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7 Apr

4 easy-to-prepare meals for people who don’t cook

If you’ve never cooked before, worry not! Here are some recipes that you can try, especially if you are a novice in the kitchen

‘What to cook today?’ The oh-so eternal question faced by everyone who’s had to cook their meals. For those of you who are lost in the kitchen, Chef Amit Puri shares a few recipes that can be prepared with easily available ingredients from your pantry.

BIRCHER MUESLI

This classic breakfast recipe is all about assembly with no cooking required. With a few basic ingredients, which can be easily sourced, this breakfast champion is packed with protein and flavour. The assembly of this recipe is done in two simple steps. The first involves soaking the oats overnight. In the second step, soaked oats are mixed with the remaining ingredients the next morning.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 150 grams oats
  • 400 ml milk
  • Juice of 1 orange
  • Juice of 3 limes
  • 1 green or red apple, cored and grated with the skin
  • 2 ripe bananas, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons mixed nuts (pistachios/ walnuts/ almonds/ Brazilian nuts)
  • 2 tablespoons dried raisons or cranberries
  • 2 tablespoons mixed seeds (sunflower/ flax/ pumpkin)
  • 350 grams fresh yogurt
  • 2 tablespoon honey

Method

In a large bowl, combine the oats, milk, orange juice and lemon juice. Mix the ingredients well and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator. The following morning, add the grated apple, chopped bananas, dried nuts, mixed seeds and dry fruits and mix them well. Spoon the muesli into smaller bowls and add yogurt and honey according to taste.

KHICHDI

Khichdis are one-pot wonders and the ultimate comfort food. In about 30 minutes, raw vegetables, rice and lentils come together beautifully to create a burst of flavours.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 1 teaspoon cumin seeds
  • 4-5 dry red chillies
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, chopped
  • 1 medium green chilli, chopped
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon asafoetida
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 medium carrot, chopped and boiled
  • 1 cup vegetables, chopped (cauliflower, green peas, carrots, broccoli)
  • 1 teaspoon cumin powder
  • 1 teaspoon coriander powder
  • 1 teaspoon chilli powder
  • 1 ½ teaspoon salt
  • 2 cups rice, soaked for 2 hours
  • 1 ½ cups dal (moong and tur), soaked for 2 hours
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • 2 tablespoons fresh coriander, chopped

Method

Heat ghee in a pressure cooker. Add the cumin seeds and allow them to splutter. To this, add the red chillies and sauté the ingredients. Add ginger, garlic and green chillies, and sauté for a couple of minutes. Add curry leaves and asafoetida. Add the onions and sauté them until translucent. Add in mixed vegetables and dry masalas. Let it cook for a few minutes. Drain the water from the soaked rice and lentils. Add the lentils and rice to the pressure cooker, pour in a litre of water and cover with lid. Pressure cook on medium low heat for two whistles. Switch off the flame and allow the pressure to release gradually on its own. Once this is done, open the lid and garnish the khichdi with lime juice and chopped coriander. Serve along with papad and pickle.

PEPPERY LEMONGRASS RASAM

Preparing rasam might seem laborious, but once you get the hang of it, it will soon become your go-to dish. Rasam is a staple dish of South Indian cuisine and is commonly served with plain rice, but can also be consumed as soup.

Ingredients (serves 4)

For the rasam

  • 1 cup tamarind water
  • ½ cup pigeon pea lentil, cleaned and soaked for ½ hour
  • 2 kaffir lime leaves, bruised
  • 2 medium lemongrass stalks, lightly pounded
  • 1 tablespoon salt
  • 1 tablespoon crushed black pepper

For tempering the rasam

  • 2 tablespoons ghee
  • 2 teaspoons mustard seeds
  • 2 sprigs curry leaves
  • 1 teaspoon turmeric
  • ½ teaspoon asafoetida

Method

Soak half a cup of tamarind in two cups of hot water until it becomes soft. Strain and keep the water and tamarind pulp aside for later use. Discard the residue. To prepare the dal water, add half a cup pigeon pea lentil with two cups of water into the pressure cooker for about 3-4 whistles. Transfer the water in a bowl and use as required. Add the tamarind pulp and dal water in a saucepan. Crush the kaffir lime leaves by hand and lightly beat the lemongrass stalks with a rolling pin. Add them to the tamarind pulp and dal water, let it simmer for the flavours to infuse. Season the rasam with salt and pepper. Meanwhile, heat ghee in another pan and add mustard seeds, curry leaves, turmeric and asafoetida. Mix well and add the tempering to the rasam. Simmer for 10-12 minutes. Serve the rasam in a kullad (clay pot).

Tip: Do not boil the rasam; the key to a delicious tasty rasam is in its slow cooking.

KALE AGLIO E OLIO

Of all the pastas, this is by far the easiest one to make. Despite the use of few ingredients, the pasta draws its flavour from olive oil, garlic and fresh herbs, all of which are easily available.

Ingredients (serves 4)

  • 600 grams of cooked penne (150 grams per head)
  • 1 cup olive oil
  • ½ cup large garlic cloves, sliced finely
  • 2 tablespoons chilli flakes
  • ½ cup parsley, chopped
  • ½ cup basil, roughly torn with hands
  • 2 tablespoons fresh oregano, chopped
  • 2 cups shredded kale leaves
  • Juice of 2 limes
  • 1 cup parmesan cheese
  • Salt and crushed black pepper

Method

Boil the pasta and keep it aside. In a pan, add olive oil (do not turn the heat on at this point). While the oil is still at room temperature, add garlic and turn the heat to low. Allow the oil to heat gradually and cook the garlic slowly. The key here is to infuse the oil with garlic as slowly as you can and not brown the garlic too quickly. Once the garlic is cooked and starts turning brown, turn the heat off and add chilli flakes and mixed herbs, stirring continuously, not browning or burning the herbs. Add the kale leaves along with the boiled pasta and stir. The heat from the pan and garlic oil should be enough to cook the kale leaves right through. Serve the pasta topped with parmesan cheese, seasoning, lime and garlic bread.

 

Photos by iStock

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Irene Fernandes / [email protected]
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