Monday, May 24, 2010

Meatless Monday..Less Cowbell! All The Protein, None Of The Gluten!

I was really sweating over this Meatless Monday thing. I was a vegetarian for years and when I first started cooking Indian food 20 years ago, I began in the vegetable kitchen. So, I wasn't stressing over what sort of thing to cook, I know a zillion things to cook, I just couldn't make up my mind which dishes to put on the table for lunch this afternoon.
I also wanted to run the menu past Alan who'd been informed we were Meatless Mondaying it. I wanted to make sure he'd like everything I was cooking up, I didn't want to repeat anything I've been cooking and I wanted to make sure he absolutely positively would not miss his meat. For a while I thought of cheating and doing some fish, which technically, as someone who went to Catholic school for 12 years knows, is cool for meatless days. But then I thought, if I'm doing this meatless thing, I'm really doing it. I was committing.
  What I finally decided on was three dishes that I thought would work well together. A buttermilk soup or sambar, a raw spinach salad with a spicy dressing, and the perfect blending of Basmati rice and Moong dal known as a Kitcheree.
   I'll be talking about the other dishes later, but today it's all about the protein. That's what this dish provides. The mixture of dal and rice studded with cauliflower and chunks of tomato combines to make a satisfying protein and a filling and tasty entree. Toss a couple of sides along with it, or a sambar and salad, chapatti if you're still hungry, lunch is served.
A lot of kitcheree recipes call for a pressure cooker. I don't own one. Growing up, my mom had a pressure cooker. She still does and I'm deathly afraid of it. I know a lot of little kids are scared of the vacuum cleaner. That roaring sound and the big headlight bearing down on you in a long dark hallway is terrifying. Right? Right?  Ok maybe it's just me. Ok, I admit it I was afraid of the vacuum cleaner. I also hated the pressure cooker.  I was always afraid it was about to blow. I hated that little weight my mom would put on the lid, I hated the whistle. To me it seemed like some sort of primitive nuclear reactor and my mom was Homer Simpson. I just didn't trust the damn thing. So here's how to make this dish, without the need of a pressure cooker. No Fear Kitcheree.
  Here's how to do it.
  Rinse and drain :
3/4 cup of moong dal
1 and 3/4 cups of Basmati rice
   set it aside.
In a deep skillet heat
2 Tbs of ghee or oil
When it's hot add in:
1/2 tbs of cumin seed
1 and 1/2 Tbs of finely minced ginger
1 tsp of dried red pepper flakes
3 cracked green cardamom pods
Mix the spices around intil the cumin has browned slightly

When the cumin is browned a bit toss in:
1/2 tsp turmeric
Stir it a bit then add in:
1 cauliflower broken into small florets
3 small diced fresh tomatoes
The drained rice and dal

1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro
7 and 1/2 cups of hot water
Salt and pepper to taste
 Stir it around for about a minute or two then bring it to a boil.
When the mixture is boiling, place a lid partially covering the pan and turn the heat to low.

Cook for about 40 minutes. Stir it once in a while to make sure nothing is sticking.
When the liquid is all absorbed and the rice is cooked, it's done.
Sprinkle the kitcheree with another 1/4 cup of chopped fresh cilantro and then
Drizzle the dish with 2 Tbs of ghee or butter.
This batch of kitcheree will serve 6 to 8 people as a main dish. Alan loved it and the only one who really missed meat at lunchtime, was Patsy. Who seemed shocked.

  So here we have a nice light fresh start to the week, otherwise known as Meatless Monday. Less Cowbell, because after all, isn't that what Meatless Monday is all about ?


  1. I really wish you can teach me all these ingredients...I need to go shopping with you just once~ :) delicious

  2. The only thing missing is the meat! :--)

  3. Oh yes... I love being meatless once a week too :) the flavours so amazing. I am happy to eat this vegetarian meal.

  4. @janis,
    well you've got all that lamb!

  5. @pegasuslegend,
    well,i wish I could find most of the stuff I use closer to home! My Indian staple shopping usually involves a 50 mile round trip drive, unless I order online.Anytime you want a list of basics let me know..a lot of stuff can also be found at Hispanic markets

  6. That's how to celebrate Meatless monday! and i get what you mean about the pressure cooker. It does furnish a special plump doneness to things but I never bought one either. cool dish.

  7. Great post! I love the photo of Patsy! (I'm guessing the dog.) My dog pays close attention to my cooking instruction as well!

  8. @spicy perspective,
    yes, Patsy our Siberian Husky is rarely interested in anything that is not meat, of course cookies are a food group for her.

  9. Okay, #1 I was laughing so hard when I read this title. Seriously, on the way to my culinary written exam, "Don't Fear the Reaper" came on the radio and I totally blasted it and all I could think was "More Cowbell!" #2 I love this recipe, and how weird is it that I have everything except the cauliflower? Nom nom nom !!!

  10. @Trix,?
    Glad you liked was the exam?..when I went cauliflower shopping this morning, they wanted 3.99 for a cauliflower...the old Greek guy down the road...1.49

  11. now that's how you do meatless mondays, how would anyone miss meat with these great dishes, i love the first pic...ha ha


  12. Your title got my attention quick... Less Cowbell what??? You see Will Ferrel is my son's favorite comic. He has all his dvds, SNL shows, and the like. I even bought him a More Cowbell tee shirt for Christmas. I love vegetables and would probably not miss red meat one bit. This one looks fabulous! Wish I was there for lunch!!

  13. Hi Kathy,
    Fantastic post! Thanks so much for making Monday meatless (and offering a wonderful recipe). Your "less cowbell" quip had us laughing over at the Meatless Monday office, was wondering if you'd like to talk more about regular Meatless Monday features. Please drop me a line at Looking forward to hearing from you!
    Program Associate, MM

  14. Kathy, this looks wonderful. I found your blog by chance. I had intended only to say hello and then move on quickly. I, instead, began to read your earlier posts and stayed far longer than I planned. I really like your recipes and will be back as often as I can. I hope you are having a great day. Blessings...Mary

  15. I wish I could cook more Indian's so healthy

  16. it is always refreshing to visit you, I learn so much - love the pressure cooking analogy.. it scares me too, especially when canning, it's like a science lab

  17. YAY!!! I made it today and it's delicious. Thank you for making Indian cooking accessible.

  18. @kitty,
    So glad you enjoyed the recipe! Making Indian food accesible is my goal!



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