Jambalaya is a Louisiana origin dish of Spanish and French influence consisting mainly of meat and vegetables mixed with the rice. I decided to make a vegetarian version of this dish using whatever vegsetables I had on hand and kidney beans as a protein substitute for the meat.
This is a highly recommended dish to anyone who has only 30-45 mins to cook and is looking for a hearty meal to feed the family. And a big plus ? it requires only 1 pot!
Vegetarian Jambalaya (Serves 4)
3 tbsp canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 garlic cloves, minced or pounded
2 celery sticks, sliced thin
1/2 a large bell pepper, cut into big pieces
1 litre veg stock
1 can of tinned tomatoes
6-8 baby okras
6-8 baby corns
1 cup of Arboria rice
1 can of kidney beans
Salt & Pepper
Chilli Flakes or Paprika
1) First, take a large heavy pot and fry the onion, garlic, celery and bell peper for 8-10 mins till cooked.
2) Pour in the veg stock.
3) Add in the diced canned tomatoes. If you don't have any canned tomatoes, just chop up two medium sized tomatoes and add them to the pot. At this point, add salt, pepper and some chilli flakes for heat.
4) Next, add in the washed Arborio rice. Arboria rice is recommended when your dish requires a creamy texture. If you don't have this specific rice, any shortgrained white or brown rice will do. Keep stirring regularly to avoid the rice sticking to the base of the pot.
6) When the stock has reduced in quantity, add the okra pods and the baby corns. I don't add this too early as then the okra will overcook and turn mushy.
7) Next add in the kidney beans.
8) When the stock has been totally absorbed by the rice and vegetables, turn off the fire and let it cool slightly before serving warm, garnished with parsley leaves.
9) Enjoy this wholesome guilt-free, gluten-free vegan Hearty Vegetarian Jambalaya.
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!
Kimchi, also called Kimchee or Gimchi, is a traditional fermented Korean side dish made up of a variety of vegetables with a variety of seasonings. It is Korea's national dish and has originated in Korea since the 12th century. The main ingredients of Kimchi are vegetables like cabbage, radish, and seasonings like gochugaru (red chilli pepper flakes) garlic, ginger, brine, saeuojeot (shrimp sauce), eonguljeot (oyster sauce) and aekjeot (fish sauce). There are 187 varieties of Kimchi!!
At this point, I have to mention my friend Aminah (we call her Ena) who truly exemplifies what good friends do for their friends. She was on a trip to Korea with her family years ago and I had requested a vegetarian version. I had told her.. don't feel obliged. Just get it if its convenient. Ena brought back a huge packet of Vegetarian Kimchi (1 kg) specially prepared for me without the shrimp, oyster and fish sauces! Apparently, she had waited for an hour in the morning to get the vegetarian version in a Kimchi shop enroute to the airport for her return flight. Imagine with all the luggage and with 3 young cranky kids in tow?? Thank you darling for your wonderful act of love and sacrifice. I enjoyed it tremendously :) I know this happened years ago, Ena but I still remember it and hold you close to my heart. How can we forget the acts of love of our friends and family?
Recently, I came across a vegetarian version of Kimchi at a local online store (Redmart). Making a simple fried rice with Kimchi was my next natural step. That's what I did last week when my girls were in school and my husband was out of town. Do note that there is no protein in this fried rice - so do make an egg or have grilled tofu with it.
Ingredients (serves 1-2)
2 tbsp canola oil
3 cups of cooked white rice
1 tsp pounded/minced ginger
1 tsp pounded/minced garlic
1 cup of mixed vegetables like carrot, peas, corn
1 cup of Vegetarian Kimchi, drained and chopped roughly
1 tsp of Gochujang (Korean Red Pepper paste, if Kimchi is not spicy enough)
1 tsp sesame oil
Salt and Pepper
Red Bird's Eye chilli, sliced (for garnish and for side dish)
Extra Kimchi (for side dish)
1) Get all the ingredients ready. From left : Cooked rice, mixed vegs, chopped Kimchi, sliced Red Bird's Eye chilli, gochujang paste, ginger, garlic, canola oil, salt, pepper and sesame oil.
2) A close up of the Vegetarian Kimchi and the Korean red pepper paste Gochujang.
3) A close up of how Kimchi looks like. The usual Kimchi is usually has a sour fermented taste and smell. Surprisingly, this version was very pleasant and light in seasonings. No foul off putting smell at all.
4) Get a big wok or frying pan and heat the canola oil. Then fry the ginger and garlic for a few minutes.
5) Add the mixed vegetables and a pinch of salt for flavor. Let it cook for 3-5 mins.
6) Then, add in the chopped kimchi and saute the whole mixture further. If you want it extremely spicy, you can add in the gochujang paste here.
7) Now, add in the cooked rice, salt, pepper and sesame oil and give it a good mix.
8) Serve with more Kimchi and some sliced red bird's eye chilli as additional condiments.
Thai Olive Fried Rice is another fried rice recipe that warrants very little time to prepare. Most of the ingredients will be easily available in your cupboards or refrigerator. The only exception will be the preserved olives in brine available in Asian supermarkets. These olives are not the usual Italian olives you find on your pizzas. They are longer and pointed towards the ends. In Singapore, these olives are found in Golden Mile Complex (2nd floor Thai Supermarket - see pictures below ) where you can find a whole variety of Thai and Vietnamese food stuffs including fresh Asian greens!
Ingredients (Serves 2)
Claypot Jasmine Rice with Marinated Tofu and Shitake Mushrooms is a heavenly rice dish. The combination of ginger, bird's eye chilli and all the seasonings goes very well to produce a delicious, filling and wholesome meal. A Cooking Frenz member Alice Lim cooked this for one of her cooking demos but she had used rice cooker instead of a claypot and had made the non vegetarian version using chicken. This recipe has been long pending (since March actually!). As this Claypot rice has all the ingredients for a wholesome meal - carbs (rice), protein (tofus) and fibre (spinach and mushrooms)- you don't actually need any other side dish - though a light chinese soup would be a great accompaniment.
A claypot is required for this rice dish but if you don't have one, use any heavy based non stick saucepot.
Ingredients (Serves 3)
1.5 cups of Jasmine Rice
2.5 cups of vegetable stock
1 tsp sesame oil
2 tsps mushroom seasoning
2 tablespoon light soy sauce
1 tbsp sesame oil
½ teaspoon sugar
1/2 teaspoon white pepper
1 teaspoon cornstarch
1 block of firm tofu, sliced half and again sliced into slightly thick rectangles
10 pieces of white button mushroom or 6 pieces of fresh shitake mushrooms, sliced thinly
1 piece of 2 inch ginger cut into matchsticks
1 bird's eye chilli, sliced
3 cups baby spinach, washed
2 tablespoon cooking oil
1 tablespoon dark soy sauce
1 tablespoon Chinese rice wine
1 teaspoon light soy sauce ( if needed)
1 teaspoon sesame oil
1 teaspoon veg oyster sauce
Extra bird's eye chilli and some sliced scallions for garnishing.
1) Wash the rice and soak in 2.5 cups of vegetable stock for 15 mins in the claypot. We will be using this same stock to cook the rice. So don't throw this away.
2) In the meantime, cut the tofu block into rectangles and place them in a big plate/container.
3) Prepare the marinade ingredient. From top left - light soy sauce, sesame oil, white pepper powder, corn flour and sugar. Mix them in a small bowl and pour over the tofus slices. Let them marinate for 10 mins.
4) Prepare the other seasonings for the vegetables. From left in a small white bowl - dark soy sauce, sesame oil, chinese rice wine, veg oyster sauce, canola oil and in the centre is light soy sauce (optional extra).
5) Get the vegetables ready.
6) Heat a wok and start frying the ginger matchsticks and bird's eye chilli. The white pepper in the tofu marinade packs a punch, so if you prefer a less spicy dish, add only half the chilli or omit altogether.
7) Then, add in the marinated tofu slices and the marinade sauce.
8) Fry in the oil, turning over regularly till golden brown. Then add in the other seasonings.
9) This will then be followed by the mushroom and baby spinach.
10) Cook till the mushrooms and spinach cook and wilt. Probably 5-10 mins.
11) Start cooking the rice in the claypot. Add the mushroom seasoning and the sesame oil, mix and allow the stock to boil,
12) Cover the pot, reduce heat to low and cook the rice for 5-7 mins. Watch the pot carefully, the rice can get stuck to the claypot and start to burn.
13) When the rice is almost cooked, add the cooked tofu,mushroom, spinach stir fry over the rice.
14) Cover and cook on low heat for 5 mins and switch off the flame.
15) Serve hot garnished with spring onions and more bird's eye chilli.. Enjoy :)
One of the easiest rice dish to make. Cooked rice is mixed with lemon juice , roasted peanuts and minimal seasonings. It is a common South Indian dish and best eaten with just chutney or yoghurt and some pappadams. Spicy, tangy, lemony and crunchy....
Ingredients (Serves 3)
1.5 cups Jasmine Rice
2.5 cups water
1/3 cup lemon juice
1 green chilli, sliced
10 curry lesve
1/3 cup peanuts, pan roasted
1 tsp turmeric powder
Salt per preference
Chopped coriander leaves for garnishing in the end
1/4 tsp mustard seeds
1/4 tsp urad dal
1 tbsp chana dal
2 dried chillies, cut
1) Firstly, pan roast the peanuts with 1 tsp of oil till crispy (roughly 5 minutes on medium heat).
2) Get all the ingredients ready.
3) Get a deep big pot and heat in 3 tbsp of canola oil. You will need this amount of oil to coat the rice grains evenly. Add in the ingredients for tempering and let them crackle and splutter.
4) Add in the sliced chilli and the curry leaves now.
5) Next, add the turmeric powder and salt and mix well. This will then be followed by the cooked rice.
6) Add the lemon juice and the roasted peanuts.
7) Lastly, add in the chopped coriander leaves and serve hot with your favourite curry.
What follows is a recipe for an Easy Light Tomato Rice to be served with a heavier curry . I have made this Tomato Rice through the last 16 years and there has never been any leftovers so far :) I only use fresh fresh tomatoes instead of tomato paste or sauce. Onion seeds add a unique flavor and aroma to this very versatile rice dish.
Ingredients (Serves 3)
1) After 30 mins, drain the water from the Basmati Rice and keep aside.
2) Heat the oil in a big deep pot and fry the onion seeds followed by the chopped onion.
3) Once sufficiently fried, add in the ginger and garlic paste. Let the aroma waft in your kitchen.
4) Reduce fire and then add the chilli powder and salt. Stir and fry for 2 mins.
5) Add in all the vegs, stir well and let it cook for 5 mins. You might need to add in a bit of water time to time so that the vegs don't stick to the pot and burn. By 5 mins, tomatoes would have turned mushy and the vegs would be half cooked.
6) Add in the drained Basmati rice and let the whole mix come together.
7) Add in 3 cups of water and check for seasoning. Add more salt if necessary.
8) Cover the pot, reduce heat to the most lowest and then let tomato rice cook undisturbed for 10 mins.
9) Uncover pot, add in the cilantro leaves and stir. Rice will be slightly wet. It's alright as the moisture will evaporate in a few mins.
10) Serve this easy and light tomato rice warm with any of your favourite curry and a dollop of low fat yoghurt.
A very simple way to cook basmati rice and peas. Makes a light rice accompaniment to haevier curries and side dishes.
Ingredients (Serves 4)
2 cups Basmati Rice
1 tbsp canola oil
1/2 tsp cumin seeds
3 dried bay leaves
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
1/2 cup baby green peas
Salt per preference
Soak the Basmati rice in ample water for 30 mins. This results in even softer grains of cooked Basmati Rice. After 30 mins, drain and pour 4 cups of water and the rice into a rice cooker. Add required salt.
Heat the oil in a small pot and fry the cumin seeds, bay leaves and sliced onions.
Once the onions turn translucent (not brown), pour this whole tempering mix into the rice cooker.
Cook your rice as you would usually.
Pilau, Pulao, Pilaf....so many different terms to describe the same thing. A Middle Eastern or an Indian rice dish cooked with spices and has added meat or vegetables. There are numerous types of pilaus out there - Beef Pilau, Chicken Pilau, Spiced Pilau, Vegetable Pilau and so on.
Green Peas Pilau is a specialty of my friend Amutha who wowed us two Fridays ago during our potluck lunch at my abode (See picture below). I was grateful for her Green Peas Pilau which served as a main dish. Otherwise, it would have been more of a potluck tea with so many other sides!! She makes a mean Lentil Fritters (Medhu Vadais) too accompanied by an equally unbelievable Coconut Tamarind Chutney. My other friends from Temasek Primary School in Singapore (where my girls had their elementary education) would vouch for that. Right, ladies? :)
Thanks for showing up my dear friends - each time we make an effort even with our super busy schedules, we all contribute to the growth and strength of our friendship. We have known each other for more than 6 years. Along the way, new friends have joined in, some have left and one has even moved to Sydney. Nevertheless, may God bless the remaining us with an even closer friendship as we age and our kids leave our nest :) I am sure we'll need each other even more then.
Anyway, Amutha's Green Peas Pilau was quite delicious with the nuts, crunchy fried onions and the subtle flavour of coriander and mint leaves in the basmati grains. It married very well with the Spicy Garbanzo Curry I served during the lunch. Green Peas Pilau would go with many other types of curry too because of its mild delicious flavour. Here is her mouth watering recipe :
Ingredients (Serves 4)
1.5 cups Basmati Rice
4.5 cups of water
1 cup coriander leaves
1 cup mint leaves
1.5 cups grated coconut
5 green chillies
2 tbsp. oil
1 star anise
1 cinnamon stick
1 bay leaf
1 tsp cumin seeds
1.5 tbsp. ginger garlic paste
1 medium onion, sliced thinly
10 pieces cashewnuts
10 pieces almonds
1 cup green peas
1/2 (half) cup of mixed coriander & mint leaves
Salt to taste
2 tbsps. fried onions
Extra coriander and mint leaves for garnish.
Blend 1 cup each of coriander and mint leaves with the green chillies and grated coconut. Pour in 4.5 cups of water to your blender and use this as a base for cooking your rice. Set aside.
In a medium sized pan, heat the oil and fry the dry spices - star anise, cinnamon stick, bay leaf and cumin seeds.
Then add in the ginger garlic paste followed by the sliced onions.
When a lovely aroma of fried onions, spices and ginger garlic spreads in your kitchen, add the cashew nuts and almonds.
After a few minutes of stirring, add in the green peas and salt.
Toss in the 1/2 cup of mixed coriander and mint leaves in now and let it cook for a few minutes. Let the flavors blend together.
Then, add in the basmati rice followed by the 4.5 cups of blended mixture.
increase the heat to medium and let it come to a light boil in about 10 mins or so.
Transfer to your rice cooker and cook as you usually do.
Serve garnished with fried onions and more coriander or mint leaves.
Thanks for sharing your recipe with us dear Amutha :)
The traditional heavy coconut rice using full fat coconut milk will leave you feeling full and lethargic the whole day and evening. Not to mention the damage the saturated fat does to our heart and our waistline! A light version using reduced fat coconut milk with only 50% of fat is a better alternative.
Ingredients (serves 2)
1 cup of white rice
1tbsp canola oil
1 tsp fenugreek seeds
1 stalk curry leaves
1 and 1/2 tbsp. thick low fat coconut milk/cream
Salt per your preference
Wash the rice in your rice cooker and add in the required amount of water and salt.
Take a small pan and add in the oil. When the oil is hot enough, add in the fenugreek seeds and curry leaves. After 1-2 mins of frying, pour in the tempering mix into the rice cooker and switch it on.
Halfway through the cooking process, add in the coconut milk/cream. Mix well and let the rice cook fully.