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:
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.
1 cup of shelled green peas
2 small eggplants chopped
1 red bell pepper finely chopped
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
Pour in the ground masala powder
salt to taste
Saute it for another 3 minutes or so.
Coming up next a raita that's simple refreshing and above all...fast! Follow along on Twitter @kathygori