May 25, 2014

Mushroom Keema Pulao

As most of my regular readers know, rice is a staple in the RRC household. Whether it is steamed brown rice with stir-fried veggies, or white basmati rice with red beans or lentils, or black rice in summer salads!! I'm a rice freak :) !!! Today's recipe was inspired by my need to use a package of mushrooms and my 5 year old son's lack of desire to eat anything that looks like a mushroom. 

Prep Time: 30 min

Ingredients (Serves 4):
  1. 1 cup Basmati Rice
  2. 2 cups Water
  3. 1 Small Red Onion 
  4. 10 oz White or Cremini Mushrooms
  5. 1 tbsp Cumin Seeds
  6. Salt, to taste
Rinse the rice well in several changes of fresh tap water (until the water runs clean) and set aside. Using a food processor fitted with an S-blade, finely mince the red onion. Transfer to a heavy lidded pot such as a Le Creuset French Oven (I use a 5.5qt pot). Saute the onions on Medium high heat until beginning to golden brown. Add occasional splashes of water anytime the onions begin the stick to the bottom of the pot. Using the same food processor, finely mince the mushrooms (stems included) to the consistency of fine mince-meat (also called keema). Once the onion is golden brown, add mushrooms, mix well and saute for another few minutes with occasional splashes of water to prevent sticking. After about 5 minutes, add cumin seeds and saute until aromatic (about 2-3 min). Add rice, salt, water and mix well. Turn heat to high, allow the water to come to a boil and then reduce heat to Medium-Low, and cover the pot, with just a slit at one end to allow minimal escape of steam. Cook rice until tender (about 10-12 min) at this temperature. Once rice is bite-tender, cover the pot completely, turn off the stove and let sit for 10 min. These 10 minutes, called 'dum' are critical in making or breaking a pilaf!! The word, derived from Persian, means "steam cooked" ... where any residual water in the pot converts to steam under the heavy lid and allows any last remnants of rice to cook to their optimal tenderness. This method also allows for absorption of any excess water in the pot and makes for a fluffier rice pulao. Serve hot, with your favorite curry. 

Note: I called this dish 'Keema Pulao' because the minced mushrooms do take on the look and texture of a minced-meat pilaf. Overall, it was a hit with my 5 year old and a hit with my 45 year old as well :)

Nutrition Facts: Calories 197 (Fat Calories 8)
Total Fat 0.8 g; Carbohydrates 41.6 g; Fiber 1.8 g; Sugars 2.0 g; Protein 5.9 g

If you liked this recipe, be sure to check out my Recipe Index for more Whole-Food, Plant-Based, No-Added-Oil recipes. You can also like Rugrat Chow! on Facebook. Thanks!

Cardamom Almond Semolina

Happy Sunday!!! I started out my day dreaming of a breakfast dish my mom used to make when we were growing up. "Sooji" or Breakfast Semolina, made as a sweet creamy pudding in milk, or as a savory dry concoction with vegetables and spices is a favorite whole-grain breakfast food across many households. I personally liked it much better when it was made as a thick sweet pudding. That is what I tried to mimic today, with my own #WFPBNO twist to it ... i.e. I didn't use any oil or fat and used plant-based almond milk instead of dairy. 

This dish uses coarse semolina. In the United States, coarser meal coming from softer types of wheat is known also as farina. Also, in the United States, this kind of semolina is sold under the trade name Cream of Wheat. I buy my semolina from the Indian market in town so it has a more authentic flavor. Also, semolina from India is often specked with golden and brown spots, versus Cream of Wheat which is almost a pure white in color.

Prep Time: 20 min

Ingredients (Serves 2):
  1. 0.5 cup Coarse Whole Wheat Semolina
  2. 1 cup Unsweetened Almond milk 
  3. 2 tbsp Raisins
  4. 2 tbsp Slivered Almonds
  5. 2 tbsp Chia seeds
  6. 0.5 tsp Ground Cardamom
  7. 2-4 tsp Brown Sugar (optional)
Dry roast the semolina in a non-stick pan, on medium to medium-low heat until it is golden brown and aromatic (it will smoke a little as it gets almost done, so watch to make sure you don't char it). Traditionally this is done with ghee (clarified butter) but I've found that dry roasting works just as well and has no effect whatsoever on the overall taste of the dish. When the semolina is almost done, add the almonds, raisins and cardamom seed powder. Skip the nuts if you're allergic or looking for a low-fat dish. I personally consume nuts and seeds so add both to my diet occasionally. If you wish to use cinnamon, feel free to substitute it at this time. You can also sprinkle both at the end but I find that dry roasting the flavorings makes for a more even flavor in the dish.  In just a couple of minutes, the raisins will plump up.
In the dry roasting pan!
At this point, add the almond milk. As the semolina is pretty hot so the almond milk will immediately simmer and boil so be careful. Reduce heat to low and allow everything to simmer for a few minutes. The semolina will lose some of its golden brown color and plump up with the addition of liquid. Simmer for a couple of minutes, add chia seeds at the very end (if desired), mix and dish out into 2 bowls. Serve with a splash of almond milk and little dollops of brown sugar (if desired for additional sweetness). Enjoy!!

Note: As I noted above, you can flavor this dish with whatever your favorite flavors are, cinnamon and maple syrup will work just as well as cardamom and brown sugar. If you're skipping the nuts and seeds, feel free to add dried fruits instead, or even top off with fresh bananas or berries. Once the basic semolina is ready, it can be easily adapted to your tastes.

Note: Next time you have some free time, dry roast a large batch of semolina until golden brown. Allow to cool and transfer to a well-sealed tupperware container. This stays in the freezer for several months. When ready to prepare the dish, heat up the semolina and add raisins .. moving forward from that step and Voila!! .. your overall cooking time is down to around 5-8 minutes.

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving, without added sugar): Calories 272 (Fat Calories 69)
Total Fat 7.7 g; Carbohydrates 43.7 g; Fiber 6.8 g; Sugars 5.6 g; Protein 9.7 g

Nutrition Facts (Per Serving, without nuts or seeds): Calories 193 (Fat Calories 12)
Total Fat 1.3 g; Carbohydrates 38.7 g; Fiber 2.3 g; Sugars 5.4 g; Protein 6.1 g

If you liked this recipe, be sure to check out my Recipe Index for more Whole-Food, Plant-Based, No-Added-Oil recipes. You can also like Rugrat Chow! on Facebook. Thanks!