My introduction to Japanese cuisine is fairly new. I remember having a wasabi-based dish a few years ago and it was a very forgettable experience.
Fast forward to 2015, I went out for a Japanese dinner on my birthday and it was instant love. I started researching a bit more about sushi and figured they were a healthier alternative to other fast food options, if I felt like a takeout.
Sushi thus became a frequent healthy indulgence. Sometimes after gym, I’d pick up a baby box to replenish some carbs. As much as I enjoyed it, the fact that I was paying $3 for teeny tiny pieces of sushi did not settle well with me.
I saw an instant challenge here and wanted to take it on. I spoke to a Japanese friend in gym and asked her how to make sushi like the ones we get in the shops. She specified that they were called ‘Makizushi’ – it literally meant rolled sushi.
Rice is a regular feature in my family meals. It is typically savoured with sambhar, rasam and yoghurt. While that is a regular fare we mix things up a bit with leftover rice or freshly cooked rice that goes into making many different ‘variety rice’ as we call it.
There is lemon rice, coconut rice, tamarind rice, carrot rice…the options are endless. I usually make jeera rice and make it interesting with the addition of aromatics and vegetables. My absolute favourite variant is the methi jeera rice.
I love that it is wholesome, healthy and tasty. This is a whole medley of flavours; the slightly bitter fenugreek leaves combined with sweet & sharp onions and garlic and the earthy taste of cumin seeds makes this combination a delight for those savouring it.
It tastes great on its own or with curries, dal and pappadam. It also helps that it easy to prepare, making it a very convenient weeknight dinner.
In the past year, I noticed a lot of people were making a switch to millets in place of rice. Hard-core rice eaters like my father alternated his rice consumption with millets.
I saw millets in mixed rice, porridge, dessert and even steamed cake versions. It was a force to be reckoned with. I did a bit of reading to find out what the fuss was all about. I was stumped! Millets besides being one of the oldest and inexpensive cereals available, comes with a host of health benefits.
To list a few, it is high in fibre, iron, calcium and B vitamins and protein. It is also favoured by many for its slow release of sugar making it perfect for those watching their sugar intake and on a low GI diet. As a huge plus, this is gluten free and easy on the tummy.
Congee simply means rice porridge. The origins of the word congee could be traced back to ‘kanji’ in Tamil, which also means rice porridge. It is served in several parts of Asia and the monikers include Jook, Lugaw, Burbur and so on. It is typically served for breakfast accompanied by condiments such as fried shallots, garlic, soy sauce, etc.
This humble rice porridge is one of the easiest and tastiest comfort foods there is. With the carbs from the rice and nutrition from the vegetables, this is a great breakfast or lunchtime meal.
I was craving something warm and tasty to beat the cold weather. I had some leftover rice and some veggies that I could make into a congee. The result was simply amazing. It ticks a lot of boxes for me in terms of wholesomeness, nutrition, and taste.
Play around with the ingredients, substitute/add vegetables, meat or seafood to suit your taste; you will have a superb meal ready to serve. This low-fat and healthy porridge will sure warm your heart and keep the tummy happy.
Left over rice – 1 cup
Stock/water – 4 cups
Mushrooms – ¼ cup, cleaned and sliced
Spring onion/scallions/green onions – 2 stalks, cleaned, trimmed and chopped
Ginger – ½ inch piece, peeled and finely chopped
Garlic – 5 cloves, finely chopped
Black pepper – to taste
Salt – To taste
Oil - 1 tblspns.
Heat oil in a saucepan. To it, add the finely chopped garlic and ginger. Sauté them till fragrant.
Toss in the onions. Sweat the onions out a bit. Do not overcook them.
Finally, add the mushrooms and sauté for another 4 to 5 minutes.
At this stage, season with pepper.
Pour the stock and bring it to boil. This will ensure the stock absorbs the flavours of the sautéd vegetables.
Add the cooked rice and stir it with the stock.
At this stage, add more water if you like your congee dilute.
Simmer the congee for about 15 minutes or till it thickens.
Once done, remove from the flame.
Scoop out the congee and pour into serving bowls. Serve warm.
Note: I reserved some chopped garlic, and shallow fried them to serve on top.
- You could add other vegetables of your choice.
- Add or omit ingredients based on your preference.
- I used leftover basmati rice. Use jasmine, sticky or any other rice varieties for this congee.
- If you are using stock, watch the amount of salt you add to the congee.
- I used stock for extra flavouring. You could simply use water, as it would absorb the flavours of the sautéed vegetables.
- You could add fresh herbs for seasoning.
- Additional seasoning options include fried tofu, soy sauce, sweet chilli sauce.
- I used leftover rice, you could use raw rice and allow it to boil until it’s cooked and thickens the congee.
Chutney channa pulao is a lunchbox favourite in many Indian homes; my home is no exception. It is a delight to make this. As the pulao is cooking, you will be able to enjoy the aroma permeating the house for a while. The refreshing aroma is a perfect indicator of the beautiful rice dish you will have.
This quick-to-make rice dish is a fragrant and tasty combination of coriander & mint chutney, a few spices, chickpeas and rice. In the lunchbox or not, this pulao is a people-pleaser.
Who doesn’t love a plateful of biriyani? This aromatic rice preparation combines vegetables, fragrant basmati rice, fresh herbs, whole dry spices and a touch of the luxurious saffron. While I prefer simple and easy-to-make recipes, I make an exception for biriyani though. Simply because it is worth that little effort you put in. The best part about biriyani is that it tastes better the next day (if you have any left that is) when the flavours of the spices and masala intensify the taste of the dish.
I hadn’t heard about or tasted tava pulao until about few years ago when I was in Bangalore. I saw the item on the menu of a vegetarian restaurant in a food court and was very curious to try it out. And when I did, it was love at first bite! On researching a little about that preparation, I learnt that this amazingly tasty and filling dish was made popular by street-side pav bhaji vendors in Mumbai; they would use the leftover bhaji and some rice to make this superb-tasting pulao. It is typically prepared in the same tava that pav bhaji is made. Clever, eh? You don’t have to travel all the way to Mumbai for this delish dish, read on to find out how you can make this at home.
Jeera rice is a popular Indian and Pakistani rice preparation that is quick to make and goes well with curries and dal varieties. I've taken this simple rice preparation up a notch and included garlic for additional flavour. As you take a mouthful of this rice, you will taste the dominating flavour of roasted cumin and crispy bits of garlic.
Rice – 1 cup
Garlic cloves – 5, finely chopped
Jeera – ½ tblspn.
Chilli powder – 1 tspn.
Ghee – 1 tbslpn.
Salt – To taste
Water – 1 cup
Oil – 1 tspn.
Wash and pressure cook or microwave rice with salt; take rice to water proportion 1:1 in consideration.
While the rice is cooking, heat oil in a pan and add chopped garlic.
Keep cooking the garlic till it slightly browns.
Reduce the flame on the stove and add chilli powder. Keep sautéing the garlic bits and chilli powder, and ensure it does not burn.
Once the garlic pieces look well-coated in the spice and crispy, turn the stove off and keep aside.
Once the rice is done, heat ghee in a skillet.
Add the cumin seeds and let them toast.
Add the garlic pieces that have been cooked with chilli powder and sauté for a couple of minutes or till the combined aroma of garlic and cumin are released.
Now, sprinkle the cooked rice into the mixture and combine the ingredients.
Check if the salt you added while cooking the rice is sufficient, if it is not, add a little more to adjust the taste to your preference.
Cover the skillet and cook for 2-3 minutes. Hot jeera garlic rice is ready to serve.
- To further enhance the flavour, you could add thinly sliced onions/ shallots.
- Leftover rice works well with this dish. Ensure you add salt and mix it well.
The one on the top is the egg less version and the bottom pic is the one with scrambled eggs.
The first time I heard about this dish was from my husband, and I was curious to know what it was all about. So I got reading; nasi goreng, as it turns out, is an Indonesian-style fried rice usually made with cold, leftover rice, eggs, meat, a bunch of vegetables and spices. I was very tempted to try this out at a restaurant but to my disappointment, the restaurants that served the dish did so with fish sauce or prawn sauce. So I read a little more and figured it was something I could make at home, minus the fish/ prawn sauce of course :) Well, now I get my husband's tick of approval for one of his favourite dishes.
Note: For those of you who have tried the real deal, don't hold it against me for deviating from the actual recipe. It is my version. Oh! Vegetarian too.
Rice - 2 cups, cooked and cooled (leftover rice will work perfectly well)
French beans - 5 cut into 1 inch pieces
Red Onions - 1/2 cup finely chopped
Shallots - 3 finely chopped
Garlic - 3 pods finely chopped
Red chillies - 3 finely chopped
Green chillies - 2 finely chopped
Spring onions - 2 springs finely chopped
Soy sauce - 2 tablespoons
Oil - 1 tablespoon to cook rice and veggies; 1 teaspoon each for the scrambled eggs and omelet.
Sugar (raw or brown sugar preferable) - 1 teaspoon
Pepper powder (black or white) - 1 to 2 teaspoons, depending on how spicy you'd like it
Salt - As per your taste
Heat oil in kadai, add the garlic, shallots and onions and fry till they the onions are translucent.
To this mixture, add the French beans and cook for about 3 minutes.
Combine the red and green chillies and cook for a few more minutes.
Add the rice and mix well.
Add the scrambled eggs (vegetarians or people who do not like eggs, exclude this step), soy sauce, sugar, pepper powder and salt and give it a good stir.
Keep on medium-high flame and cook for 5 to 7 minutes and top it with spring onions.
Serve with omelet (vegetarians or people who do not like eggs, exclude this step).