Friday, May 27, 2011

Pulau Basmati Rice (Nepali Rice)

I was recently introduced to, which is a great website by Sanjay Thumma with great Indian recipes, as well as ones from other countries in the region. His videos are very helpful and are a wonderful resource for people wanting to learn more about cooking Indian cuisine. 

Biryani is a layered meat/sauce and basmati rice dish that is baked and becomes so flavorful. I have been wanting to make this dish for some time,  but I had some leftover cooked chicken that I was trying to use up, which did not seem to fit with a biryani dish. So when I can across the Pulau recipe, it was just what I was looking for. Sanjay's version did not have any meat included, but I added the chopped cooked chicken with the other ingredients in the rice to make a more complete meal. I also added some cardamom seeds and cumin seeds and some leftover chopped canned tomatoes with lime and chipotle flavor. So the link to Sanjay's original Pulau Basmati Rice is What follows is my adaptation of his recipe. Because I used brown basmati rice, the cooking time was longer and I had a little difficulty getting the grains on top to completely cook, despite adding extra water. I love the flavor of brown basmati rice and it is full of nutrition, but the only place I found it was at the local Indian grocery store. If you use this, just be aware that it takes longer to soak and cook.


1 medium-large onion, chopped
1-2 Tbsp oil
3/4 tsp whole cumin seeds
3 whole cardamom pods
2 whole cloves
1 bay leaf
1 large (approximately 4 inch) cinnamon stick, or a couple smaller ones
1/3 cup mixture golden and dark raisins
1/2 cup cashews, broken or pieces are alright to use
1 1/2 cup basmati rice
1 tsp salt
2 chicken bouillon cubes
2 1/4- 2 1/2 cups water
1 cup chopped cooked chicken (had already been cooked previously with fajita seasonings)
1/2 cup chopped canned tomatoes with lime and chipotle

Soak rice in a bowl covered with water for about 30 minutes, draining it in a fine mesh strainer and then soaking in fresh water after about 15 minutes. In a large pot, sauté onions and oil, adding in the other spices and stirring together. As the onions are becoming translucent, add in the raisins. Drain the rice and put into the onion mixture. Add salt and continue to stir around in the frying pan for a couple minutes. You may need to add another Tbsp of oil at this time. Then, if using some canned tomatoes, put them in the measuring cup first, then add the necessary amount of water to equal the total amount needed. (Start with the lesser amount first, and add more if necessary after rice has cooked about half the time). Add all the liquids to the rice mixture, as well as the chicken, chicken bouillon and nuts. Stir well and bring to a boil and make sure the bouillon cubes have dissolved. Cover and reduce heat to a simmer for about 20-30 minutes. Give the rice a good stir after about 12 minutes and if much of the liquid has dissolved and the rice that was on top is still not very soft, then you may add about 1/4 cup water. Cover and finish cooking for another 15 minutes or until rice seems soft but not mushy. 

To serve, remove bay leaf and other whole spices (cloves, cardamom and cinnamon). The cumin seeds are very small and do not need to be removed. Serve on a platter and garnish with chopped cilantro, if desired. It is also wonderful accompanied by the Indian breads- either naan or paratha, warmed in a skillet and spread with a little butter. I have shown both the naan (the white colored flatbread) and the paratha (the darker colored wheat flatbread) in the picture above. We enjoy using the bread to scoop up rice and take bites of both together.

Traditionally, pulau would be only one part of the meal. In addition to this, some of the other foods one might serve include some Indian pickles, raita (cucumber and yogurt mixture) or some vegetables cooked with some spices and served on the side. I also love to have a mixed greens salad with this dish for some added nutrition.

Friday, May 20, 2011

Quick Corned Beef , Cabbage and Potato Soup

Cooking with kids- for me, two words= stressful and stretching. However, I realize it is necessary for them to learn skills in the kitchen and it will also help them learn to try foods more readily if they are participants in the preparation and cooking process. So this is our latest family cooking activity retold for your entertainment.

This recipe was truly a work of the entire family! Even my husband got involved and offered some suggestions, which he rarely does. Anyways, my 9 year old son decided in the afternoon that he was going to treat me to a "gourmet soup". He has taken quite an interest in making food (mostly soups) since I started this blog. However, usually he starts chopping some carrots and celery and then wants to abandon ship for something else that has caught his attention. He decided previously that he is not going to be cutting up onions again anytime soon-- after he made a couple slices in one and immediately developed watery eyes and could not find any goggles to cover his eyes adequately. So with this in mind and the fact that I have been quite ill with a severe sinus infection and sore throat for quite some time, I really did not feel like going through this process again with him right now.

Suffice it to say, he went ahead and pulled out some carrots and started cleaning and chopping them while I was trying to rest. Later he came to me and told me of his progress and informed me that he could not find  anything else to put in the soup. By the time my husband came home from work, our son was again thinking about what he could use- putting lettuce in the soup was vetoed. As I looked through the fridge and saw we had some cabbage, my husband offered the idea that a cabbage and potato soup with carrots would be good. So as I tried to convince my son that this would be a good direction to go in with the soup, he pulled out some corned beef luncheon meat that I had picked up at the discount grocery the previous week. So we all were able to brainstorm and come up with things to pull together a tasty soup, and were we ever surprised at how good this soup turned out!!

Our son was so thrilled at being able to "make" the soup (admittedly with a little help from mom), and our 4 year old daughter was happy she was able to help chop up some of the vegetables.  While I am a bit of a control-freak and nit-picky about messes in the kitchen, it is a good feeling to be able to make something with one's children and see everyone enjoy the fruits of the group's efforts.


1 large onion, chopped
4-5 medium-large potatoes, chopped
1 cup carrots, peeled (if needed) and chopped
2-3 celery stalks, chopped (we did not have them for this recipe)
1/4 medium head of cabbage, sliced or small chunks
10 oz. sliced corned beef, cut into pieces
8 cups water
4 chicken bouillon cubes
3 beef bouillon cubes
1 palmful of  Herbes de Provence
1 tsp ground nutmeg
2 tsp seasoned salt (I use adobo with pepper or cumin), or to taste
fresh parsley or cilantro, chopped for garnish if desired

Combine all the prepared ingredients into a large soup pot and add the water, bouillon cubes and seasonings. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 30-40 minutes or until the vegetables are cooked and soft. Serve with some buttered toast, garlic bread or other type of bread.

Note: Herbes de Provence is a mixture of herbs that you can find in most any grocery store. I just purchased some from Penzey's herbs online. It is a wonderful blend of rosemary, thyme, fennel, basil, lavender, oregano, savory, marjoram and some include sage, chervil, dill and tarragon. The Penzey's brand seems to contain the largest variety of spices I have seen together. This is a wonderful blend for using in many dishes and is well worth keeping on hand. It goes wonderful with eggs, potatoes, chicken, vegetables, fish, stews or soups, as I found with this experiment.


Sunday, May 15, 2011

Banana Nut Cake

I love just about anything with bananas. Bananas are a powerhouse of vitamins and health benefits, including protecting us from heart disease, keeping bones strong, helping our eyesight, may help protect our kidneys, aid in digestion/elimination/prevention of ulcers, and the list just keeps going on. So I am loving the fact that I can eat this moist and yummy banana cake and feel good about it. I cut back on some of the sugar, which works fine especially if you use very ripe bananas. ....and the nuts, that is a whole 'nother topic of health benefits. The last time I made this recipe, I added a couple spices and ate it without any icing- it was perfect just the way it was.


1/2 cup oil (I use olive oil)
2 cups flour (I also used part wheat & part white flour)
1 cup brown sugar
1/2 cup granulated sugar
3 bananas, mashed (about 3/4 cup- I sometimes use up to 1 cup and just bake a little longer, if needed)
3 large eggs
1 tsp baking soda
1 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
2/3 c. nuts
3/4 cup buttermilk
1/2 tsp cinnamon (optional)
1 tsp ground cardamom (optional)
2 1/2 tsp vanilla (optional)

Cream oil and eggs with sugar in a large bowl. Add in mashed bananas, vanilla and buttermilk. Sift together the dry ingredients and then add into the wet ingredients. Mix together well and pour into a greased and floured 9x13 inch cake pan (or use the nifty Baker's Joy nonstick spray mixed with flour from the can).

Bake at 375 degrees for 30-40 minutes or just until toothpick or sharp knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Eat it as is after it has cooled, or sprinkle with powdered sugar or whipped cream before serving, or it is also great with a cream cheese frosting.

This recipe could be made into a layer cake with icing if you cut the 9x13 inch cake in half down the middle. Then put a thin layer of icing between the 2 halves, set the other half on top and then put icing all over the cake. It makes a tall square layered cake.

This cake stays very moist for a long time and the flavor improves with time.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Fried Egg Sandwich

Did I mention before how much I love eggs? We love them so much at our house, with the exception of my 4 year old daughter. She informed me the other day when I was trying to get her to eat some- "Mommy, I just don't lub eggs." (Everything about her is either loved or not loved, no in-betweens!) Well, I will keep working on her until she joins the rank of egg-lovers in our home.

Meanwhile, I have also been having a dilemma regarding my camera. You see, I lost it right before Easter- just before we left to visit family out of town, along with a few lovely photos I was hoping to share with everyone. The camera still has not surfaced, and I am anxiously awaiting a new camera's arrival and hope to put it to use immediately. In the meantime, I am trying to use our original digital camera from years ago. Bear with this less-than perfect picture, but I just wanted to share one of my husband's and my favorite egg sandwich, which we use as a quick breakfast, lunch or even supper if I don't feel like making much. I grew up eating these prepared by my mom for breakfast or brunch. It has a few unusual ingredients, which you can leave out if you are not inclined to try them. However, when my husband first tried this, he was pleasantly surprised at how well the flavors went together.


eggs- 1 or 2 per person
bread or rolls
mayonnaise or salad dressing
dill pickle slices
cheese of choice
sliced onion

Fry eggs in skillet- I usually make them with the yolk still runny and pop it so the juice comes out. This keeps the sandwich from being so runny. However, make them any way you like the eggs. After the egg is cooked, remove skillet from heat and lay a slice of cheese over the 1 or 2 eggs for each individual sandwich. Cover with a lid to melt the cheese. Meanwhile, start the bread toasting, and prepare the other sandwich ingredients. After the bread is lightly toasted, spread with some mayonnaise or dressing, a little ketchup (or more if you like), and layer the other ingredients on the bread. Remove the egg/cheese and place on the sandwich. Finish the sandwich by covering with the other part or slice of the bread. Cut in half, if desired, and then it is ready to serve.

How do you eat your egg sandwich?