Cranberry Wild Rice Pilaf

This is a slightly sweet, rich pilaf that also works as a great side.

You need:

  1. 1/4 cup basmati rice
  2. 1 tbsp wild rice
  3. 1 tbsp dried cranberries
  4. 1 tbsp sliced or slivered almonds
  5. 1 tbsp finely chopped onion
  6. 1/4 tsp finely chopped habanero or other red chili (optional). You can also use a whole chili for flavor, then take it out when you are done cooking.
  7. 1 tbsp olive oil
  8. salt to taste

How to:

  1. Add the wild rice to the basmati and wash well. Rinse and set aside.
  2. Place the cranberries in a bowl of warm water.
  3. Heat the oil in a deep skillet or wok.
  4. Add the onion and stir. Turn the heat down to medium and cook for about 3-4 minutes, stirring frequently, until the onions are cooked.
  5. Add the rice and stir well for about a minute.
  6. Add 1.5 cups of water and stir.
  7. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a simmer.
  8. Add the salt and stir
  9. Cook until the rice is done, stirring occasionally (the wild rice may take a little longer than the basmati). You might need to add a little more water, but always add it only a bit at a time, because you don’t want squishy rice. Make sure the rice doesn’t stick to the bottom.
  10. When the rice is cooked (soft but not squishy), turn off the heat.
  11. Toast the almonds in a hot pan very quickly. They should be golden-brown, not dark brown.
  12. Drain the cranberries and add them and the almonds to the rice. Stir.
  13. Garnish with cranberries and almonds.

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Yes, I finally got it done. Hope you’re enjoying the recipes, and I promise, I promise I will be back with more soon. It’s been a rough couple of years 🙂

Vegetarian Barbecue

We have two grills at home. One for veggies, and one for meat. Now, I’m always disappointed when I go to a barbecue and there is no veggie food, or it’s cooked on the same grill as the meat, or it’s all those fake-meat burgers. So, we have two grills, and lots of vegetables.

We had a grill-out on the weekend to celebrate our successful defenses (the OH and I are both going to be PhDs now!) Here’s what I grilled. These work best if you have a grill tray, so the vegetables don’t fall through the grill.

Grilled eggplant: This is basically the same recipe as Baigun Bhaja, except grilled. You take one of those big round eggplants, the kind you make bharta with. Cut it into slices about 1/4″ thick. Make a mix of oil, turmeric, and cayenne (lal mirch). Paint it onto the eggplant slices with a basting brush. Throw on hot grill and close the grill. You might need to baste it again on the grill so it doesn’t stick. Turn it over after five minutes. It’s done when it goes soft and turns a pale brown. It’s also great as a “burger”.

Grilled Asparagus: Wash the asparagus. Trim by holding the ends and bending gently in the middle. It will snap at the point of tenderness. Discard the ends, it’s the tips you want. Pat dry. Place on a grill tray, or cross-wise on the grill so they don’t fall through. Spray with oil (if you’re using a tray) or baste with some oil, if you’re not. Cover and cook for five minutes, turning occasionally. They are done when they are bright green and “sweating” just a little. They should still be crunchy. Season with salt and lemon pepper for a lovely flavor.

Grilled vegetable skewers: Cut red onions, bell peppers, zucchini, and yellow squash into 1″ pieces. Soak some bamboo skewers in cold water for a couple of minutes. Add a couple of pieces of each vegetable to the skewers. Place on the hot grill. Cover. Turn a couple of times while cooking. Cook for ten minutes, or until the vegetables shrivel up ever so slightly and char on the edges. Season with salt and whatever spices you like.

Grilled corn: There are two ways to grill corn. If you are using dehusked corn, rub it with butter and wrap in foil. Place on the hot grill, cover and cook for about twenty minutes, turning a couple of times in the middle.

If you are using corn with the husk, it will take a little longer. Peel the husk down almost to the end, but do not take it off. Remove the silks (the threads on the corn). Pull the husks back up. Damp the husks slightly, and place on the grill. Close the grill and cook for twenty minutes, turning a couple of times as it cooks. Remove the husks (they will be hot!), rub with butter and salt, and eat. You can also try rubbing it with lemon and salt or kala namak (rock salt).

Grilled paneer: You could make paneer tikki. Or, you could just cut some paneer into 1″ cubes and marinate it. Place two tbsp Kitchen King in a large Ziploc bag. Add 1/2 cup water and mix well. Add the paneer and coat well with the mixture. Place in fridge for four hours. Oil the vegetable grill tray, and place the paneer on it. Cook for five to seven minutes, turning once in the middle.

Roasted garlic: Take two or three whole garlic heads (the entire thing, not just a couple of cloves). Now you can go two ways. Turn an oven to 400 F, wrap the garlic in two layers of foil, and bake for twenty minutes. OR, wrap in two layers of foil and place on a hot grill for twenty minutes or until soft. If you use the oven, about ten minutes into the garlic roast, butter some pieces of french bread and wrap in foil and bake in the oven until the garlic is done.

Let the garlic cool, then squeeze it. The garlic will come out, leaving the skins in your hand. Mash a little more, then spread on the french bread. Add a little salt if you like.

Other grilled vegetables: In general, you can’t go too far wrong if you cut the veggies up, spray them with oil, season with salt and pepper, wrap in foil, and cook on the grill. How long they will take to cook depends on the vegetables.

Have fun grilling, and have a great summer!

On Returning

So I have successfully defended, and the PhD is now a mere matter of filing paperwork. It’s a great feeling! Thank you all for your patience, and I will soon be posting more regularly. I am moving to a place I anticipate I will have to do a lot more cooking than I currently do, so hopefully some good recipes will come out of that.

On Silence

Just in case anyone was wondering why there are no new posts, I’m working on my PhD thesis, and it’s crunch time.

Thank you for your patience! I’ll be back.

A Vegetarian Christmas Dinner

Merry Christmas to all of you!

It’s the 24th! What’s the plan for Christmas dinner? The OH has got plans for ham, but my plans are a little more elaborate. And yet, so simple!

Here’s what’s on the menu:

  1. Cornbread dressing (because it’s so good and one shouldn’t have to eat it only on Thanksgiving)
  2. Stuffed Acorn Squash

There’s only the two of us, so that’s quite enough for me. If you’re looking for other options, try some Celery Soup (you can also cook it on the stovetop), Delicata RiceVeggie-Feta Pot Pie, Baked Brie with Blueberry Chutney, or Paneer cutlets with Mango Chutney.

Happy Eating!

Rice Cooker Pulao

My mother keeps telling me to try this, so I experimented yesterday. Basically, you throw the vegetables in with the rice in the rice cooker and let it all cook together. It was pretty tasty, but one thing I did notice was that the vegetables were softer than I like. I started with frozen veggies, so that might have had something to do with it. All in all, though, time saver and very easy. I used frozen beans, cauliflower, and peas, and a fresh turnip and onion. I think I will try this with carrots and peas next time, and maybe potato and some other veggies. Maybe even dal.

You need: 1 cup rice of your choice; 2 cups mixed vegetables; 1 tbsp oil; 1 small onion; 1/2 tsp each cumin (jeera) and cayenne (lal mirch); 2 tsp garam masala; salt to taste

How to:

  1. Chop the onion finely.
  2. If you are using fresh vegetables, chop them into 1/4″ pieces. You can keep them together in a bowl.
  3. Heat the oil. Add the cumin, cayenne, and garam masala when the oil is hot, and stir.
  4. Add the onion. Stir.
  5. When the onion is cooked, add the rest of the vegetables. Stir and cook for 3-4 minutes.
  6. Add the rice and stir well. Cook for 1-2 minutes.
  7. Transfer to a rice cooker. Add enough water to cook the rice, plus 1 cup. Add salt and mix well.
  8. Cover and set to “cook”.
  9. Check to see if it is done. My pulao cooked before it switched to “warm”, and had started to catch on the bottom when I took it out.
  10. Eat hot.

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Diwali!

A very happy Deepavali to all my readers. I wish I were home! Well, on second thoughts, I don’t exactly, because I hate the crackers and patakas and the noise and the smoke in the air. Let me rephrase that. I wish my parents were here! 🙂

Best wishes to all of you for the year to come, and don’t eat yourself sick, even if it is Diwali!