Sustainable and Versatile Cooking with Mira D’Souza

Finished Lentil Soup
Mira Showing purple and sweet yams

 Our guest chef Mira D’Souza is part of the incubator program at La Cocina, and showed us the versatility of lentils, rice, and seasonal veggies. Mira D’Souza lived in India until she was 14 years old, and she frequently uses flavors from her homeland in her culinary creations. Due to the constant movement of her family, Mira developed an interest in international relations and health. After college, she quickly realized that her passions for health aligned more with food so she opened a restaurant with her friends. After starting the restaurant, Mira decided to create a product that is both nourishing and accessible to anyone. This is what inspired Mira to create her business Queen Pickle, which has a variety of delicious and versatile preserved condiments. Her genuine belief in creating healthy and ethical food shows in her thoughtful cooking process.

Student enjoying chopping veggies

For this class, Mira showed the students from Oasis for Girls how to combine food staples like rice and lentils with a number of colorful in-season root vegetables and spices in order to make flavorful and filling meals. Ingredients like rice and lentils which she used in this class have an extensive shelf-life, whilst still maintaining complex flavor depth and providing high energy nutrients.  Staples can easily be used to make various dishes such as adding seasonal veggies and seasoning them. By having your pantry at home stocked with staples like rice and lentils, it is also a great way to save money, as well as creating accessible and sustainable meals, even if you live in an area with minimal access to fresh produce!


All of the fresh products used in this recipe were purchased at the Heart of the City Farmers’ Market. Farmer’s markets not only are great sources of affordable quality produce, they also help support our local farmers.

The main ingredients used are long grain basmati rice, split red lentils, and seasonal yams (purple/ sweet).


Lentils in Pressure Cooker

Pressure cooker explanation

1. Combination of steam and pressure cooks things faster

2. Boil water goes to 100C or 373.15K; however in a pressure cooker goes to ~120C because the steam can’t escape and bounces around with higher velocities

3. Extreme pressure prevents foods from being pulverized

4. Parts: Pot, locking lid, valve, rubber ring


2 yellow onions, diced

 16 oz yellow lentils

 0.5 t turmeric

 2 lemons, juiced

 ~1.5 t mustard seed

 ~1.5 t coriander seed

 5 whole chilies

 ~4-5T ghee/EVOO oil

Flowering cilantro to garnish

Salt to taste

Pinch of hing


1. Rinse lentils, set aside

2. Press the Sauté function on the pressure cooker, add 3T ghee/EVOO and brown the onions, add the turmeric

3. Add the lentils, 6 cups of water, set to pressure cook on manual for 18 minutes

4. In a small pan heat the remaining ghee/EVOO, add the remaining spices, cover (seeds will sputter) and remove from heat after about 2-5 minutes depending on the heat

5. Once the lentils are cooked, add the lemon juice

6. Pour the spices over the lentils, garnish with cilantro


Basmati Rice with Spices


~4T coconut oil/EVOO

2lb basmati rice, rinsed under cold water and drained well

1-2 sticks of cinnamon

4-5 cardamom pods

 A tad less than 6 C water, boiling

 ~2.5 t salt


1. Boil water

2. Rinse rice and drain

3. Heat oil and spices in pot and stir in the rice, coating the grains, add salt and boiling water

4. Cook on low heat for 15 minutes with a tightly fitting lid, don’t uncover

5. Cover the pan with a tea towel and let it sit for another 6 to 10 minutes

6. Fluff the rice with a fork

Baked Sweet Potatoes with Spices


 ~8lb of root vegetables, clean/scrubbed and cut into similar size pieces

~12T olive oil

 2T cumin seeds

 2T coriander seeds

salt to taste

 Flowering cilantro to garnish


1. Preheat the oven to 475K/240C

2. Put the roots in a large mixing bowl and toss with olive oil, salt

3. Spread on a baking sheet, not overcrowding the vegetables

4. Cook for 30-40 minutes until done

5. Toast the cumin and coriander in a small pan until the spice is fragrant

6. Garnish with toasted cilantro, cumin and coriander

Boiled Eggs




1. Boil enough water in a pan so that you can submerge the eggs

2. Once the water is boiling, add the eggs, turn off the heat, cover with a tight lid, and leave for 11-13 minutes (depending on how soft you want the yolks to be)

3. Remove the eggs and submerge in an ice water bath to fully cool

Our Dessert: The fruits of their labor


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