It is with great pleasure that I welcome my friend, Helene Dsouza, food blogger at Masala Herb, to Good Things. Helene's blog is a melting pot of global dishes: Austrian, French, Indian and fusion; and is a visual and culinary feast. You will find recipes as diverse as Semolina Dumplings (Grießknödel); French Yogurt cake (Gateau au yaourt); and Red Spinach stir fry (Tambdi Bhaji). Helene was born in Austria and her family has both French and Austrian origins. After graduating from hotel management and commerce studies in Salzburg, Helene decided to take a break, spread her wings and travel to India. It was there that she met her husband and they live in Goa, which is (according to Lonely Planet) 'a tiny, glorious slice of India hugging the country’s western coastline and bounded by the Arabian Sea'. In this guest post, Helene shares her recipe for a mushroom and pea pulao. Now, over to Helene...
'Lizzy asked me to share with you my earliest food memories... well there are so many... such as tarts, christmas cookies, croissant and pain au chocolate when ever we would go to France. Then knödel (Austrian dumplings), my beloved sauerkraut, rabbit liver (we would feed my uncle's rabbits, they would slaughter them and I was terrified to eat the bunnies, but my parents would always force us to eat them, so I would choose the rabbit liver which I found out I enjoyed), my mother's vegetable soup, strawberry jam (before strawberry fields were common in the 90s and we would go and pick many kilograms and I used to pick and eat them happily), blueberry jam (we would go to the forest on Sundays in July to pick them and I always loved to do that), potato with melted raclette cheese and a glass of fresh cow's milk on Saturdays (because my father comes from a farmer family and fresh organic milk is a must). My hardworking grandmother, my cousin and I would collect the potatoes in the fields and we would the boil potatoes and my mum would melt raclette cheese. When I look back I miss those times because everything has changed!
I am inspired by food that surprises me or food from around the world or by certain ingredients. Spices and herbs are another reason for me to get cooking. When I have a clean and proper working space, that inspires me as well and I will cook also because I am rarely satisfied by the food one can get in coastline restaurants in Goa. There are 1000 restaurants, but just a handful cook gorgeous food (and with that I don't mean only the expensive restaurants).
To me, Australia has always been the "fancy land" at the other end of the world, or at least that is how I have been regarding it. On the other hand, everybody in my new home in India thinks that I am either a Russian (not sure how that came to happen) or an Australian because my home country Austria apparently "doesn’t exist" in their world and so they keep on throwing me into the Australian box and people regard me as the outback girl in Goa. Fortunately, it doesn’t bother me. I am proud to count talented food bloggers such as Lizzy and co as my friends; and therefore you can call me an Australian, if it makes you happy. =D
Jokes aside... I would like to thank Lizzy for allowing me to share a recipe here on Bizzy Lizzy’s Good Things, it’s an absolute honour! [Lizzy says: Not at all, thank you, and the honour is all mine, Helene!]. I was wondering what you would like to read here and I came to the conclusion that something Indian would be a good choice.
Not everybody enjoys Indian food and let me tell you I understand why. I took ages to become accustomed to the explosion of different spice loads, which on top of that are all combined in one dish. It’s an extremely torturing way of treating your sensible tongue receptors, if you are not accustomed to spices. To reach from barely eating a spoonful of rice curry to gobbling up the whole plate with pleasure takes a lot of determination and practice. Sure, there are always those naturals, people who fall in love on first taste, the kind of people who eat a couple of raw chillies in ease, but my experience is that most of the Western (or "down under" folks) tend to have a hard time swallowing real Indian food.
What do I mean by "real Indian food"? Well, you see, Indian food abroad has been westernised a bit. One can blame the non-availability of certain ingredients for the trend, but also something that many people don’t consider is the fact that restaurants nearly always try to adjust to the wants of the customers in the surrounding area. The same can be applied to any type of cuisines abroad, but Asian cuisine seems to be the most affected by this trend. I personally don’t consider this as bad, but I have to chuckle when a European friend proclaims her/himself the Curry queen/king, then the moment I introduce the real deal they twist their face in such a way, it’s as if they have never had Indian food before.
Then again this might not be the case in Australia... Anyway... I wanted to make sure today that everybody would be able to try my recipe, a mushroom and green pea pulao. Pulao is basically a very lightly spiced rice dish in India. There are countless versions out there and each state and family house has a recipe of their own. An Indian lunch often consists of some kind of gravy or curry, a rice side, different vegetable sides. In Goa a spicy pickle is another little extra on your plate. Depending on the dish, fish or meats are also added, although pork is only common amongst the Catholics.
Since my mushroom and green peas pulao is a basic recipe, you can enjoy it with dishes such as butter chicken, Mutter Paneer (peas and cottage cheese) and even a Goan Pork sorpotel. The flavours in the pulao are well balanced and quite smooth. The preparation couldn’t be easier and it’s another quick recipe to help you save time without reducing food quality. I think so I have convinced you by now, haven’t I? ; )
MUSHROOM AND PEA PULAO
3 medium garlic pods
1 1/2 tablespoon clarified butter (Ghee) or butter
1 inch cinnamon stick
1 black cardamom
a pinch of cumin powder
50 grams button mushrooms
40 grams green peas
250 grams rice (I use Basmati Rice)
500 millilitre vegetable stock, or water + ½ a vegetable stock cube
salt, according to your taste
Start by rinsing your rice well until the water is clear. Drain and keep aside. Chop your garlic and in a pan heat up the clarified butter (or butter) and stir fry the garlic for a short time. Add in the spices including the cinnamon stick, black cardamom and cumin powder. Stir fry for a minute or two. Throw in the button mushrooms (either halved or in whole) and green peas. Fry for two minutes and then add in the rinsed rice. Pour in the vegetable stock (or water with ½ vegetable stock cube) and mix well. Season with salt and bring to a boil then take down the heat and let it cook slowly for about 10-15 minutes or until the rice and peas are cooked. While it’s cooking make sure to stir through every once in a while. The end result should be non-mushy and sticky rice grains and vegetables. Fluff up the pulao with a fork before serving hot with other Indian dishes.
Note: all images in this post appear kind courtesy of and are copyright to Helene
Dear Helene, thank you for sharing this wonderful recipe and introducing my readers to your Indian cooking. I greatly appreciate you stepping in with this guest post for me at a time when I need rest. (Thank you from my Peter on this note, too!) I am also delighted to be able to introduce your blog to some of my readers who may not yet know you, and likewise, welcome some new readers from your blog to mine.
Dear Readers, please join me in welcoming Helene to Good Things and make sure you pop in to Masala Herb and sign up for Helene's regular newsletters and recipe updates.
Now please tell me, what are your favourite Indian dishes and do you enjoy spicy foods?
I'm Liz, a.k.a Bizzy Lizzy,
the writer, cook and traveller behind
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NB: I use Australian standard measuring cups and spoons in my recipes.