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.
I love to have couscous in my pantry for its quick and simple mode of preparation. There are days, when I don’t have time to cook a pot of rice or even quinoa. Yet, I am not too keen to have any kind of bread either. On such days, couscous is my friend. It steams to its grainy and fluffy self, in just five minutes of soaking in hot water (or stock, to raise the flavor profile). Today, I decided to make this couscous into a veggie-mushroom pilaf, as a quick, light, and tasty workday lunch.
MUSHROOM COUSCOUS PILAF
1.5 cups of couscous
1.5 cups of vegetable stock (or water)
1 cup of green peas
1 medium carrot
1 small onion
1/2 pound of mushrooms (i.e. 5-6 of baby Bella mushrooms for me. And well… I had only 1/2 pound of mushrooms left…If I had more, I would have happily used them all up. More the merrier :))
3-4 cloves of garlic
1-2 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
1 teaspoon of cumin powder
Salt and red chili flakes/ pepper to taste
Dried/ Fresh herbs of your choice (I used dried basil)
1-2 Lemon wedge for serving (optional)
- Take couscous in a large serving casserole/ bowl with a lid.
- Heat stock/ water (no need to boil though).
- Pour the hot stock/ water on couscous. Cover with lid and keep aside for five minutes. Fluff with a fork, afterwords.
- Meanwhile, in a skillet heat olive oil.
- Slice mushrooms lengthwise and sauté with thinly chopped onion, garlic, and sprinkles of salt, chili/pepper, herbs. On a medium-high heat, it would not take more than five minutes.
- Transfer to the pot of couscous
- With another dash of olive oil on the skillet, stir fry green peas and grated carrot, on a tempering of turmeric powder and cumin powder. Season with salt.
- Transfer to the couscous pot and mix everything thoroughly with a fork.
- Enjoy, maybe with a squeeze of lemon juice.
There are just endless ways in which one can cook khichdi, a simple preparation of rice and lentil cooked together. I probably like all of them 🙂 There are times when I prefer the bowl of khichdi in its porridge-like consistency, flavored only with turmeric and salt, and may be asafoetida (for it helps the digestion). I guess, that is the most common version which comes to the mind of many people. Khichdi, the meal for child, or for those recovering from illness… Some people dislike it wholeheartedly for what they consider as its “bland” taste, but I think that can be attributed more to associated memories with being upset/ ill (or due to simply under-seasoning!). I do prepare khichdi porridge, and find it comforting.
Nevertheless, it was the drier, pilaf-like version which I made yesterday for lunch. It also happens to be the first thing I learned to cook. My elder sister taught it to me. It can use variety of vegetables in it, and makes a great one-pot that is a complete meal. It has rice as carbs, lentil as plant-based protein, and generous portion of vegetables can add micro-nutrients and fiber. This time, I used only kale, but you can add any other greens, onions, carrots, beans, gourds of other kinds.
The essential key to make a pilaf like khichdi is to first cook the rice-lentil-veggie mix in the pot or pressure cooker, and then add a generous tempering of garlic and other spices over it.
KALE KHICHDI PILAF
1.5 cup rice
3/4 cup of moong lentil (any other variety like pigeon pea or brown lentils would also do)
Lots of chopped kale (I used frozen, about 7-8 cups)
3 cups of water
1 teaspoon turmeric powder
2 pinches of asafoetida
5-6 cloves of garlic
7-8 curry leaves (optional)
2 red chillies
1 teaspoon of cumin seeds
1 teaspoon of mustard seeds
1/2 teaspooon of crushed fenugreek seeds (optional)
2-3 tbspoon oil for tempering
Salt to taste
- Wash and soak rice and lentil together for at least 15 minutes.
- In a pressure cooker/ regular pot combine rice, lentils, kale, turmeric powder, salt, and a pinch of asafoetida together. Add water. Cover and cook. In case of pressure cooker, it would take about three whistles. For regular pot cooking, I guess, it would be 25-30 minutes till lentils are cooked to perfection.
- In a separate small pan heat oil. Add first crushed fenugreek seeds, when they start splattering, quickly add mustard seeds, then cumin seeds, chopped garlic, red chillies, curry leaves, pinch of asafoetida. Let everything temper till fragrant, without letting anything burn. Take off the heat.
- Add this tempering or tadaka over the pot of cooked rice, lentil, and kale. Mix everything properly and its ready to be served.
Usually, a pickle or chutney of any kind would make a nice accompaniment to it. But a well-seasoned and spiced khichdi with vegetables by itself is a whole meal in the bowl.