30 mins?? Impossible, you think? Yes, its possible. Using a kitchen equipment found in most Indian households. The one and only what we Indian cooks can't live without - the humble pressure cooker.
Pressure cookers are a godsend especially when we are short of time. Pressure cooking is the process of cooking food using water or any other liquid in a tightly sealed vessel called a pressure cooker. As the liquid boils, the trapped steam increases the internal pressure and allows the temperature to rise to a whopping 212 deg C! (See pic above) So, food is cooked so much faster and it saves time and energy. Almost any food that requires cooking in water can be cooked in a pressure cooker.
There are so many types of pressure cooker in the market. Cylindrical, pan shape, aluminium or non-stick base etc. The market is flooded. Purchase one based on your family needs.
30 min Vegetable Rice involved quick preparation and cooking. There I was wondering on a weekend afternoon at 12 noon what to cook for my family for lunch. I have seen many online videos about cooking our food in a pressure cooker and decided on this option, knowing the risk very well. Since its my first attempt, it can either become overcooked (too much water) and everyone will be having vegetable spiced porridge for lunch or worse undercooked (without enough water) and having carcinogenic burnt food instead. Not much of a choice I had at 12.15, didn't I? With a quick prayer I began....
Ingredients (Serves 2-3)
1.5 cups Basmati Rice (mix of brown and white)
3 tbsp canola oil
1 large onion, chopped small
1 heaped tsp mix of ground ginger and garlic
1 green chilli, cut into 3
1 red chilli, cut into 3
2.5 tsps Veg Briyani spice powder (I used National Brand Veg Briyani Spice Powder)
2 large tomatoes, chopped
1 cup of mixed frozen vegetables - peas, carrots, corns and french beans, thawed
1 large potato, peeled and cubed
1/3 cup of chopped mint and coriander leaves
2.5 cups water (split into 0.5 cup and 2 cups)
Salt per preference
200gm cubed cottage cheese (paneer cubes) - optional
Extra coriander leaves and a handful of roasted cashews for garnish
1) Firstly, wash and soak the Basmati rice for only 15 mins. Preparation of vegs will take up roughly 10 mins.
2) While the rice is soaking, heat the pressure cooker and fry the chopped onion, ginger garlic mix and both the chillies in oil for 5mins on medium high heat.
3) Add the Veg Briyani spice powder and fry for 2 mins.
4) Chopped tomatoes go in next. Stir often after adding them in, to prevent food from sticking to the base especially if you are using an aluminium pressure cooker. Fry for 3 mins.
5) After the tomatoes have cooked and turned mushy, add in the mixed vegs, coriander and mint leaves. Add 0.5 cup water and let the whole mix cook for 5 mins.
6) By now, the 15 mins would have been up. Drain the soaked rice and keep aside.
7) After the vegs have been cooking for 5 mins, add in the soaked drained rice.
8) Combine everything and add the cubed cottage cheese. I added these cubes for addition of protein. Its optional if you have boiled eggs and or other source of protein on the side. Do not add these cottage cheese cubes too early as they are very soft and will dissolve easily.
9) Add 2 cups of water and mix again.
10) Cover and cook on high heat. Once you get a first whistle, reduce fire to medium heat and wait for 2 whistles. Switch off the fire and let it cool down completely.
CAUTION - do not open the pressure cooker when it is still hot. The pressure inside is highly compressed and can be explosive. You can get badly hurt.
11) After it has cooled completely, open the lid and this is how it should look.
12) Enjoy scrumptious Vegetable Rice made under 30 mins!
Hummus can be made using any type of beans. This version using pre-cooked black beans yielded a unique earthy hummus which went well with flatbreads, vegetables and chips. Try it out with kidney beans, cannelini beans or pinto beans. Each will give a different take on the classic chickpea hummus.
Ingredients (yields 2 cups)
1 can of Black Beans (15oz or 400gm)
2 tbsp tahini
3/4 cup EVOO
2 tbsp lemon juice
1 garlic clove
1/3 green bell pepper, roasted, charred skin removed and sliced
Salt per preference
3-4 tbsps water
Extra EVOO, a few black beans, a sprig of coriander leaf and a dash cayenne pepper for prettying it up :)
1) Put everything into a food processor and blend. Blender doesn't work as well so please ensure you use a food processor.
2) Garnish with a dash of paprika and a swirl of olive oil. Drop a few black beans and center a sprig of coriander leaf. Serve warm.
This is one of the recipes I hae learnt recently in a shortcrust pastry baking course in June. Held over 5 days from 8-2pm, I learnt Apple Cranberry Pie, Flan Parisian, Tarte Normande, Tarte Bourdaloue and Quiche Lorraine... the latter two were the ones that brought me to my knees (with all that butter and cream!). I devoured with my family as soon as I brought them home.
Tarte Bourdaloue is a classic pear and almond tart and originates from Paris in 1906. I omitted the pears this time I didn't have any preserved pears at home. So what resulted was an Almond Cream Tart which is equally delicious. Don't be alarmed by the number of ingredients and steps. What results is a beautiful decadent tart which you can enjoy for days :)
I will make the classic Tarte Bourdaloue in one of the future blog posts.
Ingredients (yields a 8inch round tart)
200gm plain flour
100gm unsalted butter
2gm vanilla essence
Almond Cream Filling
60gm softened butter
60gm ground almond
10gm plain flour
2 gm vanilla essence
1 cup almond flakes/almond slivers
40gm Apricot glaze (for the shine - optional)
1) First and foremost, cut the butter into cubes, put them in a small bowl and place them in the freezer. I can't emphasize how important it is that the butter is ice cold. It can't be soft as then it would affect the pastry dough texture. It will not hold itself well and will crack easily in the later stages.So, please please make sure the butter is hard and frozen.
Sieve the plain flour, sugar and salt.. After sifting, put these ingredients into a mixing bowl.
2) Now, take out the hard cubes of butter from the freezer and place them into the mixing bowl with the flour mixture. Use a plastic scrapper for 5 mins to break the butter into the flour.
3) Working very quickly so that the dough still remains cold, use your finger tips to get a flaky dough texture like glass shards.
4) Mix the egg, ice water and vanilla essence in a another small bowl pour this mix into the butter dough.
5) Knead the entire mix quickly into a ball. Don't over knead.
6) Using your cleaned kitchen counter or a pastry mat, sprinkle a little flour (don't use too much flour - this will result in a hard dough) and crush the dough little by little using the heels of your palm. This is called fraisaging.
7) Continue fraisaging until all the dough is used up.
8) Again, working very quickly, join the fraisaged dough pieces into a round lump. then wrap in cling wrap. Keep it in a chiller for 20mins.
9) At this juncture, preheat the oven to 180 deg C. Start preparing the almond cream. Cream (beat with a wooden spoon) the softened butter by hand for a few minutes. Sieve the flour, ground almonds and sugar and then add this to the creamed butter. Cream again for another 2 mins. Mix the beaten egg and vanilla essence in a small bowl.. then add a little at a time (like 1/3 at a time). Mix well till well combined. Set aside in a cool place.
10) Take the chilled dough after 20 mins and roll it out on a slightly floured surface. It shouldn't be too thick and should be big enough to fit into a 8 inch tart ring or pan.
11) Butter the ring or a tart pan. Then place the rolled out flat dough into the ring gently and carefully. Smooth the dough into the ring and press along the edges. Trim off any extra dough using a rollling pin to go over the top of the ring. If there are holes or parts where the dough has been stretched out too thin, patch it up with small pieces of dough.
12) Pour in the almond cream and spread it out evenly.
13) Top with almond slivers/flakes.
14) If there is any extra dough and almond cream, make mini versions of this almond cream tart.
15) Pop the big tart and the mini ones into the oven for 25-35 mins till the top is golden brown. Remove from oven and let it cool down for 10mins. If you are using the apricot glaze, warm the glaze in a small pot till it reaches jam consistency. Then, brush over the tart. Enjoy delicious Almond Cream Tart!