.

Add the powdered masalas, fried gatta and salt.  Fry for 1 minute. 

Finally add the cooked rice along with the chopped cilantro. Switch off the flame and mix everything together.

Serve it hot with fresh curd.

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Curd Rice /Thayir Sadam (Comfort food from down South)

"Does anyone need a recipe for curd rice ??", I blurted out in bewilderment. "Yes, in fact a lot of them do. Else they will keep dishing out variations that range from being chewy to being downright watery", replied by frustrated husband. He had had a particularly bad day at office and it was exacerbated by the unpalatable lunch that the caterer had chosen to serve. Though the curd rice served by the canteen guys is never the best, it was really bad that day and had my husband fuming.

Now even though I am not a South Indian, I have stayed down South for a long time and have picked up the nuances of quite a few South Indian recipes (especially the ones that my husband and kid adore). And I do make good curd rice ( a fact endorsed by my South Indian friends ). I find it easy, quick and quite soothing on the tummy. So, while it is a staple during the summers, I end up making it once in a while during the winters when I have had a heavy dinner on the previous night.

( Do not forget to check out the Odia version of this recipe - Dahi Pakhala )

Read on for my recipe -





















Preparation Time - 10 mins

Ingredients -


  • 1 cup cooked rice (needs to be cooked softer than usual)
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 2/3 cup fresh yogurt
  • 3 tbsp coarsely grated carrot
  • 1 sprig curry leaves (finely chopped)
  • 1-2 finely chopped green chilis
  • 7-8 cashews (finely chopped)
  • 1 tsp urad dal
  • 1/4 tsp mustard seeds
  • 1 dry red chili (I prefer Byadgi which gives a good flavor)
  • a pinch of asafoetida
  • 2 tsp oil
  • salt to taste


Preparation - Take the still warm rice in a mixing bowl. Use the back of a heavy spoon to mash it up. Add warm milk little by little and mix it up.

Allow the rice and milk mix to cool down completely before adding the beaten curd. Add salt, grated carrot and chopped green chilis to the mixing bowl and mix everything thoroughly.

Heat the oil in a tempering pan. Add the mustard seeds, urad dal, cashews, dry red chili, asafoetida and curry leaves. Fry for 8-10 seconds.

Pour the tempering over the contents of the mixing bowl. Mix it uniformly.

Serve immediately along with a pickle and/or papad .





































Note - If you are making it for kids, do not put any green chilis. Instead add about 1/2 tsp sugar and fruits like grapes (chopped into small bits), pineapple (chopped into small bits) and pomegranate. 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Pulihora/Tamarind Rice (Navratri Special)

Pulihora is one of the offerings (Neivaidyams) made to the goddess in South Indian during Navratri. A simple recipe without any fussy ingredients, it is quick to make and quite tasty. While one does get some packaged Pulihora mixes in the supermarkets, it can be easily made at home without one.

Read for the easy recipe -





















Preparation Time - 15 mins.

Ingredients - 

1/3 cup raw rice
4-5 cashews
a fistful of peanuts
2-3 tbsp gram/chana dal
1/2 tsp mustard seeds
2 red chilis
a sprig of curry leaves
1 tbsp tamarind paste (adjust as per taste)
1 tsp jaggery (powdered)
salt to taste
3 tsp oil

Cooking - Cook the rice in a pressure cooker or an open pan till it is soft. Keep aside.

Heat the oil in a wok. Add the mustard seeds followed by the chana dal and peanuts. Allow to brown a little. At last, add the cashews and curry leaves. Fry for 15 seconds.

Add the tamarind paste with a little water, jaggery and salt. Cook for 3-4 mins.

Add the rice and mix thouroughly.

Serve hot.




















Watch out this space for more Navratri recipes (both from North & South India) ......

Monday, September 22, 2014

Safed Zarda

Zarda is a traditional Pakistani dessert that has rice cooked with spices, sugar syrup and milk solids (mawa). Usually it has yellow food coloring added to it but I have skipped it. Enriched with nuts, milk and milk solids, it is one healthy dessert. An interesting variant to the Indian 'Meethay Chawal' or 'Kanika' (Odia recipe).

Read on for the recipe -







Preparation Time - 20-25 mins

Ingredients -


  • 1 cup Basmati rice 
  • 4 tbsp Sugar
  • a few saffron starnds
  • 1/4 cup cashews
  • 1/4 cup raisins
  • 1 star anise
  • 1-2 strands of mace
  • 1-2 cloves
  • 1-2 green cardamoms
  • 2 tbsp ghee
  • 1/2 cup khoya
  • 4 tbsp warm milk
  • 2-3 pinch salt (optional...not a part of the original recipe)


Preparation - Soak the saffron in the warm milk. 

Boil the sugar with 1/2 cup water till it reaches a thick (one string) consistency. Keep aside.

Cooking - Boil sufficient water for the rice. Add the spices, salt and the washed rice. Cook for 8-9 mins till it is almost done ( 90 % cooked ). Drain and keep aside.

Heat the ghee in a flat bottomed vessel. Add the cashews and raisins. Fry for 30 seconds. Add the rice, crumbled mawa, sugar syrup and milk along with the saffron strands. Cover tightly and cook on low flame for 5 mins. ( one can also place the covered vessel on a tawa to avoid the direct flame ). 

Remove from flame and keep aside for 10 mins before serving.





Monday, August 4, 2014

Brown Rice Pongal

Have been trying to incorporate either brown rice or cracked wheat (daliya) into my diet at least 4 times a week. While I have got the hang of daliya, brown rice is still not my cup of tea ( or grain ). I find it tough to like brown rice but I still keep trying various recipes. This one however is something that I really loved. A typical Ven Pongal made with brown rice, the flavour of ghee, curry leaves, asafoetida and jeera is just sufficient to mask that unappealing smell of brown rice. The heat from the chilis is also a plus. Hopefully I can now stick to having brown rice twice a week without failing.

Read on for the easy recipe -

















Preparation Time - 15 mins


Ingredients -

  • 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1/3 cup yellow moong dal
  • 1 broken red chili
  • 1/2 green chili
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1 pinch carom seeds
  • 5-6 curry leaves
  • 2 generous pinch asafoetida
  • 1 1/2 tsp ghee
  • salt to taste
  • 3 cups hot water


Cooking - Heat the ghee in a pressure cooker.  Add red chili, green chili, cumin, carom seeds, curry leaves and asafoetida. Fry for 30 seconds.

Wash and add the brown rice and moong dal. Fry for 2-3 minutes or till a fragrance comes.

Add the hot water and salt. Close lid and cook for 4 whistles.  Allow steam to escape before opening.

Serve hot with roasted papad and yogurt.



Thursday, July 24, 2014

Schezuan-Style Prawns Fried Rice

Life is all about choices. What we wear, who are friends are, the career decisions that we make, these are some of the important decisions where we would like to have complete freedom of choosing. With too many things on our mind, we often forgo some of the smaller pleasures of life. Hardly a surprise since we are reminded day in and day out to focus on the big picture.

Food happens to be vital part of our lives and we all admit that we would love to eat a fresh and piping hot meal every single day. However with deadlines snapping at our heels, traffic snarls eating into our time and the overpowering need to spend quality time with our loved ones, cooking up a 'real' meal takes a backseat. And we find our choices limited to ordering pizza from the neighborhood joint or just heating up leftover. After all, when it involves slogging an extra hour or two over that all important presentation which is going to give you an edge over your peers, would you trade it for the delights of 'rajma-chawal'? This is a no-brainer.

But fret no more as our foodie-buddy is here. Yep, that is how I choose to refer to Foodpanda India, the leading food delivery website. 'Fuss-free, fast and definitely fun' is what they claim to be. And boy, they do live up to the word. 

Just log in to their page, choose city, locality and you are good to go. For example, click here to view the city page for Delhi. If you stay in some other city (and they do deliver at more than 20 cities for that matter), replace 'delhi' in the URL with the name of your city, hit 'enter' and voila, all the restaurant names appear on your screen. Details like cuisine type, minimum order amount and delivery time are also provided to help you narrow down a particular restaurant. 

And if you are one of those smartphone yielding types, here is where you can download their cool app. (scroll to the bottom of this post for the QR code)

Coming back to today's recipe, it is a simple schezuan style prawns fried rice. Most of you might have already guessed by my ramblings that I am in the mood for lazy one-pot meals these days. Fried rice happens to fit the bill perfectly. Some leftover rice thrown in with a bit of this and a bit of that, and a nice hot meal is ready. 

Read on for the easy breezy recipe - 





Preparation Time - 10-15 mins

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup cooked rice 
  • 1/3 cup tiny freshwater prawns (if you are using big ones, chop them up)
  • 1 1/2 tsp schezuan sauce ( I used Delmonte brand, it is quite good )
  • 1/2 tsp light soy sauce
  • 1 1/2 tsp tomato sauce
  • 1/2 tsp chilli flakes
  • 5-6 garlic flakes (finely chopped)
  • 2 tsp chopped spring onions ( whites only )
  • 1 small onion (optional)(finely sliced)
  • 3 tsp oil
  • salt to taste
  • few drops vinegar



Preparation - Wash the prawn and mariante with salt and vinegar.

Cooking - Heat 1 tsp oil in a wok. Add the prawns and fry till they are pink all over. Remove and keep aside.

Add the remaining oil to the same wok. Toss in the onion and garlic flakes. Fry till the garlic turns slightly golden.

Add the schezuan sauce, soy sauce, tomato sauce, chili flakes along with 2-3 tsp water. Cook for a minute before adding the rice.

Throw in the prawns, check for salt and toss everything on a high flame for 2-3 mins. Finally add the spring onions just before turning off the flame.

Serve hot.

Note - Check the illustration for ordering from Foodpanda -

















Scan the QR code shown below for downloading the Foodpanda App -


Sunday, July 20, 2014

Bendakaya bhaath (Okra/Bhindi Rice)

A yummy variation of the very popular Vangi Baath from Andhra/Karnataka, this one simply replaces the eggplant with okra and throws in some garlic seasoning. The recipe is sure to find a lot of takers among the kids who usually shun the eggplant version. I personally love it as it is very easy to make and it is one of the best (and easiest) things that one can with leftover rice.

Read on for the easy breezy recipe  -


















Preparation Time - 15 mins ( if you have cooked rice else add time needed to prepare rice )

Ingredients -

  • 1 cup cooked rice
  • 10-12 ladies finger
  • 8-10 cashews
  • 2 tsp whole urad dal (skinless)
  • 1/2 tsp thick tamarind paste
  • 1 red chilli
  • 1/2 tsp mustard seeds
  • a pinch of fenugreek seeds (optional)
  • 7-8 curry leaves
  • 3-4 garlic flakes (crushed)
  • a pinch of asafoetida
  • 4 tsp cooking oil
  • 2 pinch turmeric
  • salt to taste

For the Masala

  • 2 tsp coriander seeds
  • 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/2 tsp fenugreek (methi) seeds
  • 6-7 cloves
  • 2 red chilli
  • 1 marathi moggu
  • 1 inch cinnamon
  • 2 tbsp split urad dal
  • 1 tsp oil

Preparation - Cut the ladies finger into 1 1/2 inch long pieces.

Cooking - Heat 1 tsp oil in a frying pan. Add all the ingredients for Masala and fry till a  fragrance starts to fill the kitchen. Remove and allow to cool a bit. Grind into a fine powder.

Heat 2 tsp oil in a wok. Add the ladies finger pieces along with a bit of salt and turmeric. Fry till cooked.

Add 1 1/2 tsp of the Masala Powder ( I keep it less spicy ) along with the tamarind paste (diluted with 3-4 tsp water). Fry for 1 minute.

Add the cooked rice and mix in. Adjust salt.

Heat 1 tsp oil for the tempering. Add broken red chilli, asafoetida, fenugreek seeds, mustard seeds and urad dal. After urad dal turns a little brown, add garlic, cashews and curry leaves. Pour the tempering over the rice. Mix in.

Serve hot with appalam and papad.


















Note -

1. If you want to keep it more healthy, swap the white rice with brown rice/parboiled rice.

2. If preparing this for your kid, do remember to cut the okra into tiny pieces and go easy on the powdered masala.

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Brown Rice Pulao

Its 'World Health Day' today on the 7th of April. Time to get a clear perspective on our health and eating habits. So let us all take a pledge on this day to eat right and eat healthy.

Nothing more apt than a brown rice dish enriched with lots of vegetables and packed with soya protein for lunch/dinner on this day. I had this packet of brown rice lying around for sometime and I was reluctant to use it. When I finally prepare the pulao, it tasted better than what I imagined. Just give it a try if you haven't and you will not regret it!!

Read on for the easy recipe -






Preparation Time - 25 mins

Ingredients -


  • 1 1/2 cup brown rice
  • 1 1/2 cup mixed vegetables ( carrots, cauliflower, green peas, french beans, potaoes, onions )
  • a handful of soya chunks
  • 3 tsp oil
  • 1 tsp ghee (optional)
  • 1/4 tsp cumin seeds
  • 1/4 tsp coriander powder
  • 1/5 tsp garam masala
  • a bit of star anise
  • strand of mace
  • a pinch of nutmeg
  • 1 inch cinnamon stick
  • 1 pinch turmeric
  • 1/3 tsp chilli powder
  • salt to taste


Preparation - Soak the soya chunks in boiling water for 15-20 mins. Squeeze out the water and wash 2-3 times in fresh water.

Soak the brown rice separately in warm water for 1 hour.

Cooking - Heat 1 1/2 tsp oil in a pressure cooker. Add all the vegetables and soya chunks. Fry on medium high flame for 5-6 mins. Remove and keep aside.

Add the remaining oil into the same cooker. Add the cumin seeds and whole spices (except nutmeg). Fry for 10-12 seconds.

Add the washed and drained brown rice. Fry for 3-4 minutes.

Add 2 1/4 cups boiling water to the cooker. Add the fried vegetables, soya chunks, chilli powder, coriander, garam masala, salt and turmeric. Mix well.

Drizzle the ghee and nutmeg powder on over the contents of the cooker. Close the lid and cook for 2-3 whistles or till done.

Allow steam to escape before opening lid.

Serve hot with some cooling raita and onion slices.




Saturday, March 15, 2014

Thalassery Biriyani (Malabar Biriyani/Kerela Biriyani)

Thalassery Biryani is the famous biriyani served at Muslim weddings in Kerela. It was originally made from a short grained and flavorful rice variety called Jeerakasala but now people has started using Basmati rice as well. While I came across a lot of variations on internet, some using curry leaves, other had coconut milk and still others used rose attar, this one seemed authentic. It is taken from a local TV channel called Amrita TV.

It does not use any red chilli powder, only green chillis. And the gravy made for chicken does not use any oil in it. Only the fried onions called 'Bista' are added to the gravy to deepen its flavor. Read on for the recipe.

















Preparation Time - 1 hour ( and some more standby time )

Ingredients - (serves 2)


  • 400 gm Chicken pieces (medium sized)
  • 2 1/2 cups Jeerakasala rice ( or Jeera Samba rice )
  • 3 large Onions (finely sliced in circular/semi-circular shapes)
  • 5-6 garlic cloves
  • 1 inch long ginger
  • 4-5 green chillis
  • 2 large tomatoes (finely chopped)
  • 1 cup mint leaves (chopped)
  • 1/2 cup coriander leaves (chopped)
  • 1/2 tsp turmeric
  • 1 lemon
  • Salt to taste
  • Ghee + Oil for frying the onions


For the Biriyani Masala Powder


  • 3 cloves
  • 1 1/2 inch cinnamon
  • 2 green cardamoms
  • 1 petal Mace
  • 1/2 tsp fennel seeds
  • 1 tsp peppercorns
  • 1 tsp cumin seeds 
  • a pinch of Nutmeg


( Some recipes also have a little bit of aniseed and shahjeera added to this masala. But the one I tried was quite good

in itself. )

For cooking the rice -


  • 1 tsp ghee
  • 1 star anise
  • 2-3 cardomoms
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • salt to taste


Preparation - Wash and marinate the chicken with salt and turmeric.

Cooking - Heat oil in a wok for frying the onions.

Fry onions in small batches on medium heat and take each batch out of the oil for a few second during frying. This makes them crisper as it allows the water content of onions to turn into vapour.

Dry roast all the spices (except nutmeg) mentioned under Biriyani Masala. Allow to cool down a few degrees. Then grind into a powder in a mixer/coffee grinder. (Add a little bit of coarse salt when using a mixer, it helps to get a fine powder )

Roughly grind the ginger, garlic and green chillis.

Cook the rice in a pressure cooker along with the ingredients mentioned under 'For cooking the rice'. After levelling the rice with a spatula, add water in sufficient quantity so that it stands nearly 1 1/2 inch above the rice. Close lid and cook for 1 whistle. Remove and open after steam escapes. Fluff up with a fork.

Heat a thick bottomed vessel (we will be using it for the DUM process later on, so it should be really thick). Add the chopped tomatoes with a little water. Cook till soft and mashy.

Add the ginger-garlic-green chilli paste and cook till raw smell goes off.

Add the chicken and cook for 5 minutes.

Add the powdered masala and chopped mint leaves. Mix well and cook till chicken is 80 percent done.

Add 3/4 th of the fried onions at this stage. Mix well and cook till chicken is tender.

Add lemon juice and coriander leaves. Mix well and switch off flame.

Layer the cooked rice over the chicken. Add remaining fried onions and dot with the saffrom milk.

Cover the vessel with a cloth and put on the lid. Allow to sit on lowest possible heat/flame for 15-20 mins. (I did this process using an induction cooker.)

Remove the lid and cloth. Mix the layers a bit.

Serve hot with raita and coriander coconut chutney.



Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Ram Khichdi ( Kathiwadi Khichdi)

This is another recipe that I made from a Tarla Dalal cookbook. As I am into comfort food for the entire week (OK...maybe I will cook something special on the weekends), I wanted something light and nutritious for lunch. Also, it had to be palatable for my kid. While leafing though the cookbook, this recipe caught my attention. Along with the rice and pulses, it also had assorted veggies which made it a complete meal in every way.

Just tweaked the recipe a bit as per kiddo's liking and he really enjoyed it along with his favorite fryums. The final tempering done after cooking the khichidi is optional. I used it mainly as the combined flavors of the curry leaves, asafoetida and cumin resemble that of pongal, kiddo's favorite dish.

Read on for the recipe:


















Preparation Time - 15 mins

Ingredients - 1/2 cup rice, 1/2 cup split moong dal, 2 cups of assorted vegetables ( cauliflower, carrot, french beans, aubergine, potato, sweet potato, green peas - use atleast 3 or 4 vegetables ), 1/2 of a small onion, whole spices ( 1 bay leaf, 1/2 inch cinnamon, 3 cloves ), 2/3 tsp cumin seeds, 2 pinches garam masala, 2 pinches asafoetida, 1 green chilli, 1 red chilli, 1/4 tsp turmeric, salt to  taste, 2 tsp ghee, 3 1/2 cups of hot water.

For final tempering - 1 tsp ghee/oil, 1 sprig curry leaves, a pinch of asafoetida, a pinch of carom seeds, 1/2 tsp cumin seeds.

Preparation - Wash and soak the rice and moong dal. Was the vegetables and keep aside.

Cooking - Heat the ghee in a pressure cooker. Add the broken chillis along with cumin seeds and asfoetida. Follow with the whole spices and fry for 10 seconds.

Add the chopped onion and vegetables. Saute for 2-3 minutes. Add turmeric and garam masala.

Add the soaked rice and moong dal (discard the water used for soaking). Mix everything well and fry for 3 minutes.

Add the hot water and close the lid. Cook for 3-4 whistles. (Again this depends on the pressure cooker and the consistency you require. For example, if you are making it for toddlers you need to cook for longer duration and so on.)

Allow steam to escape before opening lid.

Heat the oil in a small pan for the final tempering. Add cumin seeds, carom seeds, asafoetida and finally the curry leaves. Once the leaves are wilted, pour this tempering over the khichidi. Mix well.

Serve hot with raita and papad/pickle.








Sunday, March 2, 2014

Tawa Rice

It has been a while since I blogged about some comfort food. I have been trying a lot of recipes lately and sharing the best of them with you. But all the effort has really tired me out and over the next week I will be taking it quite light. Simple one pot meals will be the order of the day and the first one will be this really simple Tawa fried rice which I generally make from leftover rice. While I prefer it spicy with loads of raita to counter the heat, I reduce the amount of spice and sprinkle it generously with processed cheese for my toddler. Read on for the recipe:


















Preparation Time - 10-12 mins (if using cooked/leftover rice)

Ingredients - 2 cups cooked rice, 1 medium sized onion finely chopped, 1 medium sized tomato finely chopped, 1/2 cup chopped capsicum, 2 tbsp yogurt, 2 tsp oil, 2 pinches of garam masala, salt to taste.

To be made into a coarse paste - 7-8 garlic cloves, 1/2 tsp kashmiri red chili powder, 1/2 tsp chili flakes.

Cooking - Heat a non-stick tawa. Drizzle with oil.

Add the finely chopped onion and fry to light brown.

Add the garlic-chili paste and fry for 2-3 mins.
'
Add the chopped tomatoes, capsicum, yogurt and garam masala. Cook for 2 mins.

Add the rice and stir on high for 2-3 minutes.

Serve hot with raita and papad/chutney.



















Note - Garnish with coriander leaves and a dash of lemon juice. (Sprinkle grated Amul cheese if serving to kids)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Mushroom Biryani ( Celebrating my 400th post )

My 400th post. So it had to be something celebratory. My sincere and heartfelt gratitude to all my regular and not so regular readers. Your comments and encouragement is much appreciated and help me keep going. And a big thanks to my husband for putting up with my experiments in the kitchen. Thanks everyone for being a part of this wonderful journey.


















Preparation Time - 40 mins

Ingredients - 2 cups basmati rice, 200 gms button mushrooms, 2 large onions, 2 tsp GG paste, 1 tsp chilli powder, 1 tsp cumin powder, 1 tsp coriander powder, 1 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp garam masala, 4 tsp thick yogurt, 3 tbsp tomato puree, 6 tsp chopped mint leaves, 6 tsp chopped coriander leaves, whole garam masala ( 1 mace, 1 star anise, 2 pinch nutmeg powder, 3-4 cloves, 1 inch cinnamon, 1 green cardamon), 1 tsp ghee, 4 tsp oil, salt to taste.

Preparation - Clean and wash the mushroom. Cut along the length into slices of medium thickness.

Soak the mushroom in a pan with water and 1/2 tsp turmeric powder for 1 hour. Drain off the water and pat dry with a paper towel.

Take the yogurt, GG paste, cumin powder, chili powder, coriander powder, turmeric half of the chopped mint and coriander leaves, garam masala and salt in a mixing bowl. Mix well. Add the mushrooms and coat them thoroughly with the marinade. This helps the mushroom absorb the spice flavors. Allow t rest for 1-2 hours.

Cut the onions into thin long pieces.

Cooking - Heat 1 tsp oil in a wok. Add half of the sliced onions and fry on low flame till they turn brown. You can add 1/2 tsp sugar to hasten the process. Remove the caramelized onions and keep aside.

Add 2 tsp oil to the same wok. Add the remaining onions and fry till light brown. Add the tomato puree and fry for another 2-3 mins.

Add the marinated mushrooms along with the marinade. Cook for 4-5 minutes till the excess water evaporates and masalas are well cooked. (It is ok if mushroom is still under-cooked, it gets done along with the rice.)

Heat 1 tsp oil in a pressure cooker. Add the remaining mint and coriander leaves. Fry for 1 minute.
Add the whole masalas and fry for 30 seconds.

Add the washed basmati rice, mushrooms and 2 2/3 cup water (add another 1/3 cup if you want softer rice). Mix gently. Sprinkle ghee and salt over the contents. Add half of the caramelized onions. Close the lid and cook for 1 whistle.












Allow steam to escape before opening lid. Keep aside for 10-15 mins before serving. Just before serving gently mix the rice and mushrooms so that they are evenly distributed ( mushrooms tend to rise to the top while cooking ).

Serve hot with raita and papad.


















Note - Add 1/2 cup capsicum to the marinade along with the mushrooms. Give a really nice twist/flavor to the mushroom biryani. ( Again it depends on whether you like capsicum ). Also if you are not really into mushroom, try a combination of baby corn and capsicum which is equally good.

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