Tag Archives: protein

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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Adzuki Beans Curry with Kadai Spice Blend

Adzuki beans are small reddish beans commonly used in Japanese and Chinese cooking. In fact, the name ‘adzuki’ is of Japanese origin. In the East Asian cuisine, these red beans are common in sweets and desserts, often used as a paste or boiled with milk to make a reduction.

In India, dishes using adzuki beans can be commonly found in Punjab, Gujarat and Maharashtra. Referred to as Lal Chavali in Marathi which literally means red cowpea, chori in Gujarathi or ravaa’n in Punjabi, these beans are often used in chaats (Indian street food). I am not quite sure if there are other traditional dishes using these beans. If you know anything more about it, please do write to me and let me know.

I first came across adzuki beans at the local market; though the beans looked familiar to many others, I knew I had not cooked or tasted it before. So a pack of these came home with me and I have been trying out many dishes, especially Indian ones with these red beans.

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Recently, I made a batch of the kadai spice blend which is commonly used to flavour Indian curries. And it suddenly struck me to combine this spice blend with the adzuki beans and come up with an Indian curry of sorts.

This adzuki bean curry is as Indian as it gets; the curry paste is prepared by caramelizing onions and aromatics to which tomatoes and finally the spice blend gets added. Just like any other lentil, it is best to soak these beans overnight and then cook the following day to reduce cooking times. And yes, if you have the Indian pressure cooker, life is bliss!

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Like I mentioned, the kadai spice blend is quite common in North Indian cuisine and a regular feature in all restaurant menus. Quite a versatile blend incorporating the flavours of coriander, cumin, fennel, cardamom and bay leaf, this blend can be used in other Indian curries too, both vegetarian and non-vegetarian.

So, here is the method to prepare Indian style adzuki beans curry with kadai spice blend;

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Ingredients:

1. 2 cups adzuki beans, soaked overnight
2. 2 red onions, finely chopped
3. 2 ripe red tomatoes, finely chopped
4. 3 garlic cloves, finely chopped
5. 1 inch ginger, finely chopped
6. 1 tea bag
7. 5 sprigs coriander leaves, finely chopped
8. Salt, to taste
9. 2 tsp kadai spice blend
10. ½ tsp turmeric powder
11. 1 tsp red chilli powder
12. 3-4 tbsp vegetable oil

Kadai Spice Blend:

This makes around half a bottle of spice blend; store the excess in an airtight container.

1. 6 tbsp coriander seeds
2. 1 tbsp fennel seeds
3. 1 tbsp cumin seeds
4. 1 ½ tsp black peppercorns
5. 8 green cardamom
6. 2 black cardamom
7. 1 inch cinnamon stick
8. 2 dried bay leaf
9. 10 dry kashmiri red chillies

Method:

To prepare the spice blend:

1. Dry roast all the ingredients (and as always, take care not to burn). Cool and grind to a fine powder. When dry roasting spices, remove from the pan onto a parchment or baking paper after switching off flame. Never leave it in the same pan itself as the spices continue to roast in the residual heat.


To prepare the curry:

2. In a deep pan or pressure cooker, heat oil and add the onions, garlic and ginger. Saute till the onions have caramelized well.
3. Add the tomatoes and continue to cook till the tomatoes turn mushy.
4. Turn down the heat and add all the spices. Continue to cook for another 2 minutes.
5. Add the washed and soaked beans along with a tea bag (use an ordinary tea bag and not the flavoured ones). Adding the tea bag is optional; this is only to lend the deep dark colour to the dish and does not really add much flavour to the dish.
6. Season with salt and add 2 cups of water. Cook till the beans are done to the consistency you like.
7. Remove from heat and garnish with fresh coriander leaves.
8. Serve hot with rice or flat breads.

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Goan Dal (Indian style Lentil curry with coconut and black kokum)

Goa – the most ‘tourisity’ place in India. Even I have visited Goa, as a tourist, and somehow the experience has not been the best for me. I liked the place, the beaches, the historical monuments, visit to the spice plantations, etc… but it was all through the eyes of a tourist without really imbibing or living the culture of the land. For me, the best kind of travel experience is when I get to understand and experience the culture, lifestyle and food of the region as a local. Only then does the experience become truly inspiring.

For us, this particular trip to Goa was more of a family time above anything else. Our son enjoyed it and that made the trip worthwhile in itself, but I would still like to go back someday and experience this beautiful land as it deserves to be. Unfortunately, no food photographs from the trip but here are a few of our favourite and memorable clicks…..

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So, did u notice the dolphin??

Today’s dish is a lentil curry from Goa and is perfect for all seasons, especially for autumn and winter as it is hearty, comforting and also packed with protein. And like any typical Goan recipe, this dal also incorporates coconut and kokum (I used the black kokum variety but you can use the red one too). Mildly spiced, this rich and delicious Indian style lentil curry is perfect with steamed white rice or with Indian flat breads. Thin it out a bit and you can even enjoy it as a bowl of soup on these cold winter days.

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This is quite a versatile recipe where you can use any type of lentils you have at hand. Kokum is easily available at most Indian or Asian grocery stores but if you cannot find it, use tamarind paste instead. Coconut is a must as it lends the creamy texture to the dal.

So, let’s get cooking this warm and hearty Goan dal (Indian style lentil curry with coconut and kokum)

Recipe adapted from Veg Recipes of India

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Ingredients:

For the dal:

1. 2 cups yellow pigeon peas/toor dal – soaked for at least 2 hours
2. 1 tsp turmeric powder
3. 2 black kokum pieces – washed well (if you are using tamarind, add 1 tbsp tamarind paste)
4. salt – to taste

For the coconut paste:

5. 1 cup fresh grated coconut
6. 1 small onion or 2-3 shallots
7. 1 tbsp cumin seeds/jeera
8. 4-5 garlic cloves

For the tempering:

9. 1 tsp mustard seeds
10. 1 tsp cumin seeds/jeera
11. 2-3 sprig of curry leaves
12. 2 cloves garlic, crushed lightly
13. 1 or 2 green chilies (optional) / dry red chilies can also be used instead of green chilies
14. a pinch or two of asafoetida
15. 2 tbsp coconut oil or ghee or any good vegetable oil
For the garnish:
16. Fresh coriander leaves, chopped

Method:

1. Pressure cook the toor dal with water, salt and turmeric for 3 or 4 whistles; open and mash well.
2. Blend to make a paste using the ingredients 5-8; you may use a little water to get a paste like consistency
3. To the cooked dal, add the coconut paste and the kokum pieces.
4. Add water to adjust consistency as required and season with salt. Bring to boil and then simmer for 5 minutes.
5. To prepare the tempering, heat oil in a pan, crackle the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, chillies and garlic. Saute till the garlic is lightly browned, switch off heat and add asafoetida.
6. Pour this over the hot dal and mix well.
7. Garnish with coriander leaves and serve hot with rice.

Note – Remove the kokum pieces after 1-2 hours as the flavour continues to seep in if the kokum if left inside which may end up making the dish sour and tart.

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Baby Spinach with Mixed Lentils

 

A nourishing and healthy vegetarian dish for Meatless Monday!

Baby Spinach with Mixed Lentils - thespiceadventuress.com

This recipe is a variation of a traditional Kerala-style spinach lentil curry. Usually this dish is prepared using toor dal (yellow pigeon peas) and green spinach leaves. I decided to use a mix of lentils and pulses (often referred to as soup mix) along with baby spinach leaves.

The rationale behind using the soup mix was to ‘up’ the protein quotient of the dish making it a much healthier version. In fact, it can be taken as a lentil soup to boost energy rather than as an accompaniment for white rice. And I prefer using lentils in the boiled and mashed form (my hubby can’t pick up the lentils and throw it away then, rite). It’s a cheat – but I am happy as long as the family stays healthy.

There are usually two types of soup mixes sold; one is a mix of only lentils while the other (as I have used) is a mixture of lentils and pulses. There are atleast 8-10 different lentils and pulses in this mix and forms the base for this warm and nourishing curry/soup.

Baby Spinach with Mixed Lentils - thespiceadventuress.com

You can also replace spinach with other leafy greens; in fact, I have tried this recipe with beet greens, bok choy, drumstick leaves etc. and the result has been great every single time. I like to use baby spinach when I am pressed for time. There is no need for any extra cleaning apart from wash and dry.

So let’s get cooking this protein packed lentil curry with baby spinach leaves….

Baby Spinach with Mixed Lentils - thespiceadventuress.com

(If you can’t get soup mix, just mix equal proportions of the lentils and pulses that you would like to use)

Ingredients:

  1. Soup Mix – 1 cup; soaked overnight
  2. Baby spinach leaves – 2 cups
  3. Turmeric powder – ½ tsp
  4. Salt – to season
  5. Grated coconut – ¾th cup
  6. Green chillies – 2 – 3
  7. Garlic – 3 cloves
  8. Jeera/cumin seeds – 1 tsp
  9. Vegetable oil – 1 tbsp
  10. Mustard seeds – ½ tsp
  11. Curry leaves – 2 sprigs
  12. Dry red chilli – 3

Method:

  • Soak the soup mix overnight so that the cooking time is reduced. Pressure cook the lentils with a pinch of turmeric powder and salt to season till soft and almost mushy. Open and mash lightly.
  • Blend coconut, green chillies, garlic and cumin seeds to a fine paste with a little water and keep aside.
  • To the mashed lentils, add the baby spinach and cook for 1 minute. Then add the coconut mixture and cook for another 2-3 minutes. Add water depending on how thick you prefer the gravy. Taste and season with salt if necessary.
  • In a pan, heat oil and crackle mustard seeds; add curry leaves and dry red chilli. Add this to the prepared lentils and mix well.
  • Serve hot with steamed rice or Indian breads; this can also be enjoyed as a soup with crusty bread.

Baby Spinach with Mixed Lentils - thespiceadventuress.com

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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