Monday, September 21, 2009

Simple Lunches - 17 (Expressly cooked fit for a party)

We all get invited to parties or invite others for a party and get served or serve restaurant bought food. If the parties you go to are in a close geographic area the food and the menu gets boring pretty quick. The same palak paneer, malai kofta, vegetable pulav - all make it more of a punishment than enjoyment. I am talking here about my neck of the woods not the food paradise that is India.

Just like Honda and Toyota (maybe Lexus too,I see a lot of my desi compatriots enjoying their rides on that one) have been determined to be the best value a few restaurants (in our area it is 2) have been found to provide the best bang for the buck and it is that food that gets served most often and one I am for one am starting to develop a strong aversion to.

Any food that the hostess takes time to prepare even if it is the most simple of foods the pleasure and delight is immense. The recipe that follows today is going to Anita's Express Party just for that reason.

Tomato rice can be very simple or very complicated like a biryani. For everyday eating the simple tomato rice is what I like best. Add a few vegetable and a fancy raita you have a very delightful quick meal.

Beet is the vegetable that is all the rage now and the tomato rice will be served with beetroot raita. This is a purely Kongu Tamilian cuisine

Tomato Rice
1. 1 1/2 cups of seeraga samba rice or basmati rice (requires 4 cups of water)
2. 4-5 tomatoes chopped 1 1/2 cups worth
3. 1/2 Medium sized red onion sliced thin (1/2 a cup)
4. 4 cloves garlic chopped
5. seasonings: mustard, cumin seeds, curry leaves
6. coriander (1 tbsp) and cumin (2 tsp) roasted and powdered
7.1/2 cup each of peas and chopped carrots - optional
8. salt to taste
9. 2 tsp oil
10. 5 red chilies slit

1. In a pressure cooker heat oil, add the seasonings followed by the onions,green chilies and saute till translucent.
2. Now add the garlic, give a quick saute followed by tomatoes and salt and saute till the tomatoes turn mushy.
3. add the vegetables and give a good mix. Add the rice and saute for a minute or two followed by the powdered coriander/cumin powder.
4. Add enough water and let it come to a boil. Now close the lid and cook for 8 minutes.

Beetroot Raita
1. 2 cups of grated beets
2. 1/4 cup of chopped onions
3. 4 green chilies slit.
4. mustard and curry leaves
5. 1 tsp oil
6. salt to taste
7. 2 cups of beaten curd

1. In a pan heat oil and add the mustard and curry leaves
2. Saute the onions and green chilies
3. Add the grates beets and a cup of water, salt - close with a lid and let cook till the beets are soft and all water has evaporated. (If there is moisture remove the lid and let cook for a few more minutes)
4. Cool and mix with the yogurt.

Both the dishes are done in less than 1/2 hour.
Serve with potato chips for a grand lunch.


  1. Same palak-panner? Whatever do you mean?! ;-)

    Thanks for coming, ISG, and the raita is a bonus! In fact, quite the star what with that colour...and also the right number of ingredients! Before the ingredient-counting police arrive...

  2. Quite an accomplishment right?considering we are talking about palak paneer here!

  3. Totally know what you mean - the inevitable pulao and the same old curries. Even the North Indian buffet restaurants here have the same stuff!
    Loved your tomato rice. Really simple. The beet raitha sure jazzes up any dish, I think.

  4. The rice looks really good indo..though I have heard beet raitha, haven't tasted..never knew this was kongu style!

  5. Recently for my cousin's wedding in NY, the pre-wedding, in-house meal was from a neighbourhood restaurant, and they served avial (though it had some untraditional vegetables), and no malai kofta or palak paneer - there was a veg pulav but v light. But you know, Indo, here too, the menu tends to be the same as you mentioned, at least meeting lunches or occasion lunches, I don't know about home lunches/parties, though, haven't been to any in a while!

  6. You might say it is simple, but for me it looks super super yumm.

  7. Now I know what used to be wrong with my tomato rice. I'll try your version of making it in the cooker. Love the idea of beet raita ISG. :-)

  8. I rarely go to indian restuarants anymore. the same menu, all the north indian dishes cooked in the same creamy tomato sauce had got my taste buds & attitude tired & sick. besides i get to cook all that at home..

    This is a total comfort quick food, the kind i make a LOT of times.. love the beet raita idea.

  9. Valli, I am 100% sure of that but anything my ammayee cooks I consider Kongu 'cos that is where I learn all Kongu style food preparations. Ammayee has been cooking this forever and no special meal is complete without this raita.

  10. Lunch, you say? I'll be there by noon tomorrow ;)

    Looks delicious and beautiful!

  11. Cannot agree more about the menu variety here. With the routine it is more of a punishment as you said. Liked your variation of Tomato Rice with raita.

  12. i can have this tomato rice any day over the restaurant food. The indian restaurant food is going the way of the chinese restarants now.. standard fare!!

  13. Indo that my most favorite meal. I love tomato rice so much I can eat it three times a day. Right candidate for express cooking but well worth for a party! The beet raita is a highlight! what a lovely pink!

  14. I tempered my beet raita your way this time - and what an amazing difference! TH was happy to not have uncooked onion in his raita and I love a hint of Tamil Nadu in my food anyway! Thanks, ISG!

  15. Anita, I am happy to hear the raita turned out good. I dislike greatly the uncooked onion in my raita too. Only cucumber and tomatoes in mine :)


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