Mixed vegetable khichdi

BM#102: Week 4, Day 1
Theme : 
One bowl recipes

For this week’s theme, the dish should be either prepared or served in a bowl. So the vegetable khichdi I had prepared in Instant Pot recently, seemed a perfect choice. What I like about this dish is that it’s a “put everything inside the pot and close the lid” kind of recipe. You start off with a tadka of ghee or oil with cumin seeds and ginger. Then all you have to do is add a bunch of vegetables, spices, rice and lentils and cover and cook. Done!

The best part is that this can be served with just pickle or yogurt on the side. But of course, a yogurt based Kadhi would be excellent as well. Though this is a traditional recipe with each house having their own version, the particular one that I tried is from the book The Essential Indian Instant Pot cookbook. I have followed the recipe as such and absolutely love the results.

Read on for the recipe.

Serves 4-6

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon ghee/oil
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 1 carrot, diced
  • 1 medium potato, diced
  • 1 medium tomato, diced
  • 1 cup cauliflower florets
  • 1 cup spinach, chopped
  • 1/4 cup green beans, cut into 1/2″ pieces
  • 1/4 cup green peas
  • 2 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 cup dal (1/4 cup each masoor, moong, toor and Chana dals)
  • 6 cups water
  • Salt as needed

Method:

  1. Wash and Clean the rice. Set aside.
  2. Put the Instant Pot in Sauté mode and add the ghee. Add the cumin seeds and minced ginger. Add all the vegetables, chili powder, salt and turmeric powder. Mix well. Add the rice and the dals along with 6 cups of water. Stir to mix well.
  3. Cancel the sauté program and select to Rice setting. Let the pressure release naturally. Serve with pickle and Methi Kadhi.

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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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Keerai Mulagootal – Keerai Kootu

keerai_mulagootal1

Indian meals have at least one lentil based curry everyday. I use the term curry on a broad sense here. When we say Indian curry, the image is that of a creamy, red color gravy with ghee or oil running on the top. But that’s not what you eat at home everyday. Everyday cooking is a completely different than what you get in restaurants.

On an everyday basis, rice is served with a lentil based gravy and some veggies on the side. A popular South Indian gravy is sambar, which is toor dal or pigeon pea cooked with vegetables in a tangy tamarind base. Rasam is another one. In my house, the Kootu comes to a close third place.

There is no single recipe for sambar or rasam or kootu. There are so many different variations for each of these. You can make sambar 5 days a week and yet come up with five completely different flavors each day. For example, this kootu here is a combination of spinach with lentils and coconut. I have another version coming up soon which has pumpkin cooked with dal and with no coconut. So the taste is completely different even though the base of the dish is same.

Kootu is usually a mix of one or  more vegetables cooked with lentils and then rounded off with ground spicy coconut paste. So the recipe has three components. Cooked lentils, cooked vegetables and finally the roasted and ground coconut spice paste.  The coconut paste imparts flavor and it also helps thicken the gravy a bit. What goes into the coconut paste also differs from recipe to recipe. And sometimes its completely skipped also.

Today’s recipe is spinach kootu. This is about a bunch of spinach cooked with lentils. I cannot say that I was a big fan of this preparation when I was a kid, but it is one of my favorites now. I love my mother in law’s mixed vegetable version a lot. It is her weekend special along with masicha keerai (spinach, mashed and cooked in a tamarind base). I am yet to blog that recipe, but will do it soon.

Read on for the recipe.

keerai_mulagootal3

Recipe adapted from: Subbu’s Kitchen

Ingredients:

To saute and grind:

  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 2 tablespoons urad dal
  • 3-4 dry red chilies
  • 1 teaspoon jeera
  • 1/4 cup coconut
  • water as needed

For the kootu:

  • 4 cups spinach, chopped
  • 1/2 cup moong or toor dal, cooked separately
  • 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • salt to taste
  • 1 teaspoon oil
  • 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 1 dry red chillies

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a pan. Roast 2 tablespoons urad dal, 3-4 red chillies. Once the dal turns brown, add 1 teaspoon jeera seeds and turn off the heat. Once cool, add to a mixer jar along with 1/4 cup coconut. Grind to a smooth paste adding a little water.

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a pan, add one teaspoon mustard seeds and 2-3 red chillies to it. You can do the tadka later, but sometimes, I prefer to do it together. Once it splutters, add about 3-4 cups of cleaned and chopped spinach. Add a little water and let it cook. 

Cook 1/2 cup moong dal (or toor dal) with 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder separately. Add the dal to the spinach once its cooked.

Mix well, add water as needed and add the ground paste. Mix everything in, adding salt to taste. Add water as needed to bring it the consistency you prefer. Serve with rice and pickle.

keerai_mulagootal2
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Palak Paneer

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Palak paneer is one of my son’s favorite dishes and that is an achievement indeed. He hates rice, but when I think about it, even I wasn’t a big fan of rice or  koottu or most South Indian foods at his age  . I wouldn’t protest since I didn’t know any better, but I didn’t exactly love the food I was served either. And look at me now…I love all foods and South Indian is my favorite. So maybe it’s just a game of not giving up now and feeding him even though he eats with a look of martyrdom and a loud sigh. And hope that he will learn to love it as time passes by.

But some recipes are his favorites. Palak paneer is one of those. Even if you serve it with rice, there are no complaints. There is obvious delight and no questions are asked. I won’t say that I make it regularly, but I do make it at least once a month. Don’t want to jinx the special status of the dish by making it regularly. 

I used to try my friend’s recipe for a long time, but now found another recipe at this site and that’s what I have been making for the past couple of times. Basically it’s spinach cooked with ginger, green chilies, garlic and onion. A few more items and the dish is complete. Palak paneer is a mild dish and you usually don’t add a lot of spice powders, letting the spinach shine over everything else. 

Read on for the recipe. This serves about 4-5 people. 

4palak_paneer

Serves 4-5 people

Ingredients:

  • 1 Tablespoon ghee
  • 1/2 teaspoon jeera
  • 1″ piece of ginger, chopped fine
  • 3 cloves of garlic, crushed
  • 2 green chilies, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium tomato, chopped
  • 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder 
  • 1/2 teaspoon chili powder or per taste
  • 1/2 teaspoon coriander powder 
  • A pinch of ground nutmeg 
  • 1/4 cup thick yogurt, optional
  • 2 bunches of spinach, about 600gms, chopped roughly 
  • 200 gms paneer 
  • 2-3 tablespoons of cream, optional

Method:

  1. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter or oil in a pan. Add 1/2 teaspoon of jeera seeds. Once it changes color, add 1″ piece of chopped ginger, couple of chopped green chillies and 3-4 crushed or chopped garlic cloves. Once this turns golden in color, add one roughly chopped medium onion. Sauté until it turns pink. 
  2. Chop and add one medium tomato to the sautéed onions. Let it cook for a couple of minutes. Add all the spices – 1/2 teaspoon each of turmeric powder, chili powder, coriander powder, a pinch of ground nutmeg and salt as needed. Cook for a further minute or two. 
  3. Add 1/4 cup of yogurt and mix well. You can switch off the heat and let the curry cool a bit before adding the yogurt if you want. I didn’t do that. 
  4. Add 3 bunches of spinach, about 750 gms, that’s roughly chopped and cook until it shrinks in size and is wilted. Taste test and adjust seasonings if needed. Take off the heat and let it cool down. 
  5. Purée this mixture in a blender. Now add it back to the pan and bring it to a slow simmer. Add the cubed paneer pieces as well and let it cook together for a few minutes. You can add a few tablespoons of cream if you wish. Take off the heat and serve hot with chapati or jeera rice. 

1palak_paneer

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