Cuban Black Beans

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Like always, my little break from the blog turned into a big vacation! I would love to tell you that I am back refreshed and energetic from my ‘break’, but that would be a big fat lie. The thing is, with the long weekend and an upcoming actual vacation, its been a little hectic here. The to-do list is long as always, but this time I am not working myself up too much over it. The mantra is to finish as much as I can and leave the rest as it is.

Coming to the recipe here, I was supposed to post it last month for the Latin American theme for Blogging Marathon 76. But though I was done with the cooking and clicking, I never got the time to sit and edit the pictures and upload it to the blog. The recipe is from the book The Cuban Table by Ana Pelaez and Ellen Silverman. We had some friends coming over and we served this in Chipotle burrito bowl style. The bowl had brown rice, black beans, grated Mexican cheese, tomato salsa, corn salsa, sour cream and some lettuce.  It was one of the best meals to date. The best compliment I received was the empty bowl of beans and rice and satisfied smiles :-).

Read on for the recipe, its one of my favorites already!1cuban_beans

Serves 8-10 people

For the beans

  • 1 pound black beans (~1/2 kilo)
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 large garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil

For the sofrito:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 large green pepper, diced
  • 2-3 garlic cloves, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 tablespoon vinegar
  • salt as needed

 

Wash the beans thoroughly and soak it overnight. The next morning, rinse the beans and add to a big pot along with about 7-8 cups of water. Add one large chopped onions, one diced bell pepper, 4 crushed garlic cloves and a tablespoon of olive oil and cook for an hour. Since I used the electric pressure cooker, I cooked it for only 25 minutes. For the sofrito (onion garlic base for the beans), warm 3 tablespoons olive oil in a pan. Add one diced green pepper, 3 chopped garlic cloves and one large chopped onion.

 

Cook until the onions are pink. Add 1 teaspoon each of dried oregano and ground cumin, salt as needed and 2 teaspoons of black pepper. Cook for a couple of minutes.

 

Add the prepared sofrito to the black beans. Add salt and pepper to taste. Bring the beans to a low boil and let it cook, stirring frequently, until the broth is thickened and the beans is cooked well. For me, it took another 25 minutes to get to the thickness I liked. Add vinegar to taste. Take off the heat and serve with rice.

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This goes to Cooking from Cookbook Challenge Group.
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Greek Cabbage Rice – Lahanorizo

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BM # 76: Week 3, Day 1
Theme : Greek recipes
Recipe:  Lahanaorizo, Greek Cabbage and rice

Even when I am not blogging much, I do keep taking pictures of what I cook and as a result, I have a stocked up Draft folder. And yet, this morning that I was running around the kitchen, trying to prepare a recipe that fits this week’s Blogging Marathon theme – Greek Recipes. I haven’t been cooking Greek food during my blogging breaks, which is a shame. Not because my Drafts folder is of no use here, this recipe was so good that I was wondering why I have never given Greek food a try.

The Greek style cabbage and rice has a whole (small one, though) cabbage in it, so your veggie requirements are met. A bowl of yogurt is perfect as a side dish. The rice was so delicious that I keep sampling it through out the day. The spice level is a lot less than what we eat normally, so that’s one thing I will alter the next time I make it.

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The recipe is very slightly adapted from The Kitchen Chronicles. The only thing I changed is the quantity of olive oil. All the recipes online, including this one, had a lot more oil in the recipe. I couldn’t bring myself to use anymore than 1/4 cup oil. That itself is a lot more than what I usually use.

Read on for the recipe and pictorial and check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#76

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Ingredients:

  • 1 big onion, chopped fine
  • 4-5 stalks of celery, chopped into small pieces
  • 1 small cabbage, shredded using a food processor
  • 1.5 cup Basmati rice
  • 4 medium tomatoes, pureed to get 2 cups
  • 1 cup water
  • 3 green chillies, optional
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • salt and pepper
  • 1/4 cup olive oil

Method:

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Heat 1/4 cup oil in a thick pot. I have used Instant Pot here so this portion was done in ‘Saute’ mode. Once the oil is hot, add one chopped red onion and 4-5 chopped celery stalks. Stir in between and let it cook until the onion turns pink.

Now, add one finely chopped small cabbage, it was about 4 cups. I used food processor to shred the cabbage. Mix that in well. Add 1.5 cup of washed rice (I used basmati) and mix it in.

Puree 4 big tomatoes along with 3 green chilies(optional) if you want some spice. The tomato puree should add upto 2 cups. Add the pureed tomatoes, salt, pepper, 1 cup of water and 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper to the pot. Mix well and change mode to Manual. Cover and set time for 3 minutes. If you are not using Instant Pot, cover the pot and cook until the rice absorbs all the water. Let the pressure release naturally. Serve hot with yogurt on the side.

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Chitranna – seasoned rice

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Some books happen to be in your collection even if they belong to others . I am talking about my sister in law’s book (a wedding gift, actually)  Vasantha Moorthy’s Vegetarian Menu Book. I have borrowed it multiple times that I finally just stopped returning it to her. I will have more luck to permanently make it mine if I stop mentioning it so frequently. Now that this book is one of the chosen books for this year’s Cooking from Cookbook Challenge, I will talk more about the recipes in it than about the stealing part.

I tried the recipe for Chitranna from the book. I am not sure about the authenticity of the recipe, since it had sesame seeds, coconut and lemon juice in it. But Chitranna is a generic term for seasoned rice, so I guess people will have different takes on it.  I served it with Vegetable Sagu from the same book, but that recipe is for another day.

I couldn’t take the pictures on the day I prepared the rice. The next day I could click it with some new props. The cute yellow bowl is a gift from Pavani and that beautiful napkin with that perfect shade of yellow is a gift from another friend. Given the fact that I selected it from a shop at the Philadelphia Flower show, held it under his nose and insisted that he buy it for me, I have every right to be as pleased as I am with it. You guys should only concentrate on the pale yellow color and not wonder what  those French cheeses have in common with such a homely Indian dish. That piece of cloth makes me very happy, so please excuse my enthusiasm for pairing it with dishes that has absolutely no connection with it.

Enjoy the recipe as it goes to the Cooking from Cookbook Challenge. Please check out this page for more details about the event. 

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Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 cups rice
  • 1/2 cup peanuts
  • 1 cup grated coconut
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 3 tablespoons oil
  • lemon juice as needed
  • salt
  • To roast and powder : 1 tablespoon each of sesame seeds, chana dal and urad dal
  • 1 teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 3-4 dried red chillies

Pictorial:

  1. Cook rice with salt as needed. Let it cool completely. Set aside.

Roast 1 tablespoon each of sesame seeds, chana dal and urad dal in a little oil. Powder it in a mixie with 1 teaspoon of pepper powder. Set aside.

Heat a little oil in the same pan and roast peanuts till they are browned a bit. Set aside. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil in the same pan again and add the mustard seeds and red chillies. Once the mustard seeds splutter, add 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder. Let it cook for a few seconds.

Add one cup of grated coconut and toast it lightly on low fire until its browned a bit. Add salt as needed. Now add this to the cooled rice along with roasted peanuts and the ground sesame powder. Mix well, adjust salt as needed and serve!

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Ginger pachadi and Coconut rice

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There are some books that just travel all over the world with you. Even if the book belongs to someone else :D.

Well, I am talking about ‘The Vegetarian Menu Cookbook‘ which was a wedding gift to my sister in law. I have borrowed it from her multiple times. The last time I borrowed it, I sneaked it with me when I came to US :D. This book is not available in the market to purchase. To me, it is more like Meenakshi Ammal’s classic book -Samaithu Paar. You don’t hog the book for beautiful pictures, for there are hardly any. The recipes and the recipe combinations are the attraction.

I always refer to this book when I am short of lunch/dinner ideas or when we have guests coming over. It gives me a good idea to put a menu together which is a good start. I have been planning to explore more of this book for a long time now. Probably this year’s Cooking from Cookbook event will be a trigger for that :-).

Coming to the recipe here, its a simple pachadi made with ginger. She recommends serving this with coconut rice as a part of a bigger menu. I make only the rice and the pachadi from that menu, but I have made it multiple times.

Enjoy the recipe as it goes to the Cooking from Cookbook Challenge. Please check out this page for more details about the event. 

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Wash and clean 1″ piece of ginger and grind it with 2 green chillies (or per taste), salt as needed and 2 tablespoon coconut. If you need it, add a spoon or two of curd instead of water to make the paste. Once you have the paste, add 1 cup curd and pulse the mixer once or twice to get the curd well beaten. Do not grind, just pulse once or twice.

Chop one tomato finely and add it to the pachadi(I didn’t take a picture of this). This step is optional. Heat one teaspoon oil in a small pan and add 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds and some curry leaves. Once the mustard splutters, add it to the pachadi. Refrigerate it until the time of serving.

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Recipe source : Cooking 4 all seasons

Heat 2 teaspoons oil and roast 2-3 tablespoon raw peanuts and some cashews (I didn’t have cashews with me). Take out the peanuts and set aside. In the same pan, add 1 teaspoon mustard seeds, a good pinch of asafoetida, 5-6 curry leaves, 4-5 red or green chillies. Once the mustard pops out, add 1 teaspoon chana dal.

Tip in 2 teaspoons of urad dal. Fry until the dals are slightly golden in color. Add one cup of grated coconut and saute until it turns light brown. Mix in the salt in the salt. Turn off the heat.

Add 1 cup cooked and cooled rice. Carefully mix everything until everything is uniform. Sprinkle the roasted peanuts and cashews on top. Serve with ginger pachadi.

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Mujadara

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BM # 71
Week 1, Day 1
Theme : One pot dishes
I am here with an oft repeated dish at my place that is simple to make and is very tasty. Its a one pot rice and lentil dish. I have an adapted version of this dish in my space, its a tasty recipe,  but a far cry from the original Lebanese Mujadara. This version here is a lot more closer to the authentic version, though still not as mushy as it should be.
The mushiness of the dish is something I play with according to my mood. Traditionally, its more like our bisibelabath’s runny texture. This dish needs only onions, rice and lentils with minimal amount of spices. The sauteed onions are a major taste contributor, so don’t skimp there.
I have adapted this recipe from foodnetwork.com. Please check out some videos too in case you decide to try this recipe. Read on for the pictorial.

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Pictorial

This recipe makes 4 generous servings. Clean and soak 3/4 cup of basmati rice. Set aside. Wash and clean one cup green lentils (whole masoor dal) and soak with enough water. Set aside.

Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a pan. Saute three big sliced onions till they are caramelized, about 10 minutes or so. Add salt to hasten the process. Keep half of the caramelized onions aside. To the other half in the pan, add 1 teaspoon ground cumin and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or chili powder. Mix it in well.

Drain the soaked cup of basmati rice. Add it to the onion mix and saute for a minute. Add 3 cups water, lots of chili flakes (if you want the heat) and the lentils. Taste test and add salt if needed.

Cover and cook for about 25-35 minutes, checking in between. The rice has to cook completely and the water should be absorbed. Taste test and adjust seasoning. Mix in the caramelized onions well. Take off the heat and serve with yogurt and chips.

Ingredients:

  • 3/4 cup basmati rice, cleaned and soaked
  • 1 cup green lentils (whole masoor dal),soaked or cooked
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 3 big onions, sliced
  • 1 stick of cinnamon (optional)
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or chili powder
  • chili flakes, optional
  • salt
  • yogurt and chips for serving

Method:

  1. Clean and soak 3/4 cup of basmati rice. Set aside. Wash and clean one cup green lentils (whole masoor dal) and soak with enough water. Set aside.
  2. Heat 1/4 cup olive oil in a pan. Saute three big sliced onions till they are caramelized, about 7-10 minutes. Add salt to hasten the process. Keep half of the caramelized onions aside.
  3. To the other half in the pan, add 1 stick of cinnamon (optional), 1 teaspoon ground cumin and 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper or chili powder. Mix it in well.
  4. Drain the basmati rice. Add it to the pan, mix and saute for a minute. Add 3 cups water, lots of chili flakes (if you want the heat) and the lentils. Taste test and add salt if needed.
  5. Cover and cook for about 20-30 minutes, checking in between. The rice has to cook completely and the water should be absorbed. Taste test and adjust seasoning. Mix in the caramelized onions and stir to distribute evenly. Take off the heat and serve with yogurt and chips.

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Check out the Blogging Marathon page for the other Blogging Marathoners doing this BM#71

Quick meals Saravana Bhavan

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BM # 70
Week 4, Day 3
Theme : Thali
My plan for the thali week of blogging marathon was to pick three thali meals from Saravana Bhavan, a leading South Indian restaurant. I prepared this quick lunch meal from their menu. But somehow I had to let it go of the idea and use posts already in my drafts.
Saravana Bhavan has 4 kind of lunch thalis – South Indian meals, North Indian meals, Mini tiffin meals and Quick lunch meals. I have tried to recreate their quick lunch meals. The menu shows the platter has sambar rice, variety rice of the day, curd rice, a porial (vegetable preparation), sweet, pickle and papad.
Looking at the plate, I wish I had the big steel plate with compartments for each of the dishes. That would have made the meal a lot more impressive and a lot like how they serve at the restaurant. Just like in the menu, the meal has
  • Sambar rice
  • Kadamba rice using ready made paste
  • Curd rice
  • Peas carrot beans porial (recipe below)
  • Pickle
  • papad
  • Semiya Kesari

This post goes to Blogging Marathon# 70 .  Check out this page to see posts from other participating bloggers.

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Ingredients:

  • 2 carrots, cut into circles
  • 1 cup chopped beans
  • 1 cup frozen green peas
  • 3 tablespoon grated coconut
  • 2 green chillies or 1/2 teaspoon red chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds

Method:

  1. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds and 4-5 curry leaves (if you have it). Once the mustard seeds pop, add the vegetables and slit green chillies. Saute for a couple of minutes.
  2. Sprinkle a handful of water and cover and cook for 6-8 minutes, stirring in between to prevent the vegetables from sticking at the bottom.
  3. Add salt and grated coconut. Mix everything to combine well. Taste test, adjust spices if needed. Serve with sambar rice.

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North Indian Thali

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Good thing happen quite unexpectedly at times. Like the phone call you get from your close friend saying that she is free to come and stay with us for a few days. When she came, it was celebration time. Loads and loads of foodie time. We hogged on lunch buffets, Thai restaurant dinners, hot chocolate at malls and thali meals at Indian restaurant. Luckily for her and me, she returned before we burst at the seams :-)).

But hey, we deserved all our treats, because we walked an hour one way to get to the Indian buffet place. So two hours of walking for 40 minutes of eating is completely justified…in my book at least.

Coming to the thali here, this is very similar to the one we had at one of the restaurants. Its  basically rice and roti with dal, 2 curries, pappad, curd, salad and pickle. We were served meeta rice at the restaurant, but I didn’t make any dessert as we had some truffles to finish off.

The thali has:

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BM # 70
Week 4, Day 2
Theme : Thali
Recipe: Dal Tadka
Ingredients:
  • 1 cup moong dal
  • a good pinch of turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon oil or ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds/jeera
  • 1 small onion chopped finely
  • 2 green chillies or per taste
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1/2 medium tomato, cut into 6-8 pieces
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon garam masala
  • salt as needed
  • 2 tablespoon chopped coriander leaves
Method:
  1. Wash and soak the dal. Pressure cook it along with turmeric powder and enough water to soak it completely. Let the steam release naturally.
  2. In a small kadai, heat oil or ghee. Add the jeera seeds and once it changes its color, add the onions and slit green chillies. Saute until the onions turn pink.
  3. Now add the ginger garlic paste and saute for a minute more. Tomatoes go in now. Add the coriander powder and garam masala and mix everything well. If the curry looks dry, add a little bit of water to stop the masalas from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Mash the cooked dal with a ladle and add it to the pan, along with a cup of water. You might have to add more water to bring it to the consistency you prefer. Let the dal boil for 4-5 minutes for the flavors to mingle. Add chopped coriander leaves at the end and turn off the heat. Serve with rice or roti.

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This post goes to Blogging Marathon# 70 .  Check out this page to see posts from other participating bloggers.

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Parippu thogayal

 

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My mother in law used to make poricha kuzhambu and keerai masiyal every Saturday for lunch. When we moved out, we started doing the same, but on Fridays and without the keerai masiyal. For us, it was poricha kuzhambu, pickle, rice and pappadam. If I feel fancy, I used to make a thogayal.

Poricha kootu or kuzhambu is a dish which uses up leftover bits of veggies. It takes all veggies in small quantities and is not spicy usually. A spicy pickle or thogayal makes an excellent side dish.

Read on for the pictorial recipe. This post goes to the Cooking from Cookbook Challenge. Please check out this page for more details about the event.

Heat 1/2 teaspoon oil in a pan. Add 1/2 cup toor dal and fry until it turns slightly brown. Transfer into the blender. In the same pan, add 3 garlic cloves , 1/2 teaspoon peppercorns and 3-4 red chillies(these are the spice source, so adjust according to your taste). Saute for a minute until the chillis are dry. You can add 1/4 cup coconut to the pan now and fry for another minute. I added it at the time of blending though.

Transfer everything into a mixer jar and blend with 1/4 cup coconut. We like thick and spicy thogayal, so I add only a little water to get everything smooth and ground.

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Celery rice

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When two ladies talk on phone, a lot of information exchange happens. This recipe is a result of one such phone call. A casual phone call around lunch time with my neighbor led to the “what’s cooking?” question and when she said celery rice, I jumped out to get my pen and a piece of paper to note down the recipe.

I tried it out soon and I have to say that its a good way to use up the HUGE batch of celery we buy from Costco, the wholesale store. The recipe develops flavor as it sits and I thought it tasted a lot better the next day. I served it with plain curd and chana masala (recipe in drafts, hopefully will see the sunlight some day soon!).

The recipe goes to the second week of CCChallenge. Please check out this page for more details about the event. 

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Pictorial

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Wash and soak one cup basmati rice. Set aside.

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Grind one head celery after removing the base and the fibrous parts with one inch piece ginger and couple of green chillies.

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Keep the paste aside.

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In a pan, heat 1-2 teaspoons of oil and add one medium sliced onion. Saute till pink. Add one teaspoon of ginger garlic paste and let it cook for a couple of minutes.

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Follow this up with the masalas : 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon chilli powder, 2 teaspoon coriander powder, 1 teaspoon cumin powder and salt as needed. The masalas can be adjusted according to one’s preferences.

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Saute everything well, add a teaspoon of water if it sticks to the bottom of the pan.

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Add the ground celery paste now. Mix it in. Let it cook for sometime till the raw flavor goes off. Check seasonings and adjust accordingly.

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Time to add the soaked cup of rice and 1.5 cups of water.

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Cover and let it cook until the rice is done, about 7-10 minutes mostly. Serve with raita.

Recipe source: My neighbor Devi

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup basmati rice
  • 1 head celery
  • 1″ ginger piece, peeled
  • 2-3 green chillies
  • 2 teaspoons oil/ghee
  • one medium onion, sliced
  • 1 teaspoon ginger garlic paste
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 2 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • salt

Method:

  1. Wash and soak one cup basmati rice. Set aside.
  2. Grind one head celery after removing the base and the fibrous parts with one inch piece ginger and couple of green chillies. Keep the paste aside.
  3. In a pan, heat 1-2 teaspoons of oil and add one medium sliced onion. Saute till pink. Add one teaspoon of ginger garlic paste and let it cook for a couple of minutes.Follow this up with the masalas : 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder, 1 teaspoon chilli powder, 2 teaspoon coriander powder, 1 teaspoon cumin powder and salt as needed. The masalas can be adjusted according to one’s preferences.
  4. Saute everything well, add a teaspoon of water if it sticks to the bottom of the pan. Add the ground celery paste. Mix it in. Let it cook for sometime till the raw flavor goes off.
  5. Check seasonings and adjust accordingly.Time to add the soaked cup of rice and 1.5 cups of water. Cover and let it cook until the rice is done, about 7-10 minutes mostly. Serve with raita.

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Brown rice detox salad

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If you have a particularly bitter or sour or any horrible tasting medicine, it leaves you with an impression that its good for you. Anything that bad must definitely do something..you know what I mean? Its a psychological thing. A friend of mine used to prefer Dettol (stings when applied on wounds) over Savlon (non stinging one). Her policy was “The mild one doesn’t do anything, I don’t think it works!” Where as when Dettol goes in, you really FEEL that it works.

When it comes to diet food or to a good extend, vegetarian food in American restaurants, the same theory applies. The honest truth is that doesn’t taste good most of the time. You end up telling yourself that you are eating healthy and that’s the bonus for going through the torture of eating it. Eventually our taste buds do adapt to eating bland food or diet food, but it is a continuous process where you have to remind yourself of the benefits involved. (Or you should be like me and have no taste buds at all. All I have is sweet buds and I am not trading them for anything! :D).

So this particular recipe really caught me by surprise. Its a detox recipe and yet it tastes fabulous. Keep in mind that I really love eating veggies raw, so if you are not a salad person, then its an effort for you to appreciate this. What I liked most about this recipe is the sauce. I am already thinking of using it with pasta or even as a sandwich spread.

And why does a diet recipe have rice in it? Are we not supposed to torture ourselves when dieting? Well, one of the ideas behind a detox diet is to eliminate the common allergy foods from your plate. That includes stepping away from gluten and diary. Whole foods are in and refined foods are out. So that means, brown rice is in and white bread is out. And to an Indian, everything is fine if rice is there in the menu – at least to this particular Indian :D. So read on for this recipe that was pure joy to have :-)

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Recipe source: Swef the Chef

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup brown rice
  • 1/2 tomato, diced into small pieces
  • 1/2 of a small bell pepper, finely chopped
  • 1/4 cup cucumber, chopped finely
  • 1/4 avocado, sliced
  • fruits like pomegranate or more veggies of your choice
  • salt, if needed

Blend together for the sauce:

  • 1 small red chili
  • 1 inch piece ginger
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 1 tablespoon peanut butter**(or handful of peanuts)
  • 1 tablepoon sesame oil
  • 3 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • handful of cilantro

**Peanut butter was a bit of surprise for me in this recipe, but since it works for me, I left it as such. It can be substituted with almond butter.

Method:

  1. Blend everything together to make the sauce. Set aside.
  2. Cook brown rice according to package instructions. When its done, let it cool to room temperature.
  3. Gently mix the sauce with the rice, you may not end up using all the sauce. Add half at first, taste test and then add more as you need.
  4. Mix in the chopped veggies and combine carefully for even distribution. Top with avocado slices. Enjoy.
  5. Since there is soy sauce in the recipe, you might want to taste taste the salad before adding salt.

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