Thursday, February 11, 2016

Indian Mixed Vegetables Fried Rice (no soy sauce)

Remember a few blog posts ago I was talking about Mindfulness? I was reminded of it again when I drove into oncoming one day last week. Not to worry, nothing untoward happened that time but it could have been bad. I had several things in mind, had an argument with DH and was driving DD2 to a birthday party. If you know DD2 she seems to live her life primarily for socializing. DH and I have become full time chauffeurs driving her around for her numerous appointments.

Well anyway this particular time I was driving her to a town that I am not too fond of driving to. The town seems to have been planned in concentric circles and a big jigsaw puzzle, so if you miss a turn, you are better off driving back to your starting location and starting over than trying to find your way. So on this day I was peering at the GPS specifically so I don't get lost and when I had to make a left turn, turned straight onto the direction of oncoming traffic and ended up going in the wrong direction. I quickly realized my mistake by it was too late, understood why someone honked as I turned.

With glares from some of the drivers, with some looking at me in astonishment and few others wondering what in the world I was up to, slowly inched my way forward in the wrong direction. Lucky for me there was no concrete median but only grass so I could drive on that till I reached the intersection where I could turn. With blinking flashers I reached the intersection where I could safely merge into the road going the right way. Phew! a few very but what seemed like very long embarrassing minutes on the road :(

The incident is mostly my fault for not paying enough attention to the road and also an example of not being mindful and also more importantly of electronic distraction, even the ones that are supposed to help. All is well that ends well. I decided to be more tolerant of drivers who make mistakes on the road, a few of them were tolerant and changed lanes to help me pass when I did a stupid thing on the road. I would like to keep in mind mindfulness and try pay attention solely to what I am doing. Drive safely everybody without distractions.

Now on to the recipe,

If you have ordered Fried Rice in an Indian restaurant in India not a Chinese restaurant, you will see that the fried rice has no color at all, it is white the color of the rice of course, speckled with vegetables for color. Spiced with just pepper powder the rice is flavorful all by itself. Mostly when I think of fried rice that is what I am thinking of but after living here in the US for a while fried rice has come to represent something else altogether.

Recipe in pictures,
Cook the rice and spread it out to cool. Cut the vegetables into strips and keep them ready.
Chop the green onions and have them ready. In a heavy bottomed, wide mouthed pan add oil and when hot add the green onions and saute till they are wilted.
. Add in the vegetables one by one till they are cooked but still crunchy. Add in the rice and mix it in.
Add in pepper powder and salt if required and mix it into the rice evenly and gently so the grains don't break.

That is pretty easy to make isn't?

Indian Mixed Vegetables Fried Rice
Preparation Time:15 minutes
Roasting Time:30 minutes
  1. 2 cups of Basmati rice washed and soaked for 20-30 minutes.
  2. 1 Green Bell Pepper cut into thin 1 inch strips
  3. 3-4 Carrots cut into strips
  4. 1 cup of French cut Green Beans
  5. 2 cups of thinly cut green cabbage
  6. 2 bunches of green onions chopped - green and white parts
  7. 1/2 tbsp of grated ginger
  8. 3/4 tbsp black or white pepper powder
  9. salt to taste
  10. 1 tbsp oil

  1. Cook the soaked Basmati rice along with 2 tsp of oil and salt. (I used a pressure cooker but stove top is fine). The grains should be nice and separate. Once cooked spread the rice on a platter to cool.
  2. In a wide mouthed pan heat the rest of the oil and add the green onions and saute till they are completely wilted.
  3. Add in the ginger and saute for 3-4 minutes.
  4. Add the bell peppers first, saute for a minute or two, add in the beans and carrots and saute for another 4-5 minutes. Just enough the vegetables should still retain the crunch.
  5. Add in the cabbage and saute for 2-3 minutes more. Add salt. (remember you have also added salt to the rice.
  6. Add the rice separating them as you add them. Sprinkle the pepper powder and gently mix it into the rice. Make sure the rice is fully coated and if required sprinkle a bit more oil. Take care not to break the grains of rice.
Tastes good all by itself or add with a side of mildly spiced egg curry or paneer or cauliflower curry.

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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Tomato Pickle in winter?

Why Not? During the height of summer when the tomatoes could not be all utilized be it using them up or giving them away or selling you can preserver them for use during the winter months. The tomatoes in the stores at this time of the year are tasteless and they just satisfy the need for a tomato in a recipe but nothing else.

Stewed and frozen tomatoes

When you grow tomatoes you realize not all of them look pretty and well formed. There are some that have to be used right away. Collect a bunch of these and like the method followed in this recipe for making pickles stew the tomatoes, cool them completely. Put them in Ziploc bags or plastic boxes and push them to the back of the freezer. While whole tomatoes can be frozen just as they are and used for curries, pasta sauces and chutneys, stewed tomatoes can make a very tasty tomato thokku pickles.

If you are not growing tomatoes but come summer when tomatoes flood the farmers markets and super markets, buy them when they are cheap. Moreover some of the markets sell a day or couple of days old tomatoes at almost throwaway prices. So watch for those as well.

Frozen red chilies

Come winter they come really hand when you are craving for something tomato and tasty. While I have been postponing using the stewed tomatoes, they came handy when I was running out of pickles and getting tired of the store bought pickles and craving for some home made pickles.

I also had frozen hot chili peppers which also came in handy for making of these pickles. Thaw up the stewed tomatoes, minced the red chili peppers with garlic and proceed to making the thokku pickle. These thokku pickles are versatile, they can be used as a spread for sandwiches, as a rice mix and even for cooking fried rice. So it is condiment that is not a luxury but a necessity.

Pickled and ready to use

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Thursday, February 4, 2016

Thai Cucumber Chili Relish

Do you like the Thai Cucumber Relish that is served as accompaniment when you order chicken satay at a Thai restaurant? I certainly do. The crunchy diced cucumbers in vinegar, occasionally with chilies and onions all tangy but still crunchy. Seemed simple enough to make but why hadn't I tried it till now? Good question!

While this is a good accompaniment for the Satay, it can be served alongside a variety of other dishes as well. Fried rice, noodles, salad, a spice and sour element for Guacamole dip and also in a sandwich.

In a Egg Sandwich - Delicious

Making it is pretty easy and takes hardly any time at all. If you are looking to make some relish, give this a try.

Prepare the vinegar solution. Bring vinegar, salt and sugar to a boil till it dissolves and cool to room temperature.
Prepare the cucumbers and chilies. Remove the seeds in the cucumber and make small dices. Cut the chilies and shake to remove the seeds. Set aside.
Add the cucumbers and chilies to the cooled vinegar solution and spoon them into sterilized bottles..

Thai Cucumber and Chili Relish
Preparation Time:10 minutes
Roasting Time:10 minutes
  1. 3 cucumbers (I used Persian small cucumbers)
  2. 8-10 Fresh Red Chilies (or fewer)
  3. 2 tbsp diced red onions (optional, I did not add)
  4. 1/3 cup rice vinegar
  5. 2 tsp sugar
  6. 1/2 tsp salt

  1. Cut the cucumber in half and remove the seeds and then chop into small dices.
  2. Cut the chilies if using into small rounds and shake out the seeds that fall out.
  3. In a saucepan add the rice vinegar, salt and sugar and bring it a boil till the sugar dissolves. Let it cool to room temperature.
  4. Add in the chopped cucumbers, chilies and onion if using to the cooled vinegar. Let sit for 20 minutes.
  5. Spoon into a sterilized glass bottle and store in the refrigerator.

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