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Category Archives: quick cooking

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 :( 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                                         ½ cup, washed and soaked for 20 minutes

Onion                                                  1 medium

Red bell pepper                                 1 medium

Zucchini                                               ½ a small one

Carrot                                                  1 medium

Red chilli flakes                                  ½ teaspoon

Lemon juice                                        1 teaspoon

Salt to taste

Olive oil                                              1 tablespoon

Oregano                                              ½ 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.

The Quintessential Sundal ~ Double Beans Sundal Recipe

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Double Beans Sundal

Double Beans Sundal

My friend Siri and I met on monday for a bloggers meet in Hyderabad. While the talk we attended per se was not much to talk about, it was a chance for us to meet many bloggers we had been reading or following but had never met, and for the two of us to meet after ages. We proceeded to have coffee and then went out for lunch. Severely missing the other conspirator Pree. Over some yummy chilli cheese toast and a pub lunch, we gossiped, checked out the other people at the pub, gossiped some more and shared notes on what has been happening in our lives.

In the middle of all the ideas for the blog and whooping my behind for not blogging regularly (really, I never learn!) I told her  I would be posting a recipe for Sundal. The must have during navratri, especially in homes which display the Indian style tableau of dolls called Bommalakoluvu /Gollu. Rolling her eyes, Siri asks me “but why Sundal? Isn’t it just boiled beans with a tempering and coconut?” I laughed and said “yes… but you can easily screw that up too!”

In my defence,  I did think the double beans sundal was better than most sundals. Purely because double beans is one of my favourite beans, I love its texture and it lends itself beautifully to any recipe.

this recipe needs a little of pre work in soaking dried beans for atleast 4-5 hours. Once pressure cooked, there is nothing really to do except temper it.

Double Beans Sundal (Serves 2)

Double Beans        1 cup dried beans, soaked for 5-6 hours and pressure cooked for 2 whistles, water drained

Ghee                       1 teaspoon

Mustard Seeds     1 teaspoon

Hing                        a pinch

Dried Red Chilli    1, broken into two pieces

Salt to taste

Grated Fresh Coconut ¼ cup

Curry Leaves        10

Drain the water off the boiled beans and set aside.

In a kadai, heat the ghee, add the mustard and splutter, add the curry leaves, dried red chillies and hing and turn off the heat. Add the grated coconut and toss.

Add the boiled beans to this, add salt and mix gently. Serve when still warm.

{Vegan MoFo 2013} Sweet Potato Pattice ~ Faraali Pattice

Sweet Potato Pattice

Sweet Potato Pattice

The Escapades household is quite fond of sweet potatoes and prefers them curried, in baked wedges or as part of a medley. The most popular way to eat them in my part of the world, is boiled or charred over coals. Sweet Potatoes are rich in Vitamins B6, D, C and iron and magnesium. Which translated in normal people’s language means it is good for your brains, bones & muscles. No more reasons needed to eat it. The plus side is that it is very tasty and easy to prepare, lending itself to any kind of preparation. Sweet potatoes can be used to replace regular potatoes in almost any recipe.

Sweet Potatoes are used a lot in India during ritualistic fasting when people are meant to be on a restrictive diet. This is one of the ‘allowed’ foods. I think purely because of its nutritive benefits, it was put on the permissive list. These patties are also called “Farali Pattice” loosely translated, means fasting pattice, which means it is allowed on the fasting menu.

Whether you are observing a fast for religious reasons, wanting a robust make ahead snack for a party or need something to carry on a trip, these patties fit right in. The quantities can be easily scaled up.

Sweet Potato Pattice

Sweet Potato Pattice

Sweet Potato Pattice (Makes 8)

Sweet Potatoes                  4, washed & boiled(substitute with regular poatoes)

Green Chilli                        1, finely chopped or crushed coarsely

Arrow Root Flour              2 tablespoons ~substitute with water chestnut flour (singhada ka atta) or buckwheat flour (kuttu ka atta)

(use regular maida / wheat flour if you are not using this as fasting food)

Amchur Powder                ½ teaspoon

Lemon Juice                      1 teaspoon

Cumin Powder                   ½ teaspoon

Cashew Nuts                     10-12, roasted and chopped

Raisins                               10-12, washed

Rock Salt                           According to taste

Oil for frying

Method

  • Skin the potatoes and mash them well. Add all the ingredients and divide into 6-8 equal parts.
  • Roll each portion between your palms and flatten to make a patty.
  • Dust lightly with a little buck wheat flour / arrow root flour or water chestnut flour.
  • Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in a pan, when ready, add the patties, with a little space between each one and fry on medium heat till crisp and golden, flip and repeat on the other side.
  • Serve hot

{Vegan MoFo 2013} Quick Schezwan Style Cauliflower Recipe (with ready made bottled sauces)

Schezwan Style Cauliflower

Schezwan Style Cauliflower

I love cauliflower in most forms. The first reason being, the vegetable lends itself beautifully to any recipe and absorbs flavours and spices very well. It can also be chopped into any size large or small and takes very little time to cook. A lot of Indian style preparations, overcook cauliflower and make it mushy. I like cauliflower to be firm yet cooked through and I find that depending on the cooking time, the texture can be preserved.

I made this as a party appetizer, but this is a versatile dish and can be served on the side with fried rice or noodles as well. Most grocery stores stock an array of readymade spice mixes. I stock a few to be able to make a few recipes at short notice. One of the mixes that I like is the Schezwan spice mix. there are several brands available and a teaspoon of this adds a nice kick to oriental style gravies, fried rice or even noodles.

Schezwan Style Cauliflower

Schezwan Style Cauliflower

Schezwan Cauliflower (Serves 4)

Cauliflower Florets                 2 cups

Salt and Pepper to taste

Oil                                                2 tablespoons

For the Sauce

Tomato Sauce                         4 tablespoons (I used tomato chilli sauce)

Soy Sauce                                 2 tablespoons

Garlic                                          2 pods, chopped

Ginger                                       1 inch piece, chopped tiny

Red Chilli Powder                  1 teaspoon

Schezwan Spices                   1 tablespoon (Available at all leading supermarkets)

Green Onion                           3, sliced, green and white parts separately

Onion                                        1 medium, chopped into large pieces

Method

Steam the cauliflower in sufficient water with salt for 4-5 minutes, drain and set aside. Do not overcook it.

Heat oil in a pan and sauté the cauliflower on high heat till it begins to get golden edges. Sprinkle salt and pepper. Remove the cauliflower pieces to a bowl.

In the same pan, add the finely chopped garlic and ginger and fry for a minute. Add the chopped onion and sauté till it turns translucent.

Add all the other ingredients except the green parts of the spring onions. Stir well and bring to a simmer.

Add the sautéed cauliflower to this sauce and toss well to coat. Garnish with the green onions and serve.

{Vegan MoFo 2013} Thotakura Vepudu (Amaranth Leaves Stir Fry) ~ Andhra Style Recipe

In my maternal home, we always had a variety of greens growing in the yard. It was uncommon for us to buy any greens for the table, but for spinach which didn’t grow. We had tonnes of Amaranth, atleast 5-6 varieties of it, Malabar Spinach (three kinds), drumstick leaves, night shade spinach and some other stuff which are not commercially grown. My mother would step out, pluck enough for either a quick stir fry or a dal, step back inside and cook the greens all inside of 20 minutes. the taste of fresh greens is a treat and cannot be replicated by commercially grown greens one bit.

This dish was made from the fresh amaranth leaves I picked from my container garden. Its a glorified name for the assorted pots and old recycled buckets i have up on my terrace where I am attempting to grow a few vegetables and herbs. The bonus was this amaranth. It sprouted on its own because of the seeds present in the soil that was purchased. Each morning I go upstairs, sometimes with my dog Sage, sometimes just a cup of coffee, look around to see what seeds have sprouted, which plant is flowering or fruiting and get anxious if i see a pest or a plant wilting.

This is a very simple recipe, that gets done in no time. You can replace the amaranth leaves with spinach or any greens of your choice. Usually, we add chopped garlic to the greens to increase its flavour. this dish is a good accompaniment with steamed rice and dal / sambhar or roti.

Thotakura Vepudu

Thotakura Vepudu

Thotakura Vepudu (Andhra Style Amaranth Leaves Stir Fry – Serves 2)

Fresh Amaranth Leaves (Thotakura)               4-5 cups, tough stalks removed, washed, drained and chopped

onion                                                                          1 medium, chopped

Garlic Cloves                                                             2-3, skinned and chopped

oil                                                                                 1 teaspoon

salt                                                                               to taste

mustard seeds                                                       1 teaspoon

Whole cumin seeds                                              1 teaspoon

Green Chilli                                                              1, slit lengthwise

In a pan, heat the oil, splutter the cumin and mustard and add the chopped garlic. saute for a minute till aromatic, add the chopped onions and green chilli and fry till the onions are translucent. Add the washed, drained and chopped amaranth leaves and saute the greens a few times. the leaves will sweat and a lot of water will be released, which on a medium to low flame needs to be evaporated, stirring occasionally. Cook for about 4-5 minutes till the pan is almost dry but not sticking. Add the salt, taste and adjust. Switch off the heat and serve up with rotis or steamed rice and dal.

 

 

{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                           ½ 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 ½ teaspoon garam masala + ½ 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.

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                                  ½ teaspoon

Amchur Powder                                             ¼ teaspoon

Coriander Powder                                          ¼ 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.

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