Spices and Seasons, Simple Sustainable Indian Flavors
Rinku Bhattacharya combines her two great loves―Indian cooking and sustainable living―to give readers a simple, accessible way to cook seasonally, locally, and flavorfully.
Inspired by the bounty of local produce, mostly from her own backyard, Rinku set out to create recipes for busy, time-strapped home cooks who want to blend Indian flavors into nutritious family meals.
Arranged in chapters from appetizers through desserts, the cookbook includes everything from small bites, soups, seafood, meat and poultry, and vegetables, to condiments, breads, and sweets. You’ll find recipes for tempting fare like “Mango and Goat Cheese Mini Crisps,” “Roasted Red Pepper Chutney,” “Crisped Okra with Dry Spice Rub,” “Smoky Roasted Eggplant and Tomato Puree,” and “Red Harvest Masala Cornish Hens,” to name a few. As exotic and enticing as these recipes sound, the ingredients are easily found and the instructions are simple.
Rinku encourages readers to explore the bounty of their local farms and markets, and embrace the rich flavors of India to cook food that is nutritious, healthy, seasonal and most importantly, delicious.
Bulgur or Cracked Wheat Pilaf (VE)
Bulgur and cracked wheat are much loved in the northern regions of India, particularly as the preferred breakfast grain. Prepared simply as in this recipe, they also work well as a side dish. You could also add beans or lentils to make this a wonderful one-dish meal if you are in a rush.
Prep Time: 10 minutes | Cook Time: 35 minutes
(mostly unattended) | Serves: 4 to 6
2 tablespoons oil
1 teaspoon cumin seeds
1 red onion, thinly sliced
1 tomato, chopped
1 teaspoon salt or to taste
¾ cup bulgur or cracked wheat
¾ cup cooked red kidney beans or chickpeas
½ teaspoon red cayenne pepper powder (optional)
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick, broken
1 lime or lemon, cut in half
1 to 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
1. Heat the oil in a pot on medium heat. Add the cumin seeds and when they begin to sizzle, add the onion and sauté for about 6 minutes, until it wilts and begins to turn gently golden.
2. Add the tomato, salt, and bulgur and mix well. Stir in the red kidney beans, cayenne pepper powder (if using), and the cinnamon stick. Mix in 2 cups of water and gently bring to a simmer.
3. Cover and cook on low heat for about 25 minutes, until the water is absorbed and the bulgur is soft and cooked through.
4. Squeeze in the lime or lemon juice and stir in
the cilantro and serve.
Tips and Tricks
This recipe can also be made with quinoa, farro, or
any complex grain of your choice.
About the Author
Rinku Bhattacharya (spicechronicles.com) was born in India, and now lives in a house with a vibrant backyard in Hudson Valley, New York with her husband, an avid gardener, and their two children. Rinku’s simple, sustainable approach to Indian cooking is showcased on her blog, Spice Chronicles, and in her Journal News column “Spices and Seasons.”
Rinku has been teaching recreational cooking classes for the past nine years, and works extensively with local area farmer’s markets on seasonal demonstrations and discussions. Rinku is also the author of The Bengali Five Spice Chronicles (Hippocrene Books, 2012), winner of the Gourmand World Cookbook Awards 2013 for Best Indian Cuisine. She writes for the Poughkeepsie Journal, the Journal News, and several online sites, and is a frequent guest on CT Style TV.