Monday, February 25, 2008

Tiffin Bento

At long last, I finally put togehter a true tiffin style bento for my lunch yesterday in a leftover takeout container.

Contents: rice with ghee, leftover shortcut ghugni, two halves of roasted plum tomatoes, multi grain pita wedges, a schmear of sweet mango pickle, some yogurt on the side. I would have liked to have fit it all in the same container, but it wasn't going to happen. I must confess that the yogurt on the side was not raita; it was pina colada flavored yogurt that was leftover from breakfast. It served the purpose in cooling the palate, however, because that mango pickle was spicy!

The ghugni was an total shortcut version to its authentic, and more tasty, long simmering traditional preparation. I made this a few nights ago in a pinch when I wanted something hot and comforting and quick using what I had in my pantry. It fit the bill nicely.

Ghugni on the Go

2 tsp oil

2 tsp ground ginger

2 tsp onion powder or 2 tsp dried onion flakes - do not use onion salt!

2 tsp garlic powder
1 15-oz can chick peas, drained and rinsed
2 tbs tomato paste or 1/4 cup tomato sauce

2 tsp ground coriander

2 tsp ground cumin

1 tbs garam masala (available at Indian grocery stores)*

1 tsp cayenne pepper (adjust to taste)

1 chicken bouillion cube

8 oz water (or skip the bouillion cube and water and use chicken broth if you have it)

salt to taste

Lightly coat the bottom of a hot skillet with a small amount of oil. Put in ground ginger, onion powder, and garlic powder. Stir and cook 1 minute. Reduce heat to medium. Add chickpeas, tomato paste or sauce, and garam masala, stir thoroughly. Add garam masala, cayenne pepper, bouillion cube and water. Bring to a boil. Cover and simmer 10 minutes until water has reduced and a sauce remains. Add salt to your taste as needed. Serve with hot rice or pitas.

Notes: As mentioned, this is a very quick version of a very traditional vegetarian Indian dish. I made this up on the fly because I didn't have time, or the foresight for that matter, to soak the chick peas over night and I always have a can or two of chick peas in the pantry. The addition of chicken broth at the end is another departure from tradition, but I like the slow cooked flavor that it adds. Or maybe it doesn't and I have been watching too much food network. Anyway, to make this dish vegan, you can use vegetable broth. Another option would be to use one of those tomato based vegetable juices in place of the tomato sauce/paste/and broth if you have that. I bet that would be good too.

This dish is wonderful for bentos because it is very good at room temperature. I'll post a more traditional recipe for ghugni one of these days too.

Review: I had access to a microwave, so the whole thing went in for 30 seconds and was great. The ghugni was tasty and the combination of the sweet and spicy mango pickle with the ghugni balanced with the rice. The roasted tomatoes were a sweet and juicy addition that I will have to suggest to my mom to bring to parties. So easy and so good. My daughter ate most of the pita wedges, so the one that I had was a good replacement for a traditional flatbreads (paratha, roti, or naan) that would be served with a meal. No waste generated, all containers were brought home and sent straight to the dishwasher.

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