In my family's bid to eat a healthier diet, I've discovered an entire world of food to explore. Indian cuisine is something I only tried a few years ago, and I loved it! Over the last year, I've begun to add Indian recipes to my menu plans. I was nervous to cook Indian food, thinking it would be difficult. Not at all! The recipes are usually quite simple, and I've discovered quickly which tastes are my favorites from the plentiful spices flavoring the dishes.
Many people from India (and of Indian descent) are vegetarians, but don't be fooled! There are plenty of meat dishes to try. Because their diet is so chock-full of vegetables, it's easy to prepare a healthy meal with lots of flavor. I'm lucky enough to have an Indian market near my home, but you'll find that most grocery stores carry just what you need!
|Tilda is my usual brand.|
Best Ever Indian Cookbook is my Indian-Food-Bible! All recipes I'll feature are taken from it. All the spices are explained and pictured, so it was easy to find what I needed. Also, measurements are included in metric and standard, which erased the need to calculate conversions. I've learned to make Paneer, an Indian cheese, in addition to Garam Masala, Curry Spice Blend, and the many pastes used as dipping sauces or recipe add-ins. It's all well explained and the book features photos as visual aids. The only difficult to navigate feature is the Nutritional Notes, as Energy, Fat, Carbohydrate and Fibre are calculated in grams. Today I'll start with a simple recipe, but over the coming weeks, I'll be sharing much more. Easy on a budget and often one pot cooking, Indian cuisine might be right up your alley!
Here's an easy rice dish my family loves! Making rice in different ways keeps the kids from getting tired of the same old thing. This recipe has a unique flavor :} Rice is a perfect starting place when exploring Indian food. This dish is not spicy at all, so don't worry!
Basmati Rice and Peas
1 1/2 c. basmati rice
1 tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp onion seeds
2 tbsp fenugreek leaves (I substitute dried when I don't have fresh - and you can omit altogether if you don't have it)
1 tsp crushed garlic
1 tsp grated fresh ginger (I substitute ginger powder when I don't have fresh. I make this dish both with ginger and without at times.)
1 tsp salt
1 c. frozen peas
2 c. water
Wash the rice and leave to soak for 30 minutes (I skip this step when I'm in a rush...it won't hurt a thing). Heat oil in a dutch oven pot and add mustard and onion seeds, fenugreek, garlic, ginger and salt and stir-fry for a few minutes. (Really you are toasting the seeds which give them better flavor). Drain and add rice to pan and stir together. Add frozen peas and water. Bring to a boil, then lower heat and cover, cooking for about 20 minutes. Check once in awhile to stir and see if water has been all absorbed. Once water is soaked in and rice is tender, I crack the lid and turn heat to low, steaming the rice for at least 10 minutes. It makes is so fluffy! When ready to serve, fluff with a fork and voila!
Rice is one of the easiest side dishes to prepare. Here are some basic tips to ensure you have light and fluffy rice every time. I've also added a few tricks to spruce it up.
♣ I use this water/rice ratio. 1 cup of rice will require 1 1/2 cups of water to cook. So for a smaller family, 1/2 cup of rice will require 3/4 cup of water. A large family will cook 2 cups of rice and add 3 cups of water. Not everyone uses the same ratio, but this is what works for me.
♣ I always use a dutch oven, no matter how much or little rice I'll cook. I like the large bottom; I think it cooks more evenly.
♣ I coat the bottom of the dutch oven with Extra-virgin-olive-oil to begin, then add in any spices I'll be using. Salt is a must! I add about 1 tsp of salt per cup of rice. I half my salt when using bouillon - as bouillon is quite salty!
♣ For something different, and to add a nice visual, I brown a handful of skinny egg noodles in the heated oil before adding in my rice.
♣ To make yellow rice: Variation One - oil, salt, 1/4 tsp turmeric, 1/4 tsp coriander ground, 1/4 tsp cumin ground. Variation Two - add all of above, then add 1/4 tsp cinnamon (a kiddie favorite). Variation Three - oil, salt, curry. Variation Four - toss raisins into the pot of variations one or two. For one dish meals, add some cooked chicken after the rice is ready.
♣ Once I've heated my spices in the oil, it's time to toss in the rice. Coat the rice with the oil by stirring it around the pot once or twice. I let it cook a few minutes to toast the grains a little. It adds fabulous flavor.
♣ After the rice is toasted, add in your water and cover. That's it! Simmer until done, fluff, and serve.