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 ?

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