Pilafs, pulaos, pulau, mixed rice dishes – many names for a delicious technique for smartening up a plain grain (usually rice) to use as a flavoursome side dish. It can be simple – just a few spices added – or a complex layering of flavours. They are usually without a dressing although they are sometimes topped with a dollop of yoghurt. Today we bring you a collection of our favourite pilaf recipes.
Horse Gram is highly nutritious and in fact we have fallen in love with its earthy taste. We love that the lentils hold their shape even when cooked really well – it makes them so perfect for salads.
You can make herby salads with horse gram, with loads of chopped soft herbs, lemon and garlic. Or use them as a base for Wintery roasted vegetables. Mix them with feta, onion, tomato and radish. Today we make a kosumalli style salad with the lentils.
Kosumalli is usually a light and refreshing salad. This salad is great in transitional seasons or Winter, or on cooler Summer days. It is REALLY good, and we hope you enjoy it.
Read more about Horse Gram (aka Kulthi Bean). It is easily purchased in Indian shops.
Horse gram is much loved in South India as a particularly healthy lentil. One easy way to cook and serve these elongated brown skinned beans is to make thoran (Upperi in Malabar). Thoran is a dish from Kerala where vegetables, lentils, beans or sprouts are sauteed with spices and perhaps coconut, for a special side dish or Indian salad style dish. There are several ways to make a thoran with horse gram:
- with or without coconut – either way is good. Many people prefer to add coconut as horse gram is considered a hot pulse and coconut helps to moderate the heat.
- cooked until al dente tender, so the beans remain separated, or cooked until the beans are very tender and beginning to break down – either way is good.
- made as a dry dish, or as a dish with a little gravy from the cooking water.
Generally we make our thorans with coconut so for variety we make this one without.
Read more about Horse Gram (aks Kulthi Bean). It is easily purchased in Indian shops.
There is a quick and easy Batata Poha that I make – the flattened rice flakes mixed with herbs and fried potatoes, yum! This recipe is no more difficult, still quick and easy, very similar to the recipe that Tim and Saun gave me – just a few extra spices. It includes onions, steamed potatoes and peas, cashews and peanuts, coconut and warming spices. It is a light dish that is eaten for breakfast or tiffin snacks. It is perfect just with a cuppa. It can also be served for brunch, lunch or a light dinner – add some coconut chutney or a bowl of yoghurt for a quick,light and delicious meal. It can be packed into lunch boxes, taken on picnics or taken on trips as travel food. We love poha and have nearly a dozen recipes that use it.
Take note that this is made with the thick poha – poha is steamed and rolled/flattened rice – make sure that you buy poha and not puffed rice. When you visit your Indian grocery you will see that Poha comes in different thicknesses – Nylon (very thin and crisp), Paper, Thin, Medium, Thick and Dagdi (thick and chewy). There is also poha made from red rice and brown rice as well as white rice. The thicker types are soaked before use.
Both Matki sprouts and Horse Gram sprouts are highly nutritious, and fairly easy to sprout if you are careful. For these sprouts, I prefer to wrap the soaked lentils/beans in muslin cloth and place in a dark cupboard for 24 – 48 hours, sprinkling with water occasionally.
One way of using the Matki sprouts is to make Misal – a gravy based dish that is often eaten with bread but can be served with rice. The matki sprouts don’t take as long to cook as the horse gram sprouts do – under 15 mins to be soft but with a little texture still. Just how I like it.
Freekeh is so freakin’ good. If you are not familiar with Freekeh, it is a cereal grain made by roasting and cracking immature and soft green wheat. The wheat is parched, roasted, dried and rubbed. It’s an ancient Arabian/North African food that has become trendy to eat in some places. It has an almost smoky, nutty taste and beautiful chewy texture.
Freekeh is easy to cook. Melt a tablespoon of olive oil with a little butter in a pan, toast 1 cup freekeh and add 350ml water. Bring to a boil, cover, turn the heat to very low and let the freekeh steam about 20 to 25 minutes until plumped and tender.
How to Use Freekeh
This grain is all about texture and flavour. Use as you would other grains and rice in such things as pilafs, soups, stuffings and salads. Add it to your next congee. It is also a great Winter alternative for breakfast, either as a hot cereal or as a parfait that’s layered with yoghurt and fruit. It can also be used as an alternative to rice, quinoa, farro, barley and other hearty grains.
Freekeh is also wonderful in stuffings to fill vine leafs, roasted capsicum or rolled slices of grilled eggplant. Or use some in scrumptious veggie burgers. It is wonderful as a base for summer salads; add your pick of cherry tomatoes, olives, grilled vegetables, feta, shallots, and anything else at hand, and dress with a light vinaigrette. It loves a citrusy or mustardy dressing.
Freekeh actually has more goodness than quinoa yet has not achieved the same levels of popularity. It has lots of health benefits including loads of protein and fibre.
Walnuts are often available in the local shops still in their shell, and they are delicious eaten this way. I will let you into a little secret – I crack their shell with my heavy pestle from the Chinese mortar and pestle set. Knocking this heavy object around the seam of the walnut does the trick!
I have collected together some recipes that feature walnuts, just for you. From hot to cold dishes, sweet to savoury, for seasons from Summer to Winter and back again. Sit back and enjoy them!
This is a dish that is made in Spring in Malta and the Middle East with fresh broad beans. For the rest of the year it is made with dried broad beans. There are two types of dried broad beans (generally called dried Fava beans). The first, commonly available here, are large, darker coloured beans. Huge, really. They are not peeled, so require soaking and peeling before cooking. Despite the work, I do love the intense earthy flavour of these large beans.
The second type is a more delicate dried fava bean, small in size and golden in colour. These are generally already peeled, and so less work in the kitchen before cooking. They are more difficult to find, and I had to search them out in a large Greek grocery.
Today, I am using the smaller variety, as I think that they are better suited to this dish, but note that the larger beans or fresh broad beans can also be used. It is just the cooking time that will vary.
Inspiration for healthy Late Spring Living
Coats and jackets put away and anticipation is high for the weather to come. The weather is still capricious, but food becomes lighter, as though our body is shedding its layers too. Lentil and bean dishes are also less substantial, and still feature prominently.
Enjoy some Goodies, Grains and Lentils for Late Spring Weather.
You can also browse other Late Spring recipes:
- Indian Deliciousness for Late Spring
- Healthy Salads
- Vegetable Dishes and Preserves
- Soup and Snack Recipes
- Goodies, Grains and Lentils, Breads and Pasta
- Drinks and Sweets
- Tips and Hints for Cooking in Late Spring.
If you have difficulty with any links, please let us know. We would love to fix them for you.
Freekeh is a wonderful vehicle for herbs and tart dressings, and I have to say that I love herby salads. This one brings it all together for a wonderful Spring dish. With herbs and spring onions abundant in the garden, all that was needed was to cook the freekeh and defrost the peas.