Sra threw out this crazy challenge a few weeks ago - Grindless Gravies!! With a zillion conditions to boot! :) I think I spent more time thinking about it than I finally spent cooking! Very clever, Sra - this event has made for more conversation than any others recently :)
So, no ready-made gravies - obviously! And no premade/frozen gravies - clever! And no lentils or yogurt-based gravies - yes, that would make it too easy! :) This was actually getting more interesting by the minute :) As I was poking around several cookbooks, I stumbled upon one of my favorites - Vij's Elegant Inspired Indian Cuisine. And then I stumbled upon Suganya's rendition of a vegetable dish from this book. Hmm ... I could rework this to be more gravy-based and use completely different vegetables that were more in season. I finally went with yams and corn - both part of the Thanksgiving theme and available in plenty at PCC.
2 medium-sized yams - sliced into thin half-moons
1.5 cups of corn kernels
3 roma tomatoes - finely chopped
1 yellow squash - chopped
3 leaves of bokchoy - chopped
1 t mustard seeds
1 t cumin seeds
1 t kalonji seeds
1 T coriander powder
1 T cayenne pepper powder
1 t sesame oil
Heat the oil in a wok and toss in the mustard seeds.
Once they splutter, add the cumin and kalonji seeds and stir for a minute.
Now add the tomatoes, squash and a handful of the yam pieces along with the powder spices and salt.
Saute until the veggies are softened and pulpy.
Add about 1 cup of water and gently mash the mixture.
Cook for about 5-6 minutes with occasional stirring.
Now toss in the corn and remaining yams and simmer for another 4-5 minutes.
Yams actually cook really easily (a lot faster than potatoes), so careful about overcooking these - the idea here was the preserve some chunky yams in the tomato-squash-yam gravy.
Ok, so, what could we eat with this Sra-dish? :) We had a bag of frozen methi that we wanted to use up - first time ever that we were going to use that! I have such a hard time using any frozen greens, especially methi - it is so earthy, I can't imagine the flavors would be preserved through a freeze-thaw. Well, it wasn't! But the methi pulav turned out pretty good - very nutty and chewy actually because of the brown basmati rice. The end result was pretty decent.
Nutty Methi Pulav
No grinding here either!
2 cups of brown basmati rice
2 cups of thawed methi leaves
4 red chillies
1 T cumin seeds
1 T garam masala (I use a homemade version, but pretty much any store-bought masala should do too)
1 t olive oil
Wash the rice and dry it in a plate for about 10 minutes.
Heat the olive oil in a saucepan and saute the cumin and red chillies in it.
Add the rice and saute for about 2-3 minutes, constantly stirring.
Now add the methi leaves along with 4 cups of water.
Toss in the salt and garam masala and stir for 1-2 minutes.
Cook covered on low till the water is absorbed and the rice is fully cooked.
(If the rice does not seem completely cooked, add another 1/2 cup of water, stir and simmer for another 3-4 minutes)
We really liked the combination of this rice with the chunky yam curry - I think the only thing that could've made it better would've been a raita. Or maybe a yogurt-based gravy? But Sra wouldn't want that! :D
'k, Sra, have fun with this one! :)