There are days when one just doesn’t feel like cooking. It could either be because of some illness, or if one is running short of time or then the ingredients to make a full meal are not there.
There are many options to tide over such times.
- Leftovers can be lifesavers. Chapatis can be eaten with pickles or sauce at a pinch if there is no leftover subzis or dal.
- Rice goes well with leftovers and making it is easy. It can be even eaten with curds if there is nothing else. I had shared the recipe for this dish here. There are chutney powders made with coriander, pudina, curry leaves etc., that can be mixed with rice too. This is a favourite south Indian shortcut for a meal on lazy days.
- And then there is bread. This versatile loaf can stand in for a snack/meal when we are desperate. Dunk it in milk or tea if you can’t bring yourself to toast it or make a sandwich.
- Order out food, which is perhaps the easiest. All one needs is a finger!
However when the whole family needs to eat and when one is particular about a balanced meal, these ideas might not be workable. So what does one do? One turns out a one-dish-meal — that is what one does!
These are so good that I would love to make them all year round, if I can find enough varieties of them to make easily. Usually they can be eaten by themselves or with a pickle, sauce or curd on the side.
Not all one-dish-meals are cooked in a pot or cooker though. They can be a satisfying stuffed omelette, parathas stuffed with vegetables or paneer, dal khichdi with vegetables to make it more nutritious, vegetable pulav fortified with sprouts or chana, vegetable noodles, baked pasta or macaroni with cheese and veggies, a large baked potato with herbs and cheese…. now I am hungry!
One of my favourite one-dish-meal is a vegetable pulav/biryani in which I put a whole lot of things to make it nutritious and filling. Here’s the recipe:
Rice (any variety) – 1 cup
Cut vegetables (cauliflower, beans, carrot, potato, peas) – 1 ½ cups
Chana soaked and boiled – ½ cup (optional)
Green chillies – 2 (chopped fine)
Coriander — 2 tbsp (chopped fine)
Grated ginger – 1 tbsp
Garlic (minced) – 4-5 cloves
Turmeric powder – ¼ tsp
Chilly powder – ½ tsp
Dhania powder – ½ tsp
Garam masala powder – ½ tsp
Jeera – ½ tsp
Cinnamon – 1” stick
Bay leaf – 1 large
Black cardamom – 2
Cloves – 5-6
Peppercorns (whole) 5-6
Oil – 1 tbsp
Ghee – 1 tbsp (optional)
Method: Wash and soak rice in water for half an hour. In a cooker add the oil and saute jeera first. Then add pepper, bay leaf, cinnamon, cloves and cardamom and saute till they emit fragrance. Now add the ginger and garlic and saute till the raw smell goes. Add minced chilli and vegetables and saute for five minutes. Add the chana if using. Now add chilli and dhania powder, turmeric and garam masala. Give it a good stir for a couple of minutes.
Drain the rice and add to the pot. Add 1 ½ cups water. Add salt to taste and the minced coriander. Mix well and let it cook for 2 whistles. Wait for the pressure to go down by itself. Open, add the ghee and fluff it up. The delicious aroma would bring in your neighbours too!
Serve with raita or curd.
Tip: To make it even more wholesome, add soya chunks when you add the rice. Soak them in warm water and wash and squeeze well before adding.
The author is your regular neighborhood granny. Loves cooking, feeding her friends and family, telling tales and reading children’s books among others — on her Kindle. She is comfortable with people her age, older than her and of course all youngsters right down to infants. And oh, she is in tune with the times too. She has seen the telegram transform into Twitter and telephone into WhatsApp. You could call her Gadget Granny Seeta, if you like. She loves saying that the tip of her tongue is in the fingers on her keyboard!