March 21, 2019

Mushroom & Peas Pulav

Cooking during weekdays are mostly the routine rice, dals, subjis, chapatis, pasta and so on. Quick fix pulavs are also as much a part of weekdays as these. Packing lunches is easier with such meals! However, salad on the side and raita to refresh the pulav happens only for weekend lunches😆

This Mushroom & Peas Pulav is such a simple one pot meal yet super flavorful with the whole garam masalas. During the days I was exploring and discovering cooking, I remember loading one pot pulav/biryani with too much masala powders and also getting disappointed with the final outcome. What else did I expect?!!😂Once between experiments, I was almost shocked to get a delicious pulav with minimal ingredients and not overdoing anything. Learning experiences 😊 I no more experiment with pulavs, have found my Mr.Perfect (recipe) haha!! All we need is some spices for flavouring the veggies and rice. Basmati Rice in itself has such a pleasing aroma, we do want overpowering flavors and masalas.

This Pulav is particularly quick because it takes hardly any time to wash and cut Mushrooms. And Peas are anyway awaiting your call chilling in the freezer. Pop all ingredients into the pressure cooker and wait to dig in! This time around I served the pulav with cabbage-tomato salad and boondi raita – makes for a hearty lunch or if you have early dinner, works well (we don’t prefer heavy dinner).

Onion – 1
Tomato – 1 small
Mushrooms – 2 cups
Green Peas – ½ cup
Basmati rice – 1.5 cups
Oil - 3 tbsp
Cumin seeds – 1 tsp
Coriander leaves – 6-7 sprigs
Cinnamon stick, cloves, star anise, cardamom – 2 pieces each
Garam masala powder – 1 tbsp (or any masala like Subji masala, Chole masala, Meat masala!!)

How I prepare:
  1. In a pressure cooker, add oil. When the oil is hot, add cumin seeds and all the whole spices - cinnamon stick, cloves, star anise, cardamom.
  2. Slice the onions and finely chop tomatoes and add them. Once they are mushy, add chopped mushrooms (I usually chop mushrooms into two halves and then each half into 3 slices)
  3. When mushrooms start releasing water, add the green peas. Next add 1 tbsp of any masala like garam masala, subji masala, even pav bhaji masala works wonders.
  4. Now wash the rice, drain water and add into the cooker. No soaking required – right amount of water is the key.
  5. Add salt and chopped coriander leaves. Mix well and now add 1 and a quarter cup of water. Ratio for basmati rice and water – 1 : 1.25 (without soaking).
  6. Mix and close. Turn off stove after one whistle. Let the pressure release by itself and only then open!!
  7. Serve as is, or with any side of your choice.
How do you like my choice of sides??

March 18, 2019

Medu Vada

A meal at a South Indian restaurant is not complete without Medu vada or Uzhinnu Vada. Ok maybe dosa is a more important item on the menu but Medu vada on the side?? Right? How about a couple of them dunked in sambhar.. perfect. My dad is such a loyal to Vada sambhar that you find in Mumbai restaurants that he just casually shrugged when I made him have Vada sambhar from Adyar Ananda Bhavan (in Bangalore). I quietly ate mine suppressing all excitement. This – when Sambhar in the south is so much better than the ones in Mumbai. Strangely we have never had Vada sambhar at home. These medu vadas emerge hot out of oil and we are waiting to dig in. Who has the patience to dunk it in sambhar, rather it doesn’t strike – we want to first check if the vada has come out well. Checking gradually leads to polishing off the whole batch 😆

Crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. I don’t even need any chutney or dip for medu vada. For the longest time I used to make these round like little balls because that hole was difficult to make. However less water I used to blend the urad dal, it would be excess and round vadas would be the only option. Then later I learnt the right way from my mom, still I failed! She is an Uzhinnu vada/Medu vada Ninja!! Almost famous for this talent and I did not inherit it😠 Perfected only after some real effort! At the blending step which is the single most important part of this whole recipe. Very consciously I started using less water and blending well. Making Medu vada with the hole suddenly became simple. I have added the video of shaping the vada below.

In this recipe,
  1. I use rice flour to thicken the batter. And for crispness on the outside.
  2. I do not use onions in Medu vadas, not fond of the taste of burnt (after frying) onions in these vadas, on the contrary love that flavour in Dal vada/Masala vada/Prippu vada! Weird me!  
  3. Not used to the bite of pepper in Medu vada either since I grew up in Mumbai. Was introduced to pepper in these only in Bangalore.
  4. I don’t whisk the batter vigorously, just mix well. Have seen videos that say whisk and drop a portion of batter in water, it must float. If you blend the batter well and for long, it must float in water right away.

Urad dal/Split black gram – 1 cup
Rice Flour – 1 tbsp
Curry leaves – 10
Green chillis – 2
Ginger – half inch piece
Cumin seeds – ½ tsp (optional)
Fresh coconut slices – 1 tbsp (I did not add since I buy only grated coconut, but this adds texture & crunch)

How I prepare:
  1. Soak Urad dal for 4-5 hours and blend with little water. Batter must be smooth. Some blenders/mixies may not do a good job with minimum water, then the only way is to blend smooth with water and then add more rice flour or All purpose flour to the batter.
  2. Finely chop curry leaves, chillies, ginger. Add these and salt and cumin seeds (optional) to the batter. It is better not the rest the batter after adding salt since it will release water.
  3. Dip your fingers in water and take a portion of batter, also dip in water - the finger with which you will dig the hole in the vada! Drop in hot oil and fry both sides until brown.

Serve these Medu vadas as is or  with chutney or sambhar. Too tasty to stop at one and even at 5 and 6 and 7 and so on.