A college blog for curious readers.

Dorm Food, Indian Style!

Jul 29, 2013 • Hareem Shafi • College Life
Believe it: you can make masoor daal in the microwave!

Believe it: you can make masoor daal in the microwave!

Transitioning to dorm food can be difficult when you’re used to home cooking. A few months into my freshman year at college, with homesickness still nipping at my heels, I began to crave the delectable dishes I used to eat at home: biryani, daal, tandoori chicken.

Up until then, I had been happily surviving on food from the campus cafeteria and numerous packages of Ramen Noodles. I wasn’t in any position to order takeout, but my Pakistani roots were stubborn and demanding. I needed a good home-cooked meal, or else. But all I had was a microwave and a bunch of raw ingredients.

Luckily, there are a number of Indian and Pakistani recipes that are easy to make in the microwave, and just as delicious and healthy as ever. My favorite meal to cook was basmati rice and masoor daal.

Basmati Rice (Servings: 3 to 4)

Ingredients:

  • 2 Quart Microwave-Safe Bowl*
  • 1 Cup Basmati Rice
  • 2 Cups Water
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 2 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil
  • 1/4 Teaspoon Red Chili Powder

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 22 minutes (in a 700W microwave)

Directions:

  • Wash your rice thoroughly before cooking.
  • Add all the ingredients to your bowl, mix carefully, and cover the bowl partially.
  • Set it in the microwave and give it 22 minutes.
  • When the microwave finishes, check the rice. It will be very hot. Carefully remove the lid, allowing any trapped steam to escape. All the water in the rice should have evaporated.
  • Stir the rice with a spoon. It should feel light and fluffy.

*A good way to estimate bowl size is to add one cup of rice and two cups of water to your bowl. If half of the bowl is still empty, the bowl is big enough. Remember, rice expands when it cooks, so it will overflow if the bowl isn’t big enough. The water will also boil during cooking and you don’t want boiling water flooding your microwave.

Masoor Daal (Servings: 3 to 4)

Ingredients:

  • 2 Quart Microwave-Safe Bowl
  • 1 Cup Red Lentils (can be found in the rice and grains aisle at your grocery store)
  • 3 Cups Water
  • 1 Teaspoon Salt
  • 1 Teaspoon Red Chili Powder
  • 1 Teaspoon Cumin Powder
  • 4 Tablespoons Vegetable Oil

Preparation Time: 5 minutes

Cooking Time: 28 minutes (in a 700W microwave)

Directions:

  • Wash the red lentils thoroughly before cooking.
  • Add all the ingredients to your bowl, and mix carefully.
  • Do not cover the bowl with the lid.
  • Microwave for 28 minutes.
  • Some people like their lentils more soupy, while others like the dish to be thicker. For a thicker daal, give it longer in the microwave. For a soupier daal, add a bit of extra water.
  • When the lentils are finished, they should be completely soft. They will now look more yellow than red, and will appear slightly larger and spongier (they have absorbed some moisture) than the original, uncooked lentils.

Basmati rice with masoor daal makes a great, filling meal. It’s easy to make, exceptionally healthy, and give a whole new meaning to dorm food. Enjoy!

Photo Source: flickr.com

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