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Butternut Squash & Thyme Oats


Oats are usually a forgotten breakfast option at home. Strangely enough, the thought of eating oats is far less comforting than actually eating a hot bowl for breakfast. We prefer savoury recipes to sweet ones, and I try doing something different with them every time to keep things interesting. Butternut Squash in this recipe is often swapped with other winter squash varieties based on what I have at home.

About 80 gm rolled oats, coarsely ground
Extra-virgin olive oil, as desired
Few sprigs of thyme
1 small onion
1 small garlic clove
1 cup grated butternut squash
Up to 2 cups of boiled water
1/2 cup almond milk or any milk 
Salt per taste
Cracked pepper
Any hard cheese to grate on top (optional), I used aged cheddar

1. Warm some olive oil in a pot, add leaves from a few thyme sprigs and cook for a few seconds until fragrant. Add finely chopped garlic and onion and sauté for a few minutes until the onions soften.
2. Add grated butternut squash and sauté for another few minutes.
3. Add oats, about a cup of boiled water, salt per your taste and let it cook for a few minutes. Add more water as required and cook for about 5 minutes or until the oats are fully cooked.
4. Add almond milk and cook for a few more minutes until the oats have a risotto-like consistency.
5. Transfer to a serving bowl, finish off with grated cheese and cracked pepper.
6. Optional: In a small pan, fry some thyme leaves in a few tsp of olive oil and spoon on top before serving.

– Use any other winter squash instead of butternut squash.
– You can use any other herbs like rosemary, oregano, or sage. Follow the same process as thyme in step 6 the recipe.
– You can either choose to peel the butternut squash or grate it with the peel. As its grated, the tough skin won’t take long to cook.
– I use rolled oats and coarsely ground them in a food processor to quicken the cooking time and get a more creamy consistency.
– Serve topped with roasted nuts or seeds if desired.
– I make a small batch of almond milk at home for this and similar recipes. My Indian mixer grinder’s chutney jar comes in handy. You can also use a small jar on a NutriBullet. To make the milk, soak about 20 almonds overnight. Peel almonds, and blend in a jar with ~50ml cup water until you have a thick, smooth paste. Add another 50ml water and blend again to combine.

Whole Green Moong Dal


A weekly staple at home, calling this dal is a bit of a misnomer. Moong or mung bean is not a lentil, but any split form of moong is called dal in India. This version, made with whole beans, has always been called dal at home probably because the cooked dish is a mushy, dal like consistency.

The tadka, albeit simple, is versatile and can be used for any other dal or vegetables. The recipe does not use many spices or garam masala, as that’s how I prefer most of my food, but feel free to add if you like.

Ingredients (serves 2)
70 gm whole green moong / mung bean, soaked overnight
Some oil or ghee
1 tsp cumin seeds
1 small onion, finely chopped
1 large or 2-3 small garlic cloves, finely chopped
About an inch of ginger, finely chopped
1 large tomato, puréed
1 tbsp kasuri methi (dried fenugreek)
1 tsp turmeric
1/2 to 1 tsp red chili powder, based on potency
Salt, per your taste
Coriander, a little handful – finely chopped 
Water, as required

1. Soak moong overnight in enough water. Soaking helps activate the dal for easier digestion and quickens cooking time.
2. Before cooking the dal, rinse, throw away soaking liquid.
3. Add a little salt and ~ 2 cups of water, cook in a pressure cooker for 3 whistles. Open only after the cooker depressurises. Mash dal a bit with a dal ghotni, whisk, or ladle by stirring continuously. Mashing will give your dal a thicker and even consistency. Keep aside to mix in step 10.
4. If you don’t have a pressure cooker, cook in a pot until the dal is mushy and fully cooked; add more water in the pot as it cooks if required.
5. For the tadka, add about a tbsp of oil or ghee to a pan. Once warm enough, add cumin seeds and let them splutter.
6. Sauté onions, ginger, and garlic on moderate heat until they are softened and a little browned.
7. Turn off heat and add turmeric and chilli powder (stops spices from burning). Mix well and let it sit for a minute or so.
8. Add puréed tomatoes and turn the heat back on. Let it cook until the spices fully cook and oil separates. Add a splash of water if required.
9. Add hand crushed kasuri methi and cook for a few minutes on low heat.
10. Add cooked dal to this tadka, mix well, season with salt, and cook further for 5-10 mins on medium-low heat. Add boiled water if you want a runnier dal consistency.
11. Finish it off with chopped coriander and a spoonful of ghee (skip if vegan) before serving. Serve with steamed rice or roti.

– Serve with steamed rice, rotis/phulke, or plain parathas.
– If your kasuri methi is a bit moist and won’t crush, dry roast for about a minute on a low flame. Let it cool and crush in between your palms.
– The same tadka can be used for any lentil or bean variety. Kasuri methi pairs best with green moong or black urad. Skip for other beans and lentils.
– Make a single portion or double it up to last two meals. Have leftovers? Mix your dal in whole wheat flour with some spices and additional seasoning to make dal ke parathe.