Tuesday, June 05, 2007

My Wild Oats

Once, just once, I want to see my pantry bare. Devoid of everything except the very basic stuff I use in normal cooking – salt, chilli powder, curry powder, some lentils, some rice. This has not happened in years, and I fear it never will, thanks to my predilection for buying all fancy and not-so-fancy stuff, under the justification of being health-conscious, gourmet, adventurous, environment-friendly, farmer-supportive, moving-towards-organic and more such labels.

I’m sure at least a few of you will identify with me and my pantry – little bundles of plastic secured with rubber bands filled with spices, bottles and jars of bran, oats, wholegrains and alternative grains such as buckwheat, bought in the hope of using that exotic cookbook which promptly goes missing, cake sprinkles and coloured sugar crystals which you hang on to despite knowing you will never ever use them, exotic spices from my Goa trip two months ago, which haven’t seen the light of day, various ready-mixes (without preservatives, of course) bought in bouts of let’s-be-prepared-for-guests (who are swiftly whisked off to restaurants as soon as it’s mealtime), brown Basmati rice fondly intended for a healthier biriyani, calming chamomile tea which only induces more stress as I discover I haven’t even opened the pack each time I see it, even an everyday pack of red chillies that refuses to get exhausted and clings on dully to the gloomy interiors of my cupboard.

Just once, I want to see all these used up – thence, there will be no well-meaning but wasteful stocking up, no unsightly reminders of my spendthrift ways, only what I need for the next few days – so here I am, with a concoction of oats which is a beginning to this noble end.

Wild oats, as the name says, because I literally threw in whatever I had in the refrigerator, soul sister of my pantry, to make this an appetizing yet healthy dish – tomatoes on the verge of rotting, a cup of capsicum chopped two days ago, shelled peas which were wrinkling because I hadn’t found a lid for the container …

I intended this to be more like a tomato bath/upma, but despite five tomatoes, it didn’t look as red as I wanted it to. But then the green in it was no mean thing – capsicum, peas, curry leaves, coriander – not to mention a pinch of turmeric.

Here’s the recipe, then:

Quick-cooking white oats – 2 cups, dry-roasted
Water – 3.5-4 cups
Tomatoes – 5, medium-sized, chopped, as fine as you can
Green capsicum/bell pepper, chopped – 1 cup
Boiled green peas – 1-1/2 cups
Green chillies – 2-3, chopped
Garlic – 3-4 cloves, bruised

Oil – 2-3 tsp
Mustard seed – 1 tsp
Cumin seed – 1 tsp
Curry leaves – 1 sprig

Salt, to taste
Turmeric, a pinch
Coriander/cilantro – to garnish

Heat the oil.

Put in the mustard seeds, let them pop.

Add the cumin seed and curry leaves.

Now add the tomatoes and green chillies and saute well.

Add the salt, turmeric, mix well.

Let the tomatoes get all squishy.

Then put in the capsicum and boiled peas and let it acquire a ‘curry consistency’.

Now add the roasted oats, mix well and add 3 cups of water. Check for doneness. If it’s not soft enough, add more.

It won’t be slide-down-your-throat soft, but it shouldn’t be pasty, either – you will know when you test it between your fingers/taste it.

It was a smasher, and the best part was that it didn’t even taste ‘boringly healthy’ – it almost slid down my throat, effortlessly. Now there’s just a third of the oats left in its jar – I’m tackling a jar of 3-year-old whole moong tomorrow – hopefully, by the end of the year, I’ll have an Old Mother Hubbard moment!


  1. HeHe!! I thought of "men sowing wild Oats" but didn't know you had some REAL ones!!;D
    Wild Oats pulao looks like BBB! YUM!! Never cooked with Oats before,gotta now!:))

  2. sra,
    na pantry loki eppudu vacharu meru, mine is exactly the same.
    Just cleaned out a whole bunch by throwing out, since they were untouched for lets say years.

    Should try to start eating oats this is an unchartered territory for me

  3. Count me in Dear! I come up with crazy ideas out of anxiety of wasting produce and other stuff. Upma in any form or fashion tastes good. But, there is no way you take that gooey-ness from oats, can you?

  4. lol. can i call you AOMH from now on? (aspiring old mother hubbard)??

  5. Sra,
    Lovely writeup buddy. I am so much with you. Just once yeah...at least once I want so see my pantry and my fridge bare with just the basic ingredients left. Oh gosh!!! A lot of items are just stacked without being used or thrown away and all go to the garbage can once in a while when its time to clean isn't it? Can we women ever change? I liked the name wild oats. Reminds me of quick cooking oats that i got a couple of months back hee hee.
    Thanx and yeah I am adding you to my blog roll. Hope you don't mind.

  6. after reading ur post i did a quick inventory of my pantry & the aisle dedicated to "guests" was literally spilling over :)
    oats upma sounds good!

  7. Sra,
    I can completely relate to your pantry woes. My pantry is filled with a multitude of tiny bags of ingredients bought on a whim, or to try a recipe (that never got tried) or just in an attempt towards eating healthy. I spend time trying to gather the ingredients for a recipe I'm enamored with and once I have everything at hand, I end up losing interest!

    And I have a whole bag of oats that I got along with other ingredients to make garden burgers at home. Now I know what to do with atleast the oats.


  8. Sra, I am LOL! I have cupboards so cramped with supplies that the doors want to pop. I think I started food blogging just so I can use up all the stuff. What a nice dish. Oatmeal never had it so colorful and spicy.

  9. LOL @ Old Mother Hubbard moment!


  10. oooooooo....... this is my kinda food!!!!! Loved it truely! :) I am all for these lite meals especially on week nights. :)

  11. Haaha haha...For a moment I felt you were describing my pantry :))
    I totally identify with you. Even I tend to buy things and never use them. Right now I have an avocado, cherry tomato from last 10 days thinking I will make something exotic for the blog,and also lemon grass which has dried up :)
    Wild oats looks good. With your preparation they look yummy,well groomed :))

  12. I identify, I identify. Lately I have taken to asking myself when I pick up something - "are you going to use that? What are you going to make with it? What about the ... that you bought the other day?" and so the questions continue, sometimes I win, sometimes I lose.

    Then there are those items that you must pick up in your travels because you can't get them at home; so you stock up! Yeah, I identify.

    I've never thought of using oats in a savoury dish. Thanks for the idea.

  13. One pot meal something can be relished all time. Very nice write up too. Viji

  14. Hi sra,

    I can identify with your sentiments in this post. Looking at beautiful dishes like this is part of what makes my pantry look just like yours, ie: "There's that bag of whole oats bought in hopes of making sra's yummy-looking and certainly healthy "Wild Oats" dish... even though I don't love oats..." ;)

    It *does* look delicious! Good luck in the pantry :)

  15. LOL :) You are right but isn't there a joy of discovery when you rummage around in the cupboards :)

    Never tried ccoking oats like this, I had told you go file a patent

  16. Asha, LOL!
    Sreelu, they're not bad. Try cheyandi.
    Suganya, I guess not, but with all this camouflage, that quality didn't stand out
    Bee, sure {...as vanity kicks in ...} well, maybe not Old, I'm young, still, you know.
    Seema, I'm flattered! And it's not just women, you know, men hoard too - plugs, wires, gadgets ...
    Richa, my guests aisle is not so bad, my own is, boo hoo!
    Mamatha, glad you found a solution. Thank you!
    Susan, my doors are popping too! Trust us Indians to dress everything up!
    Coffee, yes, it's a good one-pot meal!
    Archana, well-groomed, I like that expression. I do the same thing with exotic vegetables too, and v often, they don't taste that great or different!
    Cynthia, LOL! This evening, I went somewhere on work and I had to steer myself away with the utmost difficulty from a store nearby that carries a lot of exotic stuff because my post was imposing a conscience on me!
    Viji, thank you!
    Linda, thank you for 'beautiful' and best wishes.
    Oh, no, Sandeepa, no joy of discovery, because I know what's there, how old it is and how well past its best before date - it all weighs heavily on me! Sometimes I find myself wishing it rots because I can just sigh and get rid of it, if it's okay, I can't even do that.

  17. are you on to some eat healthy campaign? looks very creative though. no body eats oats in my house except me:)

  18. hahaha, that's exactly what my pantry looks like too...but thankfully my fridge is somewhat better these days...so a little less stress :P

  19. Sharmi, my post says it all, LOL!
    Nabeela, my fridge is another terror, sigh!

  20. Hmmmmm... looks yummy and feeling hungry. SRA, thanks for sharing such a wonderful and different pulao recipe.

  21. LOL sra... u should come n see my pantry!!! i am a self proclaimed queen when it comes to hoarding;) i get scared of not finding the thing which i want in my pantry and i keep buying and hoarding them:( even i want to see them finished someday;) i am gonna do my spring cleaning this weekend and i am sure there will be bags an bags of things which must have crossed their expiry dates:(
    lovely oat dish...may be its a time i start buying little oats and try...

  22. and we r better than men who hoard used wires, fuse and god knows what all;)

  23. the story of our lives Sra... even if I try to do anything different, my husband wouldn't let me... he buys things in bulk and then one day I give them to my maid or throw them all into a dish.

  24. Jyothi, thanks.
    Sia, The Spouse is a classic example - several wires, plugs, telephones of all shapes and sizes, it's more of a mess than my pantry
    Raaga, hi, despite giving away things, my pantry's full, i'm sure you identify. :)

  25. Sra, you'll be sooo comfortable in my kitchen...you won't feel that you're somewhere else if you lay your hands on my pantry...I too tend to rustle up dishes with ingredients just because they've been lying around,waiting to be to be used up, for quite a while...we love our oats in any form..

  26. O o this is healthy and great lookig dish....Love it...

  27. Lovely, lovely way to use oats - your tempering spices will give what could be a bland grain, a wonderful flavour!

  28. Damn right !!! Hmm what do i have ??? BArley, wheat grains, whole wheat pasta, Hmm I have to do your technique too. lovely write up !

  29. Sunita, then you might like this dish as well!
    Sukanya, thanks for stopping by
    Freya & Paul, yes, it can even mask the flavour, LOL!
    Revathi, that's exactly what I have in mine too!

  30. My in laws were here for a couple of months and u should see my pantry... I bought many diff things in excitement to cook new dishes for them.. my freezer too is full now and I got to think of new ways to use them without wasting it. oat pulao looks great.

  31. Hi,

    Guess what I was thinking of making exactly the same thing. Got quick cooking oats in the hope of making a healthy breakfast everyday , but somehow it never worked out :-) Was thinking of making the exact thing tonite and while browsing came to this post....can u beat the coincidence ;-) well thanks to u I am now more confident of my experiment's outcome
    I am adding u to my blog roll ..hope u don't mind..

  32. Spice of Life, I'm flattered. thanks for visiting my blog.


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