I think the category of ‘bean and rice’ would encompass almost 90% of the meals that I cook and I do not complain at all. Rather, I rejoice it and am thankful for the pantry full of different beans and pulses. All it takes is some overnight soaking, which is hardly labor-intensive. If you forget that, you can always go for split lentils and pulses. Having a pressure cooker further reduces the cooking time. So no wonder that I keep making it. Plus, there is such a diversity of flavor profiles across different cooking cultures. For example, same staples that I used this time for a Mexican bean-rice bowl, can be used for making Indian rajma-chawal. You just need to pick the flavor of the day, and then choose the spices and condiments accordingly. So today, we go South…
RED BEANS IN TOMATO & CILANTRO-LIME RICE
For red beans in tomato:
1 cup dried red/ kidney beans
1-2 teaspoons of chili powder
4-5 cloves of garlic
1 tablespoon cumin powder
2 tablespoon of crushed dried oregano herb
Salt to taste
2-3 tablespoons oil
For cilantro-lime rice:
1 cup rice
1-2 cloves of garlic
2-4 green chili peppers (depends on your liking)
Bunch of cilantro
Lime juice to taste
Salt to taste
For read beans in tomato:
- Wash and soak the beans overnight.
- Cook the beans with enough water till beans are cooked tender, but not mushy. The water in which beans are cooked can be later used as the stock in this prep. So save it 🙂
- In pot, heat oil, and fry chopped garlic till fragrant.
- Add thinly chopped onion to it and sauté till it turns translucent.
- Add cumin powder and chili powder to the onion. Sauté for a minute and two and add cooked beans and mix properly.
- Make a puree of tomatoes and add it to the beans pot along with salt and oregano.
- Once the tomatoes loose their raw flavor, you can add the beans stock that we had save earlier and some more water, based on the desired consistency.
- Let the beans simmer on low-medium heat for 5-10 more minutes and then take off the stove.
For cilantro-lime rice:
- Wash and cook rice per instruction.
- Thinly chop green chili peppers and garlic cloves. Further grind them to coarse consistency in mortar and pestle, with some salt, lime juice, and half of cilantro.
- Mix this paste with cooked rice.
- Adjust salt and lime juice to your liking and serve with adding some more chopped cilantro.
Take in a bowl and dig in 🙂
Michigan is going through its classic undecided weather spell. After a chilly overcast week, we were rewarded with warm sunny weekend. It reminded me of spring back home in India, albeit temperatures there would be soaring 10 to 20 degrees higher than this part of the world. I guess its the blooming trees that mark the advent of spring in my mind, irrespective of where I am. So to celebrate it, I decided to prepare a Marathi favorite- ‘vaatali daal’ i.e. a salad of split chickpeas. A typical snack of the spring, it makes an opportune use of seasonal raw green mangoes. While, its texture is like hummus, its tangy spicy flavors are likely to remind you of salsa.
Vaatali daal is often made during the ‘Haladi-Kunku’ occasions in Chaitra, the first month of traditional Marathi calendar. Haladi-Kunku is a social gathering, where you invite your women friends and neighbors, and treat them with snacks and some little pretty gifts. I guess, it was an old way to give women much-needed respite from their limited domestic routines. While not so common nowadays, the custom still continues because… well, it is hard to say no to an evening of food and gossip. Maybe that’s why I felt like sharing this recipe. After all, culinary blogosphere is much like an ongoing virtual haladi-kunku, that surpasses the boundaries of culture and gender to unite food lovers across the globe.
So here it is…
VAATALI DAAL OR SPLIT CHICKPEA HUMMUS
Yields about a full big bowl
1 cup of dried split chickpea/ chana daal
2 small green mangoes (if you cannot find these, substitute it with lemon juice)
1-2 garlic cloves
2-3 green chili peppers (based on the pungency of peppers you are using)
Salt to taste
A pinch of two of unrefined sugar (optional, but it complements the dominant tang of mangoes and hotness of green peppers)
Water to grind
3 tablespoons of oil
1 dried red chili
1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
5-6 curry leaves (optional)
2-3 pinches of turmeric powder
- Wash and soak split chickpeas/ chana daal in water overnight (or at least 3-4 hours).
- Thoroughly rinse the soaked daal, drain, and grind it (with some water) to form a rough and coarse paste. Keep it aside in a bowl.
- Peel outer thick, dark green skin of raw mangoes. Remove the pit. Chop the light green-white flesh into small bits.
- In grinder, make a chutney of mango bits along with green chili peppers, garlic, salt, and sugar.
- Add the chutney to daal and mix properly.
- Adjust the spice and salt/ sugar per your taste.
- In a separate saucepan, heat oil and temper mustard seeds, cumin seeds, curry leaves, and dried red chili in it, till fragrant.
- Take it off the heat, and pour over daal. Mix.
It is ready to be eaten. If you want to use it later, cover and refrigerate. It will keep refrigerated till 2-3 days. As you can see in the photographs, I used it as a side for my lunch of tomato curry-rice and dinner of stir-fried mustard greens and flatbread. It can be easily served as a dip for your pita or tortilla chips. The traditional way serves it as a salad, along with a refreshing drink of green mango. Try it and you might love to have it as it is, without any accompaniment!
Mushroom cooked in coconut milk is one of my favorite food combinations. Coconut milk imparts perfect creaminess without overpowering their natural flavor. Mix in some cooked rice to that and you have a comforting lunch bowl. Over the years, I have cooked number of variations of this combination. Most often, I prepare it just with a tempering of whole garam masala (with spices such as clove, bay leaves, star anise) and red chili pepper. Today, however, I made some more tweaks to the recipe, using fresh and frozen supplies from our fridge.
MUSHROOM COCONUT RICE WITH MINT
1 cup rice
10-12 Baby Bella mushrooms
1 cup grated fresh coconut (I used frozen)
Handful of mint leaves
1 cup of fajita veggie mix/ half a onion and some chopped bell peppers
1 inch ginger
3-4 garlic cloves
2 tablespoon oil (I used coconut oil)
Salt to taste.
For garnish: chopped scallions and nooch i.e. nutritional yeast (optional)
- Cook rice as per directions.
- Grind shredded coconut, mint leaves, ginger, and garlic with some water to form a paste.
- In a pan, heat oil. Sauté chopped onion and bell peppers, till onion changes color.
- Add chopped mushrooms to it. Season with salt. Stir fry for two more minutes. Mushrooms will start cooking in its own water that is released due to salt.
- Add the coconut-mint paste to the pan and sauté till it loses its raw smell.
- Take off the heat and mix with cooked rice.
- Add garnish of your choice. I used chopped scallions and nooch flakes.
The result is as creamy as its master recipe. Plus, mint adds a pleasant aroma and color.