Rice Cooker Khichdi

I have become an incompetent speller: I can’t spell “khichdi” without first googling it, and then copying and pasting the spelling. Brain, wherefore art thou? Grad school, what have you done to me?

In times of desperation, I make this.

So far, I’ve made khichdi about 4 times this week. I make this only because a) it’s delicious and b) it’s laughably simple. Mrs Y. should credit me for my stroke of ingenuity.

Rice cooker Khichdi (one serving)

1/4 cup yellow dal/mansoor dal
1/4 cup rice
2 cups water (add more if needed)
Salt to taste
1 tsp Ground cumin
1 tsp Ground coriander powder
1/2 tsp Paprika
Handful of frozen vegetables

  1. Soak dal for 30 minutes before cooking
  2. Put rice, dal and 1.5 cups water in rice cooker
  3. Check the consistency after 10 minutes
  4. Towards the end of cooking, add in 0.5 cup more water. Add more for a dilute consistency.
  5. Add in the spices and frozen vegetables
  6. Let it sit for 5 minutes in “keep warm” mode.

The vegetables should cook quite quickly in the heat of the rice cooker. I typically use frozen broccoli or cauliflower, but feel free to add whatever you please.

Cheap, ridiculously easy – and healthy! –  food. Trust me, if a hapless grad student is capable of this, you can too!


Attempting to copy Mrs. Yeti’s Kichidi

I first learnt of kichidi while eating at Mrs Y.’s table. I can’t believe I never knew of this before!

Funny isn’t it, comfort food takes similar forms and evokes similar feelings despite which cuisine it originates from. I think an ill version of me would be just as happy eating kichidi as Chinese porridge. Well maybe say, 80% as happy. That’s still pretty close. A healthy me would also be happy because both taste pretty good. I happily ate mine with accompanying dishes while at Mrs Y’s, when I recreated this at home I was too hungry and ate it straight from the pot. Shh.

As much as I’d like to say this is Mrs Y’s original recipe, it isn’t. This is because she appears to make it very fast and when I tried to watch her one time I lost track.

Beauty is in the eye of the beholder


Adapted from Padhu’s Kitchen, changing a few ingredients and the rice:dhal ratio. 

I’ve also made this recipe with loads of ingredients missing and it still tasted pretty nice – I’ve marked those that I’ve tried it without. I’d suggest you don’t try making it so bare bones that all of the stuff is left out at the same time though

1/2 cup rice
1/2 cup dhal – I used the orange dhal
2 cups water – I used 1:2 for each of the rice and dhal so check what your rice and dhal packet says 

1 teasp mustard seeds – without is okay
1 teasp cumin seeds
1/4 teasp whole black pepper (or just black pepper if you don’t have it whole)
A few curry leaves – without is okay
A pinch of hing (asafoetida) – without is okay

1 onion, chopped
2 dried chillies – technically you should use one green chilli, chopped
4 cloves garlic, crushed
1/2 a thumb of ginger, chopped
1 tomato, chopped – original recipe doesn’t have this, but it is a nice option if you want it

1/4 teasp turmeric powder – without is okay
1 teasp chilli powder
1/2 teasp coriander powder – without is okay
1/4 teasp garam masala

Other utensils: pressure cooker or a lot of patience.

  1. Fry the mustard seeds and cumin seeds in a little oil over medium heat, until they start to dance. Then, add in the black pepper, curry leaves, and hing (if using). Give it a bit of a stir until it smells nice.
  2. Add the onion, cook until it goes a bit transparant and soft.
  3. Add the ginger, garlic, and dry/fresh chilli. Fry until fragrant. Add tomato and cook until soft if using.
  4. Add all the powders, give it a quick stir for a couple of seconds.
  5. Add the rice and dhal, and fry it until coated with oil. Add some salt to taste.
  6. Add the water, and close the lid on the pressure cooker. Cook on high for 9 minutes.  If you don’t a pressure cooker, close the lid on your pot and be prepared to wait around 20 minutes. Taste and salt as needed.

After that you can garnish with fried onions, or coriander, or a top-up garnish (see the original author’s link). I didn’t do any of these because I was already happy with the taste 🙂

More Indian food that I have destroyed: Baingan Bharta (and corrupted BB pasta)

I love Indian food (the authentic spicy type). Lets get that out there and make it clear.

But for some reason I don’t seem to have the same level of horror when I corrupt Indian food versus when I corrupt Chinese food. I seem perfectly happy to make “Indian pasta” but if feel like a total weirdo if someone tells me that a certain dish is “Chinese / Thai inspired” but is actually western. No, I don’t have an explanation. Yes, I am really very sorry.

With that in mind I was debating whether or not to post this recipe.

See, I have found that authentic baingan bharta tastes really good over pasta with a shake of parmesan cheese. This was a discovery made when trying to figure out what to do with my leftovers.

Please don’t judge me. The below is a recipe for a proper baingan bharta. If you want to corrupt it by putting it over pasta, at least do it with the leftovers rather than the fresh food. That way my conscience will remain clear.

Baingain BhartaCorrupted pasta version

Baingan Bharta (Roasted eggplant ..curry? Not really curry)

Adapted from Sanjeev Kapoor’s recipe

2 medium sized eggplants
2 medium sized tomatoes, chopped
1/2 a red onion, chopped
1 green chilli, chopped
1 teasp  ginger, chopped
1 teasp cumin seeds
1/2 teasp garam masala
1/2 teasp chilli powder
Salt to taste

Note: I’m really lazy and didn’t skin my eggplants, if you are a proper maker of Indian food and not-lazy then you should remove the skin of your eggplant before mashing it into the tomato mixture in the pan.

  1. Turn your oven (200-220 degrees C) or grill. Prick the eggplants all over and rub with a little oil, then leave them roasting for half an hour to 40 minutes. You might need to turn them halfway.
  2. Heat some oil in a pan. Over medium heat, fry the cumin seeds until they dance a little. Add the onion, and fry until the onion goes soft. Then add the ginger and green chilli, and fry for a bit longer until that’s cooked too.
  3. Add the tomato and continue frying until the tomato softens.
  4. Chop up the eggplant (I don’t bother skinning it), and throw the whole thing in the pan. Stir and mash until everything is well incorporated.
  5. Add the garam masala, chilli powder, and salt to taste. Cook a little longer so spices incorporate, then you’re done!

Raita is a Vegetable

Raita is what I make when I need a vege dish to go with my rice, and I don’t want to cook anything else. Yes, I know its a dip not a dish. No, I don’t care. I don’t care because when I have it in restaurants, I eat loads of it by itself with rice… so, I suppose that makes it a vegetable in my world.

Okay, come scold me now for my raita-mangling, I’m prepared for the onslaught!

This goes especially well with something spicy because the yoghurt and cucumber un-spicy-fies everything when your mouth has caught fire. That happens to me a lot, because I get a bit over excited with the chilli powder/dried chilli/chilli flakes/fresh chilli. I also often get it in my eyes, but it doesn’t help much for that. Don’t put raita on your face. Though people do use cucumber and yoghurt in face masks. Hm.

I suspect I’ve completely destroyed this recipe (as I seem to do with Indian recipes.. sorry). But I like it! It tasted good! So here’s the poor recipe I messed with if you want to meddle with Indian recipes too. I think I should probably call all my Indian recipes “Indian inspired” rather than “Indian”.

That’s it from me, I’m not feeling particularly inspired to write today. I suppose this is one of those posts which is more Lea-using-blog-as-recipe-binder rather than Lea-using-blog-as-excuse-to-ramble-weirdly-and-publicly. Everyone has those days right? A slice of cake and a cup of tea, and all will be well (and verbose) again. I’ll have a cup of tea now, actually.

Lea’s Mangled Raita

Taken from Niya’s World and abused. She didn’t have cucumber in it. I think it was meant to be a yoghurt dip. Oops.

1 cucumber, chopped
1/2 a tub of plain yoghurt – that’s about 200ml but a bit more or a bit less is fine
3 cloves of garlic
1/3 of a red onion – also an approximate measure, I had a big onion, if yours is small use a bit more
1/2 a teasp cumin seeds
A pinch of salt and a pinch of black pepper
A little chopped fresh coriander to garnish, if you have it (I didn’t)

  1. Chop the garlic and fry it in a little oil. Cheat like me and blitz it in the microwave (on high, in a mug or a ramekin) in a little oil for about 30 seconds. If you use a mug, you had better designate a garlic-mug, because it makes the mug smell like garlic :). Leave it sizzling on the countertop, it’ll go a nice golden brown after a minute or two.
  2. Fry the cumin seeds in a little oil, until they dance and start to smell nice. No cheating with this one, because you need to watch that they don’t burn. Sorry team lazy. If I figure out how long this takes in the microwave, and at what setting, you’ll be the first to know.
  3. Chop the cucumber into little chunks. Also chop the onion.
  4. Mix the yoghurt, onion, garlic (which has cooled a bit by now), cumin seeds, salt, pepper, and coriander (if you have it). Then, pour in the cucumbers and mix some more. Tadaa! Easy veg.

Why I Don’t Like Food Colouring, and Tandoori Prawn

Because it’s cheating. That was a simple answer wasn’t it? Well really, I have no problem with food colouring when food is intended to be coloured (like rainbow cake, which is awesome), but I feel that it’s somehow unfair to colour savoury food to make it more pretend-tasty than it is.

I don’t have a problem with mock-meat though. I actually quite like it. I suppose the thought process is that mock meat is a meant to be a trick rather than fresh food anyway, so anything that makes it more exciting is a plus point.

Anyway, the reason why this came up is because apparently, tandoori uses red food colouring. I did not know this. Naive me, thinking that the red comes from secret spices!

The happy ending to this story is that you don’t need to use food colouring to get the nice red colour on these tandoori prawns, you only need to add enough chilli powder. Not a problem, I like chilli powder.

What follows is a surprisingly easy recipe for a surprisingly tasty dish. Take it from someone who usually avoids tandoori in restaurants because I’ve never had one I liked – too dry every time. I only tried making this because I had something similar to tandoori chicken at Bel’s place a week or so ago. Actually it might have been tandoori, I should have asked. I didn’t think it was tandoori because it tasted too good. This didn’t taste the same (so is it tandoori? or not tandoori?), but it’s okay, as I’ve mentioned I’m not exactly the most authentic of kitchen-experimenters around here.
Tandoori Prawn

Based on Aaplemint’s recipe, with a few exclusions depending on what I had in the kitchen. Specifically, I swapped out cumin powder for cumin seeds, and didn’t use any tandoori masala (you’re supposed to use a teaspoonful).

200g prawns – that’s about 10 or 12 depending on how big your prawns are
3 tablesp yoghurt
3 cloves of garlic
1 knob of ginger, about 1cm long and not too thick – like your little finger
Juice of a small green lime
1.5 teasp cumin seeds
2-3 teasp chilli powder – I used closer to 3 teasp
A pinch of salt

  1. De-shell and de-vein the prawns, leaving the tail on. That’s so you have a convenient little handle to grab the prawn with.  I dumped mine in icy water afterwards while doing everything else, so that they would get nice and bouncy (restaurant tips!)
  2. Grate the garlic and ginger using the small holes on the grater (the one you use for parmasan cheese). Careful of your fingers, no one likes skin in their food.
  3. Dump all the other ingredients in a bowl with the garlic and ginger. Mix mix.
  4. Put the prawns in, and let them sit in the mixture for at least 2 hours, preferably. I’ll openly admit I only marinated for about half an hour and it turned out fine, but the taste is probably better if you marinate longer.
  5. Now I don’t have a grilling pan to finish it off, and I think it’d also work on a barbeque, but if you’re like me and don’t have any of these items….turn the oven on grill setting. Put the prawns in a non-stick baking tray and place the tray right up near the grilling elements. Wait about 5 minutes, until the prawns are a bit charred, then take them out and flip them over. Put them back in so that the other side gets charred too.

Exercises in Bribery and Rojak Pasembur

It’s said that the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach. Let’s just say that someone scored a double hot chocolate and macaroon afternoon tea for this little kitchen adventure. There is really nothing better than food for bribery, apologies, persuasion, and blackmail. Also, it was pretty good – and I don’t even like rojak pasembur (shock! horror!).

If you’re in Malaysia there’s probably no point making this, because you can just take a stroll down to your rojak-man to get one that tastes 5 times better. But for the overseas-and-deprived lot, I hope it makes your day a little spicier 🙂

Rojak Pasembur

Basic sauce recipe adapted from Kuali.com. To be truly authentic you should make the fritters too… I’ll save that for another day, it seems like a lot of work!

400g sweet potatoes
3 cups water
1/2 an onion (preferably red)
5-8 dry chillies
3-4 handfuls of peanuts
4 tablesp kicap manis
2cm knob of asam jawa / tamarind, squeezed into 3 tablesp warm water
Sugar and salt to taste

  1. Boil sweet potato until soft. (I boiled the normal potatoes with the sweet potato to save time)
  2. Blend onion and garlic in a chopper until roughly chopped. Stir fry in a wok until fragrant.
  3. Blend sweet potato, then add the sweet potato and water to the wok. Stir and bring to a low boil for 5 minutes.
  4. Add asam jawa liquid and stir well. Simmer for a few minutes.
  5. Dry fry peanuts and pulse in a chopper for about 10 seconds.
  6. Add peanuts and kicap manis. Taste, and add more kicap manis if necessary.
  7. Add sugar and salt to taste (I only needed a pinch of salt, no sugar).

Component Tasty Parts
1 cucumber, grated
2 handfuls, of beansprouts, washed and rinsed with boiling water through a sieve, before being rinsed with cold water
3 small potatoes, boiled and sliced
1 block of pressed tofu, sliced and fried (preferably taukwa)
1 handful, chopped coriander (optional)
2 handfuls, mixed seafood (preferably squid and prawn), fried in batter – I used a box of batter mix, and added a dash of white pepper, curry powder, and chilli powder

  1. To serve, separate out each of the finished components onto separate small bowls / places. Each person can choose what they like, before adding the sauce. Enjoy!

Counterfeit Indian Food

I really like Indian food but I can’t cook it for nuts. Ground nuts, pistachio nuts, cashew nuts, peanuts. I sound crazy now but I’m just trying to tell you how sad this makes me. Imagine, me, a confused Chinese-English girl in continental Europe, and the one thing I craved most for a whole semester in university was banana leaf.

Specifically, banana leaf from Nirwana Maju in Bangsar, with the crunchy oily snake gourd in batter, and loads of pickle and salted dried chillies.

I suspect I may have some underlying identity issues.

A friend (with amazing cooking skills) taught me this recipe, while I was in London watching her cook. And then I forgot it. And then I scoured the internet to try and find something even half close, which was really quite difficult. And then a certain Mr. B.Foot told me that it needs to have mustard seeds in it, else, why would you even do this? And so, here you go.

I don’t vouch for its authenticity, but it is one of my favourite cauliflower dishes, and I don’t usually like cauliflower that much. The person that taught me the original recipe was  Indian, does that count?

If you actually know how to cook Indian food, feel free to have a good laugh at how I’ve traumatised a self-respecting cauliflower. And send me your grandmother’s recipe so I can have a go at humiliating another poor vegetable 😀

Dry Fry Cauliflower 

1 head of cauliflower
1 teasp of mustard seeds
2 teasp of  cumin seeds
1 teasp of  chilli powder (or 2 dried chillies)
1/2 teasp turmeric powder
1/4 teasp coriander powder
Salt & pepper to taste

Fresh coriander, to garnish (optional)

  1. Separate the cauliflower into florets, preferably by hand. This is supposed to make it taste better but I don’t remember why. I just find it fun to pluck the bits off by hand.
  2. Add a tablespoon of oil to a wok on low heat. Chuck in the mustard seeds, cumin seeds, and chilli. Wait for them to dance *wiggle wiggle*. They will also get more fragrant
    You need to believe me on this, they really will dance. And you should dance with them! Try playing ZeeTV* in the background to set the mood.  But careful not to burn them, if you burn the cumin seeds it’ll taste weird. When the seeds darken slightly to a golden brown to a then it’s about done, if you wait until they are dark brown they’re burnt.
  3. Add the cauliflower and stir to mix all the spices in thoroughly. Season with salt and pepper to your taste.
  4. Add the remaining turmeric and coriander powder. Mix mix!
  5. Taste…add more salt or chilli powder if you need to. According to me, it’s done when the cauliflower is still a bit crisp in the middle and slightly crunchy on the outside, because I like my vege underdone. If you over cook it, then the whole dish will become soggy. Though some people like that 🙂

*A channel on Singapore TV that shows Indian movies of all sorts all day all night.