Saturday, 12 January 2013

Vegetarian Sojourn: Oats Masala

Oats and brown rice are the new fad these days. They say it’s healthy, fibrous and dull to be had in the conventional ways. I thought about it, yes the slimy oats porridge in the morning was a bit too much for me to have for a day, let alone making it a daily habit. So I thought of experimenting, and got heavily inspired by my maid’s quintessentially Marathi- ‘Kanda Poha’. And I was happy tucking it in, almost every morning!!

But then, I saw an advertisement of a certain foreign company, selling masala oats in India!!! !@#$@$! And imagine my dismay on looking at the slimy, salty oats porridge that they are selling under the name Oats Masala. Really, oats doesn’t need to be slimy all the time!! With the right amount of technique, we can make a super delicious breakfast in mins. And trust me, you will shell a quarter of the “@#@#er Oats Masala” price, too.

This recipe is a part of my Vegetarian Sojourn, as requested by so many of you lately. Do drop in an comment once you try it out!! Cheers!!

½ cup Oats
½ a medium onion chopped
½ a small tomato chopped
2 slit green chillies
A pinch of turmeric
2 tbsp of chopped cilantro
1 tsp black mustard seeds
1 tbsp oil
Few curry leaves (tear it for more flavour)
Couple of tbsp of Water

Dry roast the oats in a wok for 5 mins, on low heat; and keep it aside.

Heat oil in a wok, and add in the black mustard seeds. Let it splutter for 30 seconds.

Now put in the curry leaves and slit chillies, and fry till fragrant (approximately another 30 seconds).

Fry the onions in the now-so-fragrant wok, till they are translucent and tending towards browning. Add in the chopped tomatoes with a pinch of salt, and cover to let the water seep out.

After a minute or so, give it a good mix, and put in the oats.

Once the oat is thoroughly coated in the fresh masala mix, add in a couple of tbsp of water. Start with 2 tbsp, and if you think the oat is not cooked enough to your liking, add in a couple more. Because of dry roasting the oats in the beginning, it would cook down faster and would take in much less water. Make it the way you like your oats, runny or like me, not runny at all.

Hope you too enjoy your breakfast, the way I did!! This is enough to make a portion of Oats Masala. Increase the amounts in the proportion, to cater for a bigger crowd. 


Friday, 11 January 2013

Breakfasting Glory: Oats Masala, from Scratch!!!

Eating Healthy takes up an almost insanely tasty turn with this Oats Masala. Made with regular rolled oats, its a hearty start to the busy day that follows...

The recipe follows soon...

Tuesday, 8 January 2013

The Biryani Express On: Pudina Subz Biryani

Lately I received a lot of requests, and somehow all were linked to vegetables. And I thought why wont it be, it’s the perfect weather in India to indulge in beautiful fresh vegetables. And so, I am on a roll. I am going to do three mouth-smackingly fast winter recipes which are 100% vegetarian. This is the first in the series...

Now, a Biryani, is not complete without the perfect rice. Yes! I am aware of the beautiful array of long grain basmati rice available in our supermarkets. Priced anywhere between 100 to 150 INR/Kilo; they are the best variety to use in this recipe. But somehow, it’s beating my point flat. Weren’t my recipes supposed to be exquisite, yet less expensive; exotic, yet using daily routine stuff and time; delicious, yet healthy in every sense. I mean don’t get me wrong, yes I do use a 500-rupee-block of cheese (Parmigiano Reggiano) in my cooking, but that cheese lasts me long and it adds a flavour, I am yet to come across in the cheaper varieties. But when ‘Dawaat’ introduced me to their Rozana rice, I was flabbergasted. Priced at a modest 65 INR/Kilo, it looks and feels really nice. A great smell to the rice as well. And, let’s be honest, after the addition of spices, fragrant veggies & herbs, and saffron, are you still looking out for the smell of rice??  I am pretty happy adding this particular range of rice in my Biryani. But, if you still insist on using proper biryani rice, go for the other ranges by Dawaat.

There are three words in my recipe name. We have talked about Subz (meaning: vegetables) and Biryani (meaning: one pot rice dish). So, let’s talk about the last of it left Pudina (meaning: mint). In Indian cooking, we have always used this herb in the form of chutney (loosely translated into a spicy dip). Now at times, it’s used as a marinade, or as a thing to dunk a kabab in. But, we never really cook with this herb. That privilege is given to cilantro, and it stays with it. But the experimentative me tried a meat biryani with mint. Widely used in Muslim (mostly Arabic or Persian) cooking styles, I instantly fell in love with the fresh taste it imparts in cooking. And so here I am, with my experiment of a one pot wonder which has the health of fresh winter veggies, aroma of fresh mint and the hearty meal of Dawaat Rozana Rice.


For the Biryani Part of the dish:
1 cup Dawaat Rozana Rice
Salt to taste
A bunch of whole spices like a star anise, a cinnamon stick, couple of cloves, a dried red chilly and ½ tsp of shahi jeera.
2 onions chopped
Big handful of mint leaves, chopped
Big handful of coriander leaves, chopped
A pinch of saffron with warm water
2 tbsp oil to fry the onions

For the Vegetable part of the dish:
Half a cup of cauliflower florets cut roughly in 1 inch long pieces
1 potato cut roughly in 1 inch long pieces
Half a cup of red carrots cut roughly in 1 inch long pieces
Half a cup of baby onions
4 -5 big mushroom, halved
¼ cup of green peas peeled

Marinade the veggies for 15 minutes in a mix of: 
4 - 5 tbsp curd
Turmeric to taste
½ tsp Cumin powder
½ tsp Coriander powder
¼ tsp all spice powder (Garam Masala)
Cinnamon powder to taste
Salt to taste
1½ tbsp of olive oil (love the fruity flavour it adds, groundnut oil will work too)
½ tsp garlic paste
½ tsp ginger paste
And 2 tbsp of oil for roasting the veggies slightly


I always mix these spices in the curd and whisk it well to incorporate. Then slowly add in the uncooked veggies to sit and absorb the flavours of these spices.

Before you start prepping the ingredients for the dish, soak the rice in some water and let it rest there for at least 10 mins, longer the better.

Meanwhile prep the herbs and onions, and get a pan of water to come to the boil.

Once the water starts boiling, throw in the whole spices and a generous amount of salt. Remove the residual water in which the rice was sitting and add it to the boiling pan of flavoured water. Let it cook for 3 - 4 minutes on a high flame, till the water comes back on a rolling boil. By this time, the rice should be 40% done, with a resisting bite in the middle part of the grain. Remove the rice from boiling water (but don’t throw away the flavoured water) and let it drain thoroughly.

While your rice is cooking, heat a wok with oil and caramelise your onions till light brown. Once you are happy with the colour, mix in a pinch of salt to season and remove from the wok.

Now, in the wok where you fried the onions, pour in another tablespoon of olive or groundnut oil and roast the veggies slightly to enhance the flavours. This is an optional step but I strongly recommend you to do so.

Once all these tedious prepping is done, start layering your Pressure cooker. I suggest use a pretty one, which can later be also used as a serving dish.
Now to layering: 

Oil the bottom of the pressure cooker well. Now pour in the roasted veggies, along with the marinade. Sprinkle on a good helping of cilantro & mint leaves, and fried onions.

This should be followed by 2 -3 tbsp of the flavoured cooking water of the rice. This small amount of starchy moisture is important to ensure the veggies cook down perfectly.

Layer on the rice, and repeat sprinkling of cilantro & mint leaves, followed by fried onions.

At this stage feel free to add in any nuts if you may want to. Finish of the layering with 2 – 3 Tbsp of Saffron water.

Tightly secure on the lid and let it cook on a high flame till it blows the whistle for the first time. Remove from heat and let it release the steam slowly, unaided.

One of the most express ways to make a Biryani.. Cheers!!

Note- Since I bought a cheap electric steamer in my house, I have converted to putting this rice and veggie mix in the steamer rather than in a pressure cooker. But the microwave option is not as tasty as the steamer or pressure cooker. 


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