Sarson, Rice, Dal

I received a bunch of ingredient suggestions from the Safal Team this month, with one caveat; there should be at least one khichdi recipe amongst the lot. I confess, that while khichdi, is one of my favourite dishes, and I’ll take some care to ensure there’s pickle, raw onions and desi ghee when eating it, I’ve never, ever thought of cooking it, let alone actually cooked it.


This recipe was created for The Right Side of Life, a Safal community on Facebook. If you’re interested in eating healthier and involving food in different aspects of wellness, this is a group for you. We’re planning lots of activities and content for this group that I’m sure you’ll love!

So, this is my first time making any sort of khichdi, let alone some of the more elaborate one’s you’ve probably done. Be kind please. The haldi is missing from this recipe on purpose, so the colour ends up a nice, bright green.

Ideally, I must have pickle, ghee and raw onions with my khichdi.


  • Step 1
    • Masoor Dal, 1/2 cup, washed and drained (about 100gm)
    • Rice, 1 cup, washed, pre-soaked for 30 minutes and drained (about 200 gm)
    • Salt to taste
    • Green chillies x3 pieces, slit
    • Garam masala x1 tbsp
  • Step 2
    • Sarson/Mustard leaves, 1 bunch, washed and trimmed.
    • Ginger, 1″ piece, finely chopped
    • Garlic, 6 cloves, finely chopped
  • Peanuts, crushed
  • Garnish
    • Chilli Pickle (I used Safal)
    • Raw onions
    • Ghee (I used Mother Dairy)
    • Peanuts, whole


  1. Put all the ingredients from ‘Step 1’ into a cooker, mix well, and cook until the rice is done, but not too mashed.
  2. Put all the ingredients from ‘Step 2’ into a cooker, mix well and cook for 1 whistle. Remove, drain and puree finely.
  3. Mix the outcomes from ‘Step 1’ and ‘Step 2’ with the crushed peanuts, pour into a plate, garnish with the ingredients from ‘Garnish’, and serve.


  • Adjust garam masala and chillies to your liking.
  • Sarson ka saag sometimes has thick stalks. Peel these stalks of the fibrous outer casing, coarsely chop and add to the ingredients of step 2. I would also consider blanching these and adding them to the garnish or whole, like the peanuts, for crunch.
  • The role of the peanuts is for added crunch. I forgot to add the peanut garnish.
  • Given the number of pickles we have in this country, it is easy to vary flavour profiles simply by changing the pickle used.


Using a Whole Fish

We ordered a 1.5 kilo Indian basa a few days ago, and cut it up into a bunch of different pieces for different purposes. In case you’re thinking this takes too much time, the whole process took me about 10 – 12 minutes.

  • Head – I don’t like the whole head much and usually keep it for stock. When done, and the head is scraped, quite a bit of extra skin and flesh can be retrieved for gravies or to mix with potatoes and make little fried patties or as a filling for pies etc.
  • Fillets – This is the area above and below the central bony section. We use it for boneless applications where hands aren’t used for eating. Can be used in gravies, grills, stir fries, deep fries etc.
  • Ribs section of fillets and tail – This is a semi circular section, at the front, lower end of the fish, ending just below the head. It has a row of thick bones and can be difficult to de-bone without a fair bit of trouble or making a mess of the piece. We use this for curries, grills and dishes where we use our hands to eat the food.
  • Carcass scrapings – When the fillets are separated from the bone, the choice is to make a cleaner cut, leaving less flesh on the bone but bits of bone in the fillet, or more flesh on the bone and clean boneless fillets. I choose to keep my fillets smooth and scrape off the flesh with fingers/knife and use it for sandwiches, burgers, scrambled with eggs etc.
  • Carcass – This is always reserved for stock and boiled with the head. There’s usually some fat at the edges that I prefer keeping for the nutritional value add.

Using a whole fish will not only cost you less as well as possibly reduce waste on the part of the producer, but you’ll also have a bunch of different parts with different tastes, textures and culinary uses.


Fish, Eggs, Veggies

I had some minced fish in the fridge as a result of thoroughly scraping a carcass, and we used it as part of a dinner spread for the three of us.

You can use this as is, with toast, on toast, in a sandwich, stuffed into a samosa, as a pie filling, onto an open tart, anything really.


  • Minced fish
  • Eggs, beaten (equal in weight to fish)
  • Carrots, finely chopped
  • Spring onions, finely chopped
  • Spring onion greens, finely chopped
  • Oil as needed
  • Salt, Pepper, Soy sauce, lime/lemon


  1. Heat oil. Briefly fry onions and carrots.
  2. Add fish, fry till mostly cooked
  3. Add eggs, scramble
  4. Add spring onion greens, mix well.
  5. Season with salt, pepper, soy sauce and a squeeze of lime.


  • Season it with whatever you wish. These are my choices. You could use Indian seasonings, or a tadka style seasoning at the beginning or at the end – your call.
  • If using as sandwich filling, remember to drain, not evaporate the water, perhaps mixing the water with mayonnaise or other medium and adding it back to the mixture. Evaporating it might leave the fish and eggs very dry. You’ll need some medium to bind the lot together to make a graceful sandwich that doesn’t spill all over the place.

Korean Spinach Salad (Sigeumchi Namul)

There’s this Korean salad I first tasted about a decade ago and fell in love with it immediately. Subsequently, as a family, the three of us adore it and use it every place we can. The only boring part, is cleaning the spinach.

The best part of this dish for me, is the heavenly aroma of that delicious sesame oil. Take care you use the Chinese style and not the south Indian version. Both are very different.

The ingredients are simple and it graces most platters well, going with most other foods, meat or vegetable. There are a few ingredient variations, and you could try adding your own special touch when you make it at home.


  • Spinach, blanched, squeezed and chopped
  • Sesame Oil
  • Garlic, sliced
  • Salt


  1. Mix all the ingredients together.
  2. Serve as a side dish or as part of a platter


  • Ingredient variations include roasted sesame seeds, finely sliced green chillies (deseeded or not) and whole, blanched and squeezed spinach instead of chopped, among others. You do what works best with you.
  • The quantities depend on your tastes. A whole bunch of spinach is usually enough for a single person as a whole course. The same bunch is usually enough for the three of us as part of a larger meal.

Soy Fish, Chili Rice, Micro Greens

When we buy fish, I prefer a whole uncleaned piece, or the next best, whole cleaned. This format allows me to practise cutting different types of fish, familiarise myself with its anatomy, as well as the flexibility to extract whatever cut suits my needs that day. In addition, not only is the fish much cheaper in this format, the carcass is scraped and the outcome enough for a sandwich, and the carcass itself used for stock.

We had freshly cut fillets available therefore yesterday evening, and I wasn’t in the mood for much cooking. The rice was washed and boiled, the fish pan grilled, the rice then spiced, the whole plated and we were done.


  • For soy fish
    • Dark soy, 1 tbsp
    • Light soy, 2 tbsp
    • Sechuan pepper oil, 1 tsp
    • Sugar, 1/2 tsp
  • For spiced rice
    • Tibetan chilli paste
    • Sesame oil
    • Oil for sauteeing
    • Onion, 1 pc, sliced
    • Garlic, 5 cloves, sliced
  • Rice, cooked, 3 cups
  • Filleted fish, 4 pieces
  • Mustard micro greens, 3 small bunches
  • Salt to taste


  1. Mix ingredients for soy fish well, marinate fish for 30 minutes, pan fry/grill with a little oil; about 3 to 5 minutes on medium heat on each side, depending on the thickness of the piece.
  2. Fry onions until translucent, add garlic, fry some more, add remaining ingredients for rice, mix well, then mix well again with the cooked rice.
  3. Plate and serve.


  • The fillets used came from a 1.5 kilo Indian basa, which were trimmed to remove the semi-circular row of thick ‘rib’ thorns, then sliced in half. Four pieces therefore constituted two whole trimmed, boneless fillets.
  • Dark soy has more colour, little flavour. Light soy has little colour, more flavour.
  • Ideally, one would use sticky rice, but whatever you have should work fine.
  • The coarser your sugar, the longer it’ll take to blend with the marinade and have any real effect. Use powdered sugar if your sugar is very coarse.

Orange Sugar and Exfoliating Soap

We’re trying to reduce our kitchen waste and are down to about half a bag a day, and want to reduce it further. Perhaps composting is the way forward; something I’ve never tried. If you’ve tried it, please do share your method in the comments below.

Using some waste orange peel that I peeled the zest from, which was chopped and dried for a bit, then whizzed with some powdered sugar I had lying about, and then sifting the contents, I was left with two very interesting results.

One was an orange-yellow sugar that smelled heavenly of orange and citrus and tasted quite interesting, and the second was the sugar coated orange peel that could be sifted no more.

Sifted the orange-sugar mixture to separate the two

The idea is to use the so-called candied orange peel into an exfoliating soap, using a clear soap base I’ve been experimenting with lately. Yesterday, we made some lemon flavoured soap with lemon oil and lemon rind.

We use two melt and pour soap bases at home. One is supposedly a white goat milk base that I find hard to believe, though it certainly is quite soft otherwise and melts easily. The other is a transparent, glycerine based soap base that too melts easily.

To melt the stuff, you can either construct a double boiler at home, or purchase one. I use a chocolate and cheese melting thingie that has two settings, one for chocolate and one for cheese. The cheese setting (number 2) works quite well for soap.

Then you’ll need moulds, of which I had quite a few left over from when I was experimenting with chocolate making, especially this mould with small square holes that works quite well for little soaps, though I did pick up one new mould with large cavities to try with soap making.

The process at its core is simple:

  1. Melt the soap
  2. Mix in any essential oils (for the lemon, I use lemon and for orange, I used a mixed fruit blend)
  3. Pour
  4. Wait for it to solidify (you can put it into the fridge too)
  5. Extract

There are other considerations, such as gravity for the exfoliation substance you’re using, whether you want it on the surface or not etc. That you’ll need to figure out based on what soap and substance you’re using.

Do share your experiments with waste and how you’re trying to reduce it.


26 Beautiful Vegetarian Thalis by Jaina Mehta

Browsing through the CAL group towards the end of December, I found a post with some of the most delicious looking thalis I’d seen in a while. Living in a nuclear family, where both of us work, it’s hard work to put together a thali with all those different components.

Jaina Mehta was kind enough to share her pictures and recipes with. All of these pictures link to her posts on the CAL group. The recipes for a bunch of more thalis I’ll share a little later as individual posts. You might also like to take a look at her page, Jaina’s Kitchen for more of her work.

One of my wishes for 2020 is to be able to partake of one of these scrumptious thalis. Which one of these appeals to you the most? Do leave a comment below with your choice.

Paneer Jalfrezi, Rajma Thali
Gobhi ke Parathe
Panchratna Dal, Beans Aloo Thali
Bhindi Aloo, Karela Tamatar Masala Thali
Chhole Pulao platter
Ringna Bateta Nu Shaak, Kobi Gajar Capsicum, Methi Paratha Thali
Mixed Vegetable Sabzi, Paneer Butter Masala Thali
Bhindi Aloo, Baingan Shimla Mirch, Sabut Masoor Tadka Thali
Paneer Bhurji platter
Aloo Methi, Baingan Masala, Bhindi Ka Raita Thali
Raswale Gobhi Aloo, Boondi Anar Raita, Tomato Rice platter
Methi Muthiya Walu Shaak Thali
Gobhi Matar Sabzi, Methi Dal, Chawal Ke Pakode Thali
Methi Paneer Bhurjee, Sabut Masoor Tadka Thali
Baby Aloo Matar, Bhindi Masala, Sabut Urad Moong Ki Dal Thali
Methi Aloo Paratha, Chhole, Bhindi Ka Raita Thali
Aloo Gobhi, Baingan Bharta Thali
Methi Chole, Chawal Ki Kheer, Laccha Paratha Thali
Ringna Bateta Nu Shaak, Kobi Vatana Nu Shaak, Kadhi Thali
Ringna Papdi Methi Nu Shaak, Tindora Nu Shaak Thali
Bhindi Masala, Dal Tadka, Gajar Ka Halwa Thali
Mooli Patton Ke Parathe platter
Dahiwali Bhindi-Aloo Shimla Mirch
Rava Sheera-Kobi Vatana
Masoor Pulao-Bhindi Masala-Kadhi-Cabbage Pakora
Paneer Jalfrezi-Lobia
Broccoli Mix
Aloo Methi-Dal Fry

Creamy Chicken Shepherd’s Pie

We participated in a potluck this past new year’s eve and my plan was to make a Shepherd’s Pie with minced mutton. As luck would have it, my favourite source for meats was out of minced meat and only minced chicken was available.

Minced chicken, in my experience, is usually quite tasteless, has a rubbery texture, looks pale and watery, and isn’t something I usually like working with, but there appeared to be no other choice, considering I don’t like the hygiene at the local outlet where we live.

I experimented with a slightly different technique of cooking the minced chicken, and it turned out to be quite succulent with an excellent texture that was even better than minced mutton, even if I do say so myself. I’ll leave you to judge when you try this method.


  • For the chicken
    • Minced chicken, 1 kilo
    • Garlic powder, 2 tbsp
    • Onion powder, 2 tbsp
    • Grind into a fine powder
      • Whole peppercorns, 1 tbsp
      • Star anise, 1 whole piece
    • Salt to taste
  • For the potato topping
    • Potatoes, 1 kilo boiled and peeled
    • Butter, 75 gm
    • Milk, 100 ml
    • Cheese, 50 gm
    • Salt to taste
  • Whole wheat flour, 50 – 75 gm
  • Cooking oil, 3 – 4 tbsp


  1. Pre Prep
    1. Mix all the spices and salt into the minced chicken and marinate overnight.
    2. Pass the boiled and peeled potatoes through a fine strainer. Heat a little milk, season it and add the butter to the milk. When it’s melted, add the lot to the mashed potatoes and mix well. Reserve.
  2. In a pan, heat some oil, add the whole wheat flour and cook it on medium heat till it’s a deep brown, but take care it doesn’t burn. A sort of roux if you will.
  3. To this mixture, add the minced chicken, and mix well, stirring till the lot is cooked. Takes about 10 minutes.
  4. Pour the cooked minced chicken into a large dish, spreading it across the bottom and top it with potatoes, spreading them across the top. Reserve until it’s time to serve.
  5. When serving
    1. Heat in a microwave for about 6 to 10 minutes to heat the whole dish through.
    2. Pre-heat an oven to the maximum temperature. Turn on the fan if it has one.
    3. Score lines on top of the potatoes with a fork
    4. Brush the top with some melted butter.
    5. Pop it into the oven until the top has browned.
    6. Serve.


  1. If you’re not up to passing the potatoes through a strainer/channi, then just mash them with a work. The result isn’t as nice, but it saves time.
  2. Adjust all the seasonings and spices as you wish.
  3. Use fresh garlic and onions if you like.
  4. Use more cheese and butter in the mashed potatoes if you wish.
  5. Serve with a tangy salad and that’s all you’ll need for dinner.
  6. Use any leftover chicken mixture or make it especially if you wish for grilled sandwiches, samosa, pie or open tart filling.
  7. I forgot to score the top with a fork. As you see, it isn’t as nicely browned as it could have been. When you score it, you’ll see faster and better browning.

Mongra Aloo Casserole

Twelve years ago, I posted a dish called Pan Haggerty, about which you can also read a bit more here. Yesterday, for dinner, we made a slightly different version of this dish and it turned out quite nice.


This recipe was created for The Right Side of Life, a Safal community on Facebook. If you’re interested in eating healthier and involving food in different aspects of wellness, this is a group for you. We’re planning lots of activities and content for this group that I’m sure you’ll love!

I find quite a few of us don’t like the taste of mongre-aloo, conditioned as we probably are since childhood. This version has a very different format, thought the flavours remain somewhat the same and doesn’t need much attention, though it takes a while to cook.

The quantities of the ingredients are your call, as they depend upon the size of the pan you’re going to cook in, the number of layers you’re going to apply, the thickness of the slices and so on.


  • Mongre, washed and finely chopped
  • Potatoes (I used new potatoes that don’t need peeling), finely sliced
  • Cheese (I used Gouda and some mozzarella), optional
  • Salt
  • Chili powder
  • Garam masala powder


  1. Take a non-stick, preferably heavy bottomed pan.
  2. Add a layer of sliced potatoes to cover the surface.
  3. Sprinkle the potatoes with salt (very important), chilli powder, garam masala and mongre.
  4. If you’re using cheese, sprinkle some evenly all across
  5. Repeat steps 2, 3 and 4 until the pan is full.
  6. Place the pan on low heat, covered, until the top layer is cooked.
  7. Serve directly from the pan to individual plates at your table.


  • On step #3, the salt is important as it’ll cause the potatoes to shed water, which will then generate steam, which will cook everything. Skipping layers with salt may result in uncooked bits.
  • Use a little salt per layer and remember the total amount will add up with each layer.
  • On step #6, if the top is cooked, likely the rest is cooked too.
  • At home, we’re good if the potatoes have a bit of bite, instead of being completely soft. Your call.
  • If you don’t have a heavy bottomed pan, or if you’re using a thin pan, or if your lowest flame is too high (as is mine), put your pan on a roti-tawa, as I’ve done in one of the pictures. This will prevent the bottom layer from burning.