Pressure Cooker Khichuri

4 tbsp vegetable oil
1 medium red onion thinly sliced
3/4 cup red split lentils (masuur dal)
1/2 cup Basmati or kalajeera rice
1 tsp powdered cumin
1 tsp powdered coriander
1 tbsp grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp red cayenne pepper powder
1 tsp salt or to taste
1/2 tsp turmeric
2 cups cauliflower florets
1 medium sized Yukon gold potato peeled and cubed
1/2 cup frozen green peas

For tempering
1 tbsp ghee or coconut oil
1 1/2 tsp cumin seeds
1/2 tsp dried crushed red pepper (optional)
2 whole dried red chillies
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1 tbsp chopped cilantro

Set the Instant Pot® on Sauté mode and heat the oil for about 1 minute, then add the onion and sauté until they turn golden, about 5 to 6 minutes. Stir in the lentils, rice, cumin, coriander, ginger, cayenne pepper powder, salt, and turmeric. Add the cauliflower, potato, and 4 cups of water and stir well.

Press Cancel to turn off Sauté mode, close the lid, and set the Instant Pot® on Manual Low Pressure mode for 4 minutes.
When cooking time is complete, allow for Natural Pressure Release for 10 to 15 minutes, then use Quick Release for any residual pressure.

Once pressure is released, open pot and stir rice mixture well. Set the Instant Pot® to Sauté mode and stir in the green peas and cook for 1 minute.

To finish, heat the ghee or coconut oil in a small pan, add the cumin seeds, crushed red pepper, if using, and whole dried red chilies and cook until the mixture crackles and is fragrant, being careful not to burn the crushed red pepper. Pour the fragrant mixture over the khichuri and gently stir. Sprinkle on the lime juice and garnish with cilantro before serving.

Coconut Curry with Chickpeas and Pumpkin

3 tablespoons neutral oil, such as sunflower or canola
1 large onion, chopped
2 jalapeños, seeded or not, thinly sliced
1 bay leaf
1 knob ginger (about 1 inch), minced
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 1/2 teaspoons garam masala
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon ground turmeric
2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, rinsed
1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut milk (do not use light coconut milk)
1 (13.5-ounce) can pumpkin purée
1 1/2 teaspoons fine sea salt, more as needed
3/4 cup chopped cilantro, more for serving
2 to 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, plus wedges for serving
Cooked rice or couscous, for serving (optional)

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Stir in onion, jalapeño and bay leaf. Cook, stirring occasionally, until onion is golden on the edges, about 8 minutes.

Add ginger and garlic and cook until fragrant, about 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Stir in garam masala, cumin and turmeric; cook for an additional 30 seconds.

Stir in chickpeas, coconut milk, pumpkin, ½ cup water and 1 ½ teaspoons salt. Bring to a simmer and continue to simmer for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally, to let the flavors meld. (Add more water if it starts to look too thick.) Stir in cilantro and lime juice to taste. Taste and add more salt if necessary.

Serve over rice or couscous if you like, and top with more cilantro and lime wedges on the side.

Heirloom Beans and Cream

2 cups mixed dried heirloom beans, soaked overnight
2 quarts chicken stock or low-sodium chicken broth
4 sprigs thyme, plus leaves for serving
Kosher salt, freshly ground pepper
1/2 cup heavy cream
Flaky sea salt
Olive oil (for serving)

Bring beans, stock, and thyme sprigs to a gentle simmer in a medium pot over medium-high. Reduce heat to medium-low and simmer, partially covered, skimming any foam from surface, until beans are tender, 1–1 1/2 hours, depending on types. Discard thyme. Season with kosher salt and pepper, remove from heat, and let sit 30 minutes.

Return to a simmer; stir in cream. Season with more kosher salt and pepper if needed. Serve topped with thyme leaves and sea salt and drizzled with oil.

Do Ahead: Beans can be cooked 3 days ahead. Let cool; cover and chill.

Butter Beans with Heirloom Tomatoes

Beans

Handful of oregano sprigs
Handful of thyme sprigs
2 bay leaves
8 oz. dried butter beans, rinsed, soaked overnight if possible
1 medium onion, halved
1 large carrot, scrubbed, coarsely chopped
Kosher salt
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
Vinaigrette and Assembly

10 oz. cherry tomatoes or 1½ cups chopped heirloom or beefsteak tomatoes
1 garlic clove, smashed
3 Tbsp. red wine vinegar
? cup extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
Kosher salt
2 lb. assorted heirloom, beefsteak, and/or cherry tomatoes
Freshly ground black pepper
Handful of basil leaves
Mild red pepper flakes (such as Aleppo-style or Maras)

Beans:

Tie together oregano, thyme, and bay leaves with kitchen twine. Combine beans, onion, carrot, and herbs in a medium pot. Pour in water to cover beans by about 4″ and bring to a very gentle simmer over medium-high heat.

Immediately reduce heat and cook at the barest of simmers, stirring hardly at all, until beans are creamy and tender at the center but not falling apart or mushy, about 1 1/2 hours (this could take longer, depending on the beans). The key is to not agitate, which will help the beans maintain their shape.

Remove pot from heat; season beans aggressively with salt.

Gently stir in oil. Let cool. Drain beans; discard onion, carrot, and herbs.

Do Ahead: Beans can be made 2 days ahead. Keep in liquid; cover and chill.

Vinaigrette and Assembly:

Purée cherry tomatoes in a blender. Transfer to a small bowl and stir in garlic, vinegar, and ? cup oil; season with salt. Let sit 15–20 minutes, then pluck out garlic.

Transfer drained beans to a medium bowl and add vinaigrette; toss gently to coat. Taste and add more salt if needed.

Slice, halve, or quarter heirloom tomatoes and arrange on a platter or divide among individual plates. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with oil. Spoon beans along with plenty of vinaigrette over; top with basil and a few pinches of red pepper flakes.

Khichuri

1/2 cup mung dal (skinned and split mung beans)
1/2 cup Basmati rice
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
2 tejpatta (Sold in Indian grocery stores as “Indian bay leaf”)
6 cups water
1 Russet potato, cubed into 1″ pieces
1/2 head of a large cauliflower, cut into small florets
1/2 tablespoon freshly grated ginger
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon Kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
1/2 cup freshly grated coconut (could substitute with unsweetened dessicated coconut)
1/2 cup raisins
1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed
Zest and juice of 1 lime
Vegetable oil for sauteing
1-2 tablespoons Ghee (could be substituted with butter)
2 tomatoes, chopped into small pieces
1 teaspoon sugar

On medium heat, in a dry wok, add the mung dal and toast until it changes color to a light brown and becomes very aromatic. Keep stirring frequently while you toast the dal – don’t let it burn! Once the dal changes color, add 3 cups of water, add the bay leaves, bring it to a boil, cover with a lid and cook for 15 minutes.

After 15 minutes, add the rice, one teaspoon of Kosher salt and another 3 cups of water, bring to a boil, cover with a lid and cook for another 10 minutes.

While the dal starts boiling, start sauteing your vegetables. In a large skillet, on medium heat, add about 1/4 cup of vegetable oil. When the oil starts shimmering, add the cumin seeds and ginger paste and saute for a few seconds. The ginger is going to splatter like crazy, so be careful! Add the potatoes, cauliflower, turmeric, cayenne and one teaspoon of Kosher salt and saute until the veggies are evenly browned on all sides. This should take about 20 minutes or so.

Once the rice has cooked for 10 minutes, add all the vegetables into the wok, scraping the skillet to get all the spices. Add the tomatoes, mix well, cover with a lid and continue cooking for another 10 minutes. Check frequently to make sure that there is enough water in the wok and the khichuri is not getting stuck at the bottom.

Meanwhile, in the same skillet, add another teaspoon of oil and saute the coconut until it gets browned at the edges and becomes very aromatic. Set aside.

After the vegetables have cooked in the wok for 10 minutes, check to see if they are done. At this point, both the rice and dal should be cooked through and about to turn mushy, and the tomatoes should have disintegrated. Add the sauteed coconut, raisins, peas, sugar, zest and juice of the lime. Mix well. I like my khichuri to have the consistency of risotto, so I let it cook with the lid off until the texture is just right. Taste for seasoning. Mix in the ghee just before serving. Enjoy immediately with your favorite vegetable fritters, papads and extra wedges of lime!

Khichuri (Stovetop or Pressure Cooker)

1/2 cup white rice
1/2-cup moong dal (split yellow mung bean)
Half of a small cauliflower, cut into about 10 florets (not so small that they will melt)
2 or 3 small potatoes, peeled and cut in half, or 1 medium potato cut into 4-6 pieces
1/3 cup of frozen peas
1 bay leaf
2 green cardamom
2-3 cloves
1 thin sticks of cinnamon
1 or 2 dry red chili (I often use green chili instead)
1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 tablespoon grated ginger
Ghee (clarified butter)
Turmeric and salt as needed

Dry roast the moong dal on medium flame till it starts to brown and you can smell its nutty aroma. (Other khichri recipes use a range of lentils that don’t involve this step.) Stop when about half the beans have become light brown in color, then set aside in a bowl with 2 cups of warm water in it.

Into a pan add a tablespoon of ghee (or mustard oil or vegetable oil) and heat on high or medium till the ghee looks hot.

Throw in the bay leaf. As it starts to brown, lower the flame to medium and add the cardamom pods, clove and cinnamon. Stir with a spoon. Then add the cumin seeds and the chilies. Once the cumin seeds start to sputter, throw in the grated ginger, and stir.

Now add the potato, carrots and cauliflower. Sprinkle some turmeric till veggies turn light yellow. Stir fry for a few minutes.

At this stage, add the dal with the water and salt to taste. Cover the pot and cook till water starts to boil.

Cook for 4 more minutes so that the dal, which takes longer to cook, starts to soften.

At this point, you can transfer everything to a pressure cooker, add the frozen peas, rice and one more cup of water and cook it using the rice setting. (If you’re using a stove top pressure cooker, wait for two whistles before you switch off of the stove.)

Or if not using a pressure cooker, add the rice and two more cups of water to the pot once the dal starts to soften. Cook with a lid on medium or low with occasional stirring to make sure rice and mung beans don’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Frozen peas will cook quickly, so add them 5-10 minutes after the rice. Add more water along the way if it starts to look too dry.

Consistency should be like that of a thick porridge, although some people like it drier.

Cook till rice, dal and vegetables look cooked, but not too mushy. Serve with a teaspoon of ghee on top, mango or lime pickle on the side.

This very well with papad or papadum, which are flat, round, tortilla shaped crispy snacks that are usually deep fried or roasted over the fire.

Basic Lentils (or Beans) with Sautéed Onions

Basic Recipe:
Cook 1 pound of beans or lentils in water with a bay leaf. (If you’re cooking lentils, add one peeled, cubed potato to the pot.) Add salt when they begin to soften.

Thinly slice an entire yellow onion and saute over low heat in lots of olive oil until soft and reduced, about 20 minutes. You can also cut in some butter if you like. A clove of garlic would be welcome, too.

Just before serving, add an herb or spice (or a spice mix) to the cooked onions.

Gently add the onion mix to the beans or lentils, and cook for 5 minutes, then transfer to a dish and serve. Not making this a one-pot meal means the flavors stay sharp and distinct.

Variations/Specialties

Lentils with Spiced Onions
Follow the cooking instructions above. Lentils cook in about 20 minutes, unsoaked. A cubed potato will cook in about the same time and potatoes add some body to a pot of lentils. To the onions, add a spoonful of the Moroccan spice blend Ras al Hanout.

Royal Coronas with Onions and Sage

Follow the cooking instructions above. Instead of Ras al Hanout, chop two sprigs of fresh sage and add it to the onions. For a pound, the two sprigs were perfect. It was a lot of sage, but a pound of beans makes over six cups. I think too much sage would ruin things, but you do want the flavor.

Beef Fried Rice

2 tablespoons peanut oil (or vegetable oil)
1/2 lb (225 g) ground beef
2 tablespoons soy sauce , separated
3 eggs , beaten
4 green onions , chopped
3 cups cooked rice , chilled
1 cup frozen veggies (broccoli, carrot, corn, and/or peas)
1 bell pepper , diced
2 teaspoons cumin powder
1/2 teaspoon chili flakes (or powder)
1/2 teaspoon salt (or to taste)

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick (or carbon steel paover medium-high heat until hot. Add the ground beef and quickly spread it across the pan with your spatula to form a thin layer. Let the bottom cook until browned, 2 to 3 minutes. Drizzle with soy sauce. Flip the beef and chop it into smaller pieces with your spatula. When the beef is almost cooked through, move it to one side of the pan.

Add the remaining 1/2 tablespoon of oil and green onions onto the empty side of the pan. Stir a few times.

Add the rice and pour the remaining 1 tablespoon of soy sauce over the rice. Stir and cook for 30 seconds until evenly mixed. Stir everything together.

Add the frozen veggies, bell pepper, cumin powder, chili flakes, and sprinkle with the salt. Stir and cook for a minute. Move everything to one side of the pan.

Add 1/2 tablespoon of oil onto the other side of the pan. Add the beaten eggs onto the oil. Let them cook for a few seconds until the bottom sets. Scramble the eggs using your spatula, cut them into smaller pieces, and mix them with everything else.

Transfer everything to a plate and serve hot as a main or side dish. Enjoy!

Yemisir Wot (Ethiopian Berbere Lentils)

1/2 cup coconut oil
2 small to medium yellow onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pureed
1 tbsp fresh ginger, peeled and pureed
1/2 cup berbere spice
1 cup dried red lentils, washed
3 cups water
kosher salt, to taste

In a large dutch oven, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add in the onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes.

Add in the garlic, ginger, and berbere, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant. Add in the lentils and cook for 1 minute more. Add in the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for 30-45 minutes until thick and the the lentils have broken down a bit. Season, to taste, with salt.

Yelik Akicha (Ethiopian Yellow Peas with Turmeric)

1 cup dried yellow split peas
1/4 cup coconut oil
2 small to medium yellow onions, chopped
2 cloves garlic, pureed
1 and 1/2 tbsp fresh ginger, pureed
2 tsp turmeric
3 cups water
1 tsp salt

Rinse the split peas and put them in a small saucepan. Cover with water and bring to a boil. Boil for five minutes, and then turn off the heat and allow the peas to sit in the water until ready to use.

In a large dutch oven, heat the coconut oil over medium-high heat. Add in the onions, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 8 minutes. Add in the garlic, ginger, and turmeric, and cook for 1 to 2 minutes, until fragrant.

Drain the split peas and add them to the pot. Cook, stirring, for 1 minute more. Add in the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to a simmer, and cook for around 45 minutes until thick and the split peas are tender. Season, to taste, with salt.

Jollof Rice

FOR THE OBE ATA:
1 (14-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes with their juices
1 medium red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and roughly chopped
1/2 medium red onion, peeled and roughly chopped
4 garlic cloves, peeled
1 (1-inch) piece fresh ginger, peeled and finely chopped
1 red habanero chile, stemmed
2 tablespoons canola or other neutral oil

FOR THE JOLLOF RICE:
1/2 cup canola or other neutral oil
2 medium red onions, peeled, halved and thinly sliced
4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1 teaspoon ground turmeric
1/4 teaspoon smoked paprika (optional)
3 cups parboiled long-grain rice (such as Carolina Gold or Uncle Ben’s Original), basmati or jasmine rice (about 1¼ pounds)
5 fresh thyme sprigs
1 fresh bay leaf
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
2 cups beef, chicken or vegetable stock

Prepare the obe ata: Working in batches if needed, combine all the obe ata ingredients except the canola oil in a blender and purée on high until smooth. The liquid from the can of tomatoes should suffice, but you can add up to 1/4 cup of water if necessary to get the purée going. (You should have about 3 cups of purée.)

Heat the 2 tablespoons canola oil in a medium saucepan over medium-high. Add the purée and bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium, cover and simmer until the sauce is slightly reduced by about a third of its original volume, 18 to 20 minutes. (It should make about 2 cups. Obe ata can be cooled and refrigerated for up to 2 weeks, or frozen for up to 1 month.)

Prepare the rice: Heat the oven to 350 degrees. Heat the 1/2 cup canola oil in a large Dutch oven over medium until shimmering, about 1 minute.

Add the onions and cook, stirring frequently, until softened, 6 to 8 minutes. Remove half the onions to a plate and set aside.

Add the garlic and sauté until fragrant and translucent, about 2 minutes.

Add the tomato paste, turmeric and smoked paprika, if using, and toast, stirring occasionally, until turmeric is fragrant and tomato paste has deepened to a dark red color, about 2 minutes.

Stir in the obe ata sauce and bring to a simmer over medium heat. The habanero oils love to disperse in the air, so you may want to turn on your stovetop fan or open a window while simmering the obe ata.

Stir in the rice, thyme and bay leaf, and season with salt and pepper.

Stir in the stock and cover with a lid. Transfer the pot to the oven and cook until rice is just tender, 35 minutes.

Remove the pot from the oven and let sit, covered (no peeking) for 15 minutes. Uncover, fluff the rice with a fork and stir in the reserved sautéed onions. Adjust seasoning, if necessary, and discard the thyme sprigs and bay leaf. Serve warm.

Sheveed Polo (Persian Dilled Rice)

1 large bunch dill, trimmed and finely chopped
3 tablespoons dried dill
2 cups white basmati rice, rinsed
2 tablespoons unsalted butter or olive oil
2 teaspoons kosher salt

Set aside 1/4 cup of the chopped fresh dill. In a bowl, combine the rest of the fresh dill with the dried dill.

Place the rice, butter and salt in a medium pot. Add 3 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil over high heat. Give it a stir, reduce the heat to low, cover and cook until the water has been absorbed, about 12 minutes. (It’s O.K. to lift the lid to check.)

Fold the dill mixture into the rice. Wrap the lid in a kitchen towel to catch the condensation, ensuring that the kitchen towel is secured up top so it doesn’t catch fire. Firmly place the lid back on the pot.
Cook until the rice is cooked through and fluffy, about 15 minutes. Gently fluff with a spoon, then transfer to a serving platter, scattering the reserved 1/4 cup fresh dill in between spoonfuls of rice.

Bengali Cholar Dal

250 gms Chana Dal/ Bengal gram
1.2 litres water
2-3 cloves
1 tsp turmeric powder
Salt to taste
1 heaped tsp sugar
2 tbsp mustard oil or vegetable oil
1 bay leaf
1 tsp cumin seeds
2 green chillies slit lengthwise
30gms grated coconut
1 heaped tbsp raisins
1 tbsp chopped coriander for garnish

for the spice mix:
1 inch cinnamon stick
5-6 cardamom pods seeds only

Add the lentils and water to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over a medium heat stirring often. Simmer and add the cloves, turmeric, salt & sugar. Continue cooking for a further hour and 15 minutes until the dal is soft stirring often making sure it doesn’t stick to the bottom of the pan. Turn the heat off and mash roughly with a potato masher or back of a fork.

To make the ground spice mix; heat a frying pan over a low flame. Break the cinnamon stick and chillies to smaller pieces. Add the cardamom seeds along with the cinnamon and red chillies to the pan. Keep the heat on low giving the pan a few shakes every couple of minutes. Roast the spices for 7-8 minutes. Cool slightly and tip it in a coffee grinder to make a fine powder. Set aside.

n a heavy bottom non stick pan heat the oil over medium flame; add the bay leaf and cumin seeds cooking until they sizzle for a few seconds. Now add the green chillies and stir for 2-3 seconds. Add the coconut frying for a minute or so until it start to turn light brown

Slowly pour in the cooked chana dal stirring well. Bring it to a boil, add the raisins and the ground spice powder. Simmer on a low heat cooking for 10 minutes with a lid on. Stir a few times as it simmers making sure it doesnt stick to the bottom of the pan. Check seasoning and garnish with fresh coriander. Serve parathas, luchis or steamed rice

Parippu Curry (Sri Lankan Dal)

8 oz. red lentils (masoor dal)
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2 onions, chopped
4 leaves curry, thinly sliced
1/4 teaspoon saffron powder
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon fenugreek seeds
1/4 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 teaspoon mustard seeds
1/2 teaspoon chili powder
2 whole cloves
1 cup coconut milk
1 1/4 cup water
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1/2 lime
1 green hot pepper
Salt

Wash the lentils well by changing the water at least three times.

Boil them in the water with the saffron, chili powder, turmeric, curry and cloves.
After about 15 minutes, when the color of the lentils changes from red to yellow, remove from the heat and pour into a large bowl.

Heat the oil in a very large skillet over medium heat. Add the mustard, fenugreek, and cumin seeds and fry for 20 seconds.
Add the onion and garlic and mix well for 20 seconds.

Add the boiled lentils and mix well. Cook for 5 minutes.

Add the coconut milk and salt to taste. Cook until the curry begins to boil.
Remove from heat and add the lime juice.
Add the raw or fried green hot pepper on top (optional).

Serve hot with rice or bread.

Coconut Rice

Rice – 2 cups (any long grained or fluffy white rice variety)
Water – 3.5-4 cups or enough to cook the rice
Coconut – 1 cup, shredded (fresh, not desiccated)
Oil – 2 tbsp + extra for frying cashew nuts
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Black pepper corns – 8-10
Whole dry red chilies – 3
Urad dal (split black lentil) – 1.5 tsp
Curry leaves – a few
Salt – to taste
Cashew nuts – for garnish (optional)

Prepare rice as usual. Fluff with a fork or spoon.

Heat 2 tbsp oil in a large pan.

Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, red chilies and curry leaves.
When the mustard seeds start sputtering, add black pepper corns and urad dal. Saute till dal turns light golden in color.

Add coconut and saute for a couple of minutes. No need to roast the coconut, just saute till the moisture is gone.

Add the cooked rice and salt to taste. Mix well, taking care not to mash the rice.

Heat some oil in a small saucepan and fry the cashew nuts till golden. Add to the rice and serve hot.

This rice goes well with just about anything. It is absolutely delicious with fried/grilled chicken or fish or any other spicy curry.

Vegetable Pulao and Raita

You will need: (* – Refer notes)

Rice (Basmati or similar long-grained) – 2 cups
Ghee (clarified butter)* – 2 tbsp + 2 tsp
Whole spices like cinnamon stick , cloves, cardamom and black pepper corns**
Onion – 1 medium-sized, finely chopped
Vegetables like carrots, peas and green beans – 1 cup (total)
Lemon juice – 1 tbsp
Water – 3 cups
Cashew nuts and raisins for garnish (optional)

Wash the rice in water. Drain well and keep aside***.

Heat 2 tbsp ghee in a thick bottomed vessel (I use a pressure cooker). Add the whole spices and allow it to sputter and become fragrant.

Add the chopped onions. Saute till they turn translucent.
Add the vegetables and saute for a minute.

Add 3 cups water****. Add enough salt and bring to a gentle boil.

Add the washed rice and a tablespoon of lemon juice. Mix well and check seasoning.

Cover and cook till done.

If using a pressure cooker, cook on medium high till you hear a whistle, lower the heat and cook for 5 more minutes. Else, cover the vessel with a heavy lid and cook till done.
This dish can easily be cooked in a rice cooker too. Do the sauteing in a pan and transfer to the rice cooker along with rice, water and lemon juice.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan, heat the remaining ghee and fry the cashew nuts and raisins till golden.

To serve, fluff pulao well, garnish with nuts and serve hot with raita or your favorite curry.

Notes:

* Substitute with oil, if ghee is not available or you are extremely health conscious!

** For 2 cups of rice, I use a 2-inch piece of cinnamon stick, 3-4 cloves, 2-3 pods of cardamom and 3-4 black pepper corns.

*** The washed rice can be roasted in a little ghee. I usually skip this step (read the title!) and it turns out okay.

****Typically, the Basmati rice I use, needs 1.5 cups of water per cup of rice. Some rice types may need up to 2 cups of water. This information is usually available on the rice packet.

Now on to the raita. The following is the recipe for a simple tomato and onion raita with a surprise garnish!

You will need:

Thick yogurt – 1 cup
Onion – 1 small, finely chopped
Tomato – 1 small, de-seeded and finely chopped
Green chillies – 2, chopped
Grapes – for garnish (the surprise!)

Whip yogurt well with a fork or whisk.

Add onions, tomatoes and green chillies.

Season with salt.

Garnish with green or red grapes cut in half. This is kind of a family tradition at our house. I playfully added a couple of grapes to raita one day and my husband was hooked! It adds a playful sweetness.

You can use cilantro and mint leaves also for garnish.

You can add finely chopped cucumbers and carrots to the raita too. Don’t forget to de-seed the cucumbers.

Tomato Rice with Cucumber-Carrot Raita

Rice – 2 cups (any long grained or fluffy white rice variety)
Water – 3.5-4 cups or enough to cook the rice
Oil – 2 tbsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Whole dry red chilies – 3
Curry leaves – a few
Onion – 6-8 small shallots or 1 small yellow onion, finely chopped
Tomato – 3, chopped
Green chilies – 1-2
Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tsp
Red chili powder – 1/2 tsp and coriander powder – 1 tsp; or sambar powder* – 1 1/2 tsp
Salt – to taste
Fresh cilantro leaves – for garnish (optional)
Roasted peanuts or cashew nuts – for garnish (optional)

Notes: * – Sambar powder adds a unique flavor to this rice. It is easily available at International grocery stores here. If not available, use a combination of red chili and coriander powders.

Cucumber-Carrot Raita:

Yogurt – 1 cup
Cucumber – 1/2 cup, de-seeded and chopped
Carrot – 1/2 cup, chopped
Green chili – 1, chopped
Salt – 1/2 tsp
How to:

Tomato Rice:

Prepare rice as usual. Fluff with a fork or spoon and keep aside.
Heat oil in a large pan. Add the mustard seeds, whole red chilies and curry leaves.
When the mustard seeds start sputtering, add the onions and green chilies, and saute till the onions are translucent.
Add the ginger and garlic paste and saute well till the raw smell is gone.
Add the masala powders and saute for a few seconds.
Add the chopped tomatoes and 1/4 cup water. Add salt to taste. Cover and let the tomatoes cook.
Open the lid and mash the tomatoes lightly with a spoon. The consistency should be that of a thick gravy so as to coat the rice well, but not too watery.
Add the cooked rice. Mix well, taking care not to mash the rice.
Garnish with the nuts and cilantro. Serve hot with raita or chutney.

Cucumber-Carrot Raita:

Take the yogurt in a bowl and beat well with a fork or whisk. Use a couple of tablespoons of water to thin it, if desired.
Add the chopped cucumber, carrot and green chili and salt. Mix well and serve chilled.

Raita can be made with onions and tomatoes too.

Papaya-Mango Yellow Rice

Oil – 2 tsp
Mustard seeds – 1/2 tsp
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Dried red chilies – 2
Curry leaves – 5-6
Ginger – 1 tbsp, finely chopped
Asafoetida – a pinch
Turmeric powder – 1/2 tsp
Green or unripe papaya – 1/2 cup, grated
Green or unripe mango – 1/2 cup, grated
Coconut – 2 tbsp, grated
Rice – 3 cups, cooked
Salt – to taste
Roasted peanuts – 1/4 cup

Heat oil in a large skillet. Add mustard seeds, cumin seeds, dried red chilies and curry leaves. When the seeds begin to crackle, add ginger, asafoetida and turmeric powder. Saute for a few seconds on low flame to fry the ginger.

Add grated papaya and mango and cook for 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently. When papaya and mango are soft, tip in the coconut and saute for a few more seconds.

Now add the cooked rice and gently fold in to combine. Season with salt. Add the roasted peanuts. Serve hot with a side of raita, pickle and pappads.

NOTES:
1. Though filled with nutritional goodness, unripe green papaya is somewhat bland, but still great at absorbing flavors. So green mango is added here to give the rice a tangy flavor.

Paneer Dahi Pulao

To marinate:
Paneer – 250gm, cut into small cubes
Yogurt – 1/4 cup
Ginger and garlic paste – 1 tsp
Turmeric powder – 1/4 tsp
Red chili powder – 1 tsp
Garam masala powder – 1/2 tsp
Salt – 1/2 tsp

For Pulao:
Basmati rice – 1 cup
Ghee – 2 tbsp
Cinnamon – 2″ stick
Cloves – 2
Cardamom – 3 pods
Bay leaves – 2, dried
Cumin seeds – 1/2 tsp
Red onion – 1 large, finely chopped
Ginger-garlic paste – 1 tsp
Tomato paste – 1 tsp
Water – 1 1/2 cups
Salt – to taste
Cilantro leaves – 1 tbsp, chopped

For garnish:
Ghee or oil – 2 tbsp
Cashew nuts – 5-6
Golden raisins – 8-10
Onion – 1/4 cup, thinly sliced

Marinating paneer: In a small bowl, mix together paneer and other marinade ingredients. Set aside while you prep the pulao.

Making pulao: Wash and soak rice in water for 15-20 minutes.
In a large pan or pressure cooker, heat ghee. Add whole spices (cinnamon, cloves, cardamom, bay leaves and cumin seeds) and allow them to sputter.

Now add onions and saute till lightly golden. Then add ginger-garlic paste and saute till raw smell goes away.

Add tomato paste, if using, and saute for a few more seconds.
Now add the paneer cubes, shaking off excess marinade and mix well.

Add drained rice and mix well to coat with the spices.
Add water to the bowl with leftover marinade and mix well. Add 1½ cups of liquid to the pan along with salt and cilantro. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and cook covered till rice is done. This takes around 20 minutes for a covered pan. If using a pressure cooker, cook on medium-high heat for 2 whistles and allow steam to be released naturally before opening the lid.
Open the lid and gently fluff the pulao.

Garnish: In a small pan, heat ghee. Add cashews and raisins and fry till golden. Drain and set aside. Then add onions to the ghee and fry them a dark brown color.

Garnish prepared pulao with fried cashews, raisins and onions just before serving. Serve with raita or curry of choice.

South Indian Dal

3 tbsp. ghee (or vegetable oil and you’ll keep the whole thing vegan)
2 small red onions or 1 large one, roughly chopped
1 tbsp. mustard seeds
1 tsp. cumin seeds
1/2 tsp. turmeric
1/4 tsp. chili powder
Pinch of ground cardamon
3 dried red chilies, chopped into 1/4? pieces
1 tsp. salt
A few dashes of pepper
8 cloves garlic, minced
1-inch nub ginger, minced
1 1/2 cups masoor dahl (orange lentils)
4 medium sized tomatoes, roughly chopped
3 cups water
1 1/2 cups coconut milk
Juice from 1 lime
For garnish: Lime, cilantro, toasted cashews

Heat ghee on medium heat and add spices and onion, stirring continuously for about five minutes.

Add garlic and ginger and cook for another one or two minutes.

Then, add lentils, tomatoes and liquids. Crank up the heat to medium-high and stir continuously, until all liquid is absorbed, about 15 to 20 minutes.

Serve hot with rice, naan or a crusty roll. Garnish with toasted cashews and cilantro, and extra lime wedges for squeezing on top, as well as extra salt and pepper.