Roll With It, Baby… Vegetarian Maki

My friend’s mom showed me how to make basic vegetarian maki* years ago.  I did this mostly from memory and with some confirmation from the internet.  You should feel free to play with the vinegar and rice seasoning proportions and different types of raw (or cooked) veggies until you find what best fits your taste buds.  Rice seasonings come in many varieties and are available in the Japanese food aisles of most Asian grocery stores, as are nori sheets.  I have not checked the international food aisles of any standard grocery stores so I can’t speak to availability in those types of stores.  A number of rice seasoning mixes contain dried fish products, so check the ingredients list before making a purchase.

 

Ingredients

  • 3 cups cooked sushi rice (1 cup uncooked)
  • 1/4 cup rice vinegar
  • Rice seasoning to taste
  • 1 tsp sugar (if rice seasoning does not contain sugar)
  • 1 cup julienned veggies, such as carrots, celery, cucumbers, zucchini, avocados, bell peppers, etc
  • 3 or 4 scallions, green parts only
  • Nori (seaweed) sheets
  • Pickled ginger (optional)
  • Wasabi (optional)
  • Tamari or soy sauce (optional)

 

Special Equipment

  • Sushi rolling mat, bamboo

 

Directions

1.  Mix the rice, vinegar and rice seasoning (and sugar, if using) until well-combined.  The mixture should be a little sticky.

2.  Lay the sushi rolling mat flat.  Place a sheet of nori on it.  Spread a layer of rice about 1/2 an inch thick on one half of the nori sheet.  Place a line of julienned veggies and scallions down the center of the rice.

3.  Lift the rice end of the sushi rolling mat and start rolling, pressing firmly but not too hard.  You may need to use your fingers at first to keep the veggies from slipping out.  Keep rolling until you have made a circle with the rice, and then continue to roll the rest of the length of the nori sheet.  You may need to lift away the rolling mat as you go, so the remainder of the nori sheet can adhere to the outside of the roll.

4.  Place the finished roll on a cutting board and gently cut into slices.  I make my slices about 1 1/2 inches thick, but you can do whatever works best for you.  You should get six to eight pieces per roll.

5.  Serve as is, or with wasabi, soy/tamari sauce and pickled ginger.

6.  Store in a tightly-lidded container in the refrigerator for up to a few days.  (I usually store the ingredients separately, and simply put together fresh rolls each day until I finish off the rice and veggies.)

 

*  I always get confused by the different types of sushi.  As a reminder, maki are rolls made with seaweed, rice and fillings; nigiri are raw fish on top of rice; and sashimi are sliced raw fish.  Within these categories and across regions, there are many variations and traditions, but these simple definitions should suffice for the home cook.

Four Rice Recipes to Fill Your Fridge… Well, Your Belly Anyway

Pongal (harvest festival) was just a few weeks ago.  Many people celebrate it as three or four separate days.  Each day has different purposes/meanings, different traditions/rituals and, most importantly, different menus!  I guess I’ll get most of the recipes online eventually, but for today I’ll focus on mixed rice recipes made on the third/fourth days.  The basic ingredients in these four recipes are quite similar, but a few different ingredients in each recipe make it eminently distinguishable from the others.  The ingredients should all be available at your local Indian or other Asian grocery store.  These can be served with any combination of veggies, salads, chutneys, pickles and papad/chips.

 

Coconut Rice

Ingredients

2 tsps canola or other vegetable oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tbsp urad dhal

1 tbsp channa dhal

2 dried red chillies

Pinch of hing (asafoetida)Handful of cashew nuts, halved

2 to 4 small green chillies (Thai or other hot green chilli peppers), to taste

7 or 8 curry leaves

1 cup shredded coconut

3 cups cooked rice (about 1 cup uncooked)

Salt to taste

 

Directions

1.  Put the cooked rice in a large, shallow bowl that is easy for mixing.

2.  In a small frying pan or saucepan, heat the oil until hot.  Add the mustard seeds.  When the seeds start popping, add the urad dhal, channa dhal, dried red chillies and hing.  As the dhals start to brown, add the cashews and saute until the cashews begin to get a golden color.  Add the green chillies, curry leaves and shredded coconut and saute for just a minute or two.

3.  Remove the pan from the heat and pour the coconut mixture over the rice.  Using a large, flat spoon or spatula, gently toss the rice and coconut mixture until it has combined.  Salt to taste.  Can be served warm or at room temperature.  Can be kept refrigerated in a tightly-lidded container for several days.


Lemon Rice

Ingredients

2 tsps canola or other vegetable oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tbsp urad dhal

1 tbsp channa dhal

Handful of peanuts, halved

1 tsp turmeric powder

2 to 6 green chillies, depending on taste

7 or 8 curry leaves

1/4 cup lemon juice, or juice of one large lemon

3 cups cooked rice (one cup uncooked)

Salt to taste

Cilantro, chopped for garnish

 

Directions

1.  Put the cooked rice in a large, shallow bowl and set aside.

2.  In a small frying pan or saucepan, heat the oil until hot.  Add the mustard seeds.  When the seeds start popping, add the urad dhal and channa dhal.  As the dhals start to brown, add the peanuts and saute until the peanuts begin to get a golden color.  Add the green chillies and curry leaves and saute for a few seconds.  Add the turmeric powder and lemon juice, saute for a few seconds, and turn off the heat.

3.  Pour the lemon mixture over the rice.  Using a large, flat spoon or spatula, gently toss the rice and lemon mixture until it has combined.  Salt to taste.  Garnish with chopped cilantro.  Can be served warm or at room temperature.  Can be kept refrigerated in a tightly-lidded container for several days.


Tamarind Rice

Ingredients

2 tsps canola or other vegetable oil

1 tbsp tamarind paste

1/2 tsp turmeric powder

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tbsp + 1 tbsp urad dhal

1 tbsp + 1 tbsp channa dhal

1/4 tsp methi seeds (fenugreek)

1 tsp coriander seeds

6 dried red chillies

Pinch of hing (asafoetida)

Handful of peanuts, halved

7 or 8 curry leaves

3 cups cooked rice (one cup uncooked)

Salt to taste

 

Directions

1.  In a small frying pan, dry roast 1 tbsp urad dhal, 1 tbsp channa dhal, 1/4 tsp methi seeds, 1 tsp coriander seeds, 3 dried red chillies and hing.  Grind to a fine powder using a coffee or spice grinder.  Set aside.

2.  In the same frying pan, heat the oil.  Add the mustard seeds.  When mustard seeds begin to pop, add 1 tbsp urad dhal, 1 tbsp channa dhal and 3 dried red chillies.  Saute for a few minutes and then add the peanuts.  When the peanuts become golden brown, add the turmeric powder, tamarind paste, 1/2 tsp of salt and 1/2 cup water.  Bring to a simmer and cook until the mixture becomes a little thick.  Add the spice powder from the previous step and the curry leaves and mix well.  Remove from heat.

3.  Put the cooked rice in a large, shallow bowl.  Pour the tamarind spice mixture over the rice.  Use a large, flat spoon or spatula to gently mix the tamarind spice mixture and rice.  Serve warm or at room temperature.  Can be stored in the fridge in a tightly-lidded container for a few days.


Curd Rice

Ingredients

2 tsps canola or other vegetable oil

1 tsp mustard seeds

1 tbsp urad dhal

1 tbsp channa dhal

Pinch of hing (asafoetida)

2 to 4 green chillies, chopped

7 or 8 curry leaves, chopped

2 cups cooked rice (2/3 cup uncooked), cooled

2 tbsp minced ginger (fresh)

2 to 3 cups of buttermilk or yogurt

Salt to taste

 

Directions

1.  Put the cooked and cooled rice in a large, shallow bowl.  Add the ginger and 1/2 tsp of salt.  Using your hand, mix the rice, ginger and salt.  Squeeze as you mix in order to break down the rice grains.  Slowly add buttermilk or yogurt, mixing with your hand as you go.  Put the curry leaves and green chillies on top of the rice mixture and set aside.

2.  In a small frying pan, heat the oil until hot.  Add the mustard seeds.  When the mustard seeds pop, add the urad dhal, channa dhal and hing.  When the dhals become slightly brown, remove from heat and pour over the rice mixture.  Mix well with a spoon.

3.  Serve with spicy, Indian pickles.  Can be stored in the fridge for a few days, but really tastes best and has the best texture on the day it was made.