On our weekend trip down to the Indian stores on 34 Avenue, we also picked up some Indian vermicelli. These thin broken semolina noodles are very versatile and are used in several Indian dishes. A popular dish is the vermicelli pulao, but it can also be made into a biriyani, a South Indian breakfast dish called Upma (a savoury preparation of vermicelli flavoured with mustard seeds and curry leaves) and the popular milky Indian dessert Kheer. I bought two packets, so I could try out a few dishes.
For my first dish, I was quite keen to try out the vegetable pulao, as it seemed like an easy dish, that I could throw together in a few minutes. Normally pulao is made with rice, but I was curious to see how it would work with vermicelli.
I adapted the recipe from two sources, the back of the packet (don't laugh, remember the Canada Cornstarch Cookies?), and from one of my favourite Indian food doyennes, Madhur Jaffery. Madhur has a lovely, simple vegetable rice pulao that works flawlessly every single time and I figured it should work with vermicelli as well. I also cut down the spice to make it Aditi-friendly, and added a few bits and bobs of my own to enhance the taste a bit.
The finished dish was pretty good. It had all the flavour of a pulao, but the twist of the vermicelli made it unusual and kid friendly. Its chock full of veggies, and took all of 15 minutes to prep, and roughly another 15 minutes to cook. I served it with some sliced radishes and broccoli, and voila! Easy smeasy dinner for three, with leftovers for Kay's lunch even!
2 cups vermicelli (I used the MTR brand)
1 sprig of curry leaves
1 tsp mustard seeds
1/2 tsp grated ginger
1/2 tsp ground turmeric
1 tsp garam masala
1 carrot, diced small
1 medium potato, diced small
1/4 cup peas, fresh or frozen
1 tsp salt, or to taste
3 cups boiling water
2 tbsp oil
1 tbsp lemon juice (optional)
Add 1 tbsp oil to a pan, and saute the dry vermicelli until a light brown colour. Keep aside.
In a pot, heat the remaining oil, and add the curry leaves and mustard seeds.
When the mustard seeds pop (takes around 10 - 30 seconds), add the diced carrot, potato, peas, turmeric, garam masala and grated ginger. Fry for a minute or two, stirring constantly, until well mixed.
Now add the vermicelli and salt to the pot, stir together, and fry for another minute. Add the boiling water, and cover the pot with a tight fitting lid.
Cook for 8 - 12 minutes, until the vermicelli is cooked and soft. Open the lid, and fluff up the pulao with a fork before serving.
Sprinkle over 1 tbsp lemon juice, if you like.
Note: You can replace the vermicelli with rice for ordinary pulao. Instead of adding the vermicelli, add rice measured up to 450ml in a measuring cup, and add 600ml boiling water. Cook for 20 minutes, on a low heat with a very tight fitting lid. Open, check to see if the rice has cooked, and if it has, fluff up and serve.