reStore Food Blog – Rice Soup

June 6, 2011

Hi All! What’s cooking?

he he… well, in my house it  has been soup and lots of it.. I had this hankering for some soup but no mixie/grinder/food processor.. so what to do? Creativity is the daughter of necessity.. no?  so I racked my memory banks for some inspiration.. and voila.. Rice Soup..

bleh!! you say? another name for ‘kanji’ you think?.. well to be honest yes and no!!

What the memory banks yielded was the lunch dabba of a colleague from waayy back 90s.. She was of Cambodian origin.. used to bring something called Rice Soup for lunch.. a bit thicker than our kanji.. and it had some interesting bits added to it.  I looked in my fridge for interesting bits and found some possibilities..

So here is my adaptation.

Rice Soup 101

A handful of handpounded raw rice

1/3 of a handful of moon dal yellow

2 litres of water

salt to to taste

some chopped fresh coriander or basil

1 lime/lemon.. juicy

wash and clean the rice and moong dal and set to cook together on the stove top in a largish vessel of about 3 litres capacity or thereabouts.  Add a bit more water than ordinarily used to cook this quantity of rice and dal. Add the salt. Let cook, stirring often.  Stirring is important here as it releases the starch from the rice and makes it  ‘soupy’.  If you feel like it give it an odd mash here and there.  Once the rice -dal mixture is almost cooked add about a litre of water and cook in the lowest flame you have available. Stir occasionally. This should take about 3o mins or so.. Check if you like the consistency and that the liquid is almost opaque.  Add more water if it is too thick.. or let sit on the stove if too thin. (this depends on the starchiness of the rice.. go with your experience)

When you are ready to serve, chop up the herb of choice .. very fine.. and put some  in the bottom of each serving bowl

top up with the hot soup and squeeze some lime/lemon juice into each bowl and serve.

For those who like it spicy.. Try this

– in a mortar and pestle add one pod of garlic/shallot, a piece of ginger, some chopped green or ripe chillie  and  a pinch of salt and mash it together roughly.  Serve this along with the soup.

I found this soup very restorative and fresh..

Lemme know how you liked it..


reStore Food Blog : Bang for the Buck fillings

May 21, 2011

I am baaaaccckkkkk !! After a multi-phased move, this blog post comes to you from my new home office. Taking centre stage here is my old desk, that sadly, didn’t travel well. Has lost some skin and a few bits and pieces..But you know what? It is comfy. I believe it wears its scars well.  And first day on the job in the new office, it has inspired me to get back on the saddle! What more could you ask of a desk.. eh?

One thing I learnt from this move is I hold on to a lot more stuff than I think I do. Until now I took pride in my ability to give things away ruthlessly…. Sadly,  not ruthless or thorough enough!! 30 odd boxes of books..!! that is after giving away 5 boxes.. Sniff, Sniff!!

While I was working on my ruthless purging of stuff, had to eat no?  No time to make ‘propah’ meals. I depended a whole lot on curd rice and sandwiches and wraps.  So, here are a few that I thought were worth sharing. They largely came from what was available and what went well with many different covers – bread, chapati, dosa.. ( Reminder to self.. research or invent word for the thing that holds the fillings.. )

Cucumber Filling

Fresh cucumber sliced round, slightly chunky .. about four slices per sandwich

Olive oil, lime juice, salt, pepper, crushed toasted cumin- blend this together using a fork or beater.

Dip the cucumber slices in just before you put them on the bread.

Tomato and Potato Filling

Tomatoes – sliced 3-4 per sandwich

Potatoes boiled, mashed and salted to taste.. about a table spoon per sandwich

Onions chopped fine.. about a teaspoon per sandwich

A bit of  masala from citrus pickles- lime tastes great.( If you like strong flavours, you may add chopped bits of lime as well)

Spread a not very thick layer of the potato on the bread/roti/dosa. Sprinkle chopped onion on top.

Gently spread or mix in the pickle masala  all round on the tomato slices and place them over the potato onion mixture above. Wrap/cover/fold!

Grated Veg Filling

Grated Vegetables: Carrots, Bottle Gourd, Radish, Coconut, Mango…. any thing that can be grated and it is a vegetable that you would like. Adjust ratio to taste. You would need about one third of a cup of the final output  for a standard sandwich on bread.. for other (hosts? covers? wraps?) .. such as dosa or roti.. adjust according to size and taste..

finely chopped onions, green chillies, ginger, coriander..even a bit of garlic is ok.. Some peanut powder will fit in here as well

some mustard, cumin/ jeera and oil for seasoning.. Salt to taste.. Asafoetida, chilly powder, turmeric.. if you prefer..

Heat up a heavy bottomed pan.. pop the seasoning in oil

add the finely chopped onions..etc let sizzle for a very short bit .. the pan should remain hot..

Add in the grated vegetables let sizzle for a very short bit.. add the salt and the rest of the  spices you are using..

Well folks thats the post for today..

I promise to catch up with more frequent postings beginning June..

My sincere thanks to you guys..  for putting up with my absence on the blog with nary a reproachful sigh.

As always, I look forward to your responses.. do write in with your experiences.. problems.. questions.. ideas .. thoughts.. critiques.. cheers.. appreciation.. tearful gratitude..

Do stay in touch.. 🙂


reStore Food Blog: Quick n easy tips

April 18, 2011

It is hot, hot, hot!!  Not many folks out there wanting to spend a lot of time in the kitchen.. So here are a few tips to help reduce time spent at the stove.

1. Pre-soak lentils, beans, dals.. moong, chana, etc.

2. Use the pressure cooker, extensively.

3. Double or triple quantities of the above and freeze.

4. Grate vegetables in any combination you like. simply saute quickly and add to the cooked dals/beans above.. a twist of lime, some aromatic herbs like coriander or pudina.. and a hearty and healthy side dish is ready.

5. Even simpler, just add the cooked chana or moong to raw grated veggies and spice with chat masala or some chopped ginger and green chillies, twist of lime, or some left-over chutney or pickles.. and a yummy salad is ready.

6. Use flattened rice -(aval) or puffed rice – (pori) . Quickly rinse, drain and use for a quick upma.

7.  If fruits you bought, like a mango is too sour, use it in a soup. Adjust the sweetness with ginger, or coriander, or a pinch of cloves.  Add other vegetables as you would and serve chilled.  Simple, healthy and filling.

8. Summer is the best time to try fermented things like millet idlis.  Substitute one-third 1/3 of the rice with the millet. Soak and grind as usual.  More filling than those made with plain rice, you need to make less!

9. Add jaggery and cardamom to your diet.  For a change, add a bit of both to your spicy rasam.

10. Of course the old maxims such as ‘Plan ahead’ ‘Get and early start’  are all the more valid for less sweaty and more fun hours  in the kitchen.

Keep those responses coming.. and do share tips and recipes too!


reStore Food Blog: Chill!! Soup and Tangy Mango Rice

April 2, 2011

Its hot. You know that. Feel it. So whats

Well, after the  success of the SFA Organic Food Mela, I took a short break from food blogging. It gave me some time to get creative.  So here I am audaciously pairing a Chilled Soup with a traditional Mango Rice. So thats whats new!

Without preamble, patience being in short supply in this hot weather.. … here goes:



Blanched peeled almonds about 10 nos;

Ashgourd (aka white pumpkin) cubed 3 – 4 cups

Raw unripe tomato OR peeled ridge gourd – seed removed and cubed about 1 cup

juice of ginger – 1/2 teaspoon

garlic peeled and minced – teaspoon or less

shallots ( sambar vengayam) peeled and minced about a tablespoon

Black pepper whole – about a teaspoon

Cloves 2 nos

Salt to taste

Cooking Method

Steam the ashgourd, lightly salted.  Separate and save the water. Set both to cool

In a heavy pan on high heat, quickly roast the the other vegetables including onions and garlic.  Remember it should not cook through or brown  even a bit, just shocked by the heat. Remove immediately and set to cool.

In a blender or mixer, run the almonds through with the water from the ashgourd steaming.  Use additional water, if needed, to get a milk like consistency. Remove almond milk from mixer and set aside.  Now run  the vegetables – except for about half a cup of the steamed ashgourd, through the mixer.  Strain this mix add some salt and let sit.

In a separate pan boil about half a cup of water and add the pepper and the cloves to it and bring to boil. When the water is well flavoured with the spices, strain the water and set aside.

In a soup or sauce pan, add the vegetable mix, the almond milk, the spice tea and set on very low simmer. Remove from fire and set to cool. Add the ginger juice and chill the soup in the refrigerator .

Freeze the half cup of cooked ash gourd and add as garnish just before serving.



1 cup grated raw unripe mango

4 cups cooked rice

red chilly 2-3 nos

fenugreek/methi seeds – 1/2 teaspoon

Chana dal – 1 teaspoon

Urad Dal – 1 teaspoon

Mustard seeds – 1/2 teaspoon

Jeera/cumin – 1/2 teaspoon

Turmeric powder – 1/4 teaspoon

Curry leaves – 4-6

Asafoetida – a pinch

Sesame Oil – 2 teaspoons or less.

Salt to taste

Cooking Method:

In a heavy bottomed pan or kadai,  add oil and  the dals.  Once the dals are almost lightly browned, add the spice seeds and let sputter. Add the chilly and curry leaves next. When  the chilly is nicely roasted, add the grated mango and saute for about 5 mins. Add the turmeric and asafoetida. Add salt to taste.  Now, add the rice slowly, making sure there are no lumps.  Let sit about 3o to 45 mins before serving.

reStore Food Blog: 3 chutneys – mint, ginger, tomato

February 28, 2011

Dear All,

This week I am camping out in an empty flat, seeing it through some renovations. Lacking access to tools and cookware, cooking has been down to  bare minimum, just above survival. Lots of rice, pickles and some raw veggies.

I have started to use an induction stove and going through the throes of relating to a new cooking medium. Of course, as always with such new tools, added a smoky flavour to some odd meals. I concede, it is an acquired taste. 🙂

While the learning curve is steep, for a meal or two, I was making do with y’know… branded quickie noodles.. (I trust Miss Margaret is not unhappy with this lady-like reference to her masterpiece)..  All the while thinking.. dead food.. dead food.. ..Hmmm appetising

Well, to rouse myself out of those self defeating thoughts.. I started thinking of some ‘come alive’ foods..foods that are refreshing, wholesome and make you smack your lips and reach for more..and aha!!!  Chutneys.. thats the answer..

Here you are folks – 3 remarkable chutneys.. definitely ‘come alive’… and of course packed with all kinds of goodness

The first,  has 99% raw ingredients

Mint and Ginger Chutney with Coconut – Pudina, Inji  Thengai Chutney


2 Cups loosely packed with mint leaves and soft stems.

3/4 cup or little less grated fresh coconut

2 teaspoons finely chopped ginger

If in season, 1/3 cup of grated, raw, unripe, sour mango – substitute about 2 teaspoons of  lime juice instead.

2 teaspoons roaster gram – Pottukadalai

1 or 2 green chillies – less if you prefer less spicy.. (can be dropped totally)

salt to taste.


Put all of this in a mixie jar and grind with no water.  – tips – Put the pudina/mint in first with the lime juice, run until the leaves are chopped and then the rest of the ingredients, add salt in the end. Aim for a grainy consistency, not too smooth.

Take out and store in a glass or ceramic ware container.. ( the flavour is supposed to last longer this way)

For tempering: Heat a little oil and add some mustard seeds to it. Once they pop, pour it over the chutney.

Tomato Chutney – Quick and Easy


4 medium sized tomatoes ripe, even overripe and a bit squishy..

Salt, chilli powder, turmeric, asafoetida to taste

1 tables spoon oil – preferably gingelly (til) oil

Dried red chilly 2 nos

mustard seeds 1/2 teaspoon

A few curry leaves


Halve the tomatoes and puree them in a mixer/food processor, with seeds and skin.. remove any stems or leaves before you put it in.

In a heavy bottom pan or kadai, big enough to comfortably hold the tomato puree, heat the oil well and add the chillies and then mustard seeds. Once the chilly is fried and the seeds are popping merrily, add the curry leaves,  powders except salt and quickly add the tomato puree. Add the salt and let the mixture cook for a few minutes. You will notice the puree thicken and darken in colour.

Your quick and easy tomato chutney is done!

Andhra Style Ginger Chutney


1 cup chopped ginger – tender is better.. less fibre

3-4 red chillis

1 tsp cumin/ jeera seeds

1/2 tsp methi/ fenugreek seeds

small lemon size tamarind

2  tables spoons jaggery grated, or more if you like your chutney a bit sweet.

For tempering

2 tbs oil

1 tsp cumin and mustard seeds

some curry leaves


In a heavy bottomed pan, heat a bit of oil, fry the cumin seeds and methi seeds  and take out in a plate. Let cool

In the same pan add another tsp of oil set it on the stove, and add  the chopped ginger , red chillies and tamarind . Saute on medium flame, for few minutes, until the tamarind is soft and the aroma of the ginger is released.

Let it cool.

Then put all of them in a mixer/grinder/food processor and grind to a paste. Add water only if you must.. as little as you need.. bare minimum.. to get the paste going. Don’t forget the salt.. add to taste..

Pour the rest of the oil in a clean and dry heavy bottomed pan and add the mustard seeds, cumin seeds and curry leaves kept for tempering. Add the paste to the pan, and let cook for a few minutes. Cool and store in a clean dry container. This will last for a few days un- refrigerated..

Happy tuckin in.. y’all!


reStore Food Blog : Masala Bhath inspired

February 14, 2011

Dear All,

A Very Happy 3rd Anniversary to reStore and especial good wishes to all those who had the vision to start this and keep it up for 3 glorious years by pitching in and of course making reStore our primary food source… Wish you all good health, interesting and satisfying livelihoods and more time spent in beautiful thriving nature!

One of the pillars of organic and sustainable food movements is reducing or better still, avoiding wastage. For most of us it seems an elusive goal, especially when you manage to look at the bottom of the refrigerator on a Saturday morning and find wilted greens, a sad looking beetroot lurking in the corner eyeing half a bottlegourd at the other end. Instinct is to gather all of them and drop them in the trash. Two problems solved in one sweep! 🙂  But oh! the guilt!!

Here is a recipe that I use towards the weekend, which is a good alternative to the grand sweep into the trash.

It is a ‘one pot dish’, very inclusive and forgiving. With some simple condiments such as a favourite pickle or chutney, toasted papad for crunch and maybe a raita or kachumber, it makes a satisfying meal.

Use a stainless steel pressure cooker for quick and easy results.


1 cup Rice: Parboiled Ponni works very well.

1 tablespoon of oil (ghee if you prefer)

jeera 1/2 tea spoon

mustard seeds 1/2 tea spoon

Turmeric 1 teaspoon

Coriander powder 1 to 2 teaspoons ( as strong as you like)

Chilli powder to taste

Asafoetida to taste

Optional: Garlic to taste, garam masala to taste

Salt to taste

Water as needed

Vegetables about 2-3 cups: What you have in the fridge  – chop quick cooking or tender ones like beans, carrots and potatoes in larger chunks.  Chop cabbage, cauliflower or broccoli stalks finely.  Medium chop any, onions, capsicum, tomatoes, if using.  Wash and chop and drain greens separately.


Clean and wash rice and set aside

Heat pressure cooker until almost hot.

Add oil and the mustard and jeera seeds and let sputter

Lower heat and add the turmeric and coriander powder quickly and let fry for 10 seconds

Add the onions, garlic, capsicum and any aromatic greens such as methi (fenugreek)  now, if using.

quickly add the chilly powder and asafoetida . Garam Masala also may be added here

Let saute for about a minute until the aroma is released.

Add the rest of the vegetables and rice

Add enough water to just cover the rice and veggies.

Add the salt and stir.

Cover and cook as you would normally for the kind of rice your using.  For Ponni parboiled, I cook for about 5-6 mins on sim ( simmer setting)  after the first pressure release.

Variations: Cooked left over channa, uncooked leftover sprouts, or panneer too may be added to the rice. Remember to adjust salt and water accordingly. In the summer serve with some yummy lime pickle or mint chutney with some chopped cucumber. Don’t worry if the texture varies from sticky to dry. It will, depending on the kind of vegetables you add in.

Here you have it a complete meal within 30 minutes, even less, if your chopping skills are good! And as a added bonus guilt free fridge cleaning.

Tip for vegan and non-vegan blended families. If you are vegan and your family is not this is a great dish for all to share. Raita for the lacto half and chopped salad or kachumber for the vegan half.

We look forward to your experience with variations from your fridge!

Love those comments, keep them coming!


Season’s Greetings and a special invitation

January 15, 2011

A Very Happy Pongal, everyone!

reStore invites you to take a minute to think of the chain of people and other animals and organisms that bring us our more than adequate 3 square meals a day.

Buying organic is surely a big step and we sincerely appreciate it. As you all know there is more to be done, not just at reStore, but even more in the world at large.  One of the easiest things that anyone can do, is to speak up. Let your voice be heard for organic and more sustainable agriculture. Keep abreast of what is happening in the world of agriculture. Subscribe to forums and participate in signature campaigns. Involve your friends and family members.

If you would like to do more, get in touch with us.  There is tons to do.. ! Working together could be the biggest legacy that we leave for the coming generations.

We thank you for your support and look forward to more involvement from all of you.

Today’s recipe:  Yes, it is vegan!


This is a drink served as a post feast digestive and is most often served on Ram Navami day in temples, which occurs in the second week of April. It is refreshing, sweet and a good thirst quencher. It is good on any day with a heavy meal.

It is a free form recipe, using all natural ingredients and can be made to taste.

I litre of cool water

about 1/2 to 2/3 cup of powdered jaggery

a pinch of salt

Half a teaspoon of dried ginger powder, chukku.

2 or 3 whole cardamoms, crushed

Juice of a small lemon or lime

Mix all of the above together, except the lime juice. Taste, add more water if too sweet. Add a bit more jaggery, if too spicy. The idea is to get a ‘wake up call’ from the spices and soothing tone from the jaggery.

Add half the the lime juice, taste.. Stop if tangy enough..add more if not. You could do this just before serving.

Filter if you see a lot of fibre.. and you know that it would bother you.. else go all natural.. fibre and all!

Have a great week!


The reStore Food Blog

January 8, 2011

About the blog

reStore presents a blog about good food, spiced with references to tradition, rituals, specifics of agriculture and of course, nutrition. The format planned is more of cooking clinic, where we try to resolve cooking problems that most annoy you. On really dull days, we will look at the less annoying ones. 🙂
As reStore is a community supported endeavour, we welcome any and all contributions to this blog, including comments, corrections, experiences and fresh recipes.
Do share your experiences and questions. Together, we will find a way to a healthy, organic life.

Jan 8

We are now around the winter solstice, a time when every culture manages to celebrate something or the other. Some researchers do claim it is the Sun that is worshiped universally. Perhaps.
It is, after all, the only star that we earthlings know somewhat intimately.

To us, what we see is the universal reach out to warmth, hope and renewal. Don’t we all need a dose of this holy trinity?

One way to affirm this is through our own South Indian, Sweet Rice Pongal

To honour tradition, we will look at that way first. Yes, it does include the Paanai or Pot

Our friend and serious volunteer, SS, would of course prefer an earthenware pot. It is traditional in many agricultural communities to use a new earthenware pot for Pongal.
If our urbanite, city dwelling friends have one handy, do go for it. Else, any heavy bottomed pot or pan would do. Ideally, a taller rather than a wider one.

The basic recipe is very simple.


1 cup Freshly harvested raw rice. Our own kullakar is a good option.
1/3 cup moong dhal – without skin. ( payatthan paruppu)
Jaggery of about a cup, broken down to small lumps.. any kind would do.Yes, even palm jaggery. if using powder use a bit more.. . 🙂 Make sure there are no big lumps
1 cup milk ( vegan?.. look at the note below)
cardamom, saffron, edible camphor .. optional, and if you like it.
Cashews and raisins, optional
ghee optional

Keep about 3-4 cups water handy. ( the older the rice, the more water you will need)

Clean and wash the rice and dal
Add about a cup and half of water to the pot and set to boil.
When water is just boiling, slowly add the rice and dal combination
Let cook on the stove top, in a slow simmer, stir once in a while to keep the contents moving.
When the rice/dal mixture is about 2/3rds done, add the milk.
Let the milk boil over.. celebrate this.. supposed to be very auspicious for the new year.

Keep the flame as low as you can and let the milk blend in well.
At this point if, the mixture becomes too heavy add some water.
Check if the rice and dal are almost done.
Then, add jaggery, slowly, mix it in.

Keep stirring a bit more often to make sure nothing sticks to the bottom.

Once the jaggery is cooked, the rawness is gone, your Pongal is done.

Remove from fire. Add the optionals now. Roast the nuts/raisins in ghee and crush the spices lightly, before adding to the Pongal.

If you think the mixture is too watery for your taste, keep it on the stove for some more time. Don’t forget to stir.
If it is too heavy, add some milk, slowly and let cook.

Vegan- Traditionally, Pongal does not require milk at all. The Pongal.. the boiling over.. happens, when the rice is really, really fresh, right from the fields. It has its own milkiness. Nowadays, only a fortunate few get to use real freshly harvested rice.
If you are not one of the fortunate few and would like some milkiness, coconut milk is an option. Just half a cup or even less of  the ‘first’ milk, to be added just before the pot is taken off the fire. Pour it, stir it and take the pot off the stove.

The non- paanai version.

Cook the rice-dal mixture with extra water directly in a pressure cooker or pressure pan, and follow the recipe from then on. I would insist on using a stainless steel version for cooking directly. I understand that aluminium pans are not good for direct cooking, unhealthy in the long term to be used in direct contact with food.