This has been one of my all time favorites since the day I ate it for the first time. Pudina is one ingredient that my mom hardly used to cook with. I have seen two distinct groups as far as this herb is concerned – One that swears by the pudina, and one that will never venture to even try it. My mom was in the latter group, but nevertheless, whenever I used to go to the vegetable market, I used to to love to see freshly made bundles of green pudina leaves, gently sprayed with cold water, near fresh pudgy lemons and succulent gooseberries and mango ginger. Some how vendors in Chennai, always used to group these things together. It would be a sight to watch them laid out fresh against the calming green of the banana leaf all riddled with moisture and water. There is a slow pleasure in watching baskets of fresh colorful vegetables, displayed to sell by street vendors, rather than seeing them packaged in a plastic cover, sealed and artificially preserved in refrigeration.
Pudina was one such lovely herb , I felt I had to cook with. I was looking for recipes to use this amazing leaf which has many ayurvedic curative properties. My good friend S`s mom used to make Pudina Rice with tamarind and lots of powders, but that was a variant that was pretty strong in masalas and with no veggies. I learnt this variation also from another friend L, who makes it with peas and potatoes. I loved the colours of orange coming through the green rice so I also add carrots, bell peppers and some times cauliflower also if available. Try it, and you`ll love it. It`s an easy option for travel foods. On long drives, this could be made the previous night, and taken for a very filling lunch.
2 cups of basmati rice cooked and cooled.
1 bunch of Mint leaves cleaned.
1/4 cup of coconut powder or dessicated coconut.
6 Green chillies.
1/3 cup of peas.
1/2 cup of diced carrots.
1/2 cup of diced potatoes.
1/3 cup of cauliflower florettes.
1/2 cup of diced green peppers.(Optional)
1/3 cup of cubed Paneer.
Bay Leaf, 2 Cloves, A piece of cinnamon stick, 1 1/2 spoons of powdered cardamom (elaichi), 6-7 halved cashew crescents.
1 spoon of urad dhal, 1 spoon of bengal gram, 2 spoons of Jeera, curry leaves.
- In a mixer pulse the pudina leaves, green chillies and coconut powder to a coarse mix. Do not add water.
- In a wide mouthed kadai, add 2-3 spoons of ghee and when hot add the seasonings in the following order – Bay leaf, Cloves, cinnamon, elaichi, urad dhal, channa dhal, cashew, jeera and lastly curry leaves.
- Allow the seasonings to get fried in the oil and now pop in the vegetables on by one – carrots, potatoes, cauliflowers, bell peppers, and finally the peas.
- Add turmeric, salt and allow to get cooked in the oil. Optionally I precook the veggied in the microwave for 4 minutes, so my prep time on the stove is reduced by more than 60%.
- When the vegetables are almost half cooked, add the coarse pudina paste and mix it in well. Allow to cook well till the raw smell of the pudina and the chillies leave.
- Add the cooled rice to the kadai, add salt and mix well. Take care that when mixing the rice does not break.
- Lastly add the cubed paneer slices and serve HOT garnished with coconut and sliced lemon and a side of Cucumber Raitha.