Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Vegetables Like Stained Glass, Rice Divine

   I grew up wearing a school uniform. A white middy blouse and sailor collar and cuffs with a navy tie,  a navy blue pleated skirt, navy blue blazer and a little navy blue beret to top it off. In short I looked like this:
  So, I spent years dressed as an Anime character , an assassin out of Kill Bill, and what was my everyday clothing can now be found for sale online in some pretty dodgy websites. Sometimes even in rubber!
  When one grows up day after day after day in colors of navy blue and white, color sort of gets washed out of things. Even today my hand naturally gravitates to navy, black, white and grey. It's pretty good for my hipster credentials but not great for brightening things up.
   On the food front it wasn't a whole lot better, yellow cheese, blackened, frozen fish sticks, the brilliant red of a Chef Boy-Ar-Dee sauce... you see where I'm going. By the time I'd arrived at Indian cooking I was a Wednesday Addams desperately in need of some serious color. And when it comes to serious color, nobody does color like Indians. Pinks and oranges, purple and blue, greens and yellows and reds of all hues and I'm not just talking about the sarees here, I'm talking about the food!
  A  lot of entrees may not have a lot of color to them but it's more than made up for by the jewel tones of many Indian vegetarian dishes. An Indian vegetarian meal can be a festival of stained glass colors where even the rice is anything but your Grandma's Uncle Ben's .
  One of the great things about a lot of Indian meals is the combining of elements, rices with meat, rice with fish, rice with dal, and of course rice with vegetables. Which brings me to the stunning colors at the top of the page. All of those colorful vegetables in one dish with the deceptively unassuming name of green pea rice. Green pea rice is a great and nourishing dish that goes with any meal Indian or not but it was my golden parachute the night my shrimp failed. Making this dish is a matter of a couple of steps.

Indian Vegetable Rice

The first is to make The Rice. I won't get into the subject of rice making as that is pretty simple. So make enough rice for 4 to 6 people. Set the rice aside to cool.

The next step is to grind the spices for the rice. This is called Making the Masala.
 Here's what to do:
 In a skillet or frying pan heat 2 tsps of vegetable oil
 When the oil is hot add in:
  3 Tbs of coriander seed
  2 Tbs of urad dal
  3 Tbs of chana dal
  5 dried red chilies
  A marble sized ball of tamarind pulp
Saute everything for a couple of minutes, then put everything into a blender or spice grinder and grind it all into a powder. Set it aside.

 The next step: The Vegetables
 I usually do this part ahead of time as it involves shelling and chopping.
 What you'll need is:
 1 cup of shelled green peas
  1 small potato peeled and chopped
  2 small eggplants chopped
  1 red bell pepper finely chopped
 The next step is: Putting It All Together
 In a heavy skillet or kadhai heat 3 Tbs of vegetable oil
 When the oil is hot toss in:
  2 tsp brown mustard seeds
  1 tsp of urad dal
  1 tsp of chana dal
  1 dried red chili broken in half
  3 or 4 curry leaves
 When the mustard seeds start to pop, add in the vegetables.
 Cook them on a low heat until they're tender. If they start to stick add a bit of water to keep things moving.
 Pour in the ground masala powder
 1 tsp of ground turmeric
 salt to taste
 Saute it for another 3 minutes or so.
  Add in the rice, stir it around until it's warm again and serve it up hot.
   This is an amazingly versatile dish. If you don't like the vegetables I suggested, you can use some different ones. Seasonal is the magic word here. This dish is also a real life (dinner) saver for those occasions when things don't go exactly your way. Shrimp I'm talking to you.
 You can see the evil evil shrimp lurking in the background. Thanks to this rice, no one even noticed..well hardly noticed once they were done spitting them out. Sometimes it pays to have a lot of dishes on the table, the more colorful the better.
 Coming up next a raita that's simple refreshing and above all...fast! Follow along on Twitter @kathygori


  1. This looks so delicious and absolutely colorful, love this! :)

  2. What a glorious feast!!
    I love the colors and the side curries ....splendid meal.

  3. thank you for sharing, I can see how this could be a great seasonal dish. every season a new creation. yum

  4. Fabulous palette of colors, Kathy!

  5. Oh yum! All the things I like in one dish! Now I must go look up urad dal and chana dal...

  6. Wow, this colorful delight of rice can be eaten even without any side dish. It seems healthy as well. Thanks for this yummy recipe.

  7. wooo...thats soooo colorful.....I have never thought of adding eggplant in rice !! Have two in my freeze , will make use of it now...nice recipes in your blog...following you :)
    A Girl's Diary

  8. Remember what fashion legend Diana Vreeland said “Pink is the Navy Blue of India” !!!

  9. @Bibi, absolutely, but it does take courage to wear colors

  10. @khushi,
    thanks so much! Glad you like them

  11. @CNA duties,
    yes, it's really a great main dish for vegetarians and one can add any vegetables one wants!



Blog Widget by LinkWithin