Monday, March 05, 2012

Green Veggie Bhath / Spiced Rice with Green Veggies

Having browsed a significant number of blogs specializing in South Indian cuisine, I have come to the realization that rice dishes are very popular among us..Its probably got to do something with the fact that the southern states of India are the rice basins of the country as opposed to the northern states where wheat is primarily grown and hence consumed. Using up the previous day's extra rice before cooking up a fresh batch for the day's meals must have given rise to the idea of mixing up the rice with vegetables and various spices, thus creating a substantial lunch box item or a hearty brunch. (It should however be noted that in a lot of traditional households in India , in villages, especially, day old rice was not was probably fed to the cattle of the house - the Ayurvedic premise being that freshly cooked food is always the best !)
I would love to be able to serve freshly cooked dishes for every meal without having any leftovers, but in this day and age, when time is at a premium and help is not always available, its not always practical ! 
Anyway, this creation is a godsend to the cooks who need to come up with a lunch or dinner idea on the fly with minimal ingredients and minimal expenditure of time and energy. With a few frozen vegetables from the freezer and a few spices from the pantry, you can whip up a delicious and filling lunch or dinner. Pair it up with a yogurt based raita or even plain yogurt , Indian pickles and a papad or two (in my house, it means roasted papads , not fried :D ) and you have a nice spread for yourself and your family.
My kindergartener loves this dish and doesnt mind it for his lunch box. My hubby likes to take this for his lunch as well. It travels well, can be easily reheated and keeps its flavor well.


Green Veggie Bhath / Spiced Rice with Green Veggies
Serves 2 -3 

1.5 C mixed veggies (green beans , green bell pepper, zucchini, etc) diced
2 C rice , cooked and cooled - white or brown
1/2 onion chopped or thinly sliced
2 tsp oil
1 tsp fennel seeds
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 tsp mustard seeds
2 Tbsp raw peanuts / cashew nuts
1 tsp  red chile / paprika powder
1/4 tsp turmeric
1 tsp dhania - jeera powder ( coriander - cumin powder)
1 tsp garam masala
1 tsp salt (or to taste)
lemon juice
3 Tbsp cilantro leaves, chopped

Method : 
1. Heat the oil in a thick bottomed pan. Add the fennel, cumin and mustard seeds and the peanuts.
2. When the seeds start spluttering, add the onion and saute till the onions are soft.
3. Add all the spice powders and mix thoroughly with the onion.
4. Add the diced veggies, mix in the salt, sprinkle a little water and cook until the veggies are tender, yet not mushy. You can cover the pan to hasten the cooking process.
5. Add the cooled rice to the veggie mixture and mix well with a gentle hand. You dont want a lumpy rice and vegetable mixture !
6. Mix in the lemon juice, sprinkle the cilantro leaves and serve hot !

1. If serving to my kindergartner, I make sure that the vegetables are not too large. My son seems to have an aversion to big vegetable pieces, but he doesnt mind if they are diced small.
2. I generally use the red chile powder, but you could try green chiles for an interesting variation.
3. You can use a variety of vegetables instead of the ones used here. Use seasonal vegetables for a healthier option !

4. We are certainly not a fat free family, although I do strive to keep our fat intake optimal. I believe that we do need a certain amount of healthy fats to keep our system functioning smoothly. I have used 2 tsp of canola oil in this recipe. Feel free to substitute olive oil or coconut oil. Reduce it for a lower fat option, or saute the veggies and spices in water for an even lower fat option !


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