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.

September 29, 2010

Watch Out Salsa, Here Comes Raita!

Have ever tried Tzatziki (Greek cucumber yogurt sauce) which is served in most Mediterranean restaurants? Then you're sure to love raitas as well. They are made with yogurt, various vegetables, and some spices.

Below are some of the vegetables we use to make raitas (yogurt based sauces).
 
Long Squash

Frozen Chopped Spinach, 
Tomatoes, Bell Peppers, Cabbage


So the next time you're having people over, instead of serving cheesy nachos or potato chips, try something new. Arrange a plate of pita pieces with any of these raitas as a dipping sauce. Your guests will love you and you will love yourself for eating healthier.

Ingredients:
Use any one of the following vegetables:
- Spinach................................................................... ½ box frozen
- Green Bell pepper.................................................... 3 medium size chopped finely
- Cabbage.................................................................. 2 cups chopped finely
- Long squash............................................................. small size, grated (use larger grate)
-Tomatoes..................................................................4 med, cut into small pieces
Plus:
- Sour cream (Reg / fat-free)....................................... 6oz
- Yogurt (any type as desired, lite / Reg)...................... 1 cup
- Green chilies............................................................ 2, chopped finely or cut into halves for milder taste
- Mustard & Cumin seeds............................................1 tsp each for seasoning
- Vegetable oil............................................................ 1 tbsp
- Curry leaves (optional)............................................. 5-6 leaves
- Salt.......................................................................... 1 tsp or as needed (varies with vegetable)


Procedure:

1) Add the vegetable into a microwavable container (for squash remove any water), add salt and green chilies and microwave for 5-6 min or until they are firm and cooked.


Illustration: Spinach Raita
2) Allow the vegetable to cool for 10 – 15 min and then mix in the sour cream and yogurt.

3) In a small dish heat 1 tbsp of oil and add mustard and cumin seeds. When they splatter add curry leaves, mix well and transfer the contents into the raita.

Illustration: Spinach Raita

4) Raitas can be served with pulao, parathas, rotis or plain rice. They can also be used as a dipping sauce for some appetizers like nachos, tortilla or pita chips.

September 27, 2010

Sweet And Sour Toast

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day and he mentioned having an Okra smoothie for breakfast. He said it was delicious and very healthy. I took his word for it and made sure not to ask for the recipe. He's a bit of a health nut, so he is always on the lookout for nutritious meals. I'm not saying I'm into unhealthy stuff but I cross the line at green gooey shakes.  My usual day starts with toasted wheat bread and a glass of orange juice.

So on one of  my daily breakfast sit downs, it hit me. My breakfast meal is already healthy but it lacks pizazz. Then my mom told me that she also eats toast in the morning but tops off it off with some chutney.  She said that she was sick of eating it with peanut butter or jelly everyday. That's an interesting idea, I thought.  

And so I present to you my new breakfast item:  Toast with Chinese Okra Chutney

Chinese Okra
Ingredients:
- 3 Chinese okra/ Tori / Squash, approx. 8-10” long
- 1 tbsp of Tamarind pulp, (use the bottled brand)
- 1 tbsp of Peanut butter
- 2 tbsp of Idli podi*
- 1 tsp Salt, or as needed
- Half tbsp of Brown sugar
- 2 Green chilies

Procedure:
Peel the squash and cut them into 1-inch cubes. Then cut the chilies into two pieces. Saute the squash along with green chilies in a sauce pan along with salt and turmeric until soft. Set aside to cool. In a blender or food processor blend the squash mix along with all other ingredients listed.  Adjust the salt and sweetness as desired. It tastes great as a spread on toasted bread slices because it has the sweet and sour flavors blended together in one. And you can serve it with hot rice/ rotis or use it as a chutney or relish with any appetizers.


*If idli podi is not available the following powder can be used as a substitution. In tablespoon oil roast 2tbsp coriander seeds (dhania), 2 red chilies and 2 tbsp chana dal. Powder them to a coarse grain along with salt.

September 17, 2010

It's September - Time To Spice Up Condiments

If you have ever been to an Indian restaurant, one thing everyone can count on is the different kinds of chutneys (sauces) that are served with the food. The last time I went to this restaurant called Dosa Hut, the waiter brought over my Masala Dosa order with 3 chutneys. I tried all of them and in end stuck with the coconut one which wasn't too spicy.

In 2008, my family and I went back to my native country (India) for vacation and had the time of our lives. Since we haven't been back in a while, a lot has changed; especially the restaurants scene. A lot of new places popped up and enticed customers with their unique dishes. I couldn't believe my eyes when our relatives took us to this restaurant in Himayatnagar (suburb in Hyderabad) for lunch.  The restaurant's name is Chutney's. Hmm, I wonder what they are famous for? Below is a picture of the chutneys that were already placed on our table before we ordered our entrees. More chutneys accompanied our dishes so we had a loads to choose from. It was fun trying different chutneys or sauces with our dishes. I will definitely go back to this place when I visit again.



So in light of our trip to Chutney's, we've decided to dedicate the month of September to chutneys and raitas.  

In the US, most people know of  chutneys as sauces that are served with food like condiments (mustard sauce and ketchup). And for the most part, they are right. Tamarind and coriander chutneys are used like condiments on top of snacks like chaat, samosas, tikkis, and other such foods. However, in South Indian cooking, there are other types of chutneys that we prepare which are eaten with rice and/or naan. These chutneys are more like curries that are more hearty and flavorful. Below are a few that we whip up often for their nutritious value and taste:

Chutneys

Raitas (Yogurt based)
Long Squash
Tomato
Beet Root
Eggplant
Cucumber

September 12, 2010

My Favorite Festival – Ganesha Chavithi

Yesterday was an auspicious day for all Hindus. It was the day we celebrate Ganesha Chavithi, a festival dedicated to Lord Ganesha. He is known to help people overcome obstacles in their lives and bestow great wisdom and wealth. It is important for this pooja and every pooja that we prepare prasad (offering to the God) and wear new clothes.

So our day started with making his favorite dishes, cleaning and decorating the place where the pooja will take place.
We also drew rangoli (colored chalk/powder drawings) in front of our house. Usually, we create more colorful drawings but we were really tired and just decided to keep it simple.


My parents told me that the story goes that Lord Ganesha's favorite dishes are steamed sweet rice dumplings, rice kheer (pudding), besan ka ladoo, and boondi ladoo.
However, we are health conscious and so we made steamed rice and lentil dumplings with ginger & coriander chutney, vermicelli & tapioca pudding, and beet root rice. Don't you just want to grab a couple of the balls off the screen.

Steamed Rice & Lentil Dumplings (Undrallu) Ingredients: 
2 cups of Idli rava/cream of rice/coarsely powdered rice 
- 1 cup of Moong dal
- 1½ cups of fresh grated coconut (frozen grated coconut can be used as well)
- 2 tsp of Salt or as needed
- 4 tbsp of Vegetable oil
  
Procedure:
1) In a pressure cooker or heavy bottomed sauce pan cook the moong dal with two cups of water until it is soft & firm (Hint: should be able to split it when pierced with the nail). Remove excess water and set aside.
2) Add 3 cups of water into the pan or cooker (including the water collected from the dal earlier). Add 2 tbsp of oil and salt and allow the water to come to a boil. Reduce heat and add idli ravva into it and mix.
3) If using cooker, close the lid and cook in medium to low heat under pressure for 5-6 minutes. If using pan, cook under low heat until the rice and dal is fully cooked (may require slightly more water in the pan).
4) Transfer the cooked mixture into a wider container and add remaining oil and spread the cooked rice to cool. When it is cooled down, add grated coconut and mix well.
5) Make lemon size balls with the mixture and put them into a container. Cook them under steam by adding 1-1 ½” height water and place the rice balls container in it. Close the inner container and the outer and steam cook in medium heat for 10 minutes.
6) When done, eat the dumplings with ginger chutney. 

Quick Tip: To enhance the taste of the dumplings, just add a drop of ghee on it.

Vermicelli & Tapioca Kheer (payasam) Ingredients:
- 2 cups of Vermicelli (sevia)
½ cup of Tapioca (sabudana)
- 1 liter of Milk
½ can of Condensed milk
½ cup of Sugar
- 6 pods of Cardamom, seeded and powdered
- 15-20 Cashew nuts, halved and roasted
- 15-20 Golden raisins
Procedure:
1) Roast vermicelli & sabudana separately in a 1/2 to 1 tbsp butter and keep aside. Soak the sabudana in 1 cup of water for atleast 1-2 hours (this will reduce the cooking time immensely).
2) In a heavy saucepan or crock pot add milk, vermicelli, and sabudana. Allow them to cook on low heat (15-20 min) stirring the contents frequently to avoid caking and burning at the bottom. Cook until the sabudana turns opaque to transparent and vermicelli is soft.
3) Now add sugar, condensed milk, raisins and cardamom powder and bring it to boil on low heat stirring continuously. Taste the kheer and add more sugar as needed. Remove from heat and then add cashew nuts.
4) This kheer can be enjoyed when hot or chilled and served as pudding (thickens when chilled).

Quick Tip 1: While use of condensed milk gives a rich taste, you can replace it with extra milk or evaporated milk and sugar if preferred.
Quick Tip 2: The kheer can be made with vermicelli only if sabudana is not available; adjust the milk and sugar accordingly.