Spinach Dal

BM# 98: Week 4, Day 3
Theme : Cooking for Two

For Day 3 of Cooking for two theme, I am here with another simple recipe and a simple meal. Growing up, we never used to sit together at the dining table and eat a meal together. The dishes are left on the table and whenever you are hungry, you can go and serve yourself. Amma follows her body clock when it comes to hunger and appa follows the actual clock. I always wonder what would happen if we hide all the clocks…how will appa eat then?!

After my brother left home for work, he would visit us every month. It was during these visits that we started eating together as a family. He would insist on eating together and would wait until everyone is gathered at the table. Eating together, as we found out, was a wonderful experience and one which I sorely miss now.

In a typical Indian house, the woman eats last. For most part, this is because you would have cooked the exact number of servings and its a good idea to wait until everyone else has done eating. That way you know that the family has had enough food and you can finish off whatever is left. In most cases, there wont be enough leftover and the mother makes the sacrifice of eating rice without any curry on the side. Its something I have never understood. I always prefer making an extra serving so that everyone can sit together and enjoy a meal without worrying whether it will be sufficient for all or not. But that’s just me.

Anyway, here is a recipe I made for lunch today, cooked exactly for two people. My son is having his lunch at school and its only me and my husband for lunch. I decided to make it extra special by making a thogayal (a kind of chutney) and omelette too in addition to the ladies finger fry. My husband prefers rice but I had this meal with quinoa. Read on for the recipe.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 cup toor dal
  • 1 small onion
  • 1 clove garlic
  • 2 green chillies
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • a good pinch of hing
  • 1/2 medium tomato
  • 1 cup chopped spinach/palak
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds

Method:

  1. Wash toor dal couple of times till the water runs clear. Add this to a pressure cooker along with turmeric powder, hing and enough water so that there is about 1/2″ water on top of the submerged dal. Add roughly chopped onions, garlic and green chillies. Pressure cook for 6-8 whistles or until the dal is completely cooked and mushy. Let the pressure release naturally from the cooker. Mash the dal with a ladle so that its smooth.
  2. Heat oil in a pan. Add mustard seeds. Once it crackles, add chopped tomatoes and cook until its soft and mushy. Add the chopped spinach and salt as needed.
  3. Once the spinach is cooked, add the dal mix and half cup of water. Add 1/2 teaspoon of chilli powder, if you prefer more heat. Let it come to a boil. Taste test and adjust the seasonings. Simmer the dal for about 10 minutes and take off the heat.
  4. I served it with quinoa. I prepared an omelette, ladies finger fry and ridge gourd chutney to serve along with the dal.

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Spicy Tindora/ Kovakka

BM# 98: Week 4, Day 2
Theme : Cooking for Two

Cooking for two is a challenge for me, because I always cook a lot more than what we need. The main reason for this is that if there is excess, I can always refrigerate it for another day…but if there is not enough food, it’s just not acceptable for me. I have an excellent appetite and after growing up with two siblings whose appetite can challenge mine, one thing I realize is that even though you think you have cooked extra food, the truth might be that it still may not be enough. In the last few years, I can see a definite decrease in my husband’s and my appetite, but even now, on really hungry days, I would rather have a little extra food than a little less food.

Its very recently that there has been a change in the way I cook. My husband works from home a lot, but on the days he decides to go to work, he takes lunch from home. Recently, he has started giving me a very short notice about packing lunch for him. So I have started preparing food just for him and once he leaves for work, I will start cooking again for me and my son. So, its a combination of cooking for one first and then repeating it for two people. The rice and dal is always prepared before I leave to drop my son, so that part doesn’t affect the short notice for lunch preparation.

Here is one of such lunches prepared. Its kovakka/tindora fry, prepared for one first and then prepared again for two people. This is a very simple recipe, yet it very delicious. The more oil you add, more crispier and tastier the vegetable is. But that choice is completely yours to make. Read on for the recipe.


Ingredients:

  • 20 ivy gourds, sliced into thin rings
  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • Salt as needed

Method:

  1. Heat oil in a pan. Add the turmeric powder, chili powder and salt to the oil. Sauté for a couple of seconds until the chili powder changes color and becomes slightly darker.
  2. Add the sliced kovakka/tindora to the pan. Using a spatula, carefully mix well until all the pieces are coated with the chili powder and oil.
  3. Cover and cook in low heat for about 10-12 minutes or until the veggies are almost cooked, stirring couple of times in between. Once it’s almost cooked, take off the cover and let it cook in medium flame until kovakka is completely cooked and there is no moisture left in the pan. You will have to stir in between to prevent it from sticking to the bottom of the pan.
  4. Serve with rice and sambar of your choice.

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Ragi Semiya

BM# 98: Week 2, Day 3
Theme : Dish for each meal

Breakfast is the most important meal of the day, yet it’s one of the most neglected time in my house. My son prefers cereal over everything else. My husband has a full cup of Indian style milk coffee and calls it breakfast. And I join either of them depending on my mood that day.

Growing up, it was almost always dosa for breakfast at home on working days. That was the only thing all of us ate without bickering too much. When we were young, Amma used to make special breakfast for weekends, like poori masala, sevai or chole bhatura.

I remember amma making sevai at home. It’s a rice noodle based breakfast that’s made from scratch. It is also a time and effort consuming process. You have to press out a rice ball into noodles using a tool specifically meant for that purpose. Ours was the old fashioned one that has three legs and sits on the floor. You use your body weight (we were kids, so we had to use our weight) to squeeze the rice ball and feeling of accomplishment is high when done right.

Thankfully there is readymade sevai available now on the market and the process of making is a lot more easier. The recipe here is semiya made from ragi instead of rice. Read on for the recipe.

Recipe source : Megha’s Cooking channel

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet (180 gm) ragi vermicelli
  • 2 teaspoon oil
  • 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, finely chopped
  • 2 green chilies, chopped
  • 1/2 cup broccoli florets, chopped
  • 1/2 cup cabbage
  • 2 tablespoons shredded coconut
  • salt to taste

Method:

  1. Follow the package instructions for making the ragi vermicelli. That involves soaking in water for three minutes and then after draining, steaming in a greased pan for 5-7 minutes. Greasing is important to avoid the semiya sticking onto the vessel. I used idli plates for steaming.
  2. Take off the heat, remove the sevai to a separate vessel, fluff with a fork to stop it from forming clumps. Set aside.
  3. Heat oil in a thick pan. Add mustard seeds. Once it crackles, add the onions and chilies Sauté for a couple of minutes and add the carrots and broccoli. Cover and cook for a couple of minutes until the veggies are soft. Add the cabbage in and sauté for a couple more minutes. Once all the vegetables are cooked, add the semiya and mix carefully. Add shredded coconut, if desired. Take off the heat and serve hot with chutney or even sugar.

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Instant Pot Ginger Almond Oatmeal

BM# 97: Week 2, Day 1
Theme : Vegan recipes

When I bought Instant Pot almost three years back, a friend of mine told me that I would stop using my regular pressure cooker shortly. I didn’t believe her for a single minute – How could I? I had been using my stove top pressure cooker for almost 2 decades! There was not a single day I wouldn’t use the cooker. So…No. No way that I would stop using my stovetop cooker.

Fast forward a couple of years and I can see what she meant. I have ditched my stovetop cooker for its electric counterpart. The only time I use the old one is when instant pot is not free.

I have resisted buying cookbooks for instant pot till now. Between the library and the internet I have never felt a need for it. But these books always have a long waiting period at the library. And now, there are so many Instant pot cookbooks just for Indian cooking that I finally felt compelled to buy one :D. I ended up buying The Essential Indian Instant Pot Cookbook and I absolutely love it.

This recipe is from the book and I have made it with homemade almond milk to make it vegan. Pressure cooking oats is not something I have done before and I couldn’t believe how creamy it turned out to be. I have already made this a couple of times and I love the taste and the texture a lot. Ginger, almonds, saffron and cardamom with oats…oh it’s delicious!

Recipe source: The essential Indian Instant Pot

Ingredients:

    1 cup rolled oats
    2.5 cups almond milk, divided
    1 tablespoon brown sugar
    1 teaspoon grated ginger
    1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
    A pinch of saffron
    A pinch of salt
    1 tablespoon each almonds and walnuts

Method:

  1. Add a cup of water inside the instant pot and keep the trivet inside.
  2. Keep 1 cup of milk aside. Add everything else into a steel bowl or Pyrex bowl that will fit inside the instant pot. Give a stir to combine everything and place the bowl in the trivet.
  3. Secure the lid and make sure it’s in sealing position. Set the timer for ten minutes in Manual setting. Let the pressure release naturally.
  4. The oatmeal would be thick. At the time of serving, add in the reserved cup of milk and mix everything. Serve with a teaspoon of maple syrup if desired.
  • Note:
    • You can use pot in pot method or cooking everything directly in instant pot.
    • If using regular cooker, about 8 whistles would do.

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