Vella Payaru|Pacha Payaru Sweet Sundal

Vella Payaru refers to a sweet dish made using whole moong beans, a heritage Tamilnadu preparation. It tastes absolutely beautiful, garnished with fresh coconut, with a hint of cardamom to it. This is my mother-in-law’s specialty – she makes it wonderfully delicious. She has been staying with us for some time, and I have been taking the opportunity to learn some traditional dishes from her.

A bit more about Vella Payaru

There are several types of sundal prepared in South India, for various festive occasions. ‘Sundal‘ is usually a legume like chickpeas (kabuli chana), black-eyed peas (karamani) and whole moong beans (payaru), cooked dry, and can be either savoury or sweet. Check out this Karuppu Mocchai Sundal I made last Navratri, using purple hyacinth beans! This Vella Payaru is a sundal of the sweet type, also called Pacha Payaru Sweet Sundal.

This sundal uses jaggery (‘vellam‘ in Tamil), and there is absolutely no oil or ghee that goes in. This Vella Payaru is, therefore, a relatively healthier sweet treat, full of wholesome ingredients. It is not very difficult to put together either. Once the ingredients are ready, it takes just a few minutes.

Sundal are most commonly made as an offering during Navratri and Ganesh Chaturthi. This is much loved by everyone at home, and mother-in-law makes it whenever we visit her. Ganesh Chaturthi is just around the corner, and I just couldn’t miss this chance of watching her make it and noting down the recipe with exact measurements.

How to make Vella Payaru or Pacha Payaru Sweet Sundal

Here is how you go about it.
Ingredients (serves 4-6):

  1. 1 cup whole green moong
  2. 1-1/4 cup jaggery powder
  3. 2 pinches of cardamom powder
  4. 1/4 cup grated fresh coconut

Method:

1. Soak the green moong in enough water for at least 3-4 hours. Then, drain out all the water.

2. Take the drained moong beans in a wide vessel. Add in just enough fresh water to cover the beans fully. Place the vessel in the pressure cooker and allow 3 whistles on high flame. The beans should be cooked through, but not overly mushy. Let the pressure release naturally.

3. Take 1 cup water in a heavy-bottomed pan and add in the jaggery. Keep on high flame. Allow the jaggery to get completely dissolved in the water. Let the jaggery water come to a rolling boil.

4. At this stage, lower the flame to medium. Add the cooked moong beans to the jaggery water in the other pan. Mix well.

5. Continue to cook on medium flame for 4-5 minutes or till the water dries up and the mixture thickens up. Stir intermittently. Switch off gas when the mixture has considerably thickened, but is still quite runny. It thickens up further with time.

6. Now, mix in the cardamom powder and fresh grated coconut. Your Vella Payaru is ready. Serve it hot, warm or at room temperature.

Is this dish gluten-free and vegan?

Absolutely! The above recipe is completely vegetarian and vegan, suited to those leading a plant-based lifestyle. It is completely gluten-free, too.

#MeethePal at Foodie Monday Blog Hop

I’m sharing this recipe with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop group that I am a part of. The Foodie Monday Blog Hop is a bunch of passionate food bloggers, who share recipes based on a pre-determined theme, every Monday. I chose to share this Vella Payaru or Pacha Payaru Sweet Sundal recipe for the theme.

The theme this Monday is #MeethePal, suggested by Sujata ji of Batter Up With Sujata. Sujata ji has a huge sweet tooth (just like me), and her blog is a treasure trove of lovely dessert recipes. She prepared delectable Caramel Custard for today’s theme. You should definitely check out her amazing collection of Bengali sweets – she has some unique ones like Chilli Rasgulla and Watermelon Rasgulla!

Tips & Tricks

1. Forgot to soak the moong beans? No worries. You can just pressure cook them a little longer – say 6 or 7 whistles – before adding them to the jaggery water.

2. Don’t overcook the moong beans. They should be just cooked through, but not overly mushy.

3. Adjust the quantity of jaggery as per personal taste preferences.

4. Don’t let the jaggery syrup get too thick, otherwise the Vella Payaru will get too hard and chewy. The jaggery just needs to get dissolved in the water. You need it to attain a ‘thread’ consistency.

5. Use a heavy-bottomed pan, for best results.

6. Adjust the quantity of fresh coconut as per personal taste preferences.

7. You can add a bit of dry ginger powder and a few slivers of coconut, if you prefer. Here, we haven’t.

8. After adding the cooked moong beans to the pan, cook them on medium flame. Stir intermittently to prevent sticking to the bottom of the pan.

9. Black-eyed beans (karamani) also works well in this recipe, in place of the green moong beans.

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

Dhania Panchajeeri Recipe| Dhania Panjeeri For Janmashtami

Dhania Panjeeri – Panchajeeri in Gujarati – is one of the offerings commonly prepared in North India, on the occasion of Janmashtami. Growing up in Ahmedabad, Janmashtami (the birthday of God Krishna) used to be a grand occasion, celebrated with great pomp and gusto. I remember visiting the temple near our place at midnight, on Janmashtami eve, and getting a chance to swing Baby Krishna who would be sleeping in a beautifully decorated cradle. This would be followed by an offering of Dhania Panchajeeri, which I would absolutely adore. Till date, it is this dish that I can associate the most with Janmashtami, and I’m here today to share the recipe for the same.

What goes into Dhania Panchajeeri?

Dhania Panchajeeri, also called Dhania Panjeeri or Dhaniya Prasad, is a mildly sweet dish with hints of spice in it. It contains dhaniya or whole coriander seeds as well as dry ginger powder, both of which aren’t very common ingredients in sweet dishes. It is very nutritious, with the addition of healthy ingredients like nuts and makhana (foxnuts).

There is another type of Panchajeeri made in Gujarat and other parts of North India, which uses wheat flour. Some versions also use edible gum or gond. However, this Dhaniya Panchajeeri includes neither wheat flour nor edible gum.

I learnt this Dhania Panchajeeri recipe from a Gujarati friend of mine years ago, and have always been making it this way. It is super easy to prepare, and can be readied in just a few minutes if you have all the ingredients ready.

How to make Dhania Panchajeeri

Here is how I go about it.

Ingredients (makes about 1 cup):

  1. 1 teaspoon ghee
  2. 1/4 cup whole coriander seeds (dhania)
  3. 1/2 cup foxnuts (makhana)
  4. 1/2 cup dry coconut powder
  5. 1 tablespoon almonds
  6. 1 tablespoon cashewnuts
  7. A little less than 1/2 cup sugar
  8. 1/4 teaspoon cardamom powder
  9. 1/2 teaspoon dry ginger powder

Method:

1. Heat the ghee in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the coriander seeds, cashewnuts, almonds and foxnuts , and turn the flame down to medium. Roast on medium flame for 2-3 minutes or till the coriander seeds begin to emit a lovely fragrance. Ensure that the ingredients do not burn.

2. Now, add in the dry coconut powder. Turn the flame down to the lowest. Roast the ingredients for a few seconds. Switch off gas.

3. Immediately transfer the roasted ingredients to a plate. Allow to cool down fully.

4. When all the roasted ingredients have completely cooled down, transfer them to a mixer jar. Add in the sugar. Pulse a few times, till you get a powder that is just slightly coarse. Stop at intervals to open the mixer jar and mix up the ingredients. When done, transfer to a clean, dry, air-tight box.

Is this Dhania Panchajeeri vegan and gluten-free?

This recipe is completely vegetarian, but NOT vegan because of the addition of ghee. You can substitute the ghee with coconut oil to make it vegan or plant-based.

This is a completely gluten-free preparation.

Tips & Tricks

1. Make sure the ingredients do not burn while roasting. This might alter the taste of the Dhania Panchajeeri.

2. I have used Khandsari sugar here, in place of the regular refined sugar that is usually used. You can use refined sugar too.

3. Different families have different versions of Panchajeeri – some add in rose petals or banana slices, while some use Khus Khus (poppy seeds) or Char Magaz seeds (a mix of watermelon, musk melon, cucumber and pumpkin seeds). I prefer keeping it simple and basic, the way I have stated above.

4. Make sure the roasted ingredients have fully cooled down, before grinding.

5. You can keep the texture of the Dhania Panchajeeri as coarse or fine as you prefer. I prefer keeping it mostly fine, just slightly coarse.

6. The Dhania Panchajeeri can be stored refrigerated for at least 20-30 days.

7. Use a heavy-bottomed pan only for roasting.

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

Vepampoo Pachadi| Dried Neem Flower Relish

Vepampoo Pachadi, the recipe I am going to share with you all today, is a classic from the state of Tamilnadu. It refers to a relish (pachadi) made using neem flowers (vepampoo). Yes, you read that right. The bitter flowers of the neem tree are used to make this traditional Tamilian dish. And I must tell you, it tastes absolutely brilliant!

Delicious dried neem flower relish!

This Vepampoo Pachadi is really an explosion of tastes. It is sweet and sour mostly, with hints of bitterness and spiciness. It works wonderfully as an accompaniment to several South Indian dishes.

What goes into this Vepampoo Pachadi

Like I was saying earlier, this relish is made using the flowers of the neem tree. Either fresh or dried neem flowers can be used – I use the dried version since I do not have access to fresh ones where I live. Sun-dried neem flowers are quite commonly available in ‘naatu marundhu‘ (herbal medicine) stores in Tamilnadu, which is where I source them from.

Dried neem flowers

Neem flowers, fresh or dried, have a bitter taste to them. To balance out their bitterness, tamarind, jaggery and chillies are used in the relish. In fact, this Vepampoo Pachadi falls under the category of ‘Arusuvai‘, i.e. food that combines all six classic tastes as per Tamil cuisine experts – sweet, sour, astringent, bitter, salty and spicy. Consuming foods like this with all tastes included is believed to be very good for the body.

Did you know that the neem tree is considered to be sacred among Hindus? The flowers and wood of the tree are important from the Ayurvedic standpoint too, both possessing several health benefits.

The significance of consuming Vepampoo Pachadi on Tamil New Year

It is a tradition to consume dishes containing all six tastes, in Tamilian households, on the occasion of Puthandu or Tamil New Year. This is to remind oneself that life is a mix of sweet and bitter and many other shades in between. This Manga Pachadi or raw mango relish made with neem flowers is another dish that is commonly consumed on Tamil New Year’s day.

My parents grew up having this Vepampoo Pachadi at least once every week, considering the many health benefits of neem flowers. Somewhere down the line, however, this dish went on to the back burner. I hardly ever make this pachadi, and am so glad I recreated it for the blog recently. I will definitely make it a point to make it more often.

Vepampoo Pachadi for the A-Z Recipe Challenge

I’m sharing this recipe for Vepampoo Pachadi for the A-Z Recipe Challenge. This challenge was initiated by Vidya of Masalachilli and Jolly of Homemade Recipes.

For the challenge, the members share recipes prepared using key ingredients in alphabetical order, one alphabet and one ingredient per month. The alphabet for this month is N, and I chose to cook with ‘neem flowers’ for the same.

Vidya has also used dried neem flowers in her dish for the challenge – take a look at her lovely Vepampoo Thogayal. Also, do check out this beautiful Nutmeg & Cinnamon Banana Bread that Jolly baked for the challenge!

How to make Vepampoo Pachadi

This is a family recipe I learnt from my mom. It is fairly easy to prepare this pachadi, especially if you have dried neem flowers on hand, and can be put together in a matter of minutes.

The detailed proceedure follows.

Ingredients (serves 5-6):

  1. A lemon-sized ball of tamarind
  2. 3/4 tablespoon rice flour
  3. 1/2 tablespoon oil
  4. 1 teaspoon mustard seeds
  5. 2 pinches of asafoetida
  6. 2 dry red chillies
  7. 2 green chillies
  8. A sprig of fresh curry leaves
  9. 1 tablespoon dried neem flowers
  10. Salt to taste
  11. 1/2 teaspoon turmeric powder
  12. 2 tablespoons jaggery powder or to taste

Method:

1. Soak the tamarind in a little hot water for 10-15 minutes. Allow it to cool down a bit.

2. Meanwhile, mix the rice flour with about 2 tablespoons water in a small cup. Make a lump-free slurry. Keep aside.

3. When the tamarind is cool enough to handle, extract all the juice from it. Add water little by little to do so. I got about 1-1/2 cups of semi-thick tamarind extract. Keep aside. Also, slit the green chillies length-wise and keep them ready.

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

4. Heat the oil in a heavy-bottomed pan. Add in the mustard seeds, and allow them to sputter. Now, add in the curry leaves, asafoetida, slit green chillies and dry red chillies. Let these ingredients stay in for a couple of seconds.

5. Now, add in the dried neem flowers. Turn the flame down to medium. Saute the neem flowers on medium flame for 5-6 seconds.

6. Add the tamarind extract to the pan. Cook on medium flame for about 2 minutes or till the raw smell of the tamarind goes away. Stir intermittently.

7. Add salt to taste, turmeric powder and jaggery powder. Mix well.

8. Immediately add in the rice flour slurry. Mix well.

9. Cook on medium flame for 2-3 minutes or till the mixture thickens up. Switch off gas when the mixture has thickened, but is still quite runny. It thickens further upon cooling. Your Vepampoo Pachadi is ready. Allow it to cool down fully, then serve as an accompaniment to rice, upma, Ven Pongal, etc.

Top left and right: Steps 4 and 5, Centre left and right: Steps 6 and 7, Bottom left and right: Steps 8 and 9

Is this Vepampoo Pachadi vegan and gluten-free?

This is a completely vegetarian and vegan preparation, suited to those following a plant-based diet. It can easily be made gluten-free by avoiding the asafoetida used in the tempering. Most commercial Indian brands of asafoetida include wheat flour, to a lesser or greater extent, and are therefore 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.

Tips & Tricks

1. If the tamarind has seeds or impurities, make sure you remove them before use. You could also use a strainer to filter out the impurities from the tamarind extract.

2. Don’t make the tamarind extract too watery.

3. Wheat flour can be used to make the slurry, instead of rice flour. Avoid using wheat flour in case you are following a gluten-free diet.

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

5. I have used store-bought dried neem flowers here. If you have access to fresh neem flowers, you can use them instead.

6. I have used jaggery powder in this Vepampoo Pachadi. You can use jaggery pieces too.

7. Remember to cook only till the Vepampoo Pachadi thickens, and to keep it runny. It thickens further upon cooling.

8. If the Vepampoo Pachadi gets too thick, add a little water and simmer for a minute or so.

9. If you are not planning on serving the Vepampoo Pachadi immediately, allow it to cool and then transfer to a clean, dry, air-tight bottle. The Pachadi can be stored refrigerated for at least 4-5 days.

10. Sesame oil aka nalla ennai works best in the making of this Vepampoo Pachadi. However, if you don’t have it, you can use any other variety of oil you prefer. Ghee can be used too.

11. Don’t over-fry the neem flowers, as this might cause the pachadi to get overly bitter. Just a few seconds of sauteing is enough, after which the flowers will cook further in the tamarind extract.

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

Pani Poori Recipe| How To Make Gol Gappa

Best wishes to everyone on the occasion of Holi, the festival of colours, which falls tomorrow! This Holi, how about treating your friends and family to a flavourful platter of Pani Poori?

There aren’t many people I know who can resist a plate of delicious pani poori. Call it paani poori, golgappa, lap chup, poori pakodi or puchka, it is the heart-throb of many. Today, I’m going to share with you all the recipe for Pani Poori, made the way I saw it being made on the streets of Ahmedabad, growing up, the way I still love it.

 

What is Pani Poori?


Pani Poori refers to a popular Indian street food, made with slight variations in different parts of the country. Small, hollow, deep-fried crisp pooris are first filled with a stuffing made using potatoes and black chickpeas (chana). In my version, the pooris are then topped up with two different types of pani or flavoured water – a sweet one made using tamarind and jaggery, the other one spicy, made from fresh mint, coriander, lemon and green chillies. The result is a burst of flavours, an absolute treat to the tastebuds.

The husband and I are huge chaat fans, and Pani Poori is one of our all-time favourites. I can make a meal out of it, any day, any time, while the husband loves it as an evening snack. I often make it at home, making a little extra so it doubles up as evening snack cum dinner.

A bit about Holi


Holi is a Hindu festival signifying the end of winter and the arrival of spring. It also signifies the victory of good over evil, the start of a happy period after a lean one. In most parts of India, Holi is celebrated by the lighting of a bonfire, song and dance, preparing various delicacies, meeting one’s loved ones, and throwing colours or coloured water on each other.

Thandai, gujiya, kanji vada, laddoo, halwa, kheer, dahi vada, mathri, gulab jamun, jalebi, imarti and nimki are some examples of foods traditionally prepared on the occasion of Holi. Modern-day Holi parties see several finger foods being served, along with these traditional delicacies.

This year, Holi celebrations have been dimmed on account of the Corona virus threat. However, I would like to suggest making something special at home to celebrate the day, and not letting fear dim the festival’s sparkle.

Pani Poori for #HoliOnMyPlate


I’m part of this group called Foodie Monday Blog Hop, where the members showcase recipes based on a predetermined theme every Monday. The theme this week is #HoliOnMyPlate, and all of us are sharing exciting dishes for you to make for the occasion!


If I were throwing a Holi bash, this delectable Pani Poori is something I would definitely include in the menu. Let me tell you how to go about making them!

How to make Pani Poori


Ingredients (for about 100 pieces, serves roughly 4-5 people):

1. About 100 store-bought pooris

For the spicy green paani:

  1. A big fistful of fresh mint leaves
  2. A big fistful of fresh coriander
  3. 4 green chillies or as per taste
  4. Juice of 1 lemon or as needed
  5. 3/4 teaspoon black salt
  6. Pani poori masala or chaat masala to taste

For the sweet tamarind paani:

  1. A big lemon-sized ball of tamarind
  2. 6-8 tablespoons of jaggery powder or as per taste
  3. 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder

For the aloo stuffing:

  1. 6 medium-sized potatoes
  2. 1 cup black chana, soaked overnight
  3. Salt to taste
  4. 1 teaspoon roasted cumin powder
  5. Pani poori masala or chaat masala to taste
  6. 2 tablespoons finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

We will first make preparations for the aloo stuffing.

1. Wash the potatoes thoroughly, removing any traces of mud from them.
2. Cut each potato into half, and transfer to a wide vessel. Add in enough fresh water to cover the potatoes fully.
3. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook for 4 whistles or till the potatoes are well cooked. Let the pressure release naturally.
4. Drain out all the water from the soaked black chana. Transfer them to a wide vessel, and add about 1/2 cup water.
5. Place the vessel with the black chana in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook for 4 whistles or till the chana are well cooked. Let the pressure release naturally.

Next, we will do the prep for the sweet tamarind water.

1. Soak the tamarind in a little boiling water for 15-20 minutes, for it to soften.
2. Let the tamarind cool down fully.

In the meantime, we will prepare the spicy green paani.

1. Add the mint leaves to a large mixer jar.
2. Chop the green chillies and coriander roughly. Add to the mixer jar as well.
3. Add a little water to the mixer jar. Grind the mint, chillies and coriander together to a fine paste. Transfer this to a large bowl.
4. To the bowl, add black salt, pani poori masala or chaat masala, lemon juice and 2 cups of water or as needed. Mix well.
5. Your spicy green paani is ready. You can chill it in the refrigerator till you are ready to serve the pani poori, or keep it at room temperature.

Next, we will start cooking the sweet tamarind paani.

1. When the soaked tamarind has fully cooled down, extract all the juice from it. You may add a little more water, bit by bit, to help in the process of extraction. Roughly, you should get about 1 cup of tamarind extract.
2. Take the tamarind extract in a heavy-bottomed pan. Place on high flame.
3. Cook for 3-4 minutes or till the raw smell of the tamarind goes away. Stir intermittently.
4. Add in the jaggery powder. Mix well. Turn the flame down to medium.
5. Cook on medium heat for 8-10 minutes or till the mixture starts to thicken. Switch off gas at this stage.
6. Mix in the roasted cumin powder. Allow the mixture to cool down fully.

Now, we will start preparing the aloo stuffing.

1. Get the pressure-cooked potatoes out. Discard the water they were cooked in. Allow them to cool down fully.
2. Get the black chana out of the cooker. Allow them to cool down fully. Do not discard the water they were cooked in.

We will now add the final touches to the sweet tamarind paani.

1. When the potatoes are cool, remove their skins. Take the peeled, cooked potatoes in a large bowl. Mash them roughly.
2. Add the cooked black chana to the bowl, along with the water the chana was cooked in.
3. Add salt to taste, pani poori masala or chaat masala, roasted cumin powder and finely chopped coriander.
4. Mix all the ingredients in the bowl well together, using your hands. Your aloo stuffing is ready. Allow it to rest at room temperature till you are ready to serve the Pani Poori.

Lastly, we will add the finishing touches to the sweet tamarind paani.

1. When the sweet tamarind mixture we prepared earlier has fully cooled down, add in 1-1/2 to 2 cups of water to dilute it, or as needed. Mix well.
2. Your sweet tamarind paani is ready. Keep it chilling in the refrigerator or at room temperature till you are ready to serve the pani poori.


How to serve the pani poori:

You can choose to allow your guests to assemble their own pani pooris or make them yourself, handing them over to the guests one by one.


In case of the former,
Give your guests the pooris, some of the aloo stuffing, some spicy green paani and sweet tamarind paani separately. Ask them to make their own pani pooris.


In case of the latter,
To make the pani pooris, make a small hole in one of the pooris and place some of the aloo stuffing inside it. Spoon some of the spicy green paani and sweet tamarind paani into the poori too. Place the prepared poori fully in your mouth, bite, chew and enjoy the explosion of flavours in your mouth! Prepare all the pani pooris the same way.

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

Vegetable Fried Rice| Chinese Fried Rice With Veggies

I’m here today to share with you all the recipe for Vegetable Fried Rice, Chinese-style rice cooked with various veggies.

The husband and I love Asian food in general, especially Chinese. I occasionally prepare Chinese fare at home, as always trying to make it as healthy as I can. This Vegetable Fried Rice is a hot family favourite.

Vegetable Fried Rice to usher in Chinese New Year

The Chinese New Year, this time around, falls on January 25, 2020. The Year of The Rat begins on this day, an animal that is believed to signify intelligence, peace and contentment.

For the Chinese, the start of the lunar new year means eight days of fun and celebrations – good food, bonding with family, shopping, dressing up, cleaning up of homes and exchanging gifts. They are very particular about the things they do and eat on New Year day, as it is said to set the tone for the entire year ahead. Family is of utmost importance to the Chinese, and new year celebrations are incomplete without big family feasts.

Noodles, dumplings, oranges and pomelos, stir-fried vegetables and meat, fish, spring rolls and glutinous rice cakes are some foods commonly consumed on Chinese New Year. Fried rice is one of the dishes served in family get-togethers, too, typically made using chicken, pork or other types of meat. Some parts of China, though, follow the practice of eating only vegetarian food on New Year’s day, to usher in peace and harmony in the coming year.

Do try out this Vegetable Fried Rice to celebrate Chinese New Year. Supremely delicious and full of flavour, I’m sure you will love it! It’s so very easy to prepare, too.

My version of Vegetable Fried Rice

The Vegetable Fried Rice recipe I share here is made with minimal oil and lots of vegetables. I make it with naturally fermented soya sauce, as well as some white vinegar. Apart from this, I do not add in ajinomoto or any other flavouring agents. The rice is also not loaded with sauces, as is commonly done in several Indian restaurants serving Chinese fare.

I’m not sure if this is the exact way Chinese families cook Vegetable Fried Rice, but I have learnt it having watched it being made on several TV shows, documentaries, and demonstrations in reputed Asian restaurants.

I will reiterate here that I’m not a huge fan of packaged sauces or processed ingredients. This Vegetable Fried Rice is an occasional treat in our house, thanks to the use of soya sauce and vinegar, and not something we regularly indulge in.

Celebrating Chinese New Year at Foodie Monday Blog Hop

This Vegetable Fried Rice recipe is brought to you in association with the Foodie Monday Blog Hop group that I’m part of. Every Monday, the bloggers in the group showcase recipes as per a pre-determined theme, which happens to be #ChineseNewYear this week.

Preethi of Preethi’s Cuisine suggested that we celebrate Chinese New Year virtually this Monday, to which the rest of us heartily agreed. Preethi is a very talented cook and blogger, with various vegetarian recipes from across the world on her blog. I’ve been eyeing her Greek-Style Potato Wedges, Shahi Tendli Masala and Achaari Matar Masala for quite some time now – can’t wait to try them out!

Vegetable Fried Rice recipe

Here’s how I make the fried rice.

Ingredients (serves 2-3):

To pressure cook:

1. 1 cup rice

2. 2-1/2 cups water

Veggies to prep:

1. 1 medium-sized onion

2. 2 small florets broccoli

3. 2 medium-sized carrots

4. 1 medium-sized capsicum

5. 2 large pieces of babycorn

6. 2 tablespoons green peas

7. 4 button mushrooms

8. 4-5 beans
9. A small piece of cabbage

Other ingredients:

1. 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil

2. A 1-inch piece of ginger
3. 5-6 cloves of garlic
4. Salt to taste
5. 1 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns or to taste
6. 2 tablespoons soya sauce or to taste
7. 3/4 tablespoon white vinegar or to taste
8. 1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh coriander

Method:

1. Wash the rice well under running water. Drain out all the water. Take the washed and drained rice in a large vessel, and add in 2-1/2 cups of water. Place the vessel in a pressure cooker. Pressure cook on high flame for 3 whistles. Let the pressure release naturally.

2. In the meanwhile, we will prep the veggies required to make the fried rice. Chop the onion lengthwise. Chop the broccoli small. Peel the carrot and chop finely. Chop the capsicum small and the babycorn into rounds. Cut the button mushrooms into large pieces. Remove the strings from the beans, and chop finely. Cut the cabbage into long strips. Keep the shelled green peas ready.

3. Peel the ginger and garlic cloves. Chop the ginger very finely. Pound the garlic cloves roughly, using a mortar and pestle.

4. When all the pressure from the cooker has gone down, get the cooked rice out. Place the cooked rice under the fan, and let it cool down fully. Now, fluff it up gently using a spoon.

5. Heat the oil in a large, heavy-bottomed pan. Add in all the veggies we prepped earlier, plus the finely chopped ginger and pounded garlic cloves. Add a bit of salt. Cook the veggies on high flame for about 2 minutes, or till they are cooked but still retain their crunch. Stir intermittently to prevent burning. If the veggies get too dry, you can sprinkle a bit of water over them.

6. Once the veggies are done, turn the flame down to low-medium. Add in the cooled and fluffed rice, salt to taste, coarsely crushed black peppercorns, soya sauce and white vinegar. Mix well, but gently.

7. Cook on low-medium heat for about a minute more, mixing up the ingredients gently. Switch off the gas when the ingredients are well combined together.

8. Now, mix in the finely chopped fresh coriander. Your Vegetable Fried Rice is now ready to serve. Serve it hot.

Tips & Tricks

1. I have used Sona Masoori rice here. For plain rice, I cook 1 cup of rice with 3-1/2 cups of water, on high flame for 4 whistles. For the Vegetable Fried Rice, since I needed well-cooked but slightly grainy rice, I cooked it with 2-1/2 cups of water for just 3 whistles.

2. Make sure the cooked rice has fully cooled down, before proceeding to fluff it up and make the Vegetable Fried Rice. If you have some cooked rice left over, you can use it instead, too.

3. You can use any vegetables of your choice. Make sure you cook them on high flame till they are cooked through, but still retain a bit of a crunch. Don’t overcook the veggies.

4. I used sesame oil to cook the Vegetable Fried Rice. You can use any type of oil you prefer, instead.

5. Use a large, heavy-bottomed pan to cook the Vegetable Fried Rice. Ensure that you do not overcrowd the pan with the veggies and rice.

6. You can use any variety of rice you prefer.

7. I usually pop a few tablespoons of black peppercorns into a small mixer jar, and coarsely crush them. I keep this ready for use in dishes like Vegetable Fried Rice, Ven Pongal, etc. I have used a teaspoon of this crushed black pepper here. You can use more or less pepper, as per personal taste preferences.

8. White pepper can be used in place of black pepper.

9. I use naturally fermented soya sauce by a Thai brand called Shoyu. You can use any variety of soya sauce you prefer instead, too.

10. Lemon juice can be used in the Vegetable Fried Rice, instead of vinegar. I prefer using white vinegar, as it gives the Vegetable Fried Rice a proper restaurant-type fragrance and taste. If you can get your hands on naturally brewed white vinegar, you can go ahead and use it. You may use any other variety of vinegar you prefer instead, too. Increase or decrease the quantity of vinegar you use, as per your taste preferences.

11. I like loading my fried rice with veggies. You may reduce the amount of veggies you use, if you so prefer.

12. Be careful while salting the Vegetable Fried Rice. The soya sauce we are using in it contains salt, too.

13. Typically, green onions or spring onions are used in Vegetable Fried Rice. However, I don’t use them since I’m not a big fan. I prefer garnishing the fried rice with finely chopped coriander, instead.

14. The key to a good Vegetable Fried Rice is non-sticky rice. Use a variety of rice that doesn’t clump together when cooked. Wash the rice well in running water before cooking, so that all the excess starch from it is removed. Make sure all the water is drained out from the rice before cooking. Cook the rice till it is done but still grainy, not mushy. The above ratio of rice and water and pressure cooking works perfectly for us.

15. Indo-Chinese versions of Vegetable Fried Rice are often made using a variety of sauces like Red Chilli Sauce, Green Chilli Sauce, Tomato Ketchup, and the likes. However, authentic Chinese-style fried rice uses only soya sauce, and that is the way I prepare it too.

16. Make sure you stir gently while cooking, so that the grains of rice do not break.

17. Some toasted sesame seeds can also be used to garnish the Vegetable Fried Rice.

18. A bit of sugar or jaggery powder added in, along with the sauces, enhances the taste of the fried rice even more.

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