Juhu Beach style Tava Pulao of my favourite ways to jazz up dinners without a fuss. It’s just rice tossed with Pavbhaji style wet spice base. It is rustled up on huge iron Tavas which are used to make Pavbhaji by the street side sellers usually from leftover spice base of Pavbhaji. Now, i don’t have a humongous tava that is as wide as my arms spread out wide, but a little Jugaad here and there and we can infuse that clanking of metal spatulas and the smell of Amul Butter, ginger garlic, finely chopped coriander and Pavbhaji masala bubbling up steadily on the Tava into our meals. I haven’t eaten it at Juhu Beach a lot, but I have seen several maestros aka Pavbhaji Walas at work and believe me, watching them work their magic is nothing short of a conductor at an opera. It’s not easy to keep up. The Turkish Salt Bae guy has got nothing on these Thelawalas when it comes to dexterity. A quick swipe lands a large chunk of butter on the tava. A shake of a sprinkler drizzles some beautiful red orange spice mix into the melting golden pool of butter. Another quick grab and sprinkle movement means a ladle full of puree ( precooked tomato paste, I am guessing ) is ready to tango with the spices and butter. A handful of veggies go in next ( I have added a lot more than capsicum and onion, which are staples. Feel free to throw in a few chunks of paneer though). Finally, the most difficult arm movement to master in my opinion, using that steel masher to bring together everything into the centre and making a homogeneous mix of spices and vegetables where each of them still has an presence but they are no longer merely ingredients. They are the elixer that is Pavbhaji now! Add a handful of rice and chopped coriander and Voila! That’s chef-d’oeuvre I call Tava Pulao! Do yourself a favour and don’t adulterate it with a mountain of cheese. Not that it is a crime. But don’t forget to pair it with Raita or Buttermilk.
The image is from my own instagram account and can be found here
Continue reading “Tava Pulao – the next best thing to PavBhaji!”
So, I had heard about Tehri on and off from friends for about a decade, Tehri being a very popular weekend meal consisting of a rice and vegetables cooked in a pot with minimal spices for a lot of families in Uttar Pradesh and Bihar. Or so I have been told by friends. And due to my unfamiliarity, those conversations always ended in ‘Yes, it is kind of like Pulao but not the same.” sort of ending. But over the years, I have realised hardly any Indian recipe is standardized across homes. Each of them have their own special touch and if nothing else, they are most certainly modified to accommodate the whims of a fussy family member. However, one thread of commonality did rise to the top – Tehri is mostly not about opulence or grandeur. Tehri is mundane, it is a respite from the routine, both for the tummy and for the person who usually handles the workings of the household and the kitchen. So, vegetables may vary, spices may vary – some add turmeric, some do not. Some add whole spices to the tempering, some do not even add the standard cumin and mustard seeds. And so on. But no one adds richness to it, like nuts or so. And most commonly, mustard oil is the medium of tempering, although Ghee is fairly common now, may be because a lot of folks find the mustard oil strong and pungent. I respectfully disagree. I think, the rest of us, have never learnt to handle it correctly. The process of heating it until it starts to smoke and turns paler yellow really takes away that pungency in m observation. But, to each their own and I never tire of repeating it. So here is my version of Tehri without further ado.
The image is from my own instagram account and can be found here
Continue reading “Tehri – a potful of simplicity, comfort, winter produce and deliciousness!”
So, the last time I went on and on about Daal Tadka and how comforting it is. But part of the allure of this wonderful combo comes from the perfect rice. While normally I make the regular steamed rice for the weeknights, sometimes though, when I want to a special touch to the meal, I make Jeera Rice as the accompaniments to the curries and daals.
Jeera rice is the plain steamed rice that is tempered with ghee ( clarified butter ) and cumin seeds. While Ghee is what is traditionally used for richness, if you are comfortable with dairy products or are vegan, feel free to use any neutral flavored oil, like olive oil, or sunflower seed oil, or canola oil. The taste will vary in a very subtle way, often not even perceptible. I add some finely coriander leaves to this because I love the aroma that this herb imparts. And it is such a simple recipe that you would be tempted to make it often. Without much ado, I will get down to the recipe.
Continue reading “Jeera Rice – the perfect accompaniment!”
Some days I want to curl up with a bowl of rice and lentils without really caring about the whole carbs are bad, carbs are not bad debates. And the best part is, the grannies from the whole wide world endorse it. The lentils and rice combination makes you sleep better because apparently, it increases serotonin secretion. So while flipping through Rick Stein’s cookbook “From Venice to Istanbul”, when I stumbled across the recipe of Mujaddara, I knew I had to make it.
Mujaddara is a classic lentil and rice preparation, made of whole, green or black lentils with rice and topped with lots of caramelized onions. Usually served with a dollop of thick, spiced yogurt on the side, the dish uses minimal spices and yet, it is one of the most flavorful dishes to have on a lazy weekend. Or even a weekday, honestly, it is that easy to put together.
Now while you can easily prepare this dish without any pre-preparation, it is best that you soak the beans for 4 hours to overnight before cooking. The benefit of soaking the lentils before cooking, no matter which type of lentils you are using is that it helps reduce or eliminate Phytic Acid, which is believed to inhibit nutrition absorption in the body.
Recipe: ( Serves 4 hearty servings )
- 1 cup green lentils / whole moong beans, soaked for 4 hours or overnight
- 1 cup rice
- 3 large onions, sliced thinly
- 4 tbsp of olive oil
- salt, to taste
- ground black pepper, to taste
- 2 tsp of cumin powder
- a large handful of coriander/cilantro, finely chopped
- 1 cup of thick yogurt/hung curd
- 1/2 tsp of red chilli powder (mild heat ) / paprika
- If you have soaked the lentils, they will cook very easily. I pressure cooked them because I feel it be more convenient rather than constantly attending to them. So, for that, take the beans in a pressure cooker, add enough water to just cover them, close the lid. Place on the stove and cook for exactly one whistle on medium heat. Immediately take it off the heat and let the pressure release naturally. Drain the residual water and let it cool down.
- If you are not soaking the lentils, you can take the lentils in a wide pan with 3 cups of water. Bring it to a boil, and cook over a medium to slow heat for about 15-20 mins when they are cooked yet retain their shape decently. Drain and set aside to cool.
- Cook the rice till it is done yet the grains are separate. Set it aside to cool too.
- In a pan, heat the olive oil and the sliced onions. Sprinkle a pinch of salt on the top. Now let them saute on a low to medium heat till they are cooked and have a sweet caramelized smell to them. You don’t need completely brown them, like they do for biryanis, but they need to have completely cooked and started to slightly sweeten.
- When that is done, turn the flame off and remove the pan from heat. Leave it aside for a couple of minutes to slightly cool down.
- Once all the three things have cooled down to the extent that you can handle then with bare hands, take the lentils, the rice and the onions in a large bowl. Season with salt, 1 tsp of cumin and pepper, add the chopped coriander leaves and toss lightly. You could do it gently with a spoon taking care that you don’t mush the lentils or the rice, or use your hands like I did.
- In an another bowl, whisk together the thick yogurt, salt to taste, 1 tsp of cumin and paprika/chili powder.
- To serve, spoon the lentils rice mixture into a bowl and top with a generous dollop of the spiced curd. Serve with lots of TLC. Bon appétit!
In this part of the world that I live in, the Indian Subcontinent, the summers are harsh. The mercury keeps rising until it is unbearable to be outdoors. Hot dry winds hold a vigil on the summer afternoons making sure you do not venture outdoors. And while you must have a got picture of how Indian summers are, I will say that for the Almighty, all his kids are equal and he doesn’t do any injustice to any of his kids. Why else would he bestow us with the king of fruits, Mango, in such abundance across India? While I can go on and on about the ripe mangoes, today my agenda is a bit different. It is early summers here in Bangalore, and the small, tart, raw mangoes have started to flood the markets. While the pickle is the first thing that comes to the minds of most Indians when you mention raw mangoes, some of like to eat it just like that, cut into slivers and rubbed with salt and chilli powder. At least, the childhood of most of us is full of such memories. Now that we have grown up, the hustle bustle may not allow us to sneak in such moments.
So, because of the strong associations we have mangoes, when I saw raw mangoes during this week’s grocery errands trip, it was as if, the mangoes were beckoning me towards them, almost hypnotically to be honest! And, I had bookmarked this raw mango rice recipe somewhere eons ago. So, I had to make Mavinkayi Chitranna or Raw Mango Rice with these beauties.
Continue reading “Mavinakayi Chitranna / Raw Mango Rice ~ Because summers are synonymous with mangoes!”
Winter brings with it, the bounty of verdant greens in addition to that chill and nip in the air. And that means, I am sometimes inspired to cook with those greens, precisely those ones whom I will turn up my nose to at other times. Okay, inspired is a too serious word for some one like me ( I am not rally dedicated to cooking, no matter what is seems ) , but you get the point right.
Continue reading “Turkish Spiced Pilaf!”