Friday, March 30, 2007

March 29, 2007: Tandoori veges with lemon rice

The last installment in SBS's Hooray for Bollywood movie series was the fabulous Kuch Naa Kaho. It's a fine example of a modern Bollywood romance and includes one of my favourite musical numbers, where a traditional engagement party in a lavish setting is transformed into a battle-of-the-sexes dance-off: how frustrating that subtitles for the lyrics disappear half-way through!

To accompany the movie, we prepared tandoori veges and lemon rice. Since sampling the delicious tandoori cauliflower at Tandoori Times, I've been re-inspired by the marinade that is so often only seen on chicken. Michael noticed a pouch of tandoori spices at Spice Bazaar last weekend and immediately I had to own it, I had to try my own hand at tandoori veges! After looking at one or two recipes on the internet, it was Michael who adlibbed his own marinade and it turned out very well. The resulting veges didn't closely resemble their TT inspiration, but a lack of oil and fake colouring can only be a good thing. A hot oven doesn't give as much charring as I like, but we did pack the veges in pretty tightly together. A barbeque would probably be an effective alternative cooking method.

What I particularly enjoyed about the Tandoori Times cauliflower was the distinct lemon tang, and this was what had me chasing up a lemon rice recipe as an accompaniment. It's another gem from Mridular Baljekar's Low-Fat Indian Vegetarian Cookbook - the mustard seeds and cashews are a real treat, and the luminous colouring comes not from scary fake lemon, but from ground turmeric.

Tandoori veges

Lots of peeled and diced veges: we used 5 medium potatoes, a huge carrot, a head of cauliflower, 2 red capsicums and 8-10 large white mushrooms

For the marinade:
1 1/2 cups yoghurt
4 garlic cloves, minced
1 tablespoon tandoori spice mix (a quick internet search will give you an idea of what ground spices to combine if you don't have a pre-mixed combination like ours)
juice of one lemon
1/3 cup water

Whisk together the marinade ingredients and a bowl. Arrange the veges in a couple of baking dishes and pour the marinade over. Gently stir the veges around so that they're evenly coated in the yoghurt mix. Let the trays sit for half an hour so that the flavours develop, then bake at 200 degrees for about half an hour. Stir the veges occasionally to recoat with the settled marinade.

Lemon rice

1 cup basmati rice
2 tablespoons vegetable oil
1 teaspoon black mustard seeds
a handful of cashews, roughly chopped
1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
1 teaspoon salt
2 tablespoons lemon juice

Wash the rice in cold water and leave it to soak for 15-20 minutes. Drain.

Heat the oil in a saucepan and then add the mustard seeds and cashews. Let them sizzle for no more half a minute, then remove the cashews (it doesn't matter if some of the mustard seeds come out too).

Add the rice, turmeric and salt to the saucepan and stir-fry for 2-3 minutes. Pour in 2 cups of hot water and the lemon juice. Bring the rice to the boil and continue to boil for two minutes.

Cover the saucepan, reduce the heat to low and cook for 10 minutes. Remove from heat and let the rice stand for 6-7 minutes. Only now should fluff up the rice with a fork.

Serve the rice, garnished with the cashews.


  1. Sounds delicious.

    Am off to make tandoori cauliflower. Immediately!

    Herbies spices do a beetroot powder (completely natural, but shocking pink colour) that might add a bit of that tandoori colour, additive-free.

  2. I've never seen beetroot powder before! (Just found it in Herbie's catalogue...) It would definitely give these veges a festive colour to match their lively taste.