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Rice Bowl #2: Back to School

We visited Cherie’s school to pick up books for her 12th standard and found ourselves at the end of a very long line. I did what any caring parent would have done – asked her to stand in line and headed to the snacks counter while she probably glared ineffectually.

This school likely has the unhealthiest food I’ve ever seen in any place that serves food, and prepares it with the full knowledge that students don’t have any other place to buy from. This translates into shoddily prepared and stored food. Thankfully, I can count on my fingers the number of times she’s gone without a packed lunch and has been handed lunch money instead.

On the other hand, since we’re so careful at home, I do enjoy a few bites of this sort of food every now and then. It also helps somewhat in drowning out the trauma of PTMs. On this day, I bought a potato burger, the buns deep fried and literally (I mean, literally) saturated with oil. Each bite caused little spurts of oil to flood my palate and the deep fried potato patty in the centre was an oasis of health and wellness in comparison.

Afterwards, we headed home and I thought of making it up to her with a nice meal. On the way home, we stopped and picked up a lauki (bottle gourd), a bundle of pudina (mint), a few tomatoes and some spring onions.

When home, Cherie washed some rice and lobia (black eyed beans), and put it into a pressure cooker on the gas. I chopped the lauki and put it to boil in a pan with some water, prepared the dressing and sliced some tomatoes. When the rice was done, we fried a couple of eggs, grilled a few chunks of paneer (cottage cheese), plated the lot and it all came together beautifully.

The dressing of course was key, but so were the different textures from the ingredients. Admittedly the non-dressing ingredients don’t have a lot of flavour, but the dressing more than makes up for it.

  • Serves 2 – 3
  • Prep time: 10 minutes
  • Cooking time: 10-12 minutes

Ingredients

  • Half a medium lauki, sliced thick (2 slices per portion)
  • 1 Tomato, sliced thick (2 slices per portion)
  • 1 cup Rice, washed
  • 1/2 cup Lobia, washed
  • 2 Eggs, fried sunny side up (3 if you want to make a third portion)
  • 2/3 of a 200 gm packet of Paneer, grilled
  • Fresh ground peppercorns, for the egg
  • Dressing
    • 3 Spring onions, chopped
    • 10 Mint leaves, chopped
    • 3 tbsp Soy sauce (light)
    • 1 tsp Fish sauce
    • 1 tbsp Chinese cooking wine
    • 1 Lemon, juice
    • 1/2 tsp Sesame oil
    • 2 tsp Sesame seeds
    • 1/2 tsp Sugar

Method

  • Cook the rice and lobia together.
  • Boil the lauki.
  • Grill the paneer
  • Fry the eggs
  • Assemble all the ingredients for the dressing
  • Plate.

Notes

  • Buy some good soy sauce – it makes all the difference.
  • Light soy sauce for flavour, dark soy sauce for colour
  • I didn’t add salt to anything. There’s enough in the dressing.
  • The eggs were ‘fried’ with a brushing of oil in a non-stick kadhai, covered.
  • For round fried eggs, consider frying them in a kadhai.
  • I don’t like lobia much and find it boring, except in such applications.
  • Experiment with the proportions in the dressing.
  • Fish sauce has a strong flavour that is an acquired taste.
  • I used a grill pan for the paneer.
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Recipes

Breakfast Platter #1

I’m trying to post regularly, yet again, and want to try documenting the stuff we do in the kitchen. It helps to have something to refer to.

It’s Saturday and this is breakfast in bed for the girls.

When we spend more time eating from a platter with multiple ingredients designed to be eaten together and to complement each other, we take more care in choosing what we put in the platter and then have to contemplate nearly every bite. This results in slower eating, more conversations, more time spent together, smaller portions and ultimately, greater satisfaction.

Indu is a small eater and the smaller platter is hers, though even this is stretching it a bit.

The eggs were slowly cooked so the whites wouldn’t crisp up, which none of us like, potatoes were boiled and then grilled with the tomatoes in a grill-pan, broccoli florets blanched, broccoli stem trimmed and the tender portion chopped, cucumber sliced and a spoonful of olives to go with the potatoes.

A spoonful of spicy spring onion jam spread on a burger bun brought in a burst of flavour and was the central point of the platter. Freshly squeezed and chilled orange juice to wash it all down.

Altogether, simple to put together, interactive and easy to eat, all altogether satisfying. We realised later there was no meat on the platter and that’s a good thing. We’re trying to reduce our consumption of meats and such meals help.

Ingredients:

  • Broccoli, florets, blanched
  • Broccoli, stem, trimmed and chopped
  • Olives, bottled
  • Potatoes, boiled, sliced and grilled
  • Tomatoes, halved and grilled
  • Eggs, very slowly fried and drained
  • Cucumber, peeled, trimmed and sliced
  • Oranged, juiced, with pulp
  • Jam
    • 3 Spring onions, chopped
    • 1 tsp Garlic powder
    • 1 tbsp Balsamic reduction
    • 1 tbsp Olive oil
    • Salt and pepper
  • Burger bun halves

Method:

  • Jam: Put all jam ingredients in a pan and cook to a soft mush.
  • Assemble all ingredients and serve

What do your weekend breakfasts look like?

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Recipes

Phat Green Mama

Yesterday I went to a shopping complex and remembered we didn’t have any vegetables at home. There was a shop in the complex, and I went there, and left in perhaps 5 seconds. Nearly every vegetable there was not only high priced, but wilted and quite sad. You see, theĀ mandi tends to spoil us and that’s where I headed to next. When there, nearly every stall had crisp, fresh greens discarded alongside that apparently no one wanted to pay for or eat. The healthy cheapskate in me took over and I asked for them and every vendor happily stuffed my bag, no questions asked. Now greens tend to wilt and go yellow and other such undesirable colours quite quickly and so we made a lunch almost entirely out of them. I call it, the Phat Green Mama. These are the type of meal changes that have helped me and my clients lose oodles of weight, feel better and ultimately, live better.

Phat Green Mama tastes cool, refreshing, crunchy, very green and is almost entirely guilt free. There’s crunch coming from the fresh greens, warm comfort from the eggs and the not-totally-dry yolks, the mushrooms have their own lovely flavour enhanced by butter and garlic and no carbs. When you’re done eating, you’ll feel fulfilled, satisfied and not at all heavy.

Ingredients:

  • 6 – 7 Beetroot greens, washed
  • 2 – 3 Radish greens, washed
  • 1 packet Mushrooms, washed and trimmed
  • 2 tbsp Garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium Onion, sliced
  • 1 medium Tomato, quartered
  • 400gm Yogurt
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • 1 tbsp Butter
  • 1 tbsp Black peppercorns, freshly ground
  • 2 Eggs, boiled
  • Half a lemon, quartered

Preparation:

  1. Beetroot greens: Separate leaves and stalks, chop stalks, chiffonade leaves, except for four large ones.
  2. Radish greens: Separate leaves and stalks, chop stalks, tear leaves
  3. Mix the olive oil black pepper and salt to taste into the yogurt

Cooking:

  1. Melt butter
  2. Add garlic, brown slightly
  3. Add onions, keep till transparent/pinkish
  4. Add mushrooms, cook for 3 minutes on gentle heat or until cooked
  5. Add salt, mix well.
  6. Take off the heat and add all the chopped stalks.
  7. Set aside.

Assembly:

  1. Place two large beetroot leaves in every bowl
  2. Add beetroot leaves (chiffonade) at their base, to one side
  3. Place mushrooms alongside
  4. Add tomatoes, radish leaves, eggs and lemon as you see fit.
  5. Top with or serve accompanied by the cool yogurt sauce.
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Recipes

Chickpea Chutney Sandwich

So I thought if I’m cooking every day for Cherie’s lunch, why not begin posting? It’ll be a nice way to record the recipes plus a nice innovation comes up every so often, which is nice to share. Here’s today’s lunch for Cherie, a chickpea and chutney sandwich.

You’ll need

  • Chickpea Spread
    • Boiled and mashed chickpeas, about 3 tablespoons
    • Finely chopped spring onions, about 1/2 a tablespoon
    • Extra virgin olive oil, half a teaspoon [optional]
    • Salt to taste
  • Chutney – your own favourite recipe
  • Tomatoes, finely sliced
  • Onions, finely sliced
  • Mayonnaise or butter

Mix the ingredients for the chickpea spread well. The oil is optional, though I like it for the flavours and smoothness it lends to the spread. The spring onions in the spread are for a bit of texture. This spread keeps the sandwich smooth, creamy and adds a layer of the somewhat known, given we’re using it in an application we don’t usually do. If you’ve stored the spread for a while in the fridge, it may become dehydrated. If so, just add a little extra water and mix well.

When spreading the spread and the chutney over the surface of a slice of bread, I suggest first spreading a thin layer of mayonnaise or butter first. This will prevent the moisture in the spread and the chutney from leaking to the bottom of the sandwich making it look ugly as well as making that part of the sandwich, delicate and prone to breakage. You don’t want that, do you?

  1. Spread two slices of bread with a thin layer of butter or mayonnaise
  2. Spread one slice with the chickpea spread and another with the green chutney
  3. Layer some onions and tomatoes over the chickpeas
  4. Cover with the other slice spread with chutney.
  5. Grill and serve hot

That’s it. You could even, and you didn’t hear this from me, cut these into four, coat them in besan batter and deep fry for one very different bread pakoda, huh? ;)