Moong Dal Pulao

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It’s been a while since I visited the virtual world, so starting with baby steps again. I am here with a recipe you can try on weekends when the vegetable supply, as a rule for me, is low. This is like a stylish version of Pongal since the base combinations are moong dal, rice and pepper corns. Instead of being mashed up and lumped all together, here the aim is to bring these base flavors in a pulav style, where each grain is separate.

This recipe  is from Vasantha Moorthy’s Vegetarian Menu Cookbook. The recipe is simple and not very time-consuming compared to the regular Indian cooking. The pulav needs a few masalas, a coconut based ground paste and rice and moong. Its sprinkled liberally with fried onions at the time of serving, which adds a TON of flavor to the dish. I used the  ready-made pack, but you can saute two onions until crisp and mix it into the pulav at the time of serving. I serve this with coconut milk based egg curry , but a simple raita would do as well.

This is my submission to Cooking from Cookbook Challenge event. Do check out the link to learn more about the event and see who else is participating.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 cup rice
  • 1/2 cup moong dal
  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 6-8 peppercorns
  • 2 cardamom pods
  • 2-3 cloves
  • 1 bay leaf
  • salt as needed
  • 1 cup fried onions (ready-made or 2 medium onions sliced thin and fried in 4-5 tablespoons ghee until crisp)

To grind and make a paste:

  • 3 tablespoons grated coconut
  • 1″ piece ginger
  • 2-3 garlic cloves
  • 2-3 green (or red) chillies
  • a handful of coriander leaves
  • 2 cloves, 1 cardamom, 1″ piece cinnamon*

*I used cinnamon powder

Method:

Wash the dal and rice together. Drain and set aside.

Grind the cococnut, coriander leaves, ginger, garlic, chilies, cinnamon and cloves  with a little water to make a smooth paste. Set aside.

Heat ghee in your pressure cooker or a heavy bottom pan. Add the cloves, cardamom, peppercorns and bay leaf. Add the chili powder and turmeric powder and fry for a few seconds.

Add the masala paste and saute until the raw flavor goes away, about half a minute. The liquid would evaporate, but take care not to burn it.

Add the rice and dal mix. Fry for a minute or so until its coated well with the masala paste.

Add 3 cups of water (we had a total of 1.5 cups of rice and dal mix, so double of that), salt as needed. Pressure cook for 3 minutes if you are using your instant pot. Else cook until the water is absorbed and the rice is done.

At the time of serving, add some roasted cashews and a handful of fried onions. DO NOT skip the fried onions, they add a lot of flavor to the dish. If you donot have ready made fried onions, then cook two very thinly sliced medium onions to 4-5 tablespoons of ghee and fry until the onions turn crisp. Top the pulao with the prepared fried onions.

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This is my submission to Cooking from Cookbook Challenge event. Do check out the link to learn more about the event and see who else is participating.

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Baked Pasta with Ricotta cheese

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On most Fridays, my husband works from home. Last Friday was no different. I was busy with a cake for my friend’s son and so I had to make a lunch that’s substantial enough for the man but that’s not time consuming. I didn’t want to spend time in front of the stove when I had a lot to do. So baked pasta it was! I like this recipe as the hands on effort is less. You are almost done if pasta is cooked. The rest is just mixing a couple of sauces and baking.

I had tried this recipe two weeks back for Thanksgiving lunch. So I knew it was a good recipe. I had followed the recipe exactly that day and made a Rigatoni pasta pie. You can checkout this one minute video tutorial to see what I am talking about. But I realized that the effort of packing the pasta into the cake pan is really not worth it. I couldn’t fill each pasta with the ricotta filling and the pie collapsed when I cut into it. It was tasty but it didn’t stand by itself like a pie piece. It tasted amazing, so I decided to take the simpler route of just mixing the pesto sauce with the pasta and the baking it. It all tastes the same at the end anyway and the effort is so much lesser.

Read on for the pictorial.

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Recipe adapted from Tastemade.com

  • 1 12 oz pack pasta of your choice
  • 1 cup pesto
  • 1/2 cup ricotta cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 1 teaspoon Gemma’s hot sauce
  • 1 cup pasta sauce
  • 1 – 1.5 cups of shredded cheese of your choice

Bring a big pot of water to boil, add pasta and cook according to the package instructions. Don’t overcook the pasta. Al dente is fine. For 12 oz pack of tricolor pasta, it was 7 minutes. Drain and set aside.

In a small bowl, mix 1 cup basil pesto with 1/2 cup ricotta cheese, 1 tablespoon olive oil, salt and pepper for seasoning. I added 1 teaspoon of Gemma’s hot sauce for a spice kick. Transfer pasta to an oven safe pan. Mix in the ricotta with the pasta.

Mix the ricotta well to distribute evenly, taste test and adjust seasonings if needed. Now add 1 cup of tomato sauce to the pasta.

Spread the tomato sauce evenly on top of the pasta and top with cheese. I used about 1.5 cups shredded Mexican cheese here. Shredded Mozzarella would work better.

Bake at 350 F for about 20 minutes until the cheese is melted and bubbling. Take off the oven and let it cool for 15 minutes. Slice and serve.

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This post is a part of the Bake-a-thon 2017

Meal in a bowl Soup

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BMN # 83: Week 1, Day 1
Theme : Soups and Stews
There are some books that you always reach out for when looking for an idea for a meal. One of my favorite books to browse is The Perfect recipe for losing weight and eating right. The main reason I like the book is that flavor variations that each recipe gives. Like for soups, there is this basic recipe that you follow. But if you change the ingredients every time – be it the choice of vegetables, starch or seasonings, you end up with a different flavor each time you serve it. So same basic recipe which starts with  sauteed onions and a tomato & broth combination, ends up being different every time. The author has named the soup section as Meal in a bowl Soups. And I have used the same for this post title. You cannot explain the concept better I guess!

This time I decided to go with a clear soup with whatever veggies were left in my fridge. So you have a zucchini,fennel, celery soup. I wanted it to be light, so I was debating whether to add the beans or not. I ended up adding it finally to my bowl and then heating it up again. I served the soup with an egg on top. That yellow color perks me up on a cold day.

Read on for the recipe.

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The recipe makes 4-5 servings

Ingredients:

  • 4 cups veg broth or water
  • 1 can diced tomatoes or 5-6 tomatoes roughly pureed
  • 2 teaspoons oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano/basil
  • 1/2 kilo (1 lb) vegetables of your choice*
  • 1 cup cooked black beans
  • 1/4 cup white rice
  • 1 teaspoon hot sauce like Tabasco or Sriracha
  • 1 sunny side egg, optional
  • salt, pepper and pepper flakes as needed

*I have used a mix of sliced celery, zucchini and fennel.

Method:

  1. Bring broth or water and the tomatoes to a boil. Turn off the heat.
  2. Heat oil in a pan, saute onions until it turns brown. Add beans and washed rice. Pour the tomato broth mix and bring to a simmer. Add the dried basil or oregano and salt and pepper as needed. Let the vegetables cook in a slow simmer for about 20 minutes or until the vegetables and the rice is completely cooked through.  Taste test and adjust the seasonings
  3. Turn off the heat and stir in some hot sauce if preferred. Let the soup sit for five minutes for the flavors to blend. Serve with a sunny side egg on top if preferred.

Note: I added the beans only at the time of serving as I didn’t add them when the soup was cooking.

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This recipe goes to this week’s Cooking from Cook Book Challenge. Please follow the link to know more about the event.

Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#83 

 

 

Instant Pot Rajma Pulao

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People use weekends to catch up with stuff they are lagging behind. For me its just the opposite. I always let things go on weekends and struggle on week days to catch up with everything. My blogging front always takes a set back during the weekends.

Now ask me what I do on weekends to keep me super busy. Am I busy slaving in the kitchen and dishing out delicious curries and naans to keep my man happy? Definitely Not. In fact we eat outside, so there may not be even minimal cooking!

Am I dusting the house from top to bottom to make it squeaky clean? Goodness, No. I don’t do that on even on weekdays!!

Is my house flowing with guests for parties? No again.

Still the weekends – I don’t even know how, gets over before I know it. We might go out for a bit. But for the most part, its a laid back lifestyle, trying to catch up with friends and family whenever we can. Cooking, if at all there is any, is about making simple meals like this Pulao. Recipes where you add everything to the Instant Pot and let it do all the work. A neighbor of mine gave me another recipe for the basic pulao masala, I will post that also soon.

So after reading about my busy-doing-nothing weekend, lets move on to the recipe. Read on for the pictorial.

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Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon oil or ghee
  • 3-4 cloves
  • 1 big onion, sliced into thin pieces
  • 1 big tomato, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder (or per taste)
  • 2 teaspoons coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • salt as needed
  • 1 cup of cooked rajma
  • 1 teaspoon kasoori methi
  • 1 cup of basmati rice

Method:

Soak rajma overnight and cook until its done, about 15 minutes in Manual mode if you are using Instant Pot.

Wash and soak one cup of basmati and set aside. Set the Instant Pot in saute mode. Heat the oil or ghee. Add the cloves (and if you prefer a small cinnamon stick and a bay leaf). Add the sliced onions and saute till pink.  Now time to add the chopped tomatoes and cook for a minute or two.

Add the masala powders – coriander powder, chili powder, turmeric powder, garam masala and salt. Mix it in and cook for a couple more minutes. Now add the cooked rajma.

Follow it up with kasoori methi. Mix it all in. Drain the soaked basmati and add to the pot along with 2 cups of water. Taste test the water and adjust the seasonings and salt if needed.

Switch the mode to Manual. Set timer for three minutes. Let the pressure release naturally. Wait for the rice to cool down a bit before fluffing with a fork. Serve with yogurt or raita.

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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing BM# 80

Pasta Salad

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My son stands against anything with pasta and rice. He does eat both, but with such a long face that it almost makes me guilty. Almost… But I don’t give up on these two foods and keep bringing them to the table irrespective of the nasty looks, sighs and nays.

The kid does like salads, so I have started adding a bit of pasta to his salad. He seems to be okay with that. So now, once in a while, I pack a cold pasta salad for his lunch. I prepare it the night before and refrigerate so that the flavors can mingle.

A good thing about salad is that you don’t need to have an exact recipe. Whatever is available in the fridge paired with a bit of  dressing makes an excellent one. My go-to salad dressing is a mix of mayonnaise and honey mustard, but I am slowly including more of the classic olive oil and lemon juice now a days.

For a salad, I like the combination of vegetables with beans and fruits. The bit of sweetness that the fruit imparts gives a lovely flavor and the beans fill you up. Cheese is more for my son’s taste buds. For this particular dish, I had some ready made taco seasoning to be used up. So that went into the dressing with olive oil and lemon juice. This video from Tasty is what I followed for the dressing. I had to skip the jalapenos and garlic since it was for my son’s lunch box. Taco seasoning is a mix of spices and can be made at home as well. Here is a recipe if you want to make it at home.

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Serves 2

Recipe adapted from: Tasty – Pasta Salad 4 ways

Ingredients:

  • 2 cups cooked pasta
  • 1/2 cup cooked red kidney beans
  • 2 slices of cheese torn into small pieces or 1/3 cup shredded cheese
  • 1/2 cup diced mangoes
  • 3 tablespoons sliced olives
  • 1 big tomato, diced
  • handful of coriander leaves, chopped
  • salt as needed

Dressing:

  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon ready made taco seasoning
  • 1 clove garlic, minced, optional
  • 1 tablespoon jalapenos, optional

Method:

  1. Combine the dressing ingredients in a small bowl. Set aside.
  2. Cook roughly about one cup pasta in boiling water with salt to get two cups of cooked pasta. Drain and let it cool completely.
  3. Combine the salad ingredients to the pasta. Slowly add the dressing, mixing it in. You don’t have to use all the dressing, you can stop when you feel that the taste is fine.
  4. Do a taste test before adding salt, since pasta was cooked in salted water and taco seasoning also has salt.

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