Tag Archives: soup mix

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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Shorbat Adas – Arabian Lentil Soup

The past week was a busy, hectic and demanding one with the new blog and other writing commitments. I also went into a ‘cooking overdrive’ trying out and experimenting with different types of dishes and cuisines. And the result - thoroughly burned out by Friday, desperately needing a weekend break from the kitchen.

All I wanted to do was put my feet up with my favourite book and a glass of wine. Cooking was the last thing on my mind and I could see the ‘poor us’ look on my son’s and hubby’s face. With winter attacking us in full force (Melbourne witnessed one of the harshest winter with temperatures dropping sub-zero last week), going out to dinner was not the best idea either. Only the ‘takeaway God’ could help us!

We live in a highly multicultural suburb and there are plenty of eateries and restaurants specializing in all kinds of cuisines. But it is a pity that most of these do not offer home delivery and if they do, the minimum price is set so high which makes the whole process way too expensive. Fast food seems to be the only affordable choice here and honestly, I am tired of the burgers, pizzas and pastas.

Well, the takeaway turned out to be pizzas as always but to lift my spirits; I decided to have a long chat with one of my girlfriends who reside in Mumbai (India). My bestie is a chronic takeaway eater; she spends half of her life inside the Mumbai local travelling to and fro from work and cooking is the last thing on her mind when she reaches home. As I started to complain to her, she asked me if there aren’t any online food delivery systems like Foodpanda out here.

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Naturally, this piqued my interest and after some Google hopping, I realized that this online food delivery system operates in more than 40 countries with a large presence in India as well. Pity, they haven’t entered the Australian market or I am sure, I will be one of their first customers. My friend said she loved the fact that the site also offers a ‘cash on delivery’ option as she is not too keen about online payments. And of course, the discounts and offers only add more appeal making takeaways an affordable option. Foodpanda operates in many Indian cities including Mumbai, so do visit the site to find out if your city is covered. And if you are using a smartphone, you can even download an app for the same.

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Is this post going on and on? Guess so….ok, let’s jump over quickly to today’s dish.

Shorbat Adas or Arabian lentil soup is a dish very close to my heart because it is from my childhood. While living in Dubai, one of our favourite takeaway joint (see, I go off to takeaways again!) was Al Usman restaurant; they sold the most ah’mazing tikkas and kebabs. But my favourite was this sweet and sour simple lentil soup.

I have searched this recipe for years; I had no clue of its name or ingredients except for the taste of this soup which I had cherished forever in my taste buds’ memory. And now, I have found it.

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Shorbat adas is very famous across Middle East and is often served free of cost. There are several different variations; some add pieces of leftover lamb or use meat stock for added flavour. In Morocco, you can find a thicker version using only red lentils and lamb. Here, I have used homemade chicken stock to add that extra body of flavour but you can keep it vegetarian by using vegetable stock or just water.

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The sour tanginess of the citrus paves way for the sweet smokiness of the caramelized onions ending with the robust simplicity of cumin spiced lentils. In culinary heaven!

Recipe Courtesy - Traditional Arabic Cooking by Miriam Al Hashimi

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Ingredients:

1. 250gm lentils (soup mix), you can use just one type of lentils also
2. 2 red onion, sliced finely
3. ½ tsp roasted ground cumin
4. 2 tbsp lemon juice (variable)
5. vegetable oil, to fry the onions
6. salt, to season
7. freshly milled black pepper, to season
8. 1 cup homemade chicken stock
9. water

Method:

1. Soak the lentils for at least an hour (it really helps to cook the lentils faster) and cook till mushy.
2. Meanwhile, sauté and caramelize half the onions and keep aside. Fry the remaining half onions till crispy brown but not burnt.
3. Once the lentils get cooked, mash well and add the caramelized onions, ground cumin, chicken stock and cook on low heat for another 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. The consistency of this soup is quite runny but you can add less stock/water and thicken it up.
4. Remove from heat and add lemon juice. Add one tsp, taste and keep adding till the right balance of sour, salty and sweet has been achieved. I like the tang and used about 2 tbsp but it might vary according to your taste preferences.
5. Garnish with crispy fried onions.
6. Serve hot with bread.

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I served this simple yet flavourful soup in my new Akasuzki bowls which I won in a giveaway hosted by Nami of justonecookbook (the blog to be if you are interested in Japanese cuisine). Yes, it is a Japanese brand and sells beautiful Japanese products but I have used it for my Arabian lentil soup. It’s a small world, isn’t it!

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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