I must admit, the topic of this column intrigues me. Twenty minutes in general does not leave time for anything ultra elaborate, whether it’s a good workout or getting ready for a special evening. But, quite frankly, after a busy day, ‘quick and easy’ is sometimes the order of the day.

This opportunity knocked just as I returned home from an inspirational Food Blogger conference. I was knee deep in clearing out my kitchen for an overdue renovation. Ideally, I’d have launched my maiden post by prepping and executing a great debut with a planned recipe, but as often happens with fixing dinner, things never go as planned. And that can lead to some memorable meals.

The choice of using broccoli isn’t totally random. Broccoli and cauliflowers are cruciferous vegetables related to mustard, although it takes some imagination to associate the traditional pungency of mustard with these. But just as a painting combines tints and shades of a colour, pairing different ingredients from the same family can result in some fabulous flavour creations.

In this case, I perk up the mild soup by drizzling a few drops of pickle oil or sauce from traditional mustard based condiments such as ‘Kadugu maangai’ or ‘Avakkai’ just prior to serving. Just as you need a mere ‘touch’ of the condiment to elevate that iconic South Indian staple, yogurt rice to heights of ecstasy, the same rule applies to this creamy, flavourful and filling soup.

As with all my recipes, I like to cite my references if I’ve been inspired by other authors/bloggers. This particular recipe has been inspired and adapted from Ree Drummond’s blog ‘The Pioneer Woman’.

Cream of Broccoli & green pea soup

(makes ~ 4 servings, Prep time: ~10 min, Cooking time: ~ 20 min)

You need:

• 1 1\2 cups Broccoli florets (no stalks) shredded through a grater

• 1\2 cup fresh, frozen or dried green peas

• 4 tablespoons Ghee

• 2 medium sized onions finely diced

• 1\2 teaspoon powdered cumin

• 1\2 cup all purpose flour (Maida)

• 2 – 2 1\2 cups milk (add more as per taste)

• Fresh cracked peppercorn to taste

• 1\2 - 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese (depending on how thick you prefer your soup)

• Salt to taste

• Your choice of any mustard based traditional pickle sauce/oil


Add one cup of water to the peas and pressure cook them until soft. Using the back of a spoon, mash the peas and set aside.

Simultaneously, heat the ghee in a heavy bottomed pan. Just as it begins to shimmer, add diced onions and sauté for about 5 minutes on medium heat, until they turn soft and translucent. Add powdered cumin, and mix it well with the onion. (This allows the aromatic oils from the spice to be released). Now stir in the flour and cook for about a minute. Then add shredded broccoli, cracked peppercorn and just a pinch of salt (Add the salt judiciously since the cheese already contains plenty of it). Stir in milk, adjust the heat to medium-low, add the cooked peas and cook until the broccoli is soft. (~15 minutes)

Add cheese and allow it to melt completely. Remove from heat, taste and adjust for seasonings. Serve as is if you like a chunky home style texture, or if you prefer a silky smooth texture, pour the soup into a blender in batches and puree till it reaches your preferred consistency. Strain, ladle into bowls and serve warm with wedges of toast. Serve the condiment on the side to be added as per your preference. For an even milder variation, substitute the broccoli with shredded cauliflower.

She has three Masters degrees. Has lived in three continents. And is a full time mom to two kids. Nivedita Mani exults in culinary experiments, combining traditional techniques with foreign ingredients. And vice versa. Follow her on http://www.panfusine.com


Dinner in 20 minutes July 18, 2014