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.

February 28, 2011

The "Other" Dosa Chutney

Masala Dosa at Chennai Garden, NYC
What a lovely sight, indeed! Above is a great example of a dosa. It is a kind of crepe which is most commonly made from fermented rice and urad dal batter. Usually, most South Indian restaurants serve dosas with sambar, fiery chutney powder, and coconut chutney.  In my experience, the sambar is usually too spicy and so is the chutney powder. The coconut chutney is okay if it's properly made and sometimes, it's too watery which ruins the taste of the dosa. And that is why I have to speak out. I know of another chutney that deserves to take center stage and push the coconut one aside. It's creamy, a little tangy and sweet and oh so flavorful. I used to think this chutney recipe was a well kept secret but my mom only told me recently that variations of it are served in restaurants in Southern India. I guess it's not a secret anymore.
Yummy Peanut Chutney!
Feast your eyes on the one and only chutney that should be accompanied with the rice and urad dal dosa. 

Ingredients: 
1 cup of Peanuts
2 Dry Red chillies
1" ball of Dry Tamarind or 1 tbsp of Tamarind Concentrate
1 tbsp of Jaggery or Brown sugar
½ Salt tsp or as needed
1 tsp of Vegetable oil

Procedure:
1) Fry peanuts and chillies in oil on medium heat to low heat until peanuts give out the roasted aroma. It should take about 6-7 minutes.
2)  If using tamarind, use sufficient water to cover it and microwave it for 15-20 seconds. Allow it to soak for 5 minutes; this will loosen it up so you can squeeze the juice out.
3) Blend peanuts and chillies to a fine powder. Then add salt and brown sugar. Squeeze the juice out of soaked tamarind and add the juice to the mixture. Next, add water to make the mixture wet and blend it to a smooth paste. Taste the chutney to adjust salt or brown sugar as needed and remove from the blender.




A Quick Tip: You can also season the chutney with mustard seeds, jeera and curry leaves. It gives it that extra kick. 

I know you're dying to make dosas now, just so you can dip the dosa into this creamy and "nutty" chutney. Check out India on a Griddle: A Savory Dosa Recipe Worth the Effort



February 21, 2011

Our First Anniversary

Hoorah! This past weekend was marked by a couple of "First" moments for the year. First of, it was our blog's First Anniversary and it is customary on such an occasion to exchange paper made gifts. So we created business cards to hand them out to people and spread the word. Secondly, I went to my First Scandinavian dinner party. Would you believe that my eyes popped out of their sockets when I saw the food laid out in front of me...so many goodies I have never seen. Even though, many were non-vegetarian, I managed to eat some that weren't and they were delicious.



My favorites from the Smorgasbord were the Lefse (potato flat breads, left topmost corner), Norwegian Cheese platter, Curried deviled eggs (bottom left-hand corner), Janssons Frestelse (Made with grated potatoes and onions cooked in cream, right most of picture), Spiced Apple Wedges, and Knackebrod (Crispy bread). I went home feeling proud, having eaten a good portion of the food on the Smorgasbord.

On Sunday my friend, Avaneesh and I drove to the city for our First Cultural Event of the year: The Anamika Navatman Brunch Performance Series - Emerging Artists Dance Program. 



They are trained in various types of Indian Classical dances such as Kathak, Kuchipudi, and Bharatanatyam for many years. The emerging artists and their dance descriptions are Srilekha Jayanthi (Kuchipudi solo about Shiva), Umesh Venkatesan (Bharatanatyam solo about Krishna), Melvin Varghese (Bharatanatyam solo about Ganeshanjali), and Mohip Joarder, Reena Shah, Ammr Vandal (Kathak group - members of the Parul Shah Dance Co). Illustrated below are two of the talented artists from the program:



I've attended dance programs mostly comprised of girls. I never had the opportunity to watch men dance. It was quite a treat; the movements and expressions were so captivating. 

Overall, the weekend was fantastic. We are happy to share our cooking and cultural insights with you. We feel that posting recipes is one thing but when you share the history behind a recipe or festival, it keeps the audience engaged in the content and makes them feel connected. We thank all of you for your support and hope to keep you coming back for MORE!

February 16, 2011

A Lovely Valentine!

Roses are red
Violets are blue
Sugar is sweet 
And so are You
Will you be my Valentine?

Do you remember writing poems like the one above, when you were younger? I used to buy Valentine cards that have such sayings and give them out to my classmates in elementary and middle school.For my close friends, I included heart candies in the envelopes. It was easy to please your Valentine at that age. Now older and wiser, Valentine's Day is a bit more elaborate; it's all about wining and dining your date. How can you outdo the previous year's experience? I chose to lay low this year and had dinner with a friend over the weekend. We had a wonderful dinner followed by a couple of desserts. The first was carrot halwa which he made from scratch and didn't follow a recipe. It was pretty good for his first try. The second were cupcakes from Magnolia's Bakery from NYC. So many sweet celebrations! However, my Valentine's dining did not end there.  
Since I am now living with my parents, I wanted them to have a pleasant Valentine's too. At first I thought of sending the both off to a nice restaurant but Valentine's fell on a Monday and they both had to work the next day. So I hurried home after work, and prepped for an evening of cooking by none other than myself. Don't worry, I didn't poison them. I've had years of experience cooking for my sister when we were living together and she's never complained. I can cook a mean Chinese fried rice, mushroom risotto and curry puffs.
Anyways, I decided to keep it simple and make something right from our blog. Even though my parents love trying new cuisines, they always yearn for good ol' Indian cooking much much more.
I went the whole nine yards and made Aloo Parathas from scratch and we ate them with raita. My dad chipped in and helped me roll out the parathas and toast them on the pan. For dessert, I made chocolate covered strawberries which were served with dessert wine. Oh by the way, I forgot to mention that my dad surprised my mom with a exquisite Japanese Ikebana flower arrangement. 
Quite stunning and intricate, I must say!
 Overall, the evening turned out well and my parents enjoyed themselves. Dinner Accomplished, woohoo!

February 12, 2011

You Gotta Love Rotis (Indian Flat Breads)

One of my favorite foodie spots when I was in college was The Kati Roll Company in New York City. They made the best kati rolls which are comprised of different ingredients stuffed inside Indian Flat breads. These ingredients range from spiced chicken kebabs, mixed vegetables to Indian cheese and pickle. These rolls were popular not just for the taste but also for their price 4.50 USD. My cravings for these rolls only grew as I got older and I spread the word about this place to everyone.  In addition I used to buy extra rolls for my parents whenever I was heading home for the weekend.
Since I loved these rolls so much, I decided to re-create them at home so I can have them whenever I want. And that's what brings me to today's post. I've perfected the kati rolls that are made with chicken but I'm not too good with vegetarian ones. That's where my mom's expertise comes in.  She's like MacGyver with cooking. You give her any random vegetable and some spices and she will prepare a magnificent meal for you. Well, I explained my dilemma to her about the vegetarian kati rolls and she began putting things together. I love watching her in the kitchen. It's like watching the Iron Chef or Chopped! competitions on TV. Now to get started on these famous Kati Rolls from NYC, you'll need the following to make 4-5 rolls. This all depends on how much you stuff in each roll as well.

 
- Paneer....................................................................... 4x4” block, cut into ½” cubes
- Bell Pepper - Green................................................... 1 large, chopped into ½” cubes
- Bell Pepper – Red...................................................... ½, chopped into ½” cubes
- Onion.......................................................................... 1 medium, chopped into chunks
- Achar masala.................................... ½ tsp OR 1 tbsp any type chili achar mashed
- Coriander chutney....................................................... ½ tsp
- Plain Parathas (round for better wrapping)................. Frozen packet
- Vegetable oil................................................................ 2 tbsp
- Salt.............................................................................. Adjust to your taste

Now the procedure for these rolls is not difficult at all. You have to just make sure all the spices and vegetables are mixed really well and place a small portion of the mixture onto each of the rotis. 

1) Heat oil in a non-stick sauce pan and saute peppers and onions with salt on medium heat. When peppers are soft, add paneer cubes and fry for 2-3 minutes. 
Add achar or achar masala and saute the mixture until it is mixed well (3minutes). Remove and keep aside.
2) Defrost the parathas for a 15-20 seconds in the microwave. Rub a ½ tsp of oil onto a grilling pan or flat frying pan and heat it on low – medium heat. Fry the roti slightly by tossing it in the pan.
OR 
3) Place ½ cup of paneer mixture in the middle of the roti and fold it from sides to cover the vegetable. Hold the roti flaps in place using a wooden tooth prick.
If you're looking for a filling snack besides that other stuff, I think these rolls would be perfect. They are great on the go like the Wendy's Chicken Go Wraps. Also, if you roll them up a bit tighter, you can cut them in half and serve them up as appetizers while watch a game. 

***Quick tip:If you have any mixture left over, store in a microwaveable container and save it for later. 

February 8, 2011

Onion Drop Fritters

Served hot with coriander chutney and ketchup

I have a great appetizer for parties planned for this cold weather...that is fritters. They are sure to warm up any guest; they're warm, crunchy, and delectable.  Did you know that fritters are popular in many cultures and known by different names: tempura, pakora, or poppers. The hardest part I think about fritters is to keep them from being too oily or heavy. I've tasted many kinds in restaurants, weddings, family parties and it's hard to find ones that are really good. The most common vegetable fritters are made with onions, sliced potatoes, cauliflower florets, or spinach.

My favorite type of the fritters is made with onions and I have laid out the ingredients and directions for you to try as well.

Ingredients:
- Maida (All Purpose flour)............................ 1 cup
- Corn starch................................................. 2 tbsp
- Onion......................................................... 1 ½ medium, chopped into large cubes
- Bread crumbs............................................. 3 tbsp
- Butter milk / Yogurt..................................... ½ cup (or more to mix the flour into a paste)
- Chili powder............................................... 1 tsp
- Salt............................................................. 1 tsp or to taste
- Soda bicarbonate........................................ 1 pinch
- Green coriander........................................... handful, chopped (optional)
- Vegetable oil................................................ For frying

Procedure:
1)  In a bowl mix together maida, corn starch, chili powder and salt. Add butter milk or yogurt and make a paste and allow it soak for 30 minutes.
2) Sprinkle a tbsp of maida on chopped onions and mix to coat them.
3) Add bread crumbs, soda bicarb, onions and coriander to the dough and mix well. The dough should be loose enough to form drops but not too watery (like a pancake batter). Adjust the consistency of the dough with water if needed.
4) Heat oil in a frying pan. The oil should be hot so that a small drop of dough into the oil rises to the surface immediately.

Drop batter (amounts the size of a large marbles) into the oil by hand or use a small ice cream scooper to imitate the same action. Fry the fritters until deep golden color by turning them over a couple of times in between.
Look at those garam garam fritters!

February 6, 2011

Crunchy Crackling Cashews

For cashews lovers across the globe, this one's for you! Enjoy!!

While we were making the Picante Peanut Poppers, we thought why not mix it up a bit and try the recipe with other nuts. We decided on cashews since they are my dad's favorite. The recipe for making crunchy cashews is almost the same as the peanuts one except for the type of nuts and ginger-garlic paste. We substituted chat masala with ginger-garlic paste because it brings the flavor out more.

Ingredients:
  • ½ cup Raw Cashews, split into halves
  • ¼ cup Fine Gram flour, (also known as Besan)
  • ½ tsp Chili powder, (adjust to your spice level)
  • ½ tsp Ginger-Garlic paste
  • ¼ tsp Turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp Salt 
  • A pinch of Soda Bicarbonate 
  • ¾ tbsp Vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp Whole Cumin seeds
Procedure: 
Soak cashew halves in a cup of water for 10-12 minutes. Sieve flour along with chili powder, salt, turmeric,  and soda to mix well. Add sieved mixture into a mixing bowl and mix in jeera, oil and ginger-garlic paste. Into the above flour mixture, add drained cashews and mix well so that they are coated well with the flour mixture. If the mixture seems dry and powdery, sprinkle a teaspoon or less of water and mix. Spray/rub some oil onto a microwavable plate (or dinner plate) and spread the cashews on it in a single layer. Microwave for 5-6 minutes based on the wattage of the microwave. If it is a high powered one, try using at 80% power until the cashews are well roasted. (Hint: you can smell the roasted aroma) Also halfway through, take the plate out and separate the cashews so they roast evenly.

February 4, 2011

Picante Peanut Poppers




We transformed the nuts we love to eat into a new snack that would bring smiles to everyone. These "pop in your mouth" bits are a great addition to any party or get together. We've made a bunch of batches for the big game tomorrow.

You can either eat them on their own or enjoy them with any cocktail (alcoholic or not). The chili powder adds a bit of a kick to every bite. I've been popping these into my mouth all afternoon...I just love them. It's hard to stop once you get started.


Ingredients:
  • ½ cup Raw Peanuts
  • ¼ cup Fine Gram flour,  also known as Besan
  • ½ tsp Chili powder, (adjust to your spice level)
  • ½ tsp Chaat masala
  • ¼ tsp Turmeric powder
  • ½ tsp Salt
  • A pinch of Soda Bicarbonate
  • ¾ tbsp Vegetable oil
  • ½ tsp Whole Cumin seeds 

Let's get cracking:
1) Soak peanuts in a cup of water for 10-12 minutes.
2) Sieve flour along with chili pd, salt, turmeric, chat masala and soda to mix well.
3) Add sieved mixture into a mixing bowl and mix in jeera and oil.


4) Into the above flour mixture, add drained peanuts and mix well so that all the peanuts are coated with flour. If the mixture seems dry and powdery, sprinkle a teaspoon or less of water and mix. 


5) Spray/rub some oil onto a microwavable plate (dinner plate) and spread the peanuts on it in a single layer.

6) Microwave for 5-6 minutes based on the wattage of the microwave. If it is a high power one, try using at 80% power until the peanuts are well roasted. (Hint: you can smell the roasted aroma) Also halfway through, take out the plate and separate out the peanuts so they roast evenly.


***Quick Tip: For a different taste, replace the chat masala with amchoor powder.


February 3, 2011

Super Snacks for Super Bowl


This Sunday the Green Bay Packers are playing the Pittsburgh Steelers in the 45th Super Bowl Championship Event. Although I'm not an avid American Football fan, I like to watch a good game now and then. I've watched some of the games leading up to the big day and these two teams are pretty strong. I can't wait to see them go head-to-head. I've even hyped up my parents to watch it with me. Woohoo!

We are going to enjoy the game with good food and company without going too crazy. Above is a sneak peek as to what we're cooking up. Onion Drop Fritters, Paneer Kati Rolls, Crunchy Cashews, and Picante Peanut Poppers are just few of the scrumptious goodies we will popping in our mouths with our beverages.