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When Hunger Strikes and You are Broke in India | Volunteerinindia.com
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When Hunger Strikes and You are Broke

dal tadka india

When Hunger Strikes and You are Broke in India

Or simply because you want to cook something Indian…

If you are a solo traveler in India and on a budget, food is something that might become a problem if you are here to stay for a long time. Eating food from outside everyday wouldn’t be the healthiest option (more importantly it burns a whole in your pocket). Also, if you are not spice friendly, surviving here without knowing few simple culinary stunts with locally available ingredients might become tough!

In this post we have put together for you four easy recipes – Rice, Dal, yummy Fried Rice and Lady Fingers Sautee. All these ingredients are easy available in the local market. And the food is easy to put together.

boiled riceRICE:

For most rice, use a 1:2 ratio of one cup of rice to two cups of water. Measure a half cup of uncooked rice per person and scale this ratio up or down depending on how much you’re making.

How to Cook Rice on the Stove


1 cup rice

2 cups water

1/2 teaspoon salt

1 tablespoon butter or oil (optional)


Small (2-quart or so) saucepan with a lid

Stirring spoon


Pre-cooking: It’s good practice to rinse your rice in a strainer before cooking. This isn’t strictly necessary, but it will rinse off any dusty starch on the surface of the rice along with any leftover chaff or stray particles. (Some rices have more starchy coating than others.)

  1. Measure the Rice and Water: For most rice, use a 1:2 ratio of one cup of rice to two cups of water. Measure a half cup of uncooked rice per person and scale this ratio up or down depending on how much you’re making. Some rice varieties will need a little less or a little more water as it cooks, so check the package for specific instructions.
  1. Boil the Water: Bring the water to boil in a small sauce pan. Rice expands as it cooks, so use a saucepan large enough to accommodate. A 2-quart saucepan for one to two cups of uncooked rice is a good size.
  1. Add the Rice: When the water has come to a boil, stir in the rice, salt, and butter (if using), and bring it back to a gentle simmer.
  1. Cover and Cook: Cover the pot and turn the heat down to low. Don’t take off the lid while the rice is cooking — this lets the steam out and affects the cooking time.

Approximate cooking times:

  • White Rice: 18 to 25 minutes
  • Brown Rice: 30 to 40 minutes
  • Wild Rice: 45 to 60 minutes

Start checking the rice around 18 minutes for white rice and 30 minutes for brown rice. When done, the rice will be firm but tender, and no longer crunchy. It is fine if it’s slightly sticky but shouldn’t be gummy. If there is still water left in the pan when the rice is done, tilt the pan to drain it off.

  1. Turn Off the Heat and Remove the Lid: When the rice is done, turn off the heat and take off the lid. Fluff the rice with a spoon or a fork, and let it sit for a few moments to “dry out” and lose that wet, just-steamed texture.

Rice keeps well in the fridge for several days, so you can make extra ahead to serve later.



1/2 cup Masoor Dal

1 Tomato (Tamatar)

1/2 tsp Jeera

1/4 tsp Turmeric (Haldi) Powder

2 Green chilli

3 tsp Oil

1 level tsp Salt (Namak)

3 Garlic (Lasun) Cloves

How to make simple dal:

Boil the dal with salt, turmeric powder and slit green chillies.

In another pan, heat oil, add the jeera, tomatoes and garlic pods, sauté on a high flame till the tomatoes are soft and pulpy.

Add the boiled dal into this with little water, boil well for 15 minutes to incorporate the masala into the dal, garnish with coriander.


Fried Rice:

mushrooms -250 gms

onion – 2 sliced thinly

capsicum – 2 sliced thinly

carrots – 1 sliced thinly

ginger garlic paste – 1 tbsp

green chillies – 2 finely chopped

oil – 2 tbsp

soya sauce – 1 tsp

red chilly sauce – 2 tbsp

ajinomoto – 1 tsp

salt to taste

rice cooked – 2 cups


  1. Boil 4 cups of water and add mushrooms and salt to it and boil for 5 minits. Drain and keep aside.
  2. In a pan heat oil.
  3. Add ginger garlic paste and green chilles and saute for some time.
  4. Add onion and saute.
  5. Add capsicum and carrots.
  6. Add mushrooms and cook for some time till the mushrooms are cooked.
  7. Add soya sauce and chilly sauce and ajinomoto.
  8. Add salt as per the taste.
  9. Add rice and mix well.
  10. Serve hot and garnish with spring onion.


bhindi indian styleClassic Lady Finger Sautee:

250 g okra, chopped into 1 inch pieces

1 onion, sliced

A few cloves crushed garlic

1/2 teaspoon ginger

Canola oil

1 large tomato, chopped

1 teaspoon salt or 3/4 (according to your taste)

1/2 teaspoon chilli powder

1/2 teaspoon turmeric

1/2 teaspoon garam masala (optional)

1/2 teaspoon black pepper

1 green chilly, finely chopped



Heat oil in a saucepan/skillet.

Fry onions till translucent and edges browned. Add garlic and ginger. Fry for about a minute.

Add salt, chilli powder, turmeric, garam masala and pepper.

Add chopped tomatoes and saute for 5 minutes or till it becomes soft and loses its water content.

There are two alternatives for cooking the okra. It can be added directly to the sauteed tomatoes and cooked for 10-15 minutes covered or the okra can be separately deep fried and added to the sauteed tomatoes subsequently. Deep frying the okra will give you non-slimy, dry okra.

Go ahead and give it a try! Bon apetit!