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Category Archives: one dish deals

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!

Fusilli with Pine Nuts and Basil in Marinara Sauce

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Last year, I attended a live demonstration at a recently opened bistro in Hyderabad where the Chef showed us how to make fresh pasta. I have attempted to make fresh pasta in the past and I loved it. It was nice to interact with the Chef, ask questions and get answers for best techniques, ingredients, etc. We were served a pasta in a basic Marinara Sauce for which the chef gave us a rough recipe. What makes me want to cry is most of these recipes for sauces, need to be cooked for hours and hours and simmered and have all kinds of fussy ingredients. No doubt they taste fabulous, but I am nothing if not a cook who wants to always cheat!

There is nothing I loathe more than standing and stirring for hours. Even when a special celebration meal with several dishes is

So here is my version of a quick Marinara, ready in under 20 minutes, and tastes fabulous (even if i say so myself). I know a lot of cooks blanch tomatoes and peel the skin off and I do it too sometimes, but not this time, this is a quick sauce. I used local desi tomatoes, if you are using the Roma variety, you may need to blanch and peel the skin off as it is thicker than the skin of country variety of tomatoes.

Fusili Pasta

Fusili Pasta

Fusili Pasta in a Quick Marinara Sauce

2 cups cooked fusili (or any other pasta of choice) pasta {Cook according to packet instructions in salted water, drain and reserve some of the water}

3-4 medium sized tomatoes, roughly chopped (I used regular desi tomatoes)

1/2 medium onion, roughly chopped

2 pods of garlic, smashed

1 teaspoon each of sugar, red chilli powder/ red chilli flakes, dried/ fresh oregano and dried/ fresh basil

salt and pepper to taste

2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

1/4 cup of grated cheese (I used cheddar, parmesan is also good)

1/4 cup of toasted pine nuts (use almonds to substitute)

a small sprig of basil leaves

Put the chopped tomato, garlic, onion and 1/4 cup of water in a blender and pulse till smooth.

Heat the olive oil in a pan and tip over the pureed tomatoes. Add the red chilli powder / flakes, oregano and basil and half the salt and pepper, cover and simmer on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring a couple of times in between.

Taste the sauce and add the remaining salt and pepper if needed. Adjust the seasoning according to your taste. Turn off the flame and cool for a couple of minutes.

Toss in the cooked pasta, stir and add the cheese.

Serve out into serving bowls, top with fresh basil and a sprinkling of toasted pine nuts. Eat when it is still warm.

This sauce can be refrigerated and stored after completely being cooled in an air tight box for upto 1 week. Makes for a good pasta / pizza sauce and also as a sandwich spread.

{Quick Cooking} Pav Bhaji Masala Pulao

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A few days ago, I was busy with work and suddenly realised I had not made lunch but was ravenous. I could have made upma. I make it well even when I add purple coloured veggies to it! But any chance to dig into a rice dish will not be lost.¬†I’m a one dish meal queen. I love the convenience and the versatility of a one dish meal. My preference of carb is of course rice. Which self respecting south Indian will not turn to rice?¬†

I generally use one particular masala in most of my preparations ~ curries, dals, rice and anything else I may be cooking. It could be the sambar powder using my MIL’s recipe (contrary to purists, I make it and stock it in the freezer minus the coconut for a month) or egg roast masala that I so love or as in this case, pav bhaji masala, a packet of which I had opened and wanted to use at every opportunity.

A masala to me is just something to zing up a dish. Usually, most masalas have a base of coriander, cumin, chillies. the add ons are usually an assortment of garam masala. For instance, pav bhaji has a bit of amchur (dried mango powder) and hence will be slightly sour as opposed to a sambar powder which has roasted channa dal and is great to thicken curries! So depending on my instinct, I reach out and add a few spoons of a masala to whatever I may be cooking.

When I was writing this post, I did an online search and found that pav bhaji masala is used to make a rice dish called Tava Pulao. I have not tasted it, but most recipes call for cooked basmati rice to be sauteed with the masala. When cooked with the raw rice and vegetables, this dish has a milder flavour and takes lesser time!

My neighbourhood supermarket is doing a ‘buy one get one’ offer on a brand of basmati and I decided to be indulgent. This pulao will taste just as good with regular rice as well.

Pav Bhaji Masala Pulao (serves 2, time taken: 20 minutes)

Basmati Rice                    1 cup, washed and soaked in water for 5 minutes

Vegetables                        1 cup ( I used equal parts of mushrooms, cauliflower florets, frozen corn kernels)

Onion                                  1 medium, sliced

Green Chilli                       1, slit lengthwise

Salt to taste

Pav Bhaji Masala            11/2 teaspoons

Ginger Garlic Paste        1 teaspoon

Mint Leaves                       2 tablespoons

Oil / Ghee                            1 tablespoon

Bay Leaf                               1

Cloves and green cardamom 2 each

Cinnamon stick               1 small piece

Shahi Jeera                       1/2 teaspoon

In a pressure cooker, heat the ghee/ oil and when hot add the bay leaf, cinnamon stick, cloves, cardamom and shahi jeera. Saute for a few seconds.

Add the sliced onions and green chilli and saute till onions are translucent. Add the ginger garlic paste and saute for a minute.

Add the vegetables, mint leaves and the pav bhaji masala and saute for 1 minute.

Add the rice, salt and 2 cups of hot water and stir. Close the lid of the pressure cooker and put on the whistle. Cook on high heat for one whistle and turn down the heat for 5 minutes and turn off the heat.

Wait for the pressure to release, open the lid of the pressure cooker and fluff gently with a fork. Serve this pulao hot with a side dish of choice or just plain raita.

 

 

 

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!

Day 2 ~ Spicy Asian Style Vegetable Broth with Buckwheat Noodles

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Wishing all my readers A Very Happy & Warm Diwali. May your homes and hearts be filled with the love of your family and friends, your tummies full and your lives happy.

Spicy Asian Broth

Spicy Asian Broth

There is nothing that punctures the ego of a food blogger better than a set of terrible pictures! If you know me well enough, some of my best experiments, trials and efforts never make it to the blog because it would have been demolished even before I reached out for the camera. Sometimes, I would have made something which I felt was not blog worthy and after spooning in a mouthful, reached out to take a picture because the recipe / dish surpassed my expectation. Such is the life.

This Asian Style vegetable broth with noodles was made after a tired day, when the last thing I wanted to do was to slave in the kitchen. I put together whatever vegetables I had, seasoned it well and threw in some noodles for a carb kick. It hit home all the right spots and made for a very satisfying dinner. Please pardon the crappy pictures, trust me when I say this soup was excellent.

Buck wheat noodles have a nice texture because they are thicker than refined flour noodles. I happened to have a pack which I used, replace with any noodles of your choice.

Spicy Asian Style Vegetable Broth with Buckwheat Noodles – Serves 2

Ingredients

1 medium Onion (sliced into semi circles)

1/2 cup Yellow Pumpkin (Remove the skin and slice into 1/4 inch thickness)

1/2 cup Mushrooms (I used King mushrooms, use any kind you have)

1/2 cup Spinach (remove the tough stems and chop roughly)

1/2 inch piece of fresh Ginger

1 small fresh red chilli (use dried red chilli soaked in a bit of warm water, discard water before using), crushed with a mortar and pestle

2 sprigs of fresh Basil

1/2 teaspoon salt (adjust to taste)

freshly crushed pepper to taste

1 teaspoon sesame oil (or vegetable oil)

1 cup cooked Buckwheat Noodles

1 teaspoon of lemon juice (adjust to taste)

Method

Wash and slice/ dice all the vegetables.

Skin and crush the ginger roughly.

Cook the noodles as per the directions on the packet, drain and set aside.

In a deep saucepan, heat the oil and add the crushed ginger & red chilli. Fry for a few seconds, add the sliced onion, pumpkin and mushrooms and saute till the onion has turned translucent. Season with half the salt and pepper.

Add two cups of water and bring to a boil. Simmer on low heat for 10-12 minutes or till the vegetables have cooked through. Skim off any scum that comes to the top with a spoon.

Add the cooked noodles and spinach and take off the heat, cover and let sit for 4-5 minutes.

Spoon into serving bowls, serve hot with a dash of lemon juice and a sprig of fresh basil.

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.

{Vegan MoFo 2013} ~ Semia/ Vermicelli Pulav Recipe

Vermicelli Pulav

Vermicelli Pulav

I am attempting something very brave this month, cooking and posting Vegan recipes all this month for the Vegan Month of Food where bloggers around the world will post vegan recipes all this month. Wish me luck dear readers as I do not fare very well with rules and schedules. the only other time I attempted to do something like this was when I joined Nupur in the blogging marathon. I was very rewarded although it was exhausting to post daily.

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So to begin this marathon, I am posting a simple yet filling Indian breakfast / all day recipe of Semia Pulav. Semia is vermicelli which is extensively used in Indian cooking to make sweet and savoury preparations. On one occasion when Siri who is also doing this marathon visited me at home, I asked if she would have something to eat (it was past lunch time) and she said yes. I offered to make this Semia Pulav about 10 times. She must have thought that is the only dish I know how to make! She finally said “looks like you are determined to make me eat this, so yeah make it!”

Anyway, onto the recipe which is fairly simple. I like to add a dash of ready-made masala for a nice spice kick and lots of vegetables. A lot of people do not like to eat Vermicelli because it tends to have a sticky pasty consistency once cooked. This is due to the starch content in it. One way to combat this is to add a precise amount of water to cook it. Another way is to dry roast the vermicelli till golden to prevent it from turning mushy. I take the easy route out and buy pre roasted vermicelli. What? that’s 10 minutes off your active cooking time when you plan to make this!

Vermicelli Pulav Recipe

(time taken – 20 minutes, Serves – 2)

Vermicelli / Semia                   1 cup, pre roasted preferred, else dry roast in a medium hot pan, stirring gently till golden

Vegetables of Choice              1 cup (I used red capsicum, peas, carrot and carrot)

Onion                                        1 medium, sliced fine

Vegetable Oil                           1 tablespoon

Salt                                             to taste

Green Chilli                              1, slit

Fresh Ginger¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬†¬† ¬Ĺ inch piece, grated

Curry Leaves                           a few

Mustard Seeds                       1 teaspoon

Ready Masala Powder ¬† ¬†1 teaspoon (I used Everest Pav Bhaji Masala, can substitute with ¬Ĺ teaspoon garam masala + ¬Ĺ teaspoon coriander powder)

Hot Water                                11/2 cups

Method

In a medium pan, heat the oil and splutter the mustard. Add the curry leaves and green chilli along with the onions and fry till translucent, add the grated ginger, the chopped vegetables and half the salt.

Fry for 1-2 minutes. Add the pav bhaji masala (or garam masala) and fry for half a minute.

Now add the hot water and taste for salt, adjust with the remaining, when the water comes to a boil, slowly add the vermicelli and stir till the water is above the vermicelli. Cover with a loose lid and cook for 5-6 minutes or till the water has been absorbed, but it is still moist.

Turn off the heat and leave to rest for 5 minutes before fluffing with a fork and serving with some raitha and pickle.

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