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Kabsa Millet

I grew up in the Middle East and while there were several things I disliked about growing up there, food was never one of them! Kabsa is an incredibly popular dish that originated in Saudi Arabia. Rice, meat, vegetables and spices are cooked together in one large pot and served on a communal platter. Everything about Kabsa is larger than life, from the flavours to the quantity. We have a ‘small’ Kabsa pot that’s 20 inches wide and a serving platter that’s twice as big! Generosity has always been a part of Arab culture and you can definitely see that reflected in their food. You might find versions of this, with a mix of meat, a mix of meat and veg and so on. In all honesty, it’s just biryani. Or is biryani just Kabsa? 

Equipment

Pressure cookers are easily the most used equipment in an Indian household. I don’t think we’ve gone even one day without using a pressure cooker in my house! I’m used to a 2 litre pressure cooker since I mostly cook for myself but since the Wonderchef Easy Lock Pressure Cooker only came in 3L or 5L. I chose the 3L one. My family was pretty sceptical of the Easy Lock. Why mess around with something that already works? To that I say, thank God they did because I think I might like this one better! 

Getting our cooker handles tightened is a bi-monthly chore at my place. I blame the constant tugging and fixing that you do while closing a regular pressure cooker. You can fit the lid of the Easy Lock however you like and just turn the knob to lock it in place. I definitely like to read the manual before using an appliance but I must say that it was as simple as just turning the knob from open to close! The Easy Lock Pressure Cooker also comes with two side handles instead of the traditional one, something that’s often only seen on larger cookers. When it comes to pressure cooker handles, two is always better than one, especially if your hands haven’t reached mum-in-the-kitchen levels of strength like me! 

If you cook your millets earlier, you can easily use the pressure cooker to whip up the rest of this recipe as well. Otherwise, the Wonderchef Granite Non-Stick Wok is a personal favourite of mine especially for recipes that call for eggs, like this one! Since we’re going extra easy with the equipment, I thought we’d do the same with the recipe and use a spice pre-mix. Do I feel guilty about that decision? My grandmother would never think to use ready made sambhar masala and surely I should feel the same right? 

No! 

There is absolutely no shame in using pre mixed spices, masalas and sauces. If it makes something tasty then that’s all you need. Until about two years ago we always asked friends and family coming from the middle east to get us Kabsa masala, but it wasn’t a sustainable model. While the middle eastern mixes are far better I think local Kabsa masalas work well too. You could of course make your own Kabsa masala with equal amounts of turmeric, coriander seeds, black pepper, black cardamom, dry ginger and fennel seeds. Whichever route you choose, this masala mix is one you’ll definitely love!

We make a lot of Kabsa at home but I recently made the change to healthier grains and I ended up loving this combination. Millets taste infinitely better when cooked in stock instead of just water. There was a time when I would make stock at home but I am now a lazy chef so I like to use stock cubes. They come in individually wrapped sachets and I use them in so many recipes, millets included. 

It might seem odd to add the potatoes first, especially before the onions and garlic, but I like to cut them into larger pieces that take longer to cook. Once your potatoes are half-done, you can add your onions, garlic and ginger and cook them together. Once your veggies are cooked, you can either set them aside while you cook the egg or you can do what I like to do which is push my veggies to the outer ring of the pan (a la pav bhaji guy) and just cook the egg in the centre. Did I mention I’m a lazy chef? 

So there you have it, everything you need for the perfect bowl of Kabsa! 

RECIPE CARD
Serves: 2
Time: 45 min

  • ¼ cup foxtail millet 
  • ½ cup water 
  • 1 stock cube 
  • 1 medium potato 
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 large tomato 
  • 3 garlic pods 
  • 2 inch piece of ginger 
  • ¼ tsp turmeric 
  • ½ tsp chilli powder 
  • ¼ tsp salt
  • 1 tsp kabsa powder 
  • 1 egg 
  • ½ tbsp coriander 
  • 1 tbsp butter
  • Lime wedges 
  1. Wash the millet thoroughly and soak for 20-30 minutes 
  2. Drain the soaked millet and transfer to a pressure cooker with 1/2 cup of water and 1 stock cube.*
  3. Pressure cook in a small 1 litre pressure cooker till the first whistle, about 5 minutes. 
  4. Lower the heat and cook for another 3 minutes and set aside for the pressure to release naturally.
  5. While the millet is cooking, prep your vegetables. Chop the potato into 1 inch sized cubes. Roughly chop the onion and tomato. Crush the garlic pods with a garlic press and grate the ginger for maximum flavour. Alternatively, finely chop both garlic and ginger. Finely chop the coriander and set aside.
  6. Add 1 tbsp of oil to a pan and once hot, add the chopped potatoes. 
  7. Add a small amount of water and cover, allowing it to cook for a few minutes. 
  8. Once the potatoes are half done, add chopped onions to the same pan and sauté for a minute. 
  9. Add the garlic and ginger to the onions and cook for a minute. 
  10. Add chopped tomatoes to the pan and cook for 2 minutes. 
  11. Add all spices and salt to the vegetables and cook for 2 minutes 
  12. Push your vegetables to the sides of the pan making a well in the centre and crack an egg into the centre of the pan. 
  13. Scramble the egg immediately and cook for 30 seconds. 
  14. Once the egg is almost cooked, mix with the vegetables and cook for another 30 seconds. 
  15. Open the cooker and fluff the millet with a spoon before adding it to the vegetables and egg. Mix thoroughly. 
  16. Once it’s combined well, add the coriander and butter** to the pan. Adjust the seasoning if required. 
  17. Serve with lime wedges and enjoy! 

Notes: 
*Since I’m using stock cubes, I usually find that it salts the millet well enough for my taste. If you’re not using stock cubes or if your stock is low in salt you can add 1/4 tsp of salt to the millets. 
** The butter is definitely optional but I thoroughly recommend it!

Author: Sneha Sundar is the creator of You Dim Sum, You Lose Some; a philosophy she adopts both in and out of the kitchen. 

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