Tuesday, December 20, 2011

30 minute meals....a red lentil and mushroom soup, a cabbage stir fry and chapatis...


Making everyday meals tasty and interesting and still spending less time with the stove is a challenge for many of us. Especially when we want healthy meals. So when Rekha Kakkar was discussing ways to make the meals quicker I wanted to self check if I can go scurry the fridge for a 30 minute meal for the two of us. I did and made a simple unpretentious meal within 30 minutes including few minutes spent of photography....the food was good , tasty and satisfying , the photography was hurried and just about demonstrative enough to convey the idea of quick healthy meals.

The soup is a more yellow less brown in reality and the cabbage stir fry is a nice green and yellow color, wanted to let you all know these are not some spicy looking dark brown things in those bowls :-) thanks to hurried photography...

I chose two vegetables which need no peeling to save time but mushrooms need thorough washing and cabbage needs a skillful chopping if you wish to save time on this front. Peeling the onion-garlic and ginger i did during cooking as well as kneading the chapati dough, and that gives an idea how you can coordinate your cooking and peeling/chopping on the side. I will include the steps so it is more clear how you proceed with the steps to save time.

Before moving on to this 30 minute frugal yet healthy and tasty meal, i would like to discuss some pointers towards quicker way of daily cooking.

Keeping some spice and herb powders ready to use , home made spice powders are always better to get great taste with convenience.

A good set of knives, scissors and chopping board so the chopping is smooth and quick, otherwise a machine which does it like a charm for you and doesn't take much time to clean.

An uncluttered kitchen platform and a clear idea what you want to cook.

Smart shopping of vegetables so you can plan the extra peeling only when you have time, otherwise brinjals, mushrooms, cauliflowers, cabbage and turnips do not need peeling or stringing and save time. Including all types of vegetables is great and buy the cumbersome ones only when you have some extra time, keep those vegetables frozen once prepared . Frozen spinach and other greens make life easier. See how cabbage gets chopped fast...


Using microwave and pressure cooker saves a lot of time.

Most of the times we take more time to decide what to cook and then waste time in doing one dish at a time and do not use the stove cooking time of one dish for doing preparation for the side dish etc. Simple every day food can be made two-three dishes at a time , it's only complicated and elaborate dishes which demand undivided attention.

Let's see how i do my everyday cooking ...

Place the red lentils to cook in a pressure cooker first and then proceed to chop the vegetables.Cutting the head of cabbage in two and then chopping one half on the board takes 2-3 minutes.


Heat the pan with oil and put in the chopped ginger and scissor cut red chilly bits, done till the pan gets hot, wait till fragrant and then tip in the chopped cabbage. Sprinkle salt and turmeric powder and keep stirring once in a while till you chop the mushrooms and onions.



Keeping the flame on medium high, stir the cabbage subzi a few times and chop the mushrooms , peel the onion and garlic n chop them too.


Red lentil takes about 8-10 minutes total to cook. By this time the cabbage would be done, the lentils cooked and now you can empty the pan of cabbage and proceed to cook the mushrooms in the same.

Heat some ghee , add asafoetida, cumin and chopped garlic , let it brown and then add sliced onions. Add mushrooms when the onions are pinkish brown.


Fry the mushroom mix till it wilts,Takes total 5 minutes.


Add red chilly powder and then pour in the cooked lentil to it and let it boil. Meanwhile knead the dough for chapatis


Slice the radish for salad and proceed to make the chapatis after you have emptied everything in serving bowls. Chapati making takes one chapati per minute by a practiced hand. I cook 5 for lunch, so 5 minutes plus one minute to heat the tawa/griddle.

Freshly cooked hot meals are easier to execute than many of us think. And everyday food can be tasty too.


The ingredients...
red lentil soup with mushrooms..
red lentil 2 tbsp
mushrooms 100 gm
one small onion sliced
3-4 garlic cloves chopped
red chilly powder 1 tsp or to taste
asafoetida one pinch
cumin seeds 1 tsp
ghee or butter 2 tsp
salt to taste


cabbage stir fry ...
dry whole red chillies scissor cut
an inch of ginger chopped
half a head of cabbage
turmeric powder 1 tsp
salt to taste
mustard oil 2 tsp 


Believe me, the typing and uploading pictures of this post took way more time than cooking this meal. Our everyday meals are simple and frugal like this but we do not compromise on taste and nutrition.

Local, seasonal vegetables, whole grains and freshly prepared meals are our way of eating. Cooking a non fussy meal and serving it simply for the two of us is what i enjoy everyday. We all need to enjoy the cooking process as well, so bring in the optimum convenience for yourself and watch yourself enjoying the process. I keep working on my skills to chop the vegetables one way or the other to make it quicker and better, to freeze some of them to make my work easier on busier days, to prepare some bhuna masala or a tomato concasse to make a curry or a pizza smarter and keep loving my food in general.

What about you?

9 comments:

  1. Its a good menu specially for working ladies....And it looks delicious even prepared within 30minutes...

    ReplyDelete
  2. Lovely : Sangeeta - You do have a knack for explaining things to people : you can start teaching Real Food Classes to people.Honestly people can not think of weekly meal planning-what to shop - how to chop - how to keep batches of masala ready -when these things can make cooking even with simple ingredients - a gourmet and more *importantly a satisfying meal.

    ReplyDelete
  3. Thanks Everyone...

    @ Varsha....Thank you for the suggestion. I really want everybody who might be busy like hell to cook their own food cuz you need healthy food more when you keep busy... Classes are a bit difficult for me as i am more of a loner and I can't do things lie a chore...will do only when i find it exciting or an interesting group of people to be with.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Cool !! :) I like the menu. A lot can be done in even half an hour if only there is an inclination to do it

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hopped over from Hitchy's and love what you have here. My cooking is quite similar to yours and seeing some of the recipes majesty me want to try them ASAP :) I am sure to be a regular visitor here.

    ReplyDelete
  6. Thank you Smitha..and welcome to my blog. Yes we all try and cook healthy for ourselves and our loved ones...it's a lifelong learning process :-)
    Will be glad to see you here more often.

    ReplyDelete
  7. Sangeeta, I made the red lentil-mushrom soup today - and it is wonderful!! Absolutely loved it. I did make a few changes- I added a fistful of finely chopped young spinach. I was wondering after putting it, if it was alright to add it. The taste was delicious! I made it with a little more dal - because I did not check the recipe before I started cooking - but it still tasted yum!

    ReplyDelete