Mallugirl has thrown a challenge to prepare meals that take just 10-30 minutes from start to finish. Ten minute meals will naturally have to rely on processed foods or some amount of pre-prep. But 30 minutes is long enough to put together something decent from scratch. With the trusted pressure cooker, and a 3-4 burner stove, there are many meals you can put on the table in that much time.
For me it is deciding what to cook that is the hard part. Once that’s done, it’s all easy from there. In fact, I think most of my everyday cooking falls within that average of 30 minutes of active time (check the under-30-minute category).
Some planning goes a long way in making short work of kitchen time. The ability to multi-task or to at least keep an eye on more than one thing at a time, is a big plus.
On most days I plan the meal while fixing my morning tea. Since schools have reopened this happens early; at around 7:00 am (that’s early in my book) I am sitting down with my cuppa after having packed off the son to school with fresh paranthas and subzi (from previous night’s dinner) in his lunch-box.
When I used to work away from home, this was the time I started the veggie preparation. The subzi would cook while I finished the tea and the morning papers. Now that I work from home, the lunch subzi is prepared around noon when I get up to make myself some tea. You’d think I couldn’t function properly without that cup in one hand, but you’d be wrong. I just like the whole deal about making tea and then taking a sip now and then, as you busy yourself with other things.
I will ‘do’ the tadka and throw in the veggies (prepped) while I wait for the water for the tea to boil. If I’m on my own (that is, without maid – TH will rarely offer to help) then the vegetable prep happens at the same time, and the rice gets soaked if it’s going to be part of lunch. The dal gets soaked earlier, when I visit the kitchen for a glass of water or something.
Because of all this parallel activity, I will over-brew my tea occasionally. I also take time over my tea – and it has cooled off completely by the time I get to the bottom. (Bee, are you counting? Seven random things meme…it’s all here). By then lunch is usually ready.
This week I hope to put before you a few of these everyday menus from my kitchen. Keeping the story short, let’s get to work.
Today’s menu (farewell dinner before my father-in-law caught the late night flight; he’s now reached distant shores for an extended visit with TH’s brother):
Greek Yoghurt Salad
Papad (Lijjat Masala)
Pickle of choice
Dessert: (it was a farewell, of course, there was dessert): choice of two ice creams (store-bought) – Butterscotch, and Vanilla with Nirula’s Hot Chocolate Fudge sauce, garnished with toasted cashew bits
The entire meal can be prepared in 25-30 minutes, with parallel activities. Here’s a step-by-step…
Prep time: 6-10 minutes
Cooking time: 20 (while you do other things)
Matar Pulav (Peas Pulao)
2 C basmati rice
4 C water
1 onion, chopped as shown
1 ½ C frozen peas
¾ C green beans, top and tail, string, and chopped as shown
¾ t cumin seeds
a few peppercorns
a few pieces of cinnamon
1 t salt
2 t oil
1 t ghee
Clocking 0-10 min:
[First things first – put some water to boil for a cup of tea.]
Pick over and wash 2 C rice in two changes of water. Drain and set aside.
Beat the yoghurt with a wire whisk till smooth. Pound the garlic to a pulp and add to the yoghurt. Add the lime juice. Refrigerate.
Prepare the veggies for the pulao. You can use vegetables of choice such as, carrots, cauliflower, broccoli, tomatoes; even from a bag of mixed frozen vegetables. Thaw frozen vegetables in the microwave.
[The water is boiling by now; turn the heat off, add tea leaves to the pan and let steep for a couple of minutes – or longer, if you’re like me and prone to forgetfulness]
Peel and slice the cucumber. Put in a colander to drain.
Clocking 11-15 min:
Heat the oil and ghee in a heavy bottom pan. Add the whole spices. Stir till aromatic, about 30 seconds. Add the sliced onions, and fry over medium heat till lightly browned (about 3-4 min), stirring all the time. Add the drained rice and stir for a minute. Add the 4 cups of water, salt, and the chopped vegetables – I used chopped green beans and (frozen) peas. Increase the heat to high. [Somewhere here find the time to strain tea into your favourite cup, add sugar and a spot of milk if desired, and enjoy a sip now and then and revel in being the domestic God/Goddess you truly are]
Bring to boil. Stir, and cover. Reduce heat to medium. Let cook 2-3 minutes, give a good stir to mix the peas that are floating on top into the cooking rice.
(Cover with a tight fitting lid, turn the heat down to low and cook for 10 min. Turn the heat off. Let stand 10 min before serving.)
While the rice is cooking, take out a few papads and cook in the microwave. The small thin urad-dal masala papads I was using take a minute (four at a time): zap 30 sec, flip (so that inner ends are now on the outer edge), zap another 30 sec.
While the papads are roasting, rinse out the cucumber in cold water. Drain, and add to the chilled garlic-flavoured yoghurt. Sprinkle with freshly cracked pepper and mix.
[Savour the last of your tea while the rice rests and ask TH or the son to lay the table remembering to take out some of that lovely pickle everyone has made this season.]
If the rice was soaked earlier, before the clock started ticking, you can have the meal on the table (including the resting time for rice) in 25 minutes.
Tomorrow look out for:
Arbi ki subzi
With roti, salad, and achar