There's a reason we call them comfort food!
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When time is of the essence, these speedy recipes will come to your aid.

1. Poha: This flattened rice dish is a breakfast staple in several Indian households, and is one of the healthiest and quickest to make. It is rich in fibre, carbohydrates and iron, it also makes you feel fuller faster and for a longer time. Wash and drain the flattened rice. Heat some mustard seeds, curry leaves, and green chilies in a pan, followed by potatoes and peanuts. Add the poha, a drizzle of turmeric powder, and blend. The addition of veggies like peas and onions or fruits like coconut and pomegranate or simply dry-roasted peanuts to the Poha makes it healthier. A squeeze of lemon on the poha can make a big difference in taste.


2. Bhajias: These fried snacks can be made of the vegetable of your choice—onions, potatoes, cauliflower, brinjal, pumpkin, or greens like coriander, spinach or even baby corn. These pakoras are easy to make and best enjoyed with they are hot, crispy and fresh off the pan. Simply make a thick batter of Bengal gram flour, the vegetable or green of your choice, mixed with all the spices you like, with a little water at a time. Deep fry bite-sized batter balls till they are golden brown. 


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3. Dal Fry: This protein-rich dal can be whipped together in 30 minutes. First, pressure-cook tuvar dal and then temper with condiments of your choice—onions, ginger, garlic, chillies, hing, Kasturi methi, curry leaves are the usual suspects. Polish it off with some steamed rice.


4. Upma: Upma made of wheat rawa or suji (semolina) or vermicelli is rich in carbohydrates and fibre, yet low in fat. You can further up the nutrition value by adding vegetables like peas, carrots, beans, onions or protein-rich ural daal to your upma. 

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5. Lemon Rice and Raita: This popular South Indian preparation can be easily thrown together with fresh or leftover rice. Fry a mixture of spices like coriander seeds, mustard seeds, curry leaves, ginger and turmeric. Turn off the gas, squeeze some fresh lemon juice and combine with the spice mixture. Add the rice and mix again thoroughly. Lemon rice pairs beautifully with salad, chutney and raita. It takes just a minute to prepare this refreshing side dish—mix yoghurt with chopped raw veggies (like cucumber, tomatoes, onions) and seasonings such as roasted cumin seeds, mint, salt, chaat masala or coriander. 


6. Cheese and Vegetable Bake: Simple seasonings and some cheese (the only unhealthy part of the dish, and can be avoided) are all you need to flavour these roasted veggies and make a wholesome meal. Preheat the oven to 180°C (360°F). In the meantime, chop the veggies. Cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, beans, bell pepper, mushrooms are the popular choices. Season them with herbs and condiments. Place the dish in the oven and bake for 20 mins at 180-200°C.  


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7. Paneer Bhurji: Paneer cooks fast, and when it’s crumbled, it cooks faster. Rustle up some sautéed chopped onions, tomatoes and spices, and mix the crushed cottage cheese into the pan, and you’re done. Enjoy this with a slice of bread, a pav or a roti. A few other quick paneer recipes include paneer tikka, tawa paneer, paneer butter masala and kadai paneer that all come together with a few humble ingredients to make the gravy, and gently fried paneer chunks are dunked into it. 


Image courtesy: Shutterstock


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