The word "khana" in Indian Khana Made Easy means food. So come on, let's explore and cook some easy Indian food together including Gluten Free dishes.

April 26, 2010

Everything Stew with an Indian Touch!

You've heard of the Everything Bagel, right?

It has different kinds of seeds, onions, salt and other ingredients on it. Well, we have something in the same line but it's a stew. It's called the Everything Stew! It's like a Minestrone Soup. 

It has all the vegetables that were in our vegetable drawer plus beans, grains, different kinds of spices and sauces.
I always believe that the best recipes are the ones that you make up on a whim. Everything Stew is just that. My mom started making the stew this way when we were running out of ideas for lunch and needed to make something healthy and hearty. At first, I was not excited about it, I was like, stew? Come on mom.

But you know what, as usual I was wrong. I think my mom knows I'll change my mind once I taste it (I'm the Official Taste Tester in the family). Kind of like how back in the Kings and Queens era, they had peons and servants taste their food before they ate it. It was to ensure that the food was not poisoned or spoiled. In my case, I tell her whether the food requires more or less of a certain ingredient.

I know, it might seem like I'm being biased to my mom's cooking. Everyone would say their mom's cooking is the best. You just have to try it. I would recommend making this when you want to spice up cooking regime. I like to eat it with potato chips, toasted bread or pita chips.

This recipe makes 6-8 servings and you know what....in just 4 steps you have The Everything Stew!!

Click image to enlarge
Ingredients:
- 1 cup or 1 packet of Brown rice/ Uncle Ben’s rice (cooked)
- 1 bunch of Celery, finely chopped
- 1 medium Onion, chopped
- 1 can (14.75oz/418g) of Sweet Corn, regular or cream style
- 1 medium size can of Beans (any variety), wash and drain well
- 1½ cup of Crushed Tomato
- 2 tsp of Ginger garlic paste
- 1 tsp of Red chili pd / paste
- 2 Red/green/yellow peppers, cut into ½” pieces
- 1 tbsp of Smoked barbeque sauce (optional)
- 2 tbsp of Olive oil or any cooking oil
- 1 tsp of Marjoram (Italian spice)
- ½ tbsp of Salt

Procedure:
1) In a heavy bottomed pan (casserole), preferably of 4 Qtz size heat oil and sauté onions and ginger garlic paste. (Indian Touch)

2) Add celery and peppers until celery is soft and firm. When celery is cooked, add chili paste and tomato pulp for 1-2min.

3) Then add corn, beans, cooked rice, marjoram and salt & cook well (add water to bring the stew to a thick soup consistency).

4) Serve it in a bowl along with veggie sticks or garlic bread or toast. It makes a very satisfying healthy lunch. Can be stored in the refrigerator for 1-week.


Quick Tips: 
- Barley/ Cracked wheat (dalia) or regular rice can be substituted for brown rice. Any variety of vegetables like carrots, zucchini, cabbage, cauliflower, beans or spinach can be used.
- If available, frozen mixed vegetable packets are convenient and save time in chopping and cooking.

April 21, 2010

Spice It Up Baby!!

According to Wikipedia, there's a difference between "to season" and "to flavor" with herbs and spices. For instance, to tenderize meat, one may add salt which improves the flavor. Other seasonings like black pepper and basil may transfer some of their flavor to the food.
In addition to how seasonings are used as described above, the timing of when spices are added to the dish is also important. In Indian cooking, there is a technique you could say is used to enhance the flavor of the food. Besides Chaunk, other words for seasoning are Talimpu, Tadka, or Popu which can be all translated to say tempering in English. This technique is often used in dishes from India, Bangladesh, and Pakistan. Whole spices are fried briefly in oil or butter to release essential oils which enhance the flavor of the dish. Then this mixture with the oil is combined with the dish you have prepared.
It is the last thing we do before the dish is done. One time, my mom was making mango daal and she put it aside to make some other dish. I was so excited about the daal, that I just spooned it up with some rice and ate it. Immediately, I realized something was missing. Can you guess?? The chaunk wasn't added to the dish and it tasted weird to me. Anyways, she took her little saucepan out and heated up the oil, added all the spices and mixed it into the daal and Voila! I ate it twice that night.
Here is the little secret I have been dying to share with you so far. Most Indians keep something called a Spice Box (Chaunk or Taalimpu box) in their spices cabinet for easy access. This box contains the following ingredients from counter clockwise: cumin seeds, mustard seeds, dried red peppers, red chili powder, coriander & cumin powder, garam masala, and turmeric.


It is easy to prepare this box; just use a container (with a tight lid) that can hold smaller containers to hold all these spices which can be placed in a kitchen cupboard. You would be surprised to know that this box isn't just used in everyday cooking. Professional chefs use this too to enhance their cuisines. Don't take my word for it, just take a look at the Iron Chef episode with Executive Chef Maneet Chauhan (from At Vermilion restaurant) vs Chef Morimoto: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MDMsVs8PjjISpeed up the video to :40 seconds to see the camera focusing on the Spice Box. In our box, we included the spices we use most and we have salt in a separate container because we use that in everyday cooking. If you would like to learn how to make seasoning for your dishes, please follow this link or take a look on our Cooking 101 page: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7x96rO6JWUQ&feature=player_embedded

Well, my friends until next time...keep on Cookin'!!! 

April 18, 2010

Not Your Everyday TOFU!!


I made some mango milkshake to eat with my tandoori tofu. It is a good blend of sweet and spice.

I have tasted my share of different kinds of Indian curries before and let me tell you this...most of the ones you eat at North Indian restaurants like Chicken Tikka Masala and Chicken Makhani...tend to taste the same to me. They both have similar tomato based gravies that were cooked with the chicken. Been there, done that. Now for someone who is vegetarian, these curries wouldn't even be appealing. So what would they eat? Vegetarians I have chatted with have told me about Tofurkey and Tofu burgers which have the firmness of meat but are made from Tofu and seasoning.
You know, that stuff still sounds Bland to me. I need flavor and spices. I'm not saying, I'm a full fledged Hot curry eater, but I like taste in every bite. My parents are vegetarian and they are always looking for ways to "spice" up their cooking with Indian and American ingredients. My mom decided to make Tandoori Tofu curry to eat with naan (Indian bread). I've had Tandoori chicken at restaurants where the chicken was marinated with the Tandoori spices and grilled, then served with onions and chilies...if you dared to eat them RAW!! We took the concept of mixing the Tandoori spices and marinating them with Tofu. The tofu sucked up all the juices from the Tandoori mixture and when eaten with naan, it was like I was swimming in a pool of flavor. The best part is that it fills you up and it's good for you.

I couldn't wait to share it with everyone I knew...Hey, don't take my word for it, make it at home and let me know how it came out.


Tandoori Tofu Curry:
- 12oz (340g) of **Tofu (steak style, seasoned) 
- 2 tbsp Tandoori Paste
- ½ cup Tomato puree
-
1 cup plain yogurt
-
1 Medium Onion, chopped finely
-
1 tsp of Ginger garlic paste
-
2 tbsp Oil, for cooking
-
1 tbsp of Fat- Free Sour Cream, optional
-
2 tsp Salt (to taste)
-
½ tsp of Red chili powder
-
1 tbsp of Coriander (Cilantro), chopped and used for garnish

Procedure:
1. Remove tofu from its packing and drain the water well. Cut the tofu block into 1-1.5” cubes.
2. In a mixing bowl add yogurt, tandoori paste and mix well. Add the tofu pieces into the bowl and using a flat silicone spatula cover the mixture onto tofu. Marinate for 30min to 1hr.
3. Heat the oil in a saucepan on a medium flame. Add onions and sauté until they are golden brown, then add ginger garlic paste, chilli powder and mix well for 1min.
4. Add tomato puree and mix the mixture for 2-3 minutes. Transfer the tofu along with the yogurt into the pan, add salt and cook for 7-10min until the gravy thickens.
5. If you want to add more color, you can add frozen carrots and peas mix to the curry while its on the stove. Just before removing from heat, add some sour cream and mix well. Do not over mix the curry as the tofu pieces may break.
6. Transfer the curry into a serving dish and garnish with coriander.
7. Serve the curry with naan, rotis or rice for a delicious, nutritious and scrumptious meal. Side additions of raw onions and green chilies will go well with roti or naan (typical north Indian style).


Quick Tips
Please Note: Tofu Steak can be found in the cut fruit and veggie section of Shoprite. In case the tofu steak variant is unavailable, use the extra-firm type to avoid breakage of pieces



April 8, 2010

Cuckoo for Coconuts!!

I can't stand this sudden heat wave that has hit the Tri-State area. For the past week, it's been in the 80's and it's only first week of April. It's like Mother Nature got Hot Flashes and it's spewing them onto us. Whenever I feel like the heat is getting to me, nothing makes me feel better like a cool refreshing drink. During my lunch break I drove to Penang restaurant, which is about 10 miles and bought a couple of Fresh Coconuts. The cool sweet taste of the coconut water just makes it all worthwhile to drive so far.
Ahh! That's much better. I got camera shy, sorry for not smiling.
The best part after drinking all the juice is the tender white coconut flesh!! I scooped it all out and enjoyed it ever so slowly.
Now you don't have to get these fresh coconuts from only Malaysian restaurants, you can climb up the nearest coconut tree and cut yourself one too. Just kidding!! They are available in Indian stores or any grocery stores. I like it from this particular restaurant because the coconut is ready for you to drink and eat from it. That's what I call service.
Happy Drinking!!

April 4, 2010

Boring Soup No More (Kadhi)

Ever since we went to Vatan for dinner last month, I have been craving Buttermilk and Spinach Soup or Kadhi (The Lazy Man's Buffet). This 'soup' is famous all over India but more so in North India and can be made in different ways. I love the way my mom makes it because it can be eaten by itself or with plain rice and papad, plus it is healthy. I'm always trying to eat better but without subtracting the Taste. If you are like me, you don't have to worry about it with this recipe. It has plenty of taste.

So my dad and I are going to make this soup and rice so when my mom returns from her trip to India today, she will have something warm to eat. I have the recipe that she left me in case I wanted to make. If you want to try this at home, please keep in mind this recipe makes 6 servings (1 cup/serving).


Ingredients for Buttermilk and Spinach Soup (Kadhi):

Buttermilk - 1 quart / 32 fl oz/945ml
Frozen chopped Spinach - 2 cups
Gram flour (Besan) - 1/3 cup
Potatoes - 2 medium
Ginger - 1 tbsp, grated
Turmeric - 1/2 tbsp
Salt - 1 tbsp

Seasoning (Taalimpu):

Vegetable Oil - 2 tbsp
Whole Cumin Seeds (Jeera) - 2 tsp
Mustard Seeds (Rye) - 2 tsp

Asafoetida (Hing) - 1 tsp
Garlic cloves - 6 finely chopped
Curry leaves - 8-10 leaves
Red chili powder - 1-2 tsp (or as per taste)


Procedure:


1) In a 3 Qt multi-pot or casserole, mix gram flour and half cup of water until it becomes to a smooth liquid without any lumps

2) Add buttermilk and mix well.


3) Microwave the potatoes for 5-6 minutes until cooked and soak them in water to stop cooking. Remove the peel, cut into 1-inch cubes, and set aside.

4) To the mixture add spinach, potato cubes, ginger, turmeric powder, and chili powder and then mix again.


5) Bring the soup to a boil on Medium Heat and continue mixing intermittently. Next reduce to low/medium heat and then boil it for another 4-5 minutes.

6) Remove from stove, add salt and again mix well. Please put aside for now.

7) To make the seasoning, add oil in a small sauce pan, and heat it on medium. When heat is felt to the palm held over the pan, add mustard and cumin seeds, and then allow them to splutter. Immediately, add garlic and fry for 2 minutes or until golden. Remove from stove and add Hing powder and curry leaves.


Mix it well and pour it over the soup.


8) Serve 1 cup hot soup over 1/2 cup cooked plain rice and enjoy it with crunchy papad or even potato chips. For added taste, add a teaspoon of ghee (melted butter) to the serving. Papad can be toasted in the microwave for 30-40 seconds depending on size.


Quick Tips
- Please note this soup can be made with either spinach or potato or both of them. Use 2-1/2 cups of spinach or 5 potatoes for 6 servings when used individually.
- You can use whole milk yogurt instead of buttermilk as well.