3 Recipes for Simple Living (and to pair with a mean curry)

Easy. Simple. Good!

Happiness is when what you think, what you say, and what you do are in harmony.

~Mahatma Gandhi

I desperately want to tell you that the recipes I am about to share are very complicated. I want to tell you that you must be a culinary wizard to make them, and that you also must have deep pockets to be able to afford them.

But all of that would (of course) be a lie, because none of this is true (and I didn’t really want to tell you those things!).

Given that most of the world subsists on inexpensive healthy staples like rice, beans, and veggies, it is easy to see why it’s not so bad when they taste this darned good!

Hope is not what we find in evidence, it’s what we become in action.

~ Frances Moore LappΓ©

The 3 recipes included in today’s post are the perfect base or accent to any curry dish. Or really anything you fancy to go with it, for that matter.

Whether you pair it with the Paneer curry from the last post, this IPOM Red Lentil Curry, or any one of your favorite recipes, a few easy breezy steps and you are good to go!

Rice is naturally gluten-free, and there are so many varieties to try. Brown, black, red, white. When lightly toasted over heat (with oil) prior to boiling, it makes the final product light and fluffy – pilaf style. Rice that won’t stick together!

A simple rice dish paired with a crisp light raw salad, and your favorite condiment makes for tasty filling eating for pennies (unless you want to drop coin on something luxurious to top it with – totally your call!)

The search for truth is more precious than its possession.

~ Albert Einstein

Cumin Spiced Rice with Peas:

  • (1-2) tbsp butter, ghee, or vegetable oil
  • (1) tbsp cumin seeds
  • (1) cup white basmati rice
  • (1.75) cups cold water
  • (1) cup frozen green peas
  • (1/2) tsp salt
  • pepper to taste

Heat a medium saucepan to medium heat and add butter, ghee, or oil. Once the butter is melted or the oil is hot, add the cumin seeds and cook, stirring the entire time, for about 1 minute. Be careful not to burn these by having them on too high heat!

*Note: if using this cooking method with other rices (most notably brown rice), the end result will be heavier. White basmati rice is ideal for this cooking style as it is naturally absorbent and fluffy – thus making it a light foil for heavier foods to go with it. If you do try it with brown rice, try using the lower amount of butter or oil.

Add the dry rice and cook, on the heat, stirring for about 5 minutes. The rice kernels will start to turn opaque and white. Be careful not to burn the rice by stirring pretty much every 10-15 seconds or so.

After 5 minutes, or the rice is consistently turning color (it will look flecky), add the cold water. Cover and bring to a boil on high. Once the water boils, turn the heat to low (without removing the lid), and cook, covered, for 20 minutes.

During the last 7-8 minutes of the rice cooking time, add the peas and allow them to cook atop the rice as it cooks (do not stir). Simply open the lid quickly (have the peas pre-measured!) and pop them in as quickly as possible.

After 20 minutes is up, turn the heat off and let the rice sit in the covered pan for 3-4 minutes. Once ready, fluff the rice and peas together with a fork and add the salt. Voila!

Ready to serve straight from the pot or transfer to a serving bowl and take to the table! πŸ™‚

Brussels sprouts have been a long time fave of mine.

They are cheap, available (pretty much) year-round and boast the same health benefits as their other cruciferous family members (broccoli, cauliflower, cabbage and yes, KALE!). They are pretty much a superfood in every sense of the word, and I adore them for their underdog status as one of the most ‘disliked’ vegetables out there.

The truth is (IMO), they taste great roasted, steamed, and here, completely raw!

If you’ve never tried them this way, I highly suggest you do – this salad is light and delicious while providing a gorgeous fresh contrast to your cooked dishes. I also love this little number wrapped in my fresh tacos with a little avocado and salsa too….but that is another post entirely!

Shaved Brussels Sprouts Salad:

  • (6-8) good sized fresh brussels sprouts
  • (2-3) tbsp good quality olive oil
  • (1-2) tbsp apple cider vinegar (can sub regular vinegar just reduce to 1 tbsp to start)
  • (1) tsp fresh finely grated ginger
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • fresh cilantro leaves for the top

Start by buying the freshest brussels sprouts you can find. These guys are basically baby cabbages, and I almost prefer eating these in a salad over cabbage – they take up so much less space in the fridge too!

Wash the sprouts and peal and discard any rough outer leaves. Starting at the top of the sprout, with the stem end down, use a sharp knife to shred/slice the brussels sprouts as thinly as possible, one by one, into rounds as thin as possible. Separate the ‘slices’ with your hands and to a bowl.

Toss with olive oil, vinegar, and ginger until well mixed – massage gently with your bare hands to ensure the shaved sprouts soften up a little. Taste to add salt.

Serve in a lovely dish garnished with cilantro leaves and optional black pepper. You might be surprised who eats this and likes it! It is a pretty good disguise for this much maligned little wonder πŸ™‚

Can you tell I am a big fan of the sprout? Love’em….

The past has no power over the present moment.

~ Eckhart Tolle

A word (or two) about condiments:

Having good condiments in the house can become a bit of a fun hobby. Anyone out there a bit of a condiment collector?

It’s easy to do and there are just too many ways to liven up simple healthy food that it is mind-boggling (including this chutney I cannot wait to make). Really!

When I eat spicy Indian food, I always order a round of cooling Raita (Indian Yoghurt Dip). If you eat yoghurt, chances are you could have a regular stock of plain yoghurt in the house on a regular basis.

Here is a 2 second condiment that can make a good meal (just a little) better. There are many ways to make a Raita, but here are a few suggestions to get you started!

Cucumber Raita:

  • (1) cup plain yoghurt (pictured here is super thick Mediteranean style)
  • (1/4) cup grated or finely chopped peeled cucumber
  • pinch or two of Garam Masala spice mix, or ground cumin (about 1/4 tsp)
  • salt to taste

Mix all together in a bowl until just mixed. Do not over mix if you can help it!

That’s it! Serve immediately and make it as needed – Raita will keep but only for a day or so in the fridge, so small batches are best πŸ™‚

Enjoy this meal with friends, family, or anyone you want to share it with..

with or without broiled naan bread.

Who says food has to be complicated or expensive to be good?

Simple pleasures are the last healthy refuge in a complex world.

~ Oscar Wilde

Manifest plainness, embrace simplicity, reduce selfishness, have few desires.

~ Lao Tzu

I know it is (perhaps) (just a little) corny, but when I think of sharing food, I often picture the world sitting around the table with me.

I picture wide smiles and hear happy sounds. This is why I cook food, and it brings so much joy to share it!

Live simply so that others may simply live.

~ Mahatma Gandhi

Living with (just a little) less can be easy. Especially when it is this good!

I hope you’ll enjoy these ideas or use them as a launching pad to devise your own creations with these basic universal staples, and I’d love to hear your suggestions or favorite takes on the above.

This notion of sharing simple food is deep in the spirit of Not So Fast…the idea that there is enough food for all.

In the next week, I’ll tell you the story (and the results) of Carla and Chris’s 40 day trial of ‘going without’. I’ll tell you what they did, how they did it, and what it will mean to others (and yes they ate like kings the entire time!).

I can’t wait to share this with you all!

  • What is you favorite cheap staple or go to budget meal?
  • Do you have a favorite easy & frugal dish that is too good not to share?

I’d love your suggestions and they might just come in super handy in the future – so do let us know!

Only a life lived for others is a life worth while.

~ Albert Einstein

You know how much I adore your feedback and stories.

I wish you all could come and have a seat around my table……but for now I’ll be happy to receive your comments..…..even if I can’t see all your lovely smiles! πŸ™‚

Yours in Less,


Filed under Cooking, Food, Gluten Free, Rich & Simple, Salads, Savory, Vegan, Vegetables, Vegetarian

91 responses to “3 Recipes for Simple Living (and to pair with a mean curry)

  1. Thank you for all the fabulous recipes! You also write a mean post!

  2. I agree with you, often the simplest meals prepared with fresh ingredients are the best ones! Can’t wait to try your rice dish πŸ™‚

  3. Great post shira, filled with wonderful quotes and delicious food photography! Can’t wait to hear about the 40 day trial! Have a great weekend!

  4. These all look wonderful, and I love the spices! I am a huge lover of rice, or if I want to switch it up I will use lentils or quinoa in it’s place. I have been eating the same thing for lunch for about a month now. I use rice/quinoa/or lentils, add an avocado, a tomato, and salsa and eat it alone or with chips. Very basic, but VERY good.

    • I love this lunch Britt! Sounds like my kind of meal too! Lately I’ve been taking those same things – quinoa, avo and salsa, and stuffing them into fresh tacos – so good! Love this, great minds (and food lovers) do think alike! πŸ™‚

  5. Shira, Beautiful post! I think I’m going to try the “peas with rice” dish. Of course, I enjoyed the Albert Einstein and Oscar Wilde quotes. My favorite quote? Your quote! “I know it is (perhaps) (just a little) corny, but when I think of sharing food, I often picture the world sitting around the table with me.” It shows!! Enjoy the weekend!! Theadora

    • Thanks Theadora! I am so happy you like that quote – and it is so true! You enjoy your weekend too – we are busy planning away on our trip to your part of the world. It is getting so close! πŸ˜‰ xo!

  6. Okay, you’ve sold me, Shira: it’s pea season and we always have too many of them, but it was the cumin seeds in the pilaf that made me say yes. I also happen to have red lentils about, so I think I’ll be taking Indian food to a potluck tomorrow. Thank you.

    • Oh that’s perfect Sharyn! This totally makes me so happy – and I can only imagine how delightful all those fresh garden peas will taste (they are my fave fresh out of the garden vegetable!) in the rice – your potluck friends are so lucky! Happy Friday! πŸ™‚

      • I made the rice dish and your red lentil curry. I am letting the curry sit until tomorrow before I judge the taste — I made it before hand at your recommendation. But the rice is so greasy. I used the smaller amount of oil and I think it was a full tablespoon too much. I used a combination of long-grain brown basmati and short-grain rice instead of white basmati, but that should not have produced the grease factor. I think I’m going back to steamed rice — I can always put toasted cumin and peas in it.

      • Oh Sharyn, thanks for the feedback! In my experience other rice varieties do not toast up as well, or absorb the butter in the same manner (though of course this is subjective) – white basmati rice is so fluffy and absorbent by nature that I think it is the variety most suitable for this recipe (I will make a note of that above and perhaps should have done so).
        I adjusted the butter quantities too 2 tbsp is probably enough (and some may want to use less) – I must have guesstimated my butter portions too loosely that day! πŸ™‚ I hope it absorbs overnight – and hoping you have a little more success with the lentils! πŸ™‚

      • PS – just made it again (to be sure!) and was (just a little) more prudent on the measurements – 2 tbsp was perfect for the basmati but could easily be cut in half – I adjusted the post to reflect this too πŸ™‚ I hope you’ll try the method again with white basmati, it is really heavenly! Thanks again and have a wonderful weekend!

      • I used 2 Tbsp with mixed rice, part brown basmati, but I think you used butter (?) and I used peanut oil. What I will do is make a pot of steamed white basmati tomorrow and mix it with the greasy rice: the new batch should absorb some of the oil. If I make it again, I’ll cut the oil down to 1 Tbsp and try it with white basmati (I’m always trying to sneak a few whole grains into our diet and Mom likes brown rice).

      • Sounds perfect Sharyn! I’d hate to see you miss out on this – it really is good – and enjoy dinner tomorrow, I hope you like the curry! πŸ™‚

  7. so true! the fresh ingredients will speak for themselves! those look so delicious! especially the rice dish! mmmm! and i love your 1st quote about happiness…love it. gorgeous photography — as usual:) thanks Shira!!

    • Thanks Caralyn! I love your comments – you are always so kind! The rice is so simple and yummy – it’s the cumin seeds – they are just divine!! Have a great weekend! πŸ˜‰ xox!

  8. The photography within this post is remarkable. If these tasty-sounding recipes don’t entice one to try them, your pictures surely will.

  9. wowsers – this looks incredible! This is something I must definitely try… thanks for sharing. Your blog is so lovely πŸ™‚ I love coming for a visit!

  10. Before I started eating mostly vegan, my go-to meal was spaghetti carbonara. Delish!! One meal I go back to often because it’s both fast and tasty is risotto (usually asparagus) made in the pressure cooker. Done that way, it’s not only hands-off, but can be completed in about half an hour from getting the ingredients out to diving in to eat it!

    • That sounds amazing – risotto is an under cooked item in this kitchen for sure – a reminder that I’ve got to give that a go! And asparagus is amazing…thanks! πŸ™‚

  11. Gorgeous recipes Shira! I have a feeling the rice and brussel sprouts will become a staple of mine πŸ™‚

    My favourite easy and frugal dish is a mexican quinoa bowl I’ve made a few times now and shared on one of my wiaw’s. It’s quinoa, black or kidney beans, frozen corn, avocado, parsley, salsa, tomatoes and peppers, lime and a little nutritional yeast. So good! I also love keeping it simple- I could honestly eat rice drizzled with Bragg’s or soy sauce for every meal πŸ™‚

    Lovely words too. You are so right- the simplest foods and ingredients are often the best.

    Have a lovely weekend!

    • Awesome Gabby, I love that the best foods tend to focus around the classics: avocado, grain, salsa – always with a rotation on the grains, beans, or veggies,, and always with a squeeze of lime! I am going to check your blog for that post, as this is a divine combo..I couldn’t agree more with you! πŸ™‚ Happy Friday!

  12. Your posts are so beautiful – from every aspect. Thanks for the lovely food/thoughts.

  13. Incredible post, Shira. I had a dream that I met you in a supermarket last night, by the way – my dreams were off the scale last night… Anyway, I don’t really know what to comment on individually, though I do like the sprouts :). thanks for the mention πŸ˜€

    • Oh so many questions arising..what kind of supermarket? What were we buying? Sounds fun! I never remember dreams much so when I do they are always a bit off the scale as you say! I will make that chutney as I’ve been thinking about it all week (maybe I dreamed it too but I can’t remember?) πŸ™‚

  14. Gorgeous as always!! I can’t wait to try the brussels sprouts – it all looks so good!

    • Thanks Ann – it was a super meal – I’ve been enjoying the brussels sprouts this way a lot and finally found a way to share it!

  15. Hello lovely Shira (you are feeding the blogging world so well, at least!). I am a huge brussels sprout fan, so that’s the take away for me, today. Of course, your high-energy, high-colour posts always make me smile. Off to the farmers market to see if I can find me some sprouts… πŸ™‚

    • Best of luck my fair friend! You see? We always have a taste for the same things… πŸ˜‰ and thanks as always for your wonderfully kind and supportive words…*sigh* πŸ™‚ πŸ™‚ xo!

  16. Somer

    Your lovely photos inspired my to dust off my Nikon and learn to use it instead of relying on my phone camera. I will never have your set up skill, but at least from now on my photos won’t be grainy and dark and blurry πŸ™‚

    p.s. the only vegetable in the world I hated was the poor brussels sprout. Turns out I just didn’t give it enough chances and LOVED them when I roasted them. Time to try them in a raw salad due to your recipe! xoxo!

    • Oh Somer – that makes me so happy! To be honest, I have never considered myself a photographer, turns out I just really like taking pics of food – trust me my set up skills are quite amateur, so I have (100%) total faith in you and your handy (now clean) Nikon – so cool!
      Hail the brussels sprouts!! I hope you like them this way…they go with everything!
      xox! πŸ™‚

  17. Wow, glad I stumbled over this blog! It’s a feast for the eyes!

    • So glad you did too – thanks! πŸ™‚ Hope you’ll be back!

      • Surely be checking back – I considered printing some of your recipes, to keep them in my kitchen.I lived healthily inLondon for three years on a vegetarian diet, that a Yogi has put together for me. With whole foods and others it was easy to stock up with things you need for a veggie diet as well as supplements (the natural ones like algae and flaxseed oil). Later came pregnancy and cravings – especially for chicken – and gone was the healthy lifestyle. You inspire me so much to go back! Thank you! http://www.theflamboyante.com

  18. Ohm… I love curry! Your presentation is so professional though, I’m thinking about going to an Indian restaurant today – no way I’ll reproduce anything like that at home!

    • Oh yes you can Anastasia (and coming from you and all your gorgeous food I know that’s impossible!) – you make some of the most beautiful food on the blogosphere! Mind you, Indian restaurants really are a nice treat! Thank you for that, and have a great weekend! xo!

  19. My quick go to meal is tin of sardines and a nice big salad or steamed veggies with balsamic vinaigrette or a sesame soy dressing. Fills me up and tastes delish! I love your rice dish by the way…cumin is one of my favourite spices πŸ™‚

  20. sweeet! i’m set! full meal. as soon as things wrap up at work….i’ll be hitting up the kitchen! πŸ˜› can’t wait!!! happy friday, shira! πŸ™‚ cheers!

    • Yup – all set Ames! Can’t wait to hear all about it! (hehe) I hope you get to relax this weekend….Happy Friday to you too! πŸ™‚ xox!

  21. have said this before – but love the meaningful quotes dispersed among your posts and recipes

    • I could never get tired of hearing that it is appreciated – and I love that you take the time to let me know – thanks for visiting and for your kind and lovely words! πŸ™‚ Happy Friday!

  22. They all look so beautiful – and all of my favourite things!

  23. Oh my gosh, I want it all!!! haha but seriously, the peas and rice look so tasty! I can’t believe how amazing it all looks!

  24. What a lovely feast! You have me craving Indian food in a bad way- especially with that fresh-looking naan in your photos! What I do have cooking for dinner at the moment is not going to be nearly as satisfying as what I’ve seen here now. Total yummers!

    My favorite frugal dish is the simple tofu scramble, using whatever vegetables I have on hand to mix in. Can’t wait to see the results of Carla and Chris’s 40 days!

    • Yum – tofu scrambles, you know with your creativity I bet the ones you make are delicious! πŸ™‚ and look gorgeous too πŸ˜‰
      I am stoked to tell their story, thanks for the support Kristy! I bet your dinner was amazing…as I am sure it is every night! Thanks!

  25. Shira, there is everything to love about this post. The photos, the recipes, the quotes, your writing… thank you for all of your brilliant posts. I truly look forward to each!

    • Deb, you’ve no idea how much I appreciate your wonderful (and brilliant!) comments – I love that we are connected and I love following along with your inspiring food journey as well! I’m warming up the camera for the farmer’s markets in France…. πŸ˜‰ xox!

  26. this is my kind of meal! pretty much every day.. curry, rice flatbread:) love the shredded brussels sprouts and the pretty pea pilaf.

    • Thanks Richa! Actually I was so inspired by your gorgeous tempeh recipe from last week…didn’t get it together to try it yet (but I will) and so I made this meal for the family! Thanks (I mentioned you in the Paneer post too!) – your Indian dishes always have me hungry..
      πŸ˜‰ xo

  27. Pingback: 3 Recipes for Simple Living (and to pair with a mean curry) | in ... | ~ * ~ Family & Friendship & Food ~ * ~ | Scoop.it

  28. After reading your posts I always want to try the recipes….like now, this minute! Thank you xxx

  29. lisamarielawler

    Your choice of ingredients really speak to me. With my family the cucumber raita is a must with briyani and dahl. Thank you for another great post.

  30. Yum! I love paneer! My favourite Indian dish is mattar paneer (peas & paneer). I am going to try these the next time we plan an Indian meal.

  31. You know I have a soft spot for curry! The BS salad looks gorgeously delicious. I wish The Husband liked peas, but unfortunately he was tortured with canned peas as a child and will rarely touch them. 😦
    My go-to cheap and comforting meal is a soup by Heidi Swanson: http://www.101cookbooks.com/archives/red-lentil-soup-recipe.html
    It’s SO easy to make, so delicious and warms you up every time. πŸ™‚

    • My husband is SO the same as you about green peas – I don’t know how I got these past him!
      Your go-to soup recipe looks deliciously to-die-for and as you say – so simple! I bookmarked it as the rice/lentil combo looks divine πŸ™‚
      So good to share in the love of such wonderful food! πŸ˜‰ Thanks Jennifer!

      • I do hope you try the soup. It’s super awesome, and would be a lovely soup when your weather gets chilly.
        I’m glad you have empathy with my pea problem! And yes, it is SO wonderful to share all these recipes and love of food with others, like you especially! πŸ™‚

      • Agreed! Feeling is mutual!! I think we both have a few tricks up our sleeve with pleasing the husbands too πŸ™‚ They are so funny, but so wonderful too! The soup is on the MUST list. Officially! Thanks Jennifer! xo

      • I love The Husband so much! He’s my second, and infinitely better than my first choice. πŸ˜‰ And I agree, we’ve got a few tricks up our sleeve! Can’t wait for you to try the soup in a few months when your weather turns. xx

  32. S.

    Shira, your photos get better every time!! Amazing! You’re my photograph inspiration πŸ™‚


  33. Every recipe is amazing! The photos are insane!

  34. Once again, thanks Shira! This is so simple and lovely. πŸ™‚

  35. Oh, I will have to try the cumin pea rice. I just bought some cumin seeds to toast for another recipe and I loved the smoky taste they added.

  36. your posts are the most delicious things to feast on Shira. so packed full of goodness that I never ever leave hungry. (love Indian food and love what you’ve offered here!) xo

  37. Frugal Living is living better using less financial resources.EfrugalLiving teaches you how to create a budget, save money, reduceyour debt, earn extra cash and live simply.

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