Friday, February 25, 2011

Mixed Vegetable Curry

One of the most redeeming lessons being a graduate student and being in America has been about money. 2 years ago, I didn't have a job and the feminist in me became stingier (I've always been stingy) by the day before I asked A for money. Being a graduate student and paying through my nose without a loan has brought out the stereotypical inner South Indian in me (My rather bindaas about money and generous parents will be horrified) and I think 100 times before doing anything. And the tree hugger in me, of course, wants to buy only food that is 'good' for the body and the world. Unfortunately, these two factors clash in my life right now and I'm forced to be stingy all over again. To this dilemma, let's add a no sugar, most of the times no polished carbohydrates diet and watch the fun unfold.

It has truly been fun - this past year. Customizing food, cooking quick-fix meal, making cakes with honey and applesauce, eating mostly vegetables, eggs, beans (God bless them!), Dals or lentils, fruits at almost every meal has made me way fitter and way more determined to stick to my diet. I tweeted a couple of days ago how my comfort food has moved from Dal-Chawal or Curd rice with pickle to a quick roasted vegetables or quinoa with dal or veggies on top. I do indulge once in a while. Wednesdays are bad days for me. I come home at 9 PM after a rather exhausting day. It's no fun in the cold at least. And I don't take to hunger that well. Earlier, during such times, I'd come home to eat a tortilla while I was cooking or make rice and gobble it up with some curd. Nothing more comforting for a Tamilian :) Nowadays, thanks to my diet, I'm way more creative. I end up using canned beans or frozen veggies on Wednesdays and quickly make myself a meal. Last Wednesday, I made this curry. It was really quick and absolutely lickable, dare I say so myself. This doesn't even require a recipe considering this blog's followers, but this is for all those Twitter friends of mine who tweet every night about food :)


2 small Potatoes - sliced lengthwise
1 carrot - peeled and cut lengthwise
1/2 an onion
1 Jalapeno/Green Chilli, chopped
Any other random vegetable - I didn't have anything else!
1 tsp Kalonji (Substitute with Jeera/Cumin seeds)
2-3 tsp Garam Masala
1 tsp Cayenne Pepper (Chilli powder)
1 tsp turmeric (I didn't use it because I didn't have any!)
2-3 tbsp water
1-1.5 tbsp oil
Salt to taste

1. Heat oil, add the Kalonji or Jeera. Let it splutter. Add the onions and jalapeno or green chillies

2. Let it cook for 2-3 mins, add the potatoes, sprinkle some water and close and let cook for 7-10mins. Thinner the slices of the potato, the better it is.

3. Add carrots to this mixture and the rest of the spices, some more water IF the mixture is dry and let it close to let it cook.

4. Once they are partially cooked, take the lid off and let it cook for a good 5-7 mins. Stir if you think it's getting burned.

Voila! It's done. The spice level may be high for some people. I love spicy, hot food and so, the cayenne pepper, the Garam Masala and the chilli. You can adjust it accord to your preference. The quantity should be enough for one really hungry person or two people who behave decently when there is food around!

I didn't pay much attention to this curry. I throw one ingredient, wash the vessels lying in the sink or clean up. On this day, I made rotis along with the curry and that kept me occupied. One can think of a 101 vegetables to add to this mixture. Adding cabbage or beans, peas or bell peppers could work brilliantly. Or, even peanuts for the crunch factor. If you are the type to use the Microwave which I admit I have become, you can zap the potato or carrots in the microwave for a quick 3-4 mins before adding to the onions on gas. You can add some coconut milk to make this a gravy or some tomato sauce. I ate a satisfying meal that night - yogurt sprinkled with some Garam Masala (friend's care package again!) and rotis and this curry. The pictures certainly may not scream, 'make me now.' But then, this blog hasn't been about that at all. So, this is all I can manage in the kitchen I have with yellow lights with a camera whose battery is dying as I click and a grumbling stomach at 9.30 PM on a weeknight :)

Sometimes, I'm so exhausted, just the thought of cooking when I have assignments and deadlines to catch up with tires me. Like this time, I didn't think I was going to make rotis. I thought I'd stuff my tortillas (I always have a pack of Whole Wheat tortillas in my fridge and readymade Rotis just in case) and top it with some cheese or an egg and make a meal out of it. But when I started working on the vegetables, new energy took over and I cleaned the kitchen, made rotis and washed vessels - all by the time this sabzi was ready to eat. Cooking meals like this everyday in order to keep to my resolution of not buying food to eat has made me feel more productive and I feel better at the end of every week. Twitter friends help me a lot in this regard. Every night, someone posts about the #dinner they're eating or they want to eat. And I end up thinking how I can't skip a meal or how I can't eat crap. I feel responsible. I feel responsible as a food blogger who is aware of the positive effects of food and cooking, as a person who believes earnestly that good food makes me and this world better. Then, I cook for myself. It isn't as bad. It is emotionally tough sometimes, but it is liberating most of the time.

Try cooking yourself a meal today. It doesn't have to be as fancy as we food bloggers make it out to be sometimes. It doesn't have to involve a lot of money or eating out. It could be something as soul satisfying as a bowl of dal or a curry made in 15 mins in a pressure cooker. If I can do it, you can do it. There's no one lazier than me and I've been spoiled all my life with adoring grandmothers, fantastic room-mates who didn't let me enter the kitchen, a mother who got interested in cooking for our sake, a food and cooking crazy husband and a chef of a mother-in- law.

Cook something. Eat well. You will help yourself and without knowing, this world that we live in.


Anonymous said...

wonderful, I shall try on one of those days when I come back crazy hungry! :)


Manisha said...

Love all the positive thoughts in this post! I also love that your blog is about real food rather than good looking food. I am so proud of you for making all these changes in your lifestyle. Now just tell me you are drinking enough water, ok?

Yogurt with garam masala? Some helluva secret garam masala, that!

raja said...

Nandu, wonderful to see you add something to your blog - I can imagine how busy you must be nowadays and how difficult it must be for you to find time for anything other than your studies.

Thoroughly enjoyed reading this - not just because of the dish/recipe itself (more on that later) but because of the lovely way in which you describe the circumstances which led to your decision to make this. There is this element of reality and groundedness that you bring to your writing which makes it so much more readable.

Now about the dish itself, you will be surprised to know :-) that this is something I've tried!!! And a lot! Ok, of late, I'm avoiding potatoes so I'm going with other vegetables but the rest of it works just fine with everything. The important thing I found (early on) is that because different vegetables cook at different temperatures, you need to throw them into the pan accordingly (or pre-cook them). I know this is cooking 101 but I learnt it all the hard way. :-)

Also, though your readers are surely much smarter than I am, it would be nice if you could specify whether it should be cooked on slow/medium/high flame (I usually always cook on medium).

Arch said...

Good girl N, proud of you ! Very inspiring...keep it up...

Priya said...

Wat a inpsiring post, beautiful vegetable curry..

Nandini Vishwanath said...

@Arch: Thank you :) I want to be able to!

@Raja Mama: Yay! you're cooking, and that's good to hear. I don't use that many potatoes either. Potatoes are my emergency, ghar mein kuch aur nahin sabzi. And sometimes, they are my Wednesday sabzi. A potato is better than thair saadam or chocolate cake :)

I will surely talk about what flame you should cook at, from the next time. And yes, while writing this, I felt reallyl good :) and I guess that came through.

@Manisha: Thank you. Means a lot coming from you. That Garam Masala is my secret weapon :D

@Saranya: Really hope you cook everyday :) I could help you everyday with recipes like this!

Avantika said...

I love this! So true, everything you said about being an Indian student in the US who's having a crazy semester. I wish I could go the healthy way too! Much love!

kellypea said...

I'm wincing over memories of my own grad school days with two kids in tow and teaching full time. Ugh! So cheers to you for reconstructing your diet! I'm not sure I would have been able to pull that off. This dish reminds me of something I made not too long ago with cauliflower and potatoes minus the "heat" which I know I would love. YUM! Way to be resourceful and thrifty.

Sasha said...

Love to try this recipe.Looks deliciously good.

Carla said...

Great dish for family on the go! So simple yet nutritiuos. Great for home-cooking too.

Chitra said...

I too make this but a bit diff. Urs is looking yum.

Anonymous said...

love your blog,your recipes and your sense of humor..keep going.

Sanyukta Gour(Bayes) said...

First time here..u hv a wonderful space with mouthwatering recipes n pics...
Visit mine as time permits...
And this looks so yummy n filling..