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Category Archives: lunch / brunch

Mushroom and Garlic Chives Pasta

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K’s lunchbox is like my one excited cooking moment of the day. What to make (and subsequently pack) is a question I am asking myself almost everyday.

I make a weekly list of things I can make in the stupor of the morning that won’t take too long. It helps to have a list because in the mornings, the last thing I can do is to be creative while watching the clock hands tick away. This pasta (like most pastas in my life) is crowd pleasing and can be done in less than 20 minutes. Quantities can be altered according to need and passes muster on my benchmark for a dish that is a crowd pleaser – is welcome at a lunch / brunch buffet.

Mushroom and Garlic Chives Pasta

Mushroom and Garlic Chives Pasta

You know those garlic pods, that decide to spring to life in the vegetable tray of the fridge? I planted a bunch of them in a plastic takeaway tub filled with growing medium. In a week, green garlic shoots were ready for cutting. I snip them with a pair of scissors and they grow back. Conveniently placed on the wall of my kitchen, they are at arms length to be thrown into scrambled eggs, omelets, pasta, soup or a salad. Sometimes I use them in place of fresh coriander leaves as a garnish for Indian style vegetable dishes. They add a mild garlic flavour and are subtle enough not to make you want to drink mouthwash after your meal ūüėõDSC_0406

Mushroom and Garlic Chives Pasta (Serves 2)

3  cups cooked pasta (I used penne, but any short pasta will do)

1 medium onion, sliced thickly

1 cup mushrooms, sliced

1 teaspoon red chilli flakes

1/4 cup fresh garlic chives

Salt to taste

2 tablespoons Olive oil

Heat a pan over medium high heat and add the oil, when warm, toss in the red chilli flakes, after a couple of seconds, ensuring the chilli doesn’t burn, add the onion and mushrooms and a little of the salt.

Saute for 3-4 minutes until the mushroom and onions are very lightly caramelising.

Add the cooked pasta, and toss well. Season with salt as per taste, garnish with the garlic chives and toss again. Drizzle with 1/2 a teaspoon of olive oil and serve.

Done!

{Quick Recipe} Baby Brinjals with Ginger and Kalonji

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Baby Brinjals

Baby Brinjals

I did a column recently for the newspaper I write for, emphasizing that most beginners in the kitchen shy away from Indian cooking on a weeknight because we think it is complicated, uses too many ingredients and is a multi step process. While this is true for elaborate recipes, there are an astounding number of dishes that can be made in under 20 minutes. For instance this brinjal dish, I like to make it with the freshest and most tender green baby brinjals I can find. With a light seasoning of kalonji, this cooks in less than 10 minutes. Perfect for a week night dinner and pairs well with both rice and roti.

This recipe can be made with any kind of brinjals, although I strongly recommend the green ones.

Baby Brinjals Saute ~ with Nigella Seeds (Kalonji) and Fresh Ginger

Baby Green Brinjals                    250 grams, stems removed and quartered

Onion                                             1 small, sliced (optional)

Green Chilli                                   1, finely chopped or crushed with a mortar and pestle

Fresh Ginger                                 1/2 inch piece, grated

Vegetable Oil                                 1 teaspoon

Kalonji or Nigella Seeds               1 teaspoon

Fresh Coriander Leaves              1 small bunch

Salt                                                  to taste

In a pan, heat the oil over medium heat till hot but not smoking. Make sure the oil is not overheated, as the kalonji seeds will burn easily and become bitter.

Splutter the kalonji seeds, add the onions and quartered brinjal together and saute for about 3-4 minutes, till the vegetables begin to wilt.

Add the crushed green chilli, grated ginger and salt to taste and stir. Cover and cook on low heat for 8-9 minutes, checking to see that the vegetable doesn’t stick to the pan.

Stir in the fresh coriander leaves, remove from the heat and serve hot with rice or rotis.

This dish cooks in the moisture from the brinjal, in steam because it is covered. If you prefer open pan cooking, sprinkle a couple of teaspoons of water every few minutes, till the vegetable is cooked.

Baby Brinjals

Baby Brinjals

One Pot Spaghetti with Tomato and Mushrooms

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Spaghetti with Mushroom and Tomato

Cooking for one is my most favourite and least favourite task in the kitchen. No I am not a person who cannot make up my mind. Cooking for one means I get to make and eat what I want, something which K doesn’t particularly care for (pasta) or even one of my not so successful experiments. Cooking for one also means that I will eat in solitude and that is not my favourite thing to do!

Last year, the one pot pasta recipe was a rage across the interwebs. Anyone who had access to the net and had one or more social networking account (from twitter to pinterest) was cooking a one pot pasta in a frenzy and marvelling at its convenience. I tried it too and the first time, it cooked itself into a flavourless gunk. I was so disappointed with the outcome that I almost cried. And that has not happened with me in a long time. I made the mistake of making it and serving it when we had guests. No one noticed because of the other dishes that were served, but I had a lot leftover which I sent to the freezer while I thought about salvaging it. Which I did a few days later, with a tonne of roasted vegetables, a layer of cheese and baked the gunk to resemble a casserole which I and amma ploughed through for a couple of meals! It would be a while before I attempted to cook this again I thought!

Today I was determined to get this right, and since I was cooking just for myself, I could quickly deal with the failure too incase that happened. 

When making a one pot pasta, the thing to remember and work around, is the kind of pasta that is being used. I used an Indian brand of spaghetti made by Bambino. The label reads “made of durum wheat’ but I find that this cooks into a gunk if not stirred atleast 3-4 times while it is being cooked. Maybe using another shape of pasta wouldn’t need baby sitting. But this is not a show stopper for me. I mean, one cooking pot, dunk everything in and stand around the stove (playing candy crush in between stirs) for 10 minutes cannot be that off putting.

Spaghetti with Mushroom and Tomato

Spaghetti with Mushroom and Tomato

One Pot Spaghetti with Tomato and Mushrooms

(serves 2, Time Taken: Prep time – 5 minutes, Cooking time – 12 minutes)

Spaghetti  Рto serve 2 people (I eyeballed this, about 100 grams)

Onion – 1 medium, halved and sliced

Garlic pods – 2, sliced

Button Mushrooms – 1 cup, washed and quartered

Tomato – 1 large, chopped into 8-10 pieces

Olive oil – 2 tablespoons

Salt and pepper – to taste

Red Chilli Flakes – 1/2 teaspoon

Sugar – 1/4 teaspoon (the tomato I used was tart, skip if you are using sweet tomatoes)

a few sprigs of fresh basil

Cream Cheese – 2 teaspoons (optional but recommended or use grated cheese)

Method:

Slice the onion, mushroom, tomato and garlic. Fill a heavy bottomed cooking pot with 2 cups of water.

Put everything into a pot and boil

Put everything into a pot and boil

Add all the ingredients except the cream cheese / cheese to the pot and stir well, bring this to a boil.

Cook on medium high heat, stirring every 2 minutes for about 8-10 minutes or till the pasta is cooked.

The water would have reduced and the starch from the pasta along with the other ingredients makes a nice light sauce. Check for salt and adjust if needed.

Stir in the cream cheese/ grated cheese, give it a nice mix and spoon out into bowls. Garnish with a sprig of basil and a light drizzle of extra virgin olive oil. Serve hot.

Last year, I attended a cooking demonstration at an Italian restaurant. One of the most valuable tips the chef gave us was to fry thinly sliced garlic in olive oil and stock it to use as a flavour enhancer in recipes. Added to the most simple soups, salads or even pasta, the fried garlic and the infused oil, gives the dish an intense burst of flavour. I used a teaspoon of this oil to drizzle on my pasta. It was terrific even if I say so myself!

Puri and Potato Masala Recipe

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The temperature in Hyderabad is a beautiful 18 C in the early mornings and hovers around the 20’s at least till 9 AM. This is K’s favourite season and sometimes its tough to make out where he starts and the dog ends on the bed. Despite a thick furry coat, one can find Sage snuggled under the blankets with K post his early morning walks.

We planned to spend the weekend with K’s parent’s who live close by. But Sage by dinner time on Saturday, had decided he wanted to go back to ‘his’ house and the non-stop fuss was too much to take. All of us were disappointed, especially me, because I was so looking forward to some total cooking free R&R. Sunday breakfast was supposed to be Puri and Aloo Bhaji and all of us were disappointed we could not go as per plans.

This morning, when we woke up, we spoke again of the missed chance of eating puri and aloo. Anyone who knows me, will tell you that they cannot remember when I voluntarily filled a pan with oil to deep fry anything! Even this blog has very few deep-fried treats. But the beautiful winter morning called out for some indulgence and I set about making an elaborate (for me) breakfast.

Puri (Makes 10-12)

11/2 Cup                     Whole Wheat Flour (I used Ashirwaad Atta)

1/4 teaspoon            Salt

1 teaspoon                 oil

Oil for deep-frying

Water to make the dough

Add about 1/2 cup water to the flour and mix with your fingers, add water a little at a time as required to bring the dough together to make a firm yet soft dough. Apply the oil and knead for a minute. Cover and set aside for at least 15 minutes.

Divide the dough into 10 equal parts, roll into a smooth ball between your palms, flatten and roll out dusting with dry flour into a 4 inch disc. Ensure the puri is not too thin, else it will break / burst while frying.

Heat oil in a kadai, gently lower the rolled out puri and fry on medium high heat till it puffs up, turn over and fry on the other side. The puri should be lightly golden. Remove from the pan with a slotted spoon and drain on absorbent paper before serving while still hot.

Note: Adding a tablespoon of semolina while making the dough results in crisper puris, I didn’t add this since I forgot.

Aloo Bhaji (Serves 3-4)

1 medium Onion, Sliced

4 medium Potatoes, boiled and peeled

1 green chilli, slit

1/2 inch piece Ginger, grated

1/2 teaspoon Red Chilli Powder

1/4 teaspoon Turmeric / Haldi powder

1 teaspoon Mustard Seeds

1 teaspoon Urad Dal (Black Gram, husked)

1 tablespoon Chickpea Flour (Besan / Senagapindi)

2 Tablespoons Milk / water

10-12 Curry Leaves

2 tablespoons Fresh Coriander Leaves

Salt to taste

1 Teaspoon Lemon Juice + More to serve

1 Tablespoon Oil

In a pan, heat the oil and splutter the mustard seeds. Add the urad dal and fry till it is turning golden. Add the green chilli, grated ginger, curry leaves and sliced onions. Fry till the onions are turning translucent, about 1 minute.

Add the turmeric powder and red chilli powder fry for a half a minute.

Peel and chop the boiled potatoes into chunks. Add them to the pan, reduce the heat to low and mix well till they are coated with the rest of the ingredients.

Add 1/2 cup of water, salt to taste and cover and cook on low heat for 5 minutes. Stirring a couple of times.

Remove the lid off the pan and stir the curry. Add 1/4 cup water if you want more gravy, test for salt and spices and adjust as needed.

Mix the chickpea flour with the milk/ water and gently pour it into the curry while stirring, continue to cook for a minute till the curry gets thickened.

Take off the heat and cool for 5 minutes. Garnish with chopped fresh coriander and lemon juice, stir to mix and serve hot with puris.

Day 1 ~ Brown Rice Salad ~ Blogging Marathon

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My comfort food is rice. When I have nothing else to cook with, no vegetables, no mood, no time, unexpected guests… basically anything to give me an excuse to eat rice will be taken! The fact that I hate getting flour under my nails is one of the main reasons I love rice. ¬† I am a self respecting Rice eating south Indian and never feel ‘full’ if my meal is made up of only roti ūüė¶ is my main motivation.

So when I wanted to make a robust salad and make a whole meal of it, my choice of carbohydrate naturally was rice. I used brown rice and I do believe this is what adds a nice texture to this salad. Brown rice, either you love it or you hate it. Our palate these days is so attuned to silky white polished rice, that any different texture just doesn’t feel like rice. I began experimenting with brown rice a few years ago and the Escapades household has a very clear verdict – No brown rice stuff for K.

So while I stock atleast 5 different kinds of rice in the pantry, I use most of them when I am cooking a meal just for myself. At best, K will eat it when disguised as mushy pongal or khichdi.

This salad is a filling nutritious meal and can be had both warm and at room temperature. Brown rice doesn’t refrigerate very well. So any leftovers need to be consumed within a day or two. This is a dish that is very versatile, increase the amount of rice by double and serve as a pulav, swap the brown rice with cooked white rice or even cooked pasta if you are not fond of its taste.

Warm Brown Rice Salad with Vegetables – Serves 2

Brown Rice¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬Ĺ cup, washed and soaked for 20 minutes

Onion                                                  1 medium

Red bell pepper                                 1 medium

Zucchini ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬Ĺ a small one

Carrot                                                  1 medium

Red chilli flakes¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬Ĺ teaspoon

Lemon juice                                        1 teaspoon

Salt to taste

Olive oil                                              1 tablespoon

Oregano ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬Ĺ teaspoon (dried)

Garlic                                                   1 pod, sliced

Fresh Coriander Leaves                    1 small bunch

In a pressure cooker, add the rice and 11/2 cups of water, cook for 3 whistles and then lower the flame and cook for 10 minutes till done.

When the pressure releases, open the cooker, fluff the rice with a fork. If there is water at the bottom, drain it with a sieve. Set aside.

If you do not like the taste or texture of brown rice, you can use regular white rice for this dish.

Peel the carrot and cut into small cubes. Chop the onions, zucchini and bell peppers into the same size as the carrots.

In a pan, heat the olive oil and fry the garlic slices till they are golden brown, remove them carefully to a small plate and set aside.

In the same oil, add the carrots and cook for 2-3 minutes, covered.

Add the onions, bell peppers and zucchini pieces and stir and cook for 2 minutes, add the oregano, salt, red chilli flakes, and part of the fresh coriander and stir. Remove from the heat and cool for 5 minutes.

When you are ready to serve, add the cooked brown rice to the vegetables and stir gently. Taste and check for salt, adjust if needed. Add the lemon juice and remaining coriander and stir gently. Serve immediately.

Paneer Kathi Rolls ~ Or how to use extra rotis

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Paneer Kathi Rolls

Paneer Kathi Rolls

Stuck with extra rotis and don’t know what to do? Or tired of eating sabzi roti for a packed lunch? Here is an easy no fuss way to make Kathi rolls at home. I have deliberatedly omitted adding raw onions as a courtesy to a working lunch! but feel free to add them in the layers if you wish to!

Paneer Kathi Rolls (Serves 2)

Paneer                                                             100 grams, cubed small

Onion                                                               1 small, sliced

Tomato                                                            1 small diced

Garam Masala Powder ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬Ĺ teaspoon

Amchur Powder ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬ľ teaspoon

Coriander Powder ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬ľ teaspoon

Red Chilli Powder                                          a pinch

Salt                                                                  to taste

Oil                                                                    1 teaspoon

Lemon Juice                                                  a few drops

Chapathi                                                         4-5

For the Filling

Heat the oil and add the onions, fry them till they are translucent. Add the tomatoes and sauté for a few minutes till they begin to lose shape.

Add the red chilli, salt, amchur powder, garam masala and coriander powder and cook for 1-2 minutes. Add the cubed paneer and cook covered for 4-5 minutes.

Make sure the paneer is not overcooked and is nice and fluffy. Add a few teaspoons of water if you would like, but it should not have a runny gravy.

Cool the filling mixture. Add the lemon juice and mix.

Spread out the chapathis on a work surface. Spoon over 2 tablespoons or more if needed of the paneer filling onto the chapathis and roll into a kathi roll. Fix it with a tootpick.

Lay out on a paper towel in the lunch box. Alternatively, wrap each kathi roll in foil and pack.

Dosa Spring Roll

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Dosa Spring Roll

Dosa Spring Roll

A few weeks ago, I was browsing for recipes that use Dosa batter and found Dosa Spring Rolls. I am a bit of a skeptic when it comes to giving food a Chinese makeover. For too many “items” including Chaat have gotten a Chinese makeover with disastrous results (according to me). I prefer mixing wheat or oat flour into leftover dosa batter and making dosas, or making appams with chopped vegetables and seasoning. The spring rolls looked easy enough to make and I am not one of those people who will talk without trying out something at least once. I had to try it. The fact that it made it to the blog means it got a thumbs up, for variety and ease of preparation.

I saw this on Nag’s blog and from what I see a lot of people have made and liked it. So if you are looking for a way to glam up your dosa, add vegetables and sneak them into the diets of unsuspecting or fussy eaters in your family, or just a nice light dinner option, make this.

Dosa Spring Roll

Ingredients (Serves 4)

Dosa Batter                             2 cups

Oil                                            2 teaspoons

Cabbage¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬Ĺ Cup, shredded fine

Green Capsicum ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬Ĺ cup, cut into juliennes

Carrot                                      1, chopped fine

Onion                                       1 medium, sliced finely

Salt and Pepper to taste

Ginger Garlic paste ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬† ¬†¬Ĺ teaspoon (optional)

On a hot pan, add ¬Ĺ teaspoon of oil and add the ginger garlic paste (if using) and saut√© for a minute.

Add the rest of the vegetables and sauté on medium heat till the cabbage is just wilting. The vegetables should be crisp and retain their colour. Remove from the heat.

On a dosa pan, add one ladle of batter and spread as thin as possible to make a 6 inch dosa. Drizzle oil and fry till golden brown.

In the centre add 2 tablespoons of sautéed vegetables and roll like a spring roll. Remove onto a plate, cut using a sharp knife into 2-3 pieces.

Repeat with the rest of the ingredients. Serve hot with sauce or chutney

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