So here is the deal… I haven’t posted since October and that is pretty lame. I know. But I’m going to let that go and I hope you will too.
The truth is that I am a recovering perfectionist and I have five posts started as drafts and several other posts sitting in my head waiting for the “right” time. I’ve decided that I really don’t have the time nor the energy to deal with this perfection issue anymore. So guess what? You are getting a new post today in all it’s glorious imperfection because there is only one way to beat that system malfunction – plug forward through the muck anyway.
I’m working these days. Yes, a real “job” which requires me to be away from home at lunch time. I have been bringing these Trader Joe’s Vegetable Biryani frozen meals with me to work.
Here is why:
- They actually taste pretty good.
- They are a decent amount
- I don’t over eat when I bring this
- They are cheap $2.50
Here is why that’s weird for me to do:
- I love cooking.
- I love fresh veggies
- I like to soak my grains
- I don’t like microwaves
- I don’t like to eat out of plastic
- I prefer to eat organic food
So I got my act together and made my own Indian rice dish to bring with me to work. I made a BIG batch too (5x). I will still end up using the microwave but at least my food will be in glass and not plastic.
It all started last night. I rinsed the rice and then soaked it in filtered water made acidic with raw apple cider vinegar. I added a piece of kombu (seaweed) to the soaking liquid as well.
Some words about the kombu – people add this to the water when cooking grains and beans to increase the nutrient value. I add it to the pre-cooking soaking liquid too because it never hurts to have more nutrients.
Some words about soaking grains – Why do I soak my grains? In one word: antinutrients. There is so much to know on this subject and to be honest, I only have about 15% of the knowledge I would like to have in this area. I am researching all about this and plan to write a future imperfect post about it. For now, know this – soaking for at least 12 hours in acidic water is a good thing for grains and beans. Click here if you want more information NOW!
Last night I also soaked quinoa and millet. This leads me to some advice for novice grain soakers – reduce your cooking time. I now have quinoa and millet mush. That’s okay though, I’m going to make some bread with the quinoa and the mushy millet will make great millet patties.
Thankfully, I was careful with my timing on the rice and it cooked up perfectly.
The recipe that follows is a combination of a random recipe Al found to make perfect rice, a recipe for Indian rice and my own (and his) changes to the spices, different techniques and addition of veggies. It could take a 1.25 to 1.5 hours to make this unless you cook the rice at a different time. The rice alone takes up 45 minutes.
- 2 cup short, medium, or long-grain brown rice or basmati rice
Rinse 2 cups of (medium, or long-grain brown rice) or (basmati rice) in a strainer under cold running water for 30 seconds. Bring 12-16 cups water to a boil in a large pot with a tight-fitting lid over high heat. Add the rice, stir it once, and boil, uncovered, for 30 minutes. Pour the rice into a strainer over the sink. Let the rice drain for 10 seconds, then return it to the pot, off the heat. Cover the pot and set it aside to allow the rice to steam for 10 minutes. Uncover the rice, fluff with a fork, and season with salt if desired.
*Note: It may only take 15 to 20 minutes to cook the rice if you soaked it. Taste it and see. It should be mostly soft with just the slightest hint of hardness left when you remove from heat and strain.
- 2 cups of perfectly cooked rice
- 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
- 1 onion, diced
- 2 pods green cardamom
- 2 whole cloves
- 1 tablespoon cumin seed
- 1 (2 inch) piece cinnamon stick
- 2-3 inches of turmeric – sliced or diced
- 1/8 – 1/4 teaspoon cayenne or Indian chili powder
- 1 teaspoon salt, or to taste
- Vegetables of your choice I used: broccoli, cabbage and kale
- Mushrooms I have used: maitake or king trumpet
Place cooked rice into a bowl and set aside. Toast the cardamom pods and cloves in a dry skillet on medium-low heat until fragrant -stir occasionally to prevent burning. Remove and place on plate to cool. Open pods (bash with the handle of a knife) and remove seeds. Place seeds and cloves in a clean coffee grinder and grind. Alternatively you can use a mortor and pestal. Set aside.
Toast the cumin seed in a dry skillet on medium-low heat until fragrant – stir occasionally to prevent burning. Do not grind. Set aside.
Heat the oil in a large pot or saucepan over medium heat and add the onion to the pot. Sauté the onion until a rich golden brown, about 10 minutes.
When the onions have about two minutes left add the cinnamon stick, ground cardamom and cloves, toasted cumin seeds, turmeric and cayenne. Stir to mix well and stir a couple more times to mingle the spices with the onions. Oh yeah… It’s going to smell really amazingly good at this point!
Add the cooked rice, and stir into the pot. Cook and stir the rice for a few minutes, until well mixed. Add salt to taste.
While the rice is getting to know it’s onions and spices I cook the vegetables. Heat some oil in a skillet on medium high. Sauté the broccoli, mushrooms and any other “firm” vegetables you choose just until there is a bright color change. Add the cabbage and sauté for a couple of minutes stirring 2-3 times. Add this mixture and the chopped kale to the rice and blend well. The heat of the rice and veggies should “wilt” the kale greens perfectly.
Let stand for 5 minutes, then serve.
Some nice additions could be some cilantro sprinkled on top or green onions. Cashew nuts, chickpeas or tempeh could be some good protein additions.
I ate a bowl fresh for dinner, made two containers for work this week, one container for Al and I for lunch tomorrow and the rest I will portion out and freeze tomorrow. Now I will have a wonderful lunch made with fresh whole organic ingredients and love.