Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Red Beans & Rice

Several years back, when I worked in downtown Dallas, we often ate a wonderful Red Beans & Rice dish from a cafetaria style restaurant. Recently I had the urge to eat this meal again. After some web surfing, some details of that experience came back to memory - the restaurant was situated inside the Plaza of the Americas and was called TreeBeards. At lunchtime, a long line would form at this place for their famous Red Beans & Rice. They had a veg. & a meat version of it. With all these memories flooding back, I could not wait to make this dish @ home. Though my dish may not be the restaurant version, it was very tasty and made for a very satisfying meal.

Here's how I made it:

2 cans Rajma/Red Kidney Beans - drained & rinsed
1 onion chopped
1 bell pepper chopped
2 cloves garlic - minced
2 bay leaves
1 tsp dried oregano
1 heaped tsp Lawry's Taco Seasoning mix
Salt to taste
2 tsp olive oil
Garnish (very imp., do not miss this) - chopped green onions & shredded cheddar cheese

Heat the oil & saute onions in it for 5 mins. Add the bell pepper and garlic. Saute 2-3 mins. Add the rajma and all the other spices & salt. Add about 2 cups water, cover and cook on medium for 10 mins. Take out about 1/2 cup of the rajma mix, cool slightly and grind to a paste. Add this back to the rest of the mix. This gives it the required consistently. Heat the mix again before serving. Check for taste at this stage.

To serve, spoon hot rajma mix over brown rice. Top generously with chopped green onions and shredded cheddar cheese.

These Red Beans & Rice go to the JFI - Rajma event at Divya's Dil Se.

This event was started by Indira of Mahanandi.

I served these with a side of taco salad, which I made as follows:
For the taco bowl - Spray 1 tortilla ( I used multi-grain) with cooking oil on both sides. Press gently into an oven safe bowl. Bake @ 400F for about 10 mins till edges turn brown.
For the salad - Chopped lettuce, colored peppers ( I used red, yellow & orange), sweet onions, shredded carrots, chopped tomatoes, Lawry's Taco Seasoning Mix.
Spoon the salad into the taco bowl. Break off pieces of the bowl and eat with the salad.

Vitamin Bhel

When my daughter gets home from school, she is usually famished & immediately demands a snack along with her afternoon milk. I had been giving her her favorite - PB & J sandwich for a few days in a row and started feeling guilty about it...not that she minded, she loves her PBJ. But yesterday I was determined to whip up something different for her. A Vitamin Bhel that I had found in one of Tarla Dalal's magazines long back was the inspiration for my above dish. The main change I made was to make it a dry bhel (sukki bhel) using only chaat masala, instead of the version in the magazine that used green chutney and tamarind-dates chutney.

I did not really measure the ingredients, you can add or delete per your taste. Here's how I put it together:

Mix the following dry items - handful of kurmure (puffed rice - I usually lightly roast them before storing), shev, peanuts.

Mix the following separately - boiled, peeled & cubed potatoes, frozen peas - thawed in the microwave, frozen corn - thawed in the microwave, shredded carrots, cubed apple pieces, few orange segments, few pomegranate pearls.

Just before serving mix the dry and not-so-dry ingredients together with a big pinch of chaat masala.

This came together in 10 mins flat, which is all the time I have between me getting back from work and N's school bus arrival. I usually am not big on mixing fruits and veggies, but was surprised how good they tasted together, with the chaat masala. We both polished off our bowls of Vitamin Bhel in no time. I will definitely be making this more often.

This Vitamin Bhel goes to the Guilt-free Snacks event at Health Nut.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Dahi vadas

I recently found an interesting version of Dahi Vada on Manjula's Kitchen, where she mixed mung dal with udad dal to make the vadas. I immediately tried these @ home and was very happy with the results - melt-in-your-mouth dahi vadas. I know the above picture doesn't do justice to the ultimate dish, but don't let that put you off.
Here's how I made them:

For the vadas (about 20 - 25 pearl onion sized ones) -

1/3 cup udad dal
1 tbsp mung dal
Salt, pepper to taste

Soak the dals separately in water overnight. Next morning, mix and grind them together with 2 tsp of water (use water in which they were soaked). Take the batter in a mixing bowl. Whip it in a circular motion with a spoon for about 5 mins. The batter turns noticeable light and fluffy. If you drop a bit of it in a bowl of water, it will immediately float up. This means its really to fry. Add salt and pepper. Chopped green chillies and grated ginger can also be added if desired. I usually do not, in order to keep them kid friendly. Drop spponfuls of batter in medium hot oil and fry till light brown. Drain on paper towels. Next you can soak these vadas in warm salted water if desired, but I usually skip this step.

To make the dahi vadas, whip about 1.5 cups dahi with some water till smooth. Add salt, sugar. Pour over the vadas. Garnish with red chilli pwd and cumin pwd to taste. Top with chopped cilantro. You can also add some green chilli chutney and tamarind chutney to spice up these vadas.

Power Pohe

The idea for this dish is from one of Tarla Dalal's magazines. I make it as regular pohe, but replace the potatoes with garbanzo beans/chole. It makes for a quick and tasty breakfast dish.

Here's how I make it:

2 cups pohe (thick variety) - washed and drained
1 red onion - chopped
1 cup canned chole - rinsed and drained
1 cup frozen peas
For tempering - 1 tbsp oil, 1 tsp mustard seeds, 1 tsp cumin seeds, pinch of asafotida, 1 green chilli - chopped, few curry leaves (optional)
1 tsp salt or to taste
1 tsp sugar
1/2 tsp turmeric
1 tsp lemon juice
Garnish - few chopped tomatoes &/or cilantro

Make the tempering my heating oil in a pan. Add the mustard seeds. When they stop spluttering, add the cumin seeds, asafotida, chillies and curry leaves. Then add the chopped onions and saute for 5 - 7 mins till softened. Add the washed & drained pohe, chole and peas along with the salt, sugar, lemon juice and turmeric. Mix well with a gentle hand. Cover and cook on medium low heat for 5 - 10 mins.

Power Pohe are done. Garnish with chopped tomatoes/cilantro.


I had printed this recipe from some web site several years back. Though I have no idea where I got it, their interpretation of a vegetarian dhansaak was very interesting and simple. It was described as a 'Multi-lentil Persian stew with vegetables - what apple pie is to an American, this dhansaak is to a Parsi'. I have made this healthy and simple dhansaak several times since.

Here's how I make it:

1/4 cup tur dal - rinsed and drained
2 tbsp each masur dal, chana dal, mung dal - all rinsed and drained
1 red onion - thinly sliced
1 cup tightly packed chopped spinach - fresh or frozen
1/2 cup chopped carrots
1 chopped tomato
1 tbsp oil - I use vegetable or canola
1 tsp ginger pate
1 tsp garlic paste
1 tsp coriander pwd
1/2 tsp red pepper pwd.
1/4 tsp cinnamon pwd
1/4 tsp clove pwd
1/4 tsp turmeric pwd
Juice of 1 large lemon

Put all the dals, half the onions and all the veggies (spinach, carrots and tomatoes) in a pressure pan with about 3 cups water and cook to 3 whistles.

In another skillet, heat 1 tbsp oil. Add the onions, saute 5 mins. Add the ginger and garlic pastes and saute 2-3 mins. Mix all the other spices with a few drops of water. Add this to the onion-ginger-garlic mix. Saute on low heat till the mixture turns slightly brown (not burnt) and exudes an aroma.

Add this to the cooked dal-veggies mix, scraping any brown bits from the bottom of the skillet. Add salt and lemon juice. Adjust consistency by adding some water if needed.

Serve hot with brown rice and lemon wedges.
This vegetarian Dhansaak goes to the RCI - Celebrating Parsi Cuisinse event at Enjoy Indian Food.
This event was started by Lakshmi of Veggie Cuisine.

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