Eat [recipes]

Yesterday I made this post for one of my other blogs but maybe it’s useful here too. Especially since there is a cluster (#%$*) of really long rambling posts that are coming next and any readers I have left will need to be fortified for the stamina required to read them. [that may be a joke] I’d come there and cook it for you but I don’t have that many airline points. I’d then read the posts to you though, in a really loud evangelical sort of voice-sort of a heaven and hell presentation.

But being the uber-compassionate Bodhisattva-like being that I am, I’ll spare you that horror and let you enjoy some pretty good food.

May 7, 2010 A Quick North Indian Meal

Here’s what we had last night to eat. It’s pretty easy and quick to make. I’ll give a veg. and a non-veg. method. This is enough for 3-4  people depending on appetites.(maybe 5 if some are kids) It’s all pretty cheap to make and tasty.  It also stores well if there’s left-overs.

Sometimes you’ll see pullow (also spelled pullau, pilaw or half a dozen other ways)  or raita on restaurant menus. But usually you wouldn’t be served that in someone’s home since it’s more like family food than “guest” food. “Guest” food tends to be a little more fussy and fancy.

None of this is spicy. You can add some chopped green chilies to the pullow or the greens or even a dash of cayenne (but NOT to the raita!-one restaurant did that to us once and it was horrible)  if you want it to be more spicy. But the masala (spice) that is included adds a good amount of taste without making your eyes water.

Most people just eat raw green chilies on the side if they want that kick.

Pullow (sort of like Pilaf or Paella)

Ingredients are listed in order of use.

1 Large Pot with lid (we use a pressure cooker which is faster but most people reading this won’t have one so just a pot is OK)

3-4 tbsp. oil

2 chopped onions

chopped or whole cloves of garlic (as many as you like depending upon your garlic preferences)

1 tbsp. chopped fresh ginger (sometimes we leave ginger out-depends if you want the tang of it)

1/2 tsp. ground turmeric

1/2 tsp. ground coriander

1/2 tsp. Deggi Mirch (a mild ground red pepper mix-not as strong as cayenne-a mild Mexican chili is also OK)

1 tbsp. salt

4 small or 3 medium chopped tomatoes

1 lb. chicken with bone (500 gms.) (if making the non-veg type) or meat (beef, pork, goat-the latter is what we use sometimes) or sea food (but using sea food with a pressure cooker is not recommended since it cooks fast anyways)

3/4-1 cup rice-basmati or any kind

3 cups coarsely chopped vegetables (Choose 2 or 3 of  carrots, peas,white radish, green beans, eggplant, cauliflower, zucchini, broccoli, potato or any harder type of vegetable. Spinach and other greens are not recommended as they become too mushy)

1/2 tsp. MDH Kitchen King spice mix or any garam masala mix

about 1 cup water-depends on the water content of veg and non-veg ingredients-basically enough to just about cover the contents of the pot-too much and it gets mushy and not enough won’t cook the rice enough.


If making veg. kind then just skip any steps about chicken or meat.

Heat oil. Add onions and saute about 5 min.

Add garlic, ginger, turmeric, coriander, Deggi Mirch, salt and saute until they start to brown.

Add  tomatoes. Cook and stir until it becomes like a chunky sauce. (sort of like a salsa-mash the tomatoes with a fork if you are using them on the greenish side)

Add rice and stir and cook 5 min. on med. heat

Add chicken (or meat) if you are making the non-veg kind and cook for about 10 min at med. heat. (if using seafood put that in when there is only about 10-15 minutes cooking time left or it will be like mush)

Add all vegetables- cook and stir 5 min. on med. heat- if it seems a little dry add some of the water now

Add Kitchen King (or garam masala) and water to almost cover the contents.

Bring to a boil then reduce heat.

Cook with the lid on at med-low heat (slightly bubbling) for about 20 min if making veg or seafood type.

If using chicken or meat increase cooking time to about 25-30 min.

Check if meat is thoroughly cooked.

(if using a pressure cooker then it’s about 2 pressures, turn heat off and wait for pressure to subside-about 15 min. total final cooking time with meat)

It is done when liquid is all taken up by the rice and rice is soft.

You can garnish with some chopped cilantro (fresh coriander leaf-which I don’t like but lots of people do) and some sliced hard boiled eggs (which is what restaurants do for both veg and non-veg sometimes-so if you’re vegan and in India make sure to tell them no eggs or just say “pure veg” which means you won’t get stuff made with butter either)

Serve hot.

Green Onion and Garlic Saute

Ingredients are listed in order of use.

2-3 tbsp. of butter or oil

1/4 tsp. turmeric

1/2 tsp. salt

chopped cloves of garlic (we put lots but depends on your garlic tolerance)

4-5 bunches of green onions chopped-about 4 cups total (depends on the size of the onions and bunches-it cooks down to about 1/4 of the uncooked) (you can also use spinach, dandelion greens or just about any kind of greens in this recipe)


Heat butter.

Add turmeric, salt and garlic.

Saute for about 5 min.

Add green onions.

Saute and stir for about 5-7  min. until onions/greens are soft.

Serve hot.

Raita (yogurt and veg. side dish)

Ingredients are listed in order of use.

500 ml plain smooth yogurt (about a pint or 2 cups)-the Balkan style which is creamy

1/2 tsp. salt

1 cup shredded veg (mostly cucumber but added onion, tomato, white radish are good accents)

Masala (spice)
Fast way Longer way
2 tbsp. Chunky Chat masala mix 3 tbsp butter or oil
2 tbsp. cumin (jeera)
pinch of turmeric
-heat butter, add cumin and saute until cumin starts to brown, add turmeric, stir and lat brown a little more.(total cooking time about 5 mins-med heat) Let cool for a few minutes before pouring into yogurt mixture


Mix yogurt, salt and shredded veg.

Add spice and mix together thoroughly.

Some people garnish this with a little chopped fresh coriander leaf (cilantro) but a little fresh parsley would be OK too.

Serve cold. (Also makes a nice dip or sauce for a wrap)

About Spice Mixes

Spice mixes mentioned here are often available at Indian grocers and sometimes in the Asian sections of big grocers (I’ve even seen a few at Walmart!) MDH makes a pretty good quality lower priced mix-it’s the most popular in this area. No need to buy the fancy package ones you see sometimes in cookware stores. They have the same ingredients but cost about 4 times as much and are often stale.

MDH-Chunky-Chat-Masala MDHDeggiMirch MDHKitchenKing

About Pressure Cookers

This is one of the two we have pictured below. It is the Indian style with the long handled lid that fits inside the pot and then clips to the end of the pot handle. It has a rubber gasket around the lid.  I don’t know much about pressure cookers of the North American or European style. Some I’ve seen have dials and complicated valves and such.

This Indian style is pretty straightforward. When the pressure is up the little top knob spins around and shoots out steam. That is called One Pressure. So recipe timings go by the number of pressures at a certain flame height. Flame is put to high to bring pressure up then usually set to medium.  So for cooking hard vegetables like potatoes is usually 2-3 pressures depending on consistency of potatoes, rice 2 pressures, chicken  2-3 pressures, meat 3-4 pressures, hard beans like Rajma or any kind that have to be soaked overnight is 5-6 pressures over 15-20 minutes or so. Then the time to decompress-about 10 min. Some things we decompress quickly by lifting up the little knob with a spoon (its hot!) and releasing the steam. This would be for rice, potatoes or vegetables.

One important thing to note is to always leave space in the cooker for the steam to pressurize.  Never fill you pressure cooker more than 3/4 full before cooking. 2/3 is better since some contents can expand. So get a large enough cooker to allow for that depending upon the size of family or group. We use a 5 liter (about one gallon) size for a big dish like pullow. Though we also have a 3 liter Minolta for cooking dal and beans.  If your cooker is too small and contents expand you might not be able to get the lid out without making a huge mess. (that’s Manoj’s tip since he is contributing here in a roundabout way-that means he’s reading this over my shoulder and making suggestions-ahem!)

It is important to keep the valve clean and open so it doesn’t clog and blow out the emergency valve which will ruin the lid and probably the pot too. If using a pressure cooker read all relevant instructions first-I’ve seen a 20 liter cooker full of potatoes blow up at a restaurant because of too much heat and clogged valves-it pretty much demolished the kitchen. Potatoes on every surface including the ceiling and a twisted hole in the side of the pot. That’s quite an unusual occurrence but it happens if one gets sloppy. Pressure cookers are great though, when used properly, since they save a lot of time and cooking gas or electricity

You can get the Indian style pressure cookers in some Indian grocers sometimes. I’ve seen them in Vancouver and other larger cities. You can also order them over the Internet. They are a lot cheaper than the deluxe western kind. (about half the price) I’d recommend Hawkins, Minolta or Hawkins-Futura brands as these are the most commonly used and I’ve used all of them myself. You can also get then with a non-stick interior.

In a price comparison I’ve seen the Hawkins 5 liter pressure cooker for less than 40$ while the equivalent Fagor or Presto North American brands go for 70$ and up.  There are used (or as they say “vintage”) ones on E-bay but I’d be wary of that since you don’t know it’s use record. If you find a used one somewhere like at a garage sale check the bottom. If it is not flat or is bowed out on the bottom then the metal has weakened or it has been over-pressurized and it may not be too good.

Hawkins Pressure Cooker 4 Liters

3 comments on “Eat [recipes]

    • Thanks Bhante
      If we’re ever in the same neighborhood I’ll get up early and make packed lunches for you and your crew when you’re making the rounds.

  1. If you want the benefits of turmeric, buy it as a fresh root, or if buying powder, buy in small quantities and fresh, from a merchant who has it in bulk.

    I once tried to save money by purchasing turmeric pre-packaged in a US grocery store, and it had none of the medicinal benefits I recieved using turmeric from fresh root or from two of my local health food stores.

    I have a skin condition that is quickly ameliorated if I apply almond oil mixed with good quality turmeric powder. If the turmeric is poor quality, it does not help my skin at all.

    Because of its powerful anti oxident properties, turmeric de-activates if exposed to light and air for too long a time.

    The best quality fresh turmeric root has a beautiful, deep orange color, like fresh carrot and has a crisply astringent aroma.

    Final note: whether using powder or fresh root, tumeric stains skin and light colored cloth—which is why it was used (and perhaps still is used) as a dye for Buddhist monks robes.

    In the old days, many Hindu sanyassis used something called garrua clay to dye their robes. Its possible that clay was rich in iron oxides and produced a deep, brownish-red tint. It would be interesting to know whether some of the Buddhist sanghas used that same color.

    (Muses) would be curious to know what was used to produce the splendid maroon red used for Tibetan/Mongolian monastic robes. This was considered a renunciates color, yet thousands of miles west, in Europe, that same maroon red would have been considered a luxury color and badge of status.

    Thanks for the recipes, Nella!

    PS If anyone likes sweetened tea or yogurt but is trying to minimize
    sugar consumption, stevia (a nan calorie herbal extract that is very sweet) works very well. However, I am not sure whether it has yet become available in India.

    May all beings be happy and receive the sustenance needed to support balanced alertness, groundedness and enter the dharma stream.

    In honor of Buddhas enlightenment, a recipe for payasa/rice pudding would be great. It is wonderful to know that it was the kindness of a young girl who had food to share that gave an exhausted man the needed
    sustenance to recover from his punishment of his body sit beneath the tree, and comprehend the Dharma.

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