Thermos Lunch Recipe
- 1/4 cup yellow mung dahl (wash well)
- 1/4 cup basmati rice (wash well)
- 1 1/2 cup fresh vegetables (cut to a size that will fit into the thermos)
- Spices to taste (e.g. salt, pepper, cumin, ginger, turmeric etc.)
- 1 TBS ghee
- 2 cups water
- Mustard seeds (until they pop)
- Cumin seeds (until flavor is brought out and light brown)
- Fresh, chopped ginger (until light brown)
- Ground turmeric (3-5 seconds)
- Ground black pepper (3-5 seconds)
In a pot gently fry spices in about 1 TBS of ghee for a few seconds (ground spices), add mung dahl, rice and chopped vegetables to the spices and oil. Cover well with the water, and boil for two minutes only. Without wasting time pour the mixture into a one liter thermos flask (you may need to use a spoon to help it go in more easily.) Screw on the lid quickly, and leave the thermos closed for approximately four hours. The meal will cook while you go about your business and will be freshly cooked and ready to eat four hours later.
Note: You may like to experiment with quantities and cooking times. Always remember that the mung dahl and rice swell up substantially so that you need a generous amount of water for proper consistency (and ease of serving).
Heavier lentils and beans will need more than 2 minutes of cooking. They should be cooked first after frying the spices, and rice next and then vegetables should be added later.
Heavier vegetables like carrot, beets etc. need 1-2 minutes of cooking along with rice and dahl. Spinach and other light, leafy vegetables can be added just a few seconds before pouring the whole dish into the thermos (just to warm it up).
If the time between cooking and eating is 5-6 hours, then less than 2 minutes cooking on the stove is necessary. If the time is only 2-3 hours then a little more is required. The exact amount of time also depends on how well your food or thermos retains heat.
* Note on Spices: Frying spices correctly to bring out their full flavor and value without burning them is quite an art. (Don’t have the ghee or oil at a temperature which is so high that smoke develops in the kitchen). Begin with whole spices such as fresh chopped ginger, whole black pepper, cumin seeds, mustard seeds. Fry them one by one until they turn a light brown and their flavor is brought out. Then add the ground spices such as ginger, cumin, turmeric, cardamom, pepper. (Note: A spice is generally used either whole or ground in one dish; not both ways). Then add water. The recommendation is that you follow the basic recipe (given above) to begin with. Skill and repertoire will grow very naturally and rapidly with your daily experience.