Recipes: Spinach Mint Rice

During the lockdown, I was experimenting with food and one day found a small bunch of spinach and another small bunch of mint lying in the fridge. I usually make a chutney with the mint, but I didn’t have enough coriander leaves to make my usual chutney, so thought of combining the two. I used my Spinach Rice recipe as the basis of this one and it turned out super yummy! When the rice was cooking, the whole house was enveloped with this pleasant mint aroma and while eating this dish, I was eating with more than just my mouth! And the best part about this recipe is that it is a one pot meal dish. This is a great addition to a lunchbox and both GG & BB have asked me to add this to their lunch boxes.

Spinach Mint Rice

Ingredients:
• 2 cups basmati rice
• 1 bunch spinach
• 1 bunch mint with the leaves plucked
• 2-3 tbsp chopped coriander leaves
• 10-15 curry leaves
• 1 medium sized onion, chopped roughly
• 1 bulb garlic, peeled
• inch piece of ginger, peeled
• 5-6 green chillies
• 1 tsp cumin seeds
• 10-12 pieces of cashewnuts, chopped into half
• 2 tbsp oil or ghee
• Salt to taste

Method:
Soak the rice in water for 20-30 minutes and then wash it thoroughly, drain and keep aside.
• Take some water in a large pan and boil it. While the water is boiling, wash the spinach leaves thoroughly and keep aside.
• Wash the mint, curry and coriander leaves and keep aside.
• Blanch the spinach leaves, a few at a time for around 10-15 seconds in the boiling water and remove and keep aside.
• In a blender, blend together the spinach, mint leaves, coriander leaves, curry leaves, garlic, ginger, green chillies and onion into a smooth paste. Keep aside.
• Heat the ghee in a pan and when it warms up, add the cashewnuts and fry until they are brown and nicely toasted. Remove with a slotted spoon and keep aside.
• In the same pan, with the remaining ghee, add the cumin seeds and let them splutter.
• Then add the blended paste and some salt and let the paste cook for around 5 minutes. The paste should start thickening and at this point add the rice.
• Mix the rice well into the spinach mint paste and once each grain of rice is coated with the paste, remove it to a rice cooker and add the water needed to cook the rice. Cook until it is done and then let it sit for 10 minutes before opening the rice cooker. Fluff it with a fork and add the fried cashewnuts.
• If you are cooking in a pan, when the rice is coated with the paste, add the water and let it cook until the rice is done. Switch off the gas and let it sit for 10 minutes before fluffing with a fork and then garnishing with the cashewnuts.
• Serve hot with a raita and some chips. I served this with an onion pineapple raita. This raita is very simple. Beat some yoghurt in a bowl and add salt and pepper to it. Then add some finely chopped onions, finely chopped pineapples (either fresh or from a tin) and some finely chopped coriander leaves. Taste for seasoning and serve. For the chips, I fried some traditional vadam.
• Vadam is traditionally made by drying a paste made of rice and other ingredients in the sun until all the water is leeched out. Then during days when vegetables are in short supply, you fry these in hot oil and use them as an accompaniment to any rice dish.

Recipes: Ajwaini Aloo aka Potatoes spiced with Carom seeds

A very simple dish which I usually whip up for lunch, this dry curry pairs potatoes with ajwain or carom seeds.

Used quite widely across the Indian subcontinent, ajwain is said to counter gas in the stomach. Many communities have traditional recipes of ajwain water when you have an upset stomach and for this reason I like to pair it with potatoes because these tuber vegetables can give you a bad case of stomach bloating.

This is a very easy recipe and from start to finish took me less than 30 minutes, including cutting the potatoes. Eat it with rice and some dal or with any Indian flatbread. It is also yummy paid with a chutney and filled in bread as a sandwich.

Ajwaini Aloo

Ingredients;

4 medium sized potatoes

1 tbsp oil

1/2 tsp cumin seeds

1/2 tsp ajwain seeds

1/8 tsp asafoetida

1/4 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp red chilli powder

1/2 tsp amchur powder

Salt to taste

Method

Wash and scrub the potatoes well. If the skin is fairly thin, you need not peel it, otherwise peel the skin. Make thick slices and then sticks of the slices. Now make small and thin squares of the potatoes. Cut as thin as you like. The smaller the potato piece, the faster it will cook.

Heat the oil in a pan and when warm, add the cumin seeds and stir for a couple of seconds. Then add the ajwain and stir for a couple of seconds.

Now add the dry spice powders – asafoetida, turmeric powder and red chilli powder and stir. Add the amchur powder and salt and give it a good stir. Make sure the flame is low to medium so that you don’t burn the spices.

Next add the chopped potatoes and cook covered, stirring occasionally. Check for seasoning once the potatoes are cooked. I like to make this dish a little crisp, but if you don’t like it crisp, you can remove it from the flame once it is cooked.

Serve hot with rice, rotis or bread.

Recipe: Pasta Salad

This recipe for Pasta Salad has been with us for a while now. I think I may have made it after seeing something similar some years back or even discovered it accidentally. Anyways, this is a go-to recipe for me when we are bored of Indian food and this makes a great lunch box idea for children and even adults when you want a no-mess lunch which you can eat on the go or at your desk.

Pasta Salad

Ingredients:

  • 1 packet raw pasta
  • 2 onions, finely chopped
  • 2 bell peppers, chopped
  • 1 cup frozen corn
  • 1 cup frozen paneer
  • 1/2 cup sliced black olives
  • 2 tsp red chilli powder
  • 2 tsp cumin powder
  • 1-2 tbsp lemon juice
  • 2 tbsp extra virgin olive oil
  • Salt to taste
  • Coriander leaves to garnish

Method:

  • Cook the pasta as per the instructions on the pack. Let the pasta be al dente and not overcooked. Drain and keep aside to cool.
  • Heat up the frozen corn and when thawed, drained and keep aside.
  • Soak the paneer in hot water for 10 minutes, drain and chop into small pieces.
  • When cool, mix together the pasta, onions, bell peppers, olives, paneer and corn and mix well.
  • In a smaller dish, mix the spices, olive oil and lemon juice into a marinade.
  • Pour the marinade into the pasta salad and mix well. Garnish with finely chopped coriander leaves. Check for seasoning.
  • Cover and keep in the fridge for a couple of hours. Serve cool.