Of real life monsters and French(???) rice

Fairy tales are so naïve. There are tomes written about monsters that are perpetually hungry and need to be fed all the time. Sigh…. No such luck in real life… As far as my experience with real life monsters (I have a 6 year old)  goes, they do not eat food and prefer to survive mostly on thin air with some chocolates and sweets for dessert.

Having read Julie and Julia recently (I loved it), I was itching to try out some French cuisine. So I tried out a very simple recipe for French rice. I was pleasantly surprised to see my monster gobble up the rice and ask for a second helping…I nearly fell off my chair.

Here is the recipe. Nothing hard and fast. You can interpret it liberally. Very easy to cook.

You will need:

  • Rice -2 cups (will suffice for 3-4 adults)
  • Water – 4 cups (depends on the variety of rice. Twice normally works. Slightly more is better than slightly less)
  • Onion – 1 medium size- Cut thin and long.
  • Garlic- 1 Clove peeled(you can use Appa’s patented method) and chopped fine.
  • Butter- 2 Tablespoons.
  • Chicken/ Veg Soup cubes- 2.  A word here on Veg soup cubes-While the ‘Maggi’ chicken cubes available everywhere work well, do not use the normally available ‘Maggi’ Veg cubes. They are good for Indian dishes- with turmeric, chilly powder and all. Use the imported Maggi cubes (you get small packets with some Thai lettering) that you get in select supermarkets. These are pretty good.
  • Heavy bottom pan with lid which can hold the rice and water and have at least 1.5 to 2 inches on the top left over.


1.       Wash the rice well in another pan. Drain and add the water. Add a teaspoon of salt.

2.       Melt 1 tablespoon butter in the pan and lightly sauté the onions.

3.       Add the Rice with the water

4.       Powder and add the soup cubes.

5.       Wait for the water to boil. Give one nice stir and reduce the flame to a simmer. Cover the pan.

6.       DO NOT OPEN the lid for 20 mins. After that, switch off the flame and let it stand for 5 mins.

7.       Uncover the pan, fluff the rice with a fork.

8.       Add a tablespoon of butter and mix well.

9.       Serve hot.

10.   Cheating method- the first time I made this, I did not have any soup cubes at home. I cooked the rice as above without the cubes, rushed to the shop and got the soup cubes. I then boiled half a cup of water separately, added the powdered cubes and butter and mixed it well into the rice. It smelled and tasted heavenly.

A word of caution on the nomenclature- I served this rice to a French friend of ours who came over. While she politely ate it, when I told her that this was French rice, she vehemently disowned it. So I am not sure about the origin. However my monster loves it and this is enough reason for me to make it more often.

Bon appétit!

Peeling Garlic

I love using garlic in my cooking – but peeling it is an onerous, odorous task! The smell of the garlic stays on your fingers for a few days, and this can be unappetizing when you are eating laddoos, for instance!  The standard way to quickly peel garlic can be googled – check it out on AllRecipes. However, the last time my mother was in town, she taught me a quick & un-smelly method that I hadn’t seen before:

  1. Toss in the garlic and a few teaspoons of water into a microwave safe bowl.
  2. Microwave for 30 seconds.
  3. Rejoice, for you can easily squeeze the pods of garlic out of their skins!