Indian One Pot Wonder: Kee Khitcheree

This aromatic Kee Khitcheree is made with a combination of yellow mung bean (yellow split peas), rice, and lentils (my favorite legume). If you’re looking for an easy Indian dish, this is it. There are a number of optional exotic ingredients, but with a few key spices you can make an outstanding Kee Khitcheree.

Feel free to experiment with your favorite veggies and the water proportions. I generally prefer a thicker, porridge consistency version of this dish, but you can add more water to make it more soup like, as featured in this Huffington Post recipe for Birbal Kitcheree.

The second best part: You only need one (very large) pot! And, most of the core ingredients used here are not too exotic- you should be able to find most of them in your local grocery store (or your pantry!). This recipe is a great way to dip your toe into Indian cuisine.The best part: the first bite of this flavorful, healthy dish chock full of veggies and spices.

Kitcheree Yum!

Indian One Pot Wonder: Kee Khitcheree

Time: 50 minutes, 20 minutes prep, 30 minutes cook
Servings: 6-8

Ingredients

1 1/2 cup split yellow mung beans (moong dal), picked over, rinsed and drained (you can also use yellow split peas)
1 1/2 cup lentils, picked over, rinsed and drained
1 cup basmati or jasmine rice

1/4 cup ghee, butter or canola oil
dried whole chilies or chili flakes, to tasteKee Khitcheree Spices

2 tsp cumin seeds
3-4 bay leaves
8-12 whole cloves
6-10 black peppercorns
1/2 tablespoon turmeric (more if desired)
1/8 tsp asafetida (optional)More Kitcheree Spices (alternatively spelled Asafoetida)
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 tsp garam masala

2 medium onions, sliced into short thick pieces
5-8 cloves garlic, chopped
1 jalapeno, diced (seeded if desired)
3-4 red potatoes, washed, diced into small chunks (optional)
1 medium zucchini or squash, diced (optional)
1 green or red bell pepper, diced (optional)
1 broccoli stalk, sliced (optional)
Broccoli florets, chopped (optional)

6-8 cups water
1 tsp garam masala

Salt to taste when serving

Special Tools: Food processor (optional), Large stock pot with a lid

What To Do

Soak the beans, lentils and rice in a medium bowl in cold water for twenty minutes (they should be covered with water). Drain off the water and set off to the side.

The Trifecta: Rice Lentils & Mung Beans

While this is soaking, prepare the veggies. You can chop off some prep time by using a food processor to slice the veggies (see what I did there? haha). Quarter the onion, then chop into thick slices- as below.

Kitcheree Onions

In a large stock pot, heat the oil, chili flakes (no dried chilis in my apartment!), cumin seeds, bay leaves, cloves, peppercorns, turmeric, garam masala and asafetida (optional) over medium heat.

Kitcheree Spice in the Pot

Mix to distribute evenly and cook for a couple minutes.

Goopy Spice Mixture- Kitcheree

Add the prepared veggies and stir with a heavy spoon to coat with the spice mixture. Place the lid on the pot and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally.

Veggies Ahoy!

The first time I made this with onions, broccoli stalk and jalapenos, and the second time with onions, zucchini, potatoes, garlic and bell pepper. Both were very good! Experiment to see what combinations you like the best.

Stir it up baby!

Scoop in the lentils, mung beans and rice to the veggie medley and mix with your heavy spoon.Add the Lentils, Rice and Mung Beanz

Turn up the heat to high, pour in the water (6 cups for thicker porridge consistency and 7-8 cups for a soup-like consistency) and 1 tsp garam masala and slowly stir to combine. Cover with the lid until the khitcheere begins to boil, then turn down the heat to low.

Kitcheree Water and Garam Masala

Simmer for twenty minutes or so, stirring occasionally, until the lentils and rice are tender and the mung beans are chewy (they will be firmer than the lentils and rice). For a thicker, porridge-like consistency, let the khitcheree simmer until the water is completely absorbed but the mixture is still moist.

Kee Khitcheree- Ready to Eat!

Add salt if desired or with each individual portion. Serve hot with pickled jalapenos or chutney and naan or pita bread.

Rustic Cornmeal & Roasted Vegetable Tart

Pack in the veggies for your next meal with this tasty Roasted Vegetable Tart served in a crispy cornmeal crust.

I made this dish for a potluck at a friend’s house, and I am happy to tell you that this compact dish travels well and can be prepared ahead of time and reheated at your final destination.

Vegetable Tart in Cornmeal Crust

Vegetable Tart with Cornmeal Crust

Adapted from The Food You Crave by Ellie Krieger.

Time: 80 minutes, 20 min prep & 60 min cook
Servings: 8 wedges

Ingredients

Crust
2/3 cup yellow cornmeal
1/2 cup whole grain flour or wheat flour
1/4 tsp salt
2 tbsp plain low-fat yogurt
2 tbsp canola or vegetable oil
3-5 tbsp water

Veggie Filling
2 tbsp + 1 tsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
1/3 cup thinly sliced red onion (or shallots, about 2)
3-4 garlic cloves, thinly sliced (or more if desired)
Assorted sliced vegetables (about 1/8 inch thick)
– Eggplant
– Zucchini
– Yellow Squash
– Ripe tomatoes
– Fresh (preferred) or frozen spinach, thawed and drained
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
Dried Oregano (optional)

3/4 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese (approx. 3 oz.)
1/4 cup shredded  or ripped fresh basil (or 2-3 heaping tablespoons dried basil)
1/4 cup grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese

Non-stick spray
Aluminum foil and uncooked rice/beans/lentils or pie weights

Special Tools: Food processor, 9 inch tart pan (or pie plate), pie weights (optional), parchment paper (optional)

What To Do

Preheat the oven to 350 F.

Crust:
In the food processor, pulse the cornmeal, flour and salt until mixed.

Tart- Dry Ingredients in Food Processor

Pour in the yogurt and oil and pulse 15-20 times. The mixture should resemble tiny pebbles.

Tart- Yogurt & Oil          Tart- Pulsing the Dough

Add a couple tablespoons of water and pulse again until the cornmeal mix starts to come together in a dough. If it looks too dry, add more water, 1 tbsp at a time and pulse after each addition.

Tart- Pulsing 2          Tart- Pulsing 3

Spray a tart pan or pie plate with non-stick spray. Take the dough out of the food processor and press with your fingertips into the tart pan or pie plate. Be sure to cover the sides of the tart/pie plate as well.

Tart Pan Dough
Cut a piece of aluminum foil large enough to cover the tart/pie plate and press against the bottom and sides of the crust. Pour enough uncooked rice/beans/lentils (or use pie weights) to weigh the crust down, about 1 1/2-2 cups.

The crust is well protected from alien mind probes...

Place the tart on a baking sheet and bake for 10-12 minutes. Remove the pie weights and cook for another 5-6 minutes. Remove the tart crust from the oven and cool.

Increase the temperature to 400 F.

Sliced OnionsSliced GarlicSliced Zucchini

Veggie Filling:
Sautee the garlic and onions or scallions in 1 tsp EVOO over medium heat. Cook for 6 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat when the onions are soft.

Put some of the sliced veggies into a plastic resealable bag. Pour about 1 tablespoon of the EVOO into the bag, seal, and shake to coat the veggies with the oil. Spread the sliced veggies on two prepared baking sheets (coated with non-stick spray or lined with parchment paper for easy clean up). Repeat with the rest of the veggies until all are coated with oil and spread on the pans.

Veggies on the Pan

Sprinkle the salt &  pepper on top. Roast for around 20 minutes, until the veggies are tender but not burned. Cool the veggies enough to handle.

Thawing Spinach AKA Swamp Monster

If you are using frozen spinach, you’ll need to thaw it while the veggies are roasting. Place the frozen spinach in a large bowl and cover with hot, just below boiling, water. Let  it sit, stirring occasionally to break it apart into pieces. As the water cools down, drain off and replace with hot water. When the spinach has thawed completely, drain in with a fine mesh colander and set aside for the tart assembly.

Note: I made this dish with frozen spinach the first time, and I would recommend using fresh baby spinach instead. The frozen spinach was a bit tougher and harder to handle.

Decrease the temperature to 350 F. Put a layer of the roasted veggies into the bottom of the tart crust, then sprinkle with the mozzarella (1/4 to 1/3 of the total) and fresh basil. Lightly sprinkle on the dried oregano if using. Repeat the layering process until the veggies are gone, ending with the tomatoes or pepper arranged in a visually pleasing manner. Sprinkle freshly grated Parmesan or Pecorino Romano cheese on top.

Veggie Tart Assembly

Bake the tart for around 30 minutes until the cheese is melted and the vegetables have warmed all the way through.

Cool for a couple minutes, then slice into 8-10 pieces. Serve warm, with additional grated cheese if desired (yes, please!).

Hot Veggie Tart!

What I’m Reading: Moosewood Restaurant New Classics: 350 Recipes for Homestyle Favorites and Everyday Feasts

My trips to the library make me feel like a kid in a candy store (Or more like: the little girl watching Disney’s Beauty and the Beast for the first time, awestruck at the huge library with floor to ceiling books and ladders on wheels– that is my dream library!!). Once I get started in one of my favorite sections (cooking, social history or crime novels), I tend to walk out of there with anywhere from 5 (if I’ve behaved) to 10 books or more. Luckily, libraries are free, if I remember to return or renew on time, and we have an awesome library system where I live.

Moosewood Restaurant New Classics is the second Moosewood book I’ve checked out, and it’s every bit as good as the previous one. Moosewood is a natural foods restaurant catering to vegetarians and vegans, and they put out a new cook book every few years. If you don’t eat vegetarian food on a regular basis, their food will blow your mind. Healthy– yes, but also creative, tasty and satisfying. And, carnivores can add meat to most dishes if they like.

My criteria for purchasing a cookbook are as follows: 

1. Is it available in the library? If yes, check it out! (This is pretty much my first step, I tend to avoid purchasing cookbooks in stores on impulse without researching first… I don’t have enough shelf space to do this anymore).

2. Are there at least ten recipes that I want to make? If yes, I mark those with sticky notes for future reference.

3. Did I make 3-5 of the recipes that I wanted to make, time permitting? Did I like how the food turned out?

4. If I answer yes to #2 and #3, then I look for the book on Amazon.com and either add it to my cart or my wishlist for a future purchase or gift.

If there’s only one or two recipes that I like, I’ll write those down on a notepad and return the book to the library.

So- here’s what I want to make in this book (that I haven’t already made):

Asparagus with Red Pepper Sauce
Bulghur with Caramelized Onions
Roasted Pepper & Onion Wrap
Green Olive & Artichoke Tapenade
Israeli Couscous & French Green Lentils
Orecchiette with Butter Beans
Middle Eastern Lentils and Pasta
Apple Onion Cheese Gratin
Caramelized Onion Tart
Pine Nut Pasta Cavalfiore
Presto! Chocolate Cake with Chocolate Raspberry Glaze (I’m making this for my roommate after Lent!)

Here’s what I’ve made so far:

Roasted Caramelized Balsamic Onions (Yes, this is every bit as good as it sounds, and no I didn’t take any pictures– we ate them all! One of the few recipes that I used butter for)
Baked Ziti with Roasted Peppers (Yum yum yum)
Pumpkin Cornmeal Biscuits (pretty alright; a nice change of pace from the usual biscuit)
Pumpkin Muffins (threw some chocolate chips in these– very tasty!)
Curried Lentil Dip (great served with veggies or even as a sauce for other dishes-like Khitcheree).

5 recipes made is pretty good for me, especially when I have four other cookbooks I’m reading simultaneously… though this one is definitely one of my favs.

All in all, a great book, with helpful information about food- types of beans, seaweed, etc. and ordering information for some of the more exotic or hard to find items interspersed throughout the text. I will be very sad when I have to return this book… I may just have to make it a permanent member of my collection.

 

Note: the author of this blog has no affiliation with Moosewood or the publisher, and received no compensation for this post.

Lentil Dip with Curry, Apples & Coconut

This recipe was inspired by flipping through the Moosewood cookbook that I checked out from the library and it instantly caught my eye – Lentils? Yes, please! Curry? Yes! Garam Masala? Yes yes yes. Coconut milk? Hmmm… Haven’t tried that yet. I am intrigued. (That was my inner dialogue as I read through the book, aka talking to my self).

Apparently, this dip can be healthy if you use reduced-fat coconut milk or apple juice. I wanted to use coconut milk because I’ve never cooked with it but all I could find was the regular, full fat version. I used Thai Kitchen, as it was recommended and doesn’t have preservatives.

This is Curried Lentil Dip, Not a Moldy BroccoliCurried Lentil Dip

Adapted from the Moosewood Cooks recipe.

Time: 30 min
Servings: makes 4 cups of dip

Ingredients

1 cup red lentils
2 1/2 cups water
1 tbsp vegetable oil or EVOO
1 cup diced onions
1 3/4 cups peeled, cored and diced apples
3 garlic cloves, minced
3 tsp curry powder
2 tsp garam masala
1/4 cup reduced-fat coconut milk (or apple juice, or yogurt)
2 tbsp fresh lemon juice
salt to taste

Special Tools: food processor or blender

What To Do

Heat the water and lentils in a medium sized pot until the water boils.

Red Lentils

Then, simmer the lentils for about 20 minutes, until the lentils are mushy and the water is absorbed. They will look like this:

Lentils Mushy Mush

Meanwhile, saute the chopped onions, apples and garlic in the oil in a pan on medium heat for 5-6 minutes.

The apple never falls far from the tree....

Those are the chopped apples.

Measure out your curry and garam masala…

Curry & Garam Masala

Apple-Onion-Curry-Garam Masala

And stir them into the apple and onions and continue cooking for an additional 10 minutes. The apples and onions should be soft.

Be sure to coat the apples and onions evenly in the spices.

Lentils Apples Onions Coconut Milk in Food Processor

Puree the cooked lentils, apples and onions with the coconut milk (or apple juice or yogurt) and lemon juice.

Coconut Milk

P.S. Did you know that coconut milk is solid at room temperature?

P.P.S. I’m thinking of subbing low-fat yogurt instead of the coconut milk next time I make this… It will give that creamy texture but I use it more regularly in my cooking so it won’t sit in my fridge forever…

I now have 3/4 of a can of coconut milk to use up… I may just try to make my first real curry!

Raw Veggies

Taste to see if the dip needs any additional seasoning. You can eat this chilled or at room temperature– both are great! Serve with bread, crackers, chips or sliced raw veggies- I tried this with broccoli, carrots and broccoli stalks. Delicious! I also used this as a condiment with a mung bean & lentil dal dish (khitcheree– no, I can’t pronounce that) that I made (I promise to post about that soon!)- excellent!

Curried Lentil Dip

Happy munching!

Baked Kale Chips

These kale chips are great as a garnish on a soup or a tasty, healthy snack to munch on (just don’t overdo it with the EVOO & salt). Raw kale has loads of beta carotene, iron and vitamins A, C & K so I’m looking for more ways to incorporate this into our diet. But really, when vegetables taste this good, it’s easy to find a reason!

Baked Kale

Baked Kale Chips

Time: 25 min (5 min prep, 20 min bake)
Servings: 4 (or less if you eat them all in one sitting like we did…)

Ingredients

1 or more bunch kale, preferably the curly leaf version, like Scots Kale
3-5 Tbsp Olive Oil (I used Extra Virgin Olive Oil, aka EVOO)
3-5 Balsamic vinegar (optional)
Sea or flaked salt
Fresh ground pepper

Special Tools: Gallon sized plastic resealable bag, baking or parchment paper (optional)

What To Do

Preheat the oven to 350 Degrees F.

Wash and drain the kale leaves.

Hail to the Kale

Roughly chop the kale into bite sized pieces, cutting off the stalks at the end. I recommend toasting with a glass of scotch before hacking away (just kidding). If you find that some of your stalks are too thick, just pull or chop the leaves right off the stalk as I did with the stalk on the right above.

Kale in a bag

Place the kale pieces into the plastic bag and pour the EVOO & balsamic vinegar into the bag. Seal tightly (double check!) and shake the bag around until the leaves are evenly coated. I’ve found that this method coats the leaves more evenly with less oil, keeping the fat and calorie content down.

Line a large baking sheet with the baking/parchment paper or spray with non-stick spray.

Spread the kale pieces evenly on the pan in a thin layer.

Sprinkle a pinch of salt and grind some pepper on the kale.

Bake for 20-25 minutes, or until crispy. Turn the pieces with tongs or a spatula about halfway in, after 15 minutes, to ensure that all of the pieces are evenly cooked and crunchy.

When the kale chips look done, take them out and toss in a bowl with a final sprinkle of salt and ground pepper.

Kale as a Garnish

Serve hot.