Gobi Masala| Cauliflower In Tomato Gravy

Gobi Masala is a much-loved side dish for rotis and parathas in our family. For the uninitiated, it refers to cauliflower cooked in a North Indian-style tomato gravy. My bub and I are big fans of cauliflower, and we absolutely love this delicious, creamy curry made with it. Let me share with you all how I go about making it.

Gobi Masala or cauliflower cooked in a North Indian-style tomato gravy

A closer look at my Gobi Masala

This is a very simple recipe for Gobi Masala, one that can be put together in about 20-25 minutes. It’s great for weekday lunches/dinners and suits well for lazy weekends as well.

This Gobi Masala is flavourful, with just the right amount of tangy, mildly spiced, with a hint of sweet. It is delightfully creamy, though I make it without any fresh cream. I also make it with minimal oil. I would say it is a homely version of Gobi Masala, but just as delicious as one from a restaurant.

I know many people who avoid using cauliflower because they often house worms and are sprayed with loads of pesticides. That’s true, but then most veggies have worms – only the ones in cauliflower are very clearly visible! This is where food safety comes in. It is important to eat in places where you can trust the right ingredients have been used and in a hygienic, proper manner – especially true in case of dishes that use cauliflower. When you use cauliflower at home, in dishes like this Gobi Masala, you can clean it thoroughly, making sure there are no worms.

How to make Gobi Masala

Ingredients (serves 4):

To grind to a puree:

  1. 4 medium-sized tomatoes
  2. 1 small onion
  3. 5-6 garlic cloves
  4. A 1-inch piece of ginger
  5. 5-6 cashewnuts

Other ingredients:

  1. 1 large cauliflower, about 2-1/2 cups when chopped into florets
  2. 1/4 teaspoon + 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  3. Salt to taste
  4. 1/2 tablespoon oil
  5. 1/2 teaspoon cumin seeds
  6. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  7. Red chilli powder to taste
  8. 1 teaspoon garam masala or to taste
  9. 1 teaspoon jaggery powder or to taste
  10. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

1. Wash the cauliflower thoroughly and cut into large florets. Keep the florets immersed in enough cold water for 15-20 minutes, to get rid of worms, if any. Further, chop the florets into bite-sized pieces. Open up the florets gently to check for worms, then wash them well under running water. Now, take the florets in a large pan with enough water to cover them, a bit of salt and 1/4 teaspoon turmeric. Mix well. Place on high heat and allow the water to come to a boil. Then, reduce the flame to medium and let the cauliflower cook in the water for 6-8 minutes. This will partially cook the cauliflower, at the same time helping to ‘disinfect’ them.

2. While the cauliflower is cooking, we will prepare the puree needed for this recipe. Peel the onion, ginger and garlic cloves. Chop the tomatoes, onion, garlic and ginger roughly. Add these to a mixer jar, along with the cashewnuts. Grind to a smooth puree, without adding any water. Keep aside.

3. When the cauliflower has cooked and become slightly tender, transfer to a colander. Drain out all the water.

Top left: Step 1, Top right and bottom left: Step 2, Bottom right: Step 3

4. Now, we will start preparing the Gobi Masala. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the cumin seeds and asafoetida. Let them stay in for a couple of seconds.

5. Add the tomato puree to the pan. Reduce flame to medium. Cook on medium flame for 3-4 minutes or till the sauce starts to thicken.

6. Add in salt to taste, red chilli powder and turmeric powder. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for a couple of minutes or till the raw smell of the puree goes away completely.

7. Add in the jaggery powder at this stage, along with about 3/4 cup of water or as needed to adjust consistency. Mix well.

Top left and right: Steps 4 and 5, Bottom left and right: Steps 6 and 7

8. Add in the partially cooked cauliflower florets to the pan.

9. Also add in the garam masala. Mix well.

10. Cook covered on medium flame till the mixture thickens up and the cauliflower florets are cooked some more. The cauliflower should be cooked well, but should retain a bit of a crunch and not overly mushy. This should take 3-4 minutes.

11. At this stage, switch off gas. Mix in the finely chopped coriander. Your Gobi Masala is ready. Serve hot with rotis or parathas.

Top left: Step 8, Above leftmost bottom: Step 9, Top right: Step 10, Leftmost bottom: The gravy has thickened up and is ready, Bottom right: Step 11

#CauliflowerStories at Foodie Monday Blog Hop

I’m sharing this recipe in association with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop.

The Foodie Monday Blog Hop is a group of enthusiastic food bloggers, who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme every Monday. When Preethi of Preethi’s Cuisine suggested the theme #CauliflowerStories for this week, it was the perfect foil for me to showcase our family’s favourite Gobi Masala.

Preethi is a very talented cook, with a number of unique recipes on her blog. Check out this brilliant Oven-Roasted Cauliflower Steakshe prepared for the theme. It’s absolutely drool-worthy!

Is this Gobi Masala recipe vegan and gluten-free?

This is a completely vegetarian and vegan preparation, suited to those following a plant-based diet.

It can be made gluten-free by simply skipping the asafoetida used in the above recipe. This is because most Indian brands of asafoetida do contain wheat flour to some extent, and should be avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. However, if you can find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, you can definitely use it.

Tips & Tricks

1. Use a firm and fresh cauliflower without too many black/brown spots. An organically grown cauliflower is best, if you can get your hands on one.

2. Make sure you wash the cauliflower thoroughly before use, as indicated in the recipe above. Do not skip blanching them with salt and turmeric – it is an important step in removing any residual dirt/germs from it.

3. Use ripe but firm tomatoes, for best results. I prefer the Naati (country) tomatoes over the ‘farmed’ ones.

4. I have used cashewnuts here to thicken the gravy and add flavour to it. You may use almonds instead, too.

5. I would personally not recommended skipping the jaggery powder in this recipe. The little amount of jaggery used does not make the curry overly sweet, but rounds off the other flavours beautifully.

6. Adjust the amount of water you use, depending upon the consistency of the gravy you require.

7. Make sure the raw smell from the tomato puree has completely gone, before you add in the cauliflower florets. This is very important.

8. Some people add in whole spices like cinnamon, cloves and cardamom along with the cumin. I don’t.

9. Do remember not to overcook the cauliflower, as it will become rather mushy then and the curry will not taste great. It needs to be cooked through, but still retain a bit of a crunch.

10. Some people add in curd or milk to the gravy. I usually don’t.

11. A dash of kasoori methi, crushed between the palms of your hands, can be added to the Gobi Masala too. If using, add it at the very end, along with the coriander, after the curry is completely done and the gas is switched off.

Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Kasi Halwa| White Pumpkin Halwa

This Ashtami, here’s presenting the recipe for Kasi Halwa, a popular sweet treat in South India. It is a common part of the banana-leaf meals at South Indian weddings, poojas and other auspicious occasions. Belying its name, Kasi Halwa has nothing to do with the holy town of Kashi – the name probably comes from the Kashi Phal, the Hindi name for white pumpkin, from which the dessert is made. Now, don’t baulk, the halwa tastes absolutely delicious!

Of Kasi Halwa and fond memories

My first introduction to Kasi Halwa was at the engagement ceremony of one of my cousins, years ago. The ceremony was in Madras, and my parents and I were visiting from Ahmedabad. My love of food in general and my sweet tooth are legendary in my family, and a whispered ‘There’s Kasi Halwa on the lunch menu. You’re so going to love it!,’ was one of the first things I heard when we landed in Madras. It was my aunt, the in-charge of the menu for the ceremony.

I had no inkling of what exactly Kasi Halwa was before that. At lunch, a big glob of hot-hot-hot ghee-dripping orange goodness was placed on my banana leaf. The Kasi Halwa had arrived. True to my aunt’s words, I absolutely adored it. It was so, so delicious a confection I was hooked right from the first bite. Never could I guess that the lovely thing was made from something as humble as white pumpkin, poosanikkai in Tamil!

Now, my aunt is the sort of person who, if she loves something at a wedding, has no qualms about going ahead and asking the chef for the recipe. She did just that for the brilliant Kasi Halwa, and the cook was sweet enough to oblige. I was surprised to learn from her just how simple a dessert it was to prepare, requiring very few basic ingredients. The cook taught us some very useful tips and tricks to get Kasi Halwa right, and that’s how we make it at home ever since, minus the orange food colouring. Till date, it remains a favourite with everyone at home.

How to make Kasi Halwa

Here is how we make it.
Ingredients (serves 3-4):

  1. A big piece of white pumpkin, about 1-1/2 cups when grated
  2. 1 tablespoon + 1 tablespoon ghee
  3. 3/4 cup sugar or as needed
  4. A generous pinch of saffron
  5. 10-12 cashewnuts
  6. 1/2 tablespoon raisins

Method:

1. Remove the skin and seeds from the pumpkin. Grate it medium thick. I had about 1-1/2 cups pumpkin when grated, including some water that released from it.

2. Heat 1 tablespoon of ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the grated pumpkin, along with the water from it. Mix well. Saute the pumpkin in the ghee for about a minute.

3. Now, close the pan and allow the pumpkin to cook on medium flame till it is completely cooked and all the water has evaporated. This can take 10-12 minutes. You will need to uncover the pan intermittently to check on the pumpkin. In between, if the water has dried out, add a little regular water or milk to cook the pumpkin in.

Top left: The slice of white pumpkin I used, Top right: Step 2, Bottom left: Step 3, Bottom right: The pumpkin is fully cooked

4. When the pumpkin is completely cooked, add the sugar to the pan. All the water should have dried out at this point. Keep the flame still at medium.

5. Add in the saffron threads too. Mix well. The mixture will release water once the sugar is added in – don’t worry about it.

6. Continue to cook on medium flame, uncovered, till the water dries out and the mixture thickens. This should take 3-4 more minutes. Stir intermittently.

7. While the mixture is cooking, chop up the cashewnuts roughly. Heat the remaining 1 tablespoon ghee in a small pan. Turn the flame down to medium, and add in the chopped cashewnuts and the raisins. Let the raisins plump up and the cashewnuts turn slightly brown. Take care to ensure that they do not burn. Add the ghee, cashewnuts and raisins to the pumpkin mixture cooking in the other pan. Mix well.

8. The Kasi Halwa is done when it has thickened considerably. Switch off the gas when the mixture is still a bit runny. Remember that it thickens up further upon cooling. Serve hot, warm or chilled.

Top left and right: Steps 4 and 5, Bottom left and right: Steps 7 and 8

Tips & Tricks

1. Make sure the hard skin, fibre and seeds are completely removed from the pumpkin. Grate it medium-thick, for best results.

2. I have used regular refined sugar here. Adjust the amount of sugar you use, as per personal taste preferences.

3. Cardamom powder can be added to the Kasi Halwa for flavouring. We don’t.

4. Make sure you use a heavy-bottomed pan to cook the Kasi Halwa.

5. White pumpkin leaves a lot of water while grating. Some people squeeze out the water from the pumpkin, before using it to make the halwa. I don’t. Rather, I cook the grated pumpkin in the water it releases.

6. It is important to uncover the pan intermittently and check on the pumpkin, while it is cooking. Usually the water released from the pumpkin is enough to cook it. However if the water dries out and the pumpkin is still uncooked, you can add in some regular water or milk. This will help cook the pumpkin completely.

7. Add in the sugar only after the pumpkin is completely cooked. This is important. If you add the sugar beforehand, the pumpkin might not get fully cooked.

8. Store-bought or restaurant versions of Kasi Halwa usually have a pretty orange colour to them. This is because of food colouring added to the halwa. I haven’t used any food colour here, just some saffron to give a delicate colour to the halwa.

9. The mixture will let out some water once the sugar is added in. Do not worry about this. It will soon start to thicken up.

10. Stop cooking the halwa when it is still somewhat runny. It will thicken up quite a bit on cooling.

11. Don’t skimp on the ghee. This halwa is supposed to be dripping with ghee.

Did you like the recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

Vellai Kondakadalai Sundal| Kabuli Chana Sundal

Another day, another sundal! Today, I’m sharing with you all the recipe for Kabuli Chana Sundal.

Vellai Kondakadalai Sundal or Kabuli Chana Sundal

A bit more about this sundal

Like I was saying in this post, Navratri in South India is time for different varieties of rice dishes, sundal and sweet treats. This Kabuli Chana Sundal is just perfect as an offering during Navratri. As the name suggests, it is prepared using white chickpeas, which are popularly called Kabuli Chana, Vellai Kondakadalai in Tamil. This is a dish that is very simple prepare, yet one that tastes absolutely delicious. It can be prepared in advance and offered to visitors dropping in home for haldi-kumkum (it’s the saner, healthier, happier, pre-Covid times I’m referring to!).

#NavratriNavras at Foodie Monday Blog Hop


This week, the Foodie Monday Blog Hop group has decided to showcase dishes from different parts of India, reflecting the spirit of the Navratri festival. For this week’s theme, #NavratriNavras, I choose to share this Kabuli Chana Sundal, a classic festival special from Tamilnadu.


The Foodie Monday Blog Hop is a group of enthusiastic food bloggers who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every Monday. This week’s theme was suggested by Mayuri, the talented blogger at Mayuri’s Jikoni. She has an amazing array of dishes on her blog, which you must check out. I’m still thinking about the gorgeous Saffron Tapioca Pudding she posted a while back!

How to make Vellai Kondakadalai Sundal


Here is how I make the dish.

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

  • 1. 3/4 cup kabuli chana
  • 2. 1/2 tablespoon oil
  • 3. 3/4 teaspoon mustard seeds
  • 4. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  • 5. 10-12 fresh curry leaves
  • 6. 3-4 green chillies
  • 7. Salt to taste
  • 8. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
  • 9. 3/4 teaspoon jaggery powder or to taste
  • 10. 1/4 cup grated fresh coconut
  • 11. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

  • Method:

    1. Soak the kabuli chana in enough water to cover them completely, for 8-10 hours or overnight. When they are done soaking, drain out all the water from them.

    2. Transfer the drained kabuli chana to a wide vessel. Add in enough fresh water to cover the chana. Then, place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for 5 whistles or till the chana are well done. Let the pressure release naturally.

    3. In the meantime, slit the green chillies length-wise, and keep them ready. Keep the curry leaves and chopped coriander ready.
    Top left and right: Steps 1 and 2, Bottom left: Step 3, Bottom right: Step 4 – that’s what well-cooked kabuli chana should look like

    4. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, get the cooked kabuli chana out. Drain out the water from them and reserve for later use. We will use only the cooked chana in this recipe.

    5. Now, we will start preparing the sundal. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the mustard seeds, and allow them to sputter. Add in the asafoetida, curry leaves and slit green chillies. Let these ingredients stay in for a couple of seconds.

    6. Add the drained cooked kabuli chana to the pan. Turn the flame down to medium.

    7. Add in salt to taste and turmeric powder.

    8. Add in the jaggery powder. Mix well. Cook on medium flame for about 2 minutes, stirring intermittently. 
    Top left and right: Steps 5 and 6, Bottom left and right: Steps 7 and 8

    9. Still keeping the flame medium, add in the grated fresh coconut. Mix well. Cook for a few seconds on medium flame, then switch off gas.

    10. Mix in the finely chopped coriander. Your Kabuli Chana Sundal is ready. Serve it warm or at room temperature.
    Top: Step 9, Bottom: Step 10

    Is this sundal vegan and gluten-free?


    This Vellai Kondakadalai Sundal recipe is completely vegetarian and vegan, suited to those following a plant-based diet.

    Because of the addition of asafoetida in the tempering, this is not a gluten-free dish. Simply skip the asafoetida in the above recipe, to make it a gluten-free preparation. This is because most Indian brands of asafoetida do contain wheat flour to some extent and are best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. However, if you can find completely gluten-free asafoetida, you could definitely use that.

    Tips & Tricks


    1. Make sure the kabuli chana are well  cooked before using them in making the sundal. You should be able to crush a cooked chana easily between your fingers, as indicated in the pictures above. 5 whistles on high flame work perfectly for us.

    2. The water reserved from cooking the kabuli chana can be used in rasam, sambar, soups or gravy-based curries. This water is full of nutrition, so make sure you do not discard it. Reserve the cooking water for later use.

    3. You may skip using the jaggery powder, but I would highly recommend it. The little jaggery will not make the sundal taste sweet, but will beautifully bring out the other flavours in the dish.

    4. You can add a couple of tablespoons of the reserved water, while sauteing the chana, if you feel the mixture is too dry.

    5. Adjust the quantity of green chillies you use, depending upon how spicy you want the sundal to be.

    6. Prepare the sundal on medium heat only.

    7. The green chillies can be coarsely crushed, along with the coconut, in a small mixer jar, and added to the pan. I usually don’t do that.

    8. Some people add a mix of lentils and spices, roasted and ground, called Sundal Podi, to this dish. However, this is a very simple version of sundal, made using basic ingredients and no podi.

    9. This Vellai Kondakadalai Sundal can be eaten on its own. It also makes for a lovely accompaniment to sambar or rasam rice.

    10. Coconut oil or sesame oil works best in the making of this Vellai Kondakadalai Sundal. However, if you don’t have these, you can use regular refined oil.

    Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

    Thuvarai Kai Sundal| Pigeon Peas Sundal

    It’s the season for pigeon peas, aka hare tuvar or tuvar dana in Hindi, pachai thuvarai or thuvarai kai in Tamil. How about some Thuvarai Kai Sundal this Navratri?

    About fresh pigeon peas

    Fresh pigeon peas, aka hare tuvar, tuver dana, thuvarai kai or pachai thuvarai

    Fresh green pigeon peas make an appearance towards the start of winter. Here in Bangalore, they are available for a 2-3 weeks at this time of the year.

    For the uninitiated, fresh pigeon peas are what become toor dal or arhar dal upon maturing and drying. These fresh, green peas are quite nutritious. When very tender, the entire pod can be consumed, though in our family, we eat only the shelled peas.

    I have seen whole pods of pigeon peas being cooked in salted water in Gujarat; these pods are then opened up and the cooked peas inside are eaten hot. The Gujaratis also love using the shelled peas in gravy-based curries and kachoris. Down South, I don’t see that much of a craze for pigeon peas. I managed to get hold of some good ones recently, and decided to use them in a very South Indian sundal.

    Thuvarai Kai Sundal

    Of Navratri and sundal

    Navratri and Sundal are synonymous with each other, in South India. Many Tamilian households have the tradition of setting up a display of dolls – called Golu – for the festival, which can range from simple to very elaborate. Friends and family are invited to view the golu, and various offerings (prasadam) are prepared and shared with them. Usually, different varieties of rice – lemon rice, coconut rice, tamarind rice and curd rice – are preferred, as are different types of sundal.

    Sundal‘ refers to a stir-fry made using legumes like black or white chickpeas, whole green moong beans or kidney beans. Sometimes, sundal is also made using ingredients like chana dal, peanuts, moong dal and sweet corn. A simple tempering of mustard, asafoetida, curry leaves and green chillies is added to these ingredients, along with a generous amount of coconut – these are the hallmarks of sundal. In today’s recipe, pigeon peas are the main ingredient, and I stir-fried them the same way sundal is traditionally prepared.

    How to make Thuvarai Kai Sundal

    Thuvarai Kai Sundal is easy to prepare, but tastes absolutely delicious. Here is how I made it.

    Ingredients (serves 2):

    1. 1 heaped cup of shelled pigeon peas (aka tuver dana, thuvarai kai or pachai thuvarai)
    2. 1/2 tablespoon oil
    3. 1/2 teaspoon mustard seeds
    4. 2 pinches of asafoetida
    5. 2 green chillies
    6. 1 sprig curry leaves
    7. Salt to taste
    8. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
    9. 1/2 teaspoon jaggery powder
    10. About 3 tablespoons grated fresh coconut
    11. A dash of lemon juice
    12. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

    Method:

    1. Wash the pigeon peas thoroughly. Drain out the water from them.

    2. Take the drained pigeon peas in a wide vessel. Add in about 2 tablespoons water.

    3. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Cook on high flame for 4 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally. In the meantime, slit the green chillies length-wise and keep them ready. Keep the chopped coriander, curry leaves and lemon ready.

    Top: Step 1, Bottom left and right: Steps 2 and 3

    4. When the pressure from the cooker has completely gone down, get the cooked pigeon peas out. Now, we will start making the sundal. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan, and add in the mustard seeds. Allow them to sputter. Add in the curry leaves, asafoetida and slit green chillies. Let these ingredients stay in for a couple of seconds.

    5. Add the cooked pigeon peas to the pan, along with the water they were cooked in. Cook on medium flame till the water almost evaporates, 2-3 minutes.

    6. Now, add the salt and turmeric powder to the pan. Mix well. Cook on medium flame till the water has completely dried up, about a minute.

    7. Add in the jaggery powder. Mix well. Saute for about a minute.

    Top left and right: Steps 4 and 5, Bottom left and right: Steps 6 and 7

    8. Still keeping the flame at medium, add in the grated coconut to the pan. Mix well. Cook for a few seconds, then switch off gas.

    9. Mix in the finely chopped coriander.

    10. Add in the lemon juice. Mix well. Your Thuvarai Kai Sundal is ready. Serve it warm or at room temperature.

    Top left and right: Steps 8 and 9, Bottom left: The Sundal, almost ready, Bottom right: Step 10

    Tips & Tricks

    1. Make sure the pigeon peas or thuvarai kai are fully cooked, before using them in making the sundal.

    2. Adjust the quantity of salt, jaggery, green chillies and coconut as per personal taste preferences.

    3. Typically, we don’t use lemon in sundal. However, a dash of lemon tastes nice in this Thuvarai Kai Sundal.

    4. You can drain out the water from the cooked pigeon peas, if you so prefer. However, I prefer cooking them with very little water and then drying out the water, as in the recipe above.

    5. This Thuvarai Kai Sundal can be eaten on its own. It also makes for a lovely accompaniment to sambar rice, rasam rice and the likes.

    6. This is a completely vegetarian and vegan preparation, suited to those following a plant-based diet. It can be made gluten-free by skipping the asafoetida used in the tempering. This is because most Indian brands of asafoetida do contain wheat flour to a lesser or greater extent and are, hence, best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. However, if you can find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, please do go ahead and use it.

    Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!

    Elumicchai Saadam| Lemon Rice

    Elumicchai Saadam or Lemon Rice is a South Indian classic. It is a beautiful, simple but flavourful rice dish that is a treat to have. This no-onion, no-garlic rice is quite a common part of the meal at weddings, festivals, poojas and similar occasions across South India. It travels well too, and is hence a dish of choice on picnics and train journeys. It’s widely prepared in South India for breakfast or lunch on regular days as well.

    This is quite a popular offering for the Indian festival of Navratri, which is just around the corner, too. Various rice varieties and sundals are commonly offered to guests on the 9 days of Navratri, and Lemon Rice is a hugely preferred one.

    Today, I’m going to share with you all the recipe for Lemon Rice, the way I make it.

    Elumicchai Saadam or Lemon Rice

    How to make Lemon Rice

    Elumicchai Saadam or Lemon Rice is quite an easy thing to prepare. However, it is important to keep certain tips and tricks in mind to get it it perfect, grainy, non-clumpy and flavourful.

    Here is how I go about it.

    Ingredients (serves 3-4):

    1. 1 cup rice
    2. 1/4 cup peanuts
    3. A 1-inch piece of ginger
    4. 4 green chillies
    5. 10-15 curry leaves
    6. 3/4 tablespoon oil
    7. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
    8. 2 pinches of asafoetida
    9. Salt to taste
    10. 1/4 teaspoon turmeric powder
    11. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander leaves
    12. 1-1/2 lemons or as per taste

    Method:

    1. Wash the rice thoroughly under running water. Drain out all the water, and transfer the drained rice to a wide vessel.

    2. Add in 3 cups of water. Place the vessel in the pressure cooker. Cook on high flame for 4 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally. You need to cook the rice till it is done but not overly mushy, so adjust the amount of water and pressure cooker whistles accordingly.

    3. While the rice is cooking, dry roast the peanuts in a heavy-bottomed pan, on medium flame, till crisp. Take care to ensure that the peanuts do not burn.

    4. Transfer the roasted peanuts to a plate. Allow them to cool down completely.

    Top left: Step 1, Bottom right: Step 2, Top right: Step 3, Bottom left: Step 4

    5. When the pressure from the cooker has gone down fully, get the cooked rice out. Place it under the fan and allow it to cool down fully.

    6. While the rice is cooling, peel the ginger and chop very finely. Slit the green chillies length-wise. Keep the curry leaves, lemons and chopped coriander ready.

    7. Once the cooked rice has cooled down completely, fluff it up gently using a spoon. Ensure that no lumps remain.

    Top: Step 5, Bottom left and right: Steps 6 and 7

    8. Now, we will start preparing the Lemon Rice. Heat the oil in the same heavy-bottomed pan we used earlier. Add in the mustard seeds, and allow them to sputter. Now, add in the finely chopped ginger, curry leaves, slit green chillies, roasted peanuts and asafoetida. Reduce flame to medium. Saute the ingredients on medium flame for about half a minute.

    9. Add the cooked rice to the pan, still keeping the flame at medium. Also add in the salt and turmeric powder. Mix well, gently.

    10. Cook everything together for about a minute on medium flame. Stir well to make sure everything is well incorporated together. Then, switch off gas.

    11. Add in the finely chopped coriander.

    12. Add in juice from the lemons. Mix well. Your Lemon Rice is now ready to serve. Serve it warm or at room temperature with chips, fried papad or vadam.

    Top left and right: Steps 8 and 9, Above leftmost bottom: Step 10, Leftmost bottom: Step 11, Bottom right: Step 12

    Is this Lemon Rice vegan and gluten-free?

    The above recipe for Elumicchai Saadam or Lemon Rice is completely vegetarian and vegan, suitable for those following a plant-based diet.

    However, due to the addition of asafoetida in the tempering, this is not a gluten-free recipe. Most Indian brands of asafoetida contain wheat flour to a lesser or greater extent and are, hence, best avoided when one is following a gluten-free diet. However, if you can find 100% gluten-free asafoetida, you could definitely go ahead and use it.

    Tips & Tricks

    1. Rice varieties like Ponni or Sona Masoori are quite commonly used for making Lemon Rice. Use these for best results.

    2. Adjust the quantity of water you use and the number of whistles you allow in the pressure cooker, depending upon how grainy you want the rice to be. The above method works just perfectly for us. This way, the rice gets cooked thoroughly and us neither very grainy nor very mushy. For best results, that’s the texture the cooked rice should be.

    3. Allow the cooked rice to cool down completely before proceeding to prepare the Lemon Rice. Do not attempt to use the rice while it is hot, for this will let to a mushy, tasteless lemon rice.

    4. Adjust the quantity of lemon juice, salt and green chillies as per personal taste preferences.

    5. I dry roast the peanuts before using them to make Lemon Rice. This keeps them crisp and tasty. This is a tip I picked up from my mother-in-law, and it works like a charm.

    6. Traditionally, some chana dal is added to the tempering in Lemon Rice. However, we are not big fans of the crunchy texture of the chana dal in the tempering, so I usually avoid it. Alternatively, you could soak some chana dal in water for about half an hour, drain out the water and then use it in the tempering – it becomes nice and soft that way.

    7. Use a heavy-bottomed pan to make the Lemon Rice, and prepare it on medium flame. Do not cook it for too long – just about a minute on medium flame is good.

    8. The chopped coriander and lemon juice is best added after the heat has been switched off.

    9. Sesame oil goes well in this Lemon Rice. However, if you don’t have it, regular refined oil can be used.

    10. Make sure the ginger is chopped real fine, for best results.

    11. Here, I have cooked the rice fresh and cooled it down, to make the Lemon Rice. If you have grainy cooked rice left over, you can use that instead, too.

    Did you like this recipe? Do tell me, in your comments!