Tag Archives: greens

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens

Khichdi – the comfort food of one half of the Indian population!

I say this specifically because khichdi is not a dish that is popular in my hometown, Kerala. And hence I was not aware of its existence for a very long time.

My first tryst with khichdi happened somewhere along the Pune-Mahabaleshwar route. We were living in Pune at that time and were visiting the hill station when we stopped at a roadside dhaba for a quick meal. Sam suggested that I try the khichdi (he had already developed a taste for it, thanks to his office mates) and hesitatingly I did. But oh boy, it was a revelation.

The rich, spicy, almost creamy consistency of rice and lentils with that generous drizzle of ghee made my tastebuds sing with joy.

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens - thespiceadventuress.com

And while I consumed many plates of khichdi during my stay in Pune, I never ventured to cook it in my kitchen till about 2 years ago.

I think it’s the memory of that taste that encouraged me to make a khichdi at home. It’s no rocket science, but often we need a motivation or purpose to try out something new.

At its heart, a khichdi is nothing but rice and lentils cooked together, mashed and then tempered with spices. But that tempering is what makes all the difference. It can be as simple or as complex as you want and in my opinion, the whole flavour profile of the khichdi depends on it.

My version of the khichdi is not the most traditional but neither a fusion. It is perhaps an amalgamation of various styles based on flavours and spices that I like best.

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens - thespiceadventuress.com

Khichdi is an extremely healthy dish because of its powerful combination of carbs and proteins. Usually prepared with just one type of lentils, but my version has a mixture of lentils and pulses along with some sort of greens like spinach, fenugreek or even carrot greens, as I have done today.

You can either make a mix of the lentils from what you have at home or pick up a packet of the soup mix like I do. Or use just one type of lentil; it’s totally your wish. When using a soup mix, it’s best to soak it overnight so that the cooking process is much faster.

How many of you use carrot greens as an ingredient? It has gained a lot of attention with the raw food movement and is often found as an ingredient in salads, pesto etc…. But I also love to use it in my dal (lentil) preparations just the way I would use spinach. Beetroot leaves can also be used this way but needs to be cooked more than the carrot greens.

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens - thespiceadventuress.com

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens - thespiceadventuress.com

Even though I pressure cook the lentils and rice for time constraints, I always slow cook for a good 15-20 minutes after adding the tempering. A bit of extra time only helps intensify the flavours which I really want from my plate of khichdi. And a final drizzle of hot ghee is an absolute must!

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup mixed lentils; washed and soaked overnight
  2. ½ cup medium grain white rice
  3. Carrot greens (I used the greens from 4 small carrots); chopped
  4. Salt, to season
  5. Ghee/clarified butter; for serving
  6. 2 tbsp coriander leaves; finely chopped
  7. For tempering:
  • 2 tbsp ghee/clarified butter
  • 2 tbsp vegetable oil
  • 1 tsp mustard seeds
  • ½ tsp cumin seeds
  • ½ tsp caraway/shahi jeera seeds
  • 2 dry red chilli
  • 3 large shallots/small onion; finely chopped
  • 1 tbsp grated garlic
  • 1 tbsp grated ginger
  • 2 large ripe red tomatoes; finely chopped
  • ½ tsp turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp Kashmiri chilli powder
  • ½ tsp red chilli powder
  • A pinch of asafoetida
  • ½ inch piece of jaggery or ½ tsp raw sugar

Method:

  1. Wash the soaked lentils and rice together. Add to a pressure cooker or deep bottom pan and cook well with enough water (remember to season with a pinch of salt). The lentils and rice must be cooked enough to be able to mash well.
  2. In another pan, heat ghee and oil; add the mustard seeds and allow to splutter.
  3. Then add the cumin and caraway seeds; as it begins to crackle, add the dry chillies and shallots and sauté till softened.
  4. Then add the garlic and ginger; sauté till the onions have turned light brown.
  5. Next add the tomatoes and cook on medium heat till the tomatoes have softened and turned mushy.
  6. Then add all the spice powders and jaggery; sauté till the whole masala comes together and oil starts appearing at the sides.
  7. Meanwhile mash the lentils and rice using the back end of a ladle or potato masher.
  8. Add the chopped greens along with the masala to the lentils and mix well; season with salt if necessary.
  9. Add more water if necessary and cook on the low heat for 10-15 minutes.
  10. Finish off with the chopped coriander leaves.
  11. Serve warm with a drizzle of ghee on top.
  12. Tuck in!

Khichdi (Lentil Rice) with Carrot Greens - thespiceadventuress.com

 

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Chickpeas and Mustard Leaves Curry (with East Indian Bottle Masala)

My Instagram journey has so far been a highly delightful and inspiring one. I have been able to interact with a wonderful bunch of creative friends there and some wonderful human beings too. And a friend that fits that bill is Natasha (or Nats, as I sometimes call her). Nats is known as @thegutlessfoodie to the Insta folks and if you are curious as to why that name, check out her profile.

Apart from being such a darling, Nats has a whacky sense of humor that always brings a smile to my face. And if you follow her, you would get truck loads of inspiration for everyday dishes. Like I did, for this Chickpeas and Mustard Leaves Curry (with my special East Indian Bottle Masala).

Chickpeas and Mustard Leaves Curry (with East Indian Bottle Masala) - a comforting, nourishing chickpea curry with the goodness of homegrown mustard leaves - thespiceadventuress.com

This recipe is my adaptation of Natasha’s dish since I added mustard leaves and also used my special East Indian Bottle Masala to spice up the curry.

Mustard leaves are super healthy greens that are used extensively in North Indian cuisine especially states lying near the Himalayan belt. I wanted to try and grow these in my balcony garden but that meant trying to grow it in a pot. An experiment that yielded good results.

The only thing about growing mustard leaves in a pot is that you get only baby leaves and not the large one that is typical when grown on the ground. Also, since I was trying to grow it the first time, I planted the seeds in a small pot; next time I would try in a larger pot to see if the size of the leaves get bigger. If you live in an area where you can easily find mustard leaves in the market, then go ahead with that or substitute with any other greens if growing it in your garden is not an option for you.

Anyway, I found that the baby leaves tasted more refreshing than the larger mature ones which meant that I could use it for garnishing my salads and also in pasta dishes. In fact, I was planning on a salad when Natasha’s chickpea curry caught my attention.

For my East Indian Bottle Masala story, you need to read this post (which also tells you another delicious way to use this spice blend).

East Indian Bottle Masala - a traditional spice blend from Eastern India - thespiceadventuress.com

This chickpeas and mustard leaves curry is a simple, everyday dish that can be paired with flatbreads or rice and with a simple salad on the side. How I love these simple yet delicious and healthy almost one-pot meals that are just so comforting and nourishing at the same time.

The leaves wilt quickly even when added right at the end of the dish so you will hardly notice it in the photographs. But it’s there peeps…all the goodness and flavour is there.

Ok, so let’s get cooking….

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Chickpeas and Mustard Leaves Curry (with East Indian Bottle Masala) - a comforting, nourishing chickpea curry with the goodness of homegrown mustard leaves - thespiceadventuress.com

Ingredients:

  1. 1 cup chickpeas; soaked overnight
  2. ½ cup mustard leaves (roughly chop if you are using the bigger ones)
  3. Coconut spice mixture
  • ½ tsp crushed cinnamon
  • 10 black peppercorns
  • ¼ tsp fennel seeds
  • 2 green cardamom
  • 1 tbsp roasted gram flour/garbanzo bean flour/besan
  • ½ tsp almonds; crushed
  • ½ cup grated coconut
  • 2 large garlic cloves
  • 1 ½ tbsp East Indian bottle masala
  1. 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil
  2. 1 star anise
  3. 2 dry bay leaf
  4. 1 black cardamom; crushed
  5. 2 medium red onions; finely chopped
  6. ½ tsp red chilli powder
  7. A pinch of asafoetida
  8. 1 tbsp tomato paste
  9. Salt, to season
  10. 3 sprigs fresh coriander leaves; finely chopped

East Indian Bottle Masala:

  1. 12.5 gms dry Bedki chilli
  2. 12.5 gms dry Kashmiri chilli
  3. 45 gms turmeric powder
  4. 30 gms coriander seeds
  5. 14 gms cumin seeds
  6. 10 gms white sesame seeds
  7. 10 gms poppy seeds
  8. 7.5 gms fennel seeds
  9. 25 gms mustard seeds
  10. 2.5 gms black cumin/shahjeera
  11. 3 green cardamom
  12. 5 cloves
  13. 2.5 gms black pepper
  14. 3 gms cinnamon bark

Method:

  1. To prepare the bottle masala, dry roast all the spices till aromatic and fragrant. Cool and grind to a powder. Store in an airtight bottle or container and use as necessary.
  2. To prepare the coconut spice mixture, grind all the ingredients given under No.3 with a little bit of water to make a thick paste.
  3. Heat vegetable oil in a pressure cooker (or pan if you don’t have a cooker). Add the star anise, cardamom and bay leaf; after a few seconds when the spices have becomes fragrant, add the chopped onions.
  4. Sauté till light brown and then add the red chilli powder. asafoetida, tomato paste and coconut spice paste. Cook on low heat till the masala comes together and the rawness of the spices and coconut have gone.
  5. Then add the chickpeas and cook till done (around 2-3 whistles would be enough if using a pressure cooker).
  6. Finally, add the mustard leaves, stir through and remove from heat. Since these are baby leaves, it does not require any cooking time but if you are using the bigger ones, you may need to cook it for about a minute.
  7. Garnish with chopped coriander leaves and serve warm.

Chickpeas and Mustard Leaves Curry (with East Indian Bottle Masala) - a comforting, nourishing chickpea curry with the goodness of homegrown mustard leaves - thespiceadventuress.com

Chickpeas and Mustard Leaves Curry (with East Indian Bottle Masala) - a comforting, nourishing chickpea curry with the goodness of homegrown mustard leaves - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Spicy Green Salad

I love to window shop! In fact, I can spend countless hours walking in and out of shops, browsing the innumerable shelves, ogling at window displays, checking out prices, deals, discounts, bargains…ohh!

Now there is a huge difference between actual shopping and window shopping. The former is not always a positive experience; you need to fire up your grey cells figuring out what you actually need and what you don’t and finally (even after using up all the brains you have) end up blowing your hard earned money buying stuff you didn’t actually need.

But on the other hand, window shopping can be a very positive and therapeutic exercise. It gives you hope, allows you to dream – to work harder and save even harder to make money and buy all that you ogled at. And dreams are good – as the wise say, ‘a man is dead without his dreams.’ Ok, in practical words – get your act together, your bank balance has hit rock bottom.

Window shopping actually allows you to save a bit of money, because you always think that you can find a better product or a better deal at another ‘window’ and you move on without actually buying anything.

And it keeps you in top shape! All that walking is good for your heart, tones up your muscles, keeps you svelte. Just remember to wear sensible shoes though!

And it keeps boredom at bay!

So I am off to yet another mall (a new one!) for my weekly fix of window shopping. Ooh! I love this life….

And if all this sounds like a truckload of crap, let’s just jump over to today’s dish.

About today’s dish, the name says it all, doesn’t it? For all who thought salads are bland, here is a spicy revelation.

Spicy Green Salad - a hint of spice for tons of flavour - thespiceadventuress.com

 

When I first read this recipe, it excited me beyond measure because I have never really had a salad that has a spice quotient to it. This is a spicy salad but that does not mean it has the numbing, fiery heat that takes away from the flavour of the vegetables. And flavour means that my family would eat a bowl of greens happily!

This salad is quite versatile and can be paired in so many ways. Goes beautifully with this delicious crispy grilled chicken or maybe this salmon fry or perhaps these juicy sardines.

A bowl of greens - food photography and styling - thespiceadventuress.com

Spicy Green Salad - a hint of spice for tons of flavour - thespiceadventuress.com

 

Ingredients:

  1. 1 medium broccoli; cut into florets
  2. 50gm snow peas
  3. 6 green asparagus; cut into half (remove the thicker bottom part and peel the outer skin lightly)
  4. 1 purple carrot; ribbons (no fancy equipment required; a peeler would do)
  5. 8 green beans
  6. Mixed greens; a good handful
  7. 1 lebanese cucumber; sliced diagonally
  8. 1 tbsp fresh coriander leaves; chopped
  9. 1 tbsp spring onion (green part)

For the dressing:

  1. 2 tbsp sesame oil
  2. 3 tbsp sunflower/vegetable oil
  3. 2 spring onion (white part); finely chopped
  4. 2 garlic; finely chopped
  5. 2 dry chilli; broken into bits (reduce quantity if you desire less heat)
  6. ½ tsp coriander powder
  7. ½ tsp ginger; grated
  8. Juice of 1 lemon
  9. Salt; to season

Method:

  • Blanch the vegetables like broccoli, green beans, snow peas and asparagus. Remove into a bowl of ice cold water to keep it crunchy. After a few minutes, strain and keep aside.
  • Heat sunflower oil in a pan and lightly brown the garlic. Add the spring onions, dry chilli, coriander powder and ginger. Remove from heat, cool and add sesame oil and lemon juice. Season with salt.
  • Place all the vegetables in a bowl and add the dressing just before serving; toss through with love and care.

Note – You can use any type of vegetable for this salad; so choose what’s in season depending on where you live.

Spicy Green Salad - a hint of spice for a ton of flavour - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

 

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