This week is a short school week due to the Chinese New Year holidays. This year I remembered to stock up on some essentials and produce ahead of the 4-day celebrations. I forgot to do this last year and we had to rummage through the pantry stocks for our meals. We could not really go out as most of the restaurants were closed (except for the ever-ready fast food places) and those that were open tended to be crowded and overpriced. Not fun! My mum told me that during her time, the shops were closed for even longer – up to 10 days!
Wed – Mini Hamburgers, Tomato Macaroni, steamed broccoli and golden honey tomatoes
Thurs -Twice Baked Cheesy Potatoes, steamed sweet peas and golden honey tomatoes
Fri – Masala Rice with Quail Eggs, steamed broccoli and grape cup
The mini hamburgers were adapted from the Just Bento Cookbook (again!). The cheesy potatoes were from the Seriously Good! Cooking for Kids book (again!). Both were good but the best recipe for the week was the Masala Rice. An aromatic, warmly spiced vegetable and rice dish, the Masala Bhaat/Rice is versatile, easy to cook and very nutritious. The dish was traditionally part of Maharastrian wedding but it is now a popular one-dish meal. The recipe was from the Bombay Brasserie Cookbook that I got from a library booksale. The book features recipes from the famous Indian restaurant in London and it could have been the kind of cookbook that was nice to look at but not really practical for the home-cook. But this was so not the case. The book was well-written, the recipes were easy to follow and most feature ingredients that are easily available. The book also introduces dishes from the various Indian regions and includes some of the chefs’ specialities.
Masala Bhaat/Rice (Adapted from The Bombay Brasserie Cookbook)
You can use any mix of vegetables that you like or make it simpler by just using only 1 type of vegetable.
1 1/2 cups basmati rice (washed in a few changes of water and then soaked in salted water for 20 min)
4-5 curry leaves
3 green cardamon pods
1 dried bay leaf
1 cm piece of cinnamon
2 green chillies (slit)
1 medium onion (finely chopped)
1 tsp ginger-garlic paste
1 1/2 tsp ground coriander
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
2 cups vegetables (I used pumpkin, cauliflower, carrots and green peas but you can also use potatoes, mushrooms, green beans, etc. Just make sure that the vegetables are cut to about the same size)
Grated coconut and chopped fresh coriander to garnish (optional)
Heat 2 tbsp of vegetable oil in a pan and add the curry leaves, cardamon, bay leaf and cinnamon (be careful as they may splutter). Stir for a few seconds and then add the onion. Stir til softened and turn light golden. Add the ginger-garlic paste and the ground spices. Stir-fry for about 2 min. Add salt to taste. Stir in the vegetables and the rice, making sure that the mixture is well-mixed. Pour the mixture into your rice cooker and let cook til done. Fluff with a fork and garnish if using.
The rice is also delicious served at room temperature and I love it with a dollop of plain yoghurt.