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.

October 30, 2011

Chunky Pumpkin Sambhar


Sambhar is a type of vegetable stew or soup that has its roots from South India. Every South Indian state has its own variation. 

Warm Pumpkin Goodness!
Our version of sambhar hails from Andhra Pradesh (my home state) . Now the base of soups or stews starts off with the broth or stock, and then you combine it with meat, legumes or vegetables.  The broth in Sambhar is usually made with tamarind and/or pigeon peas and cooked with vegetables. The type of vegetables range from carrots, pearl onions, eggplant, tomato, sweet potato and/or okra with a blend of various spices (Sambhar powder can be found at most Indian stores).

We love cooking with seasonal produce whenever we have the chance. On our recent trips to the lcoal market, we bought pumpkin.

Here are some great ways to enjoy this chunky dish: In a bowl with pieces of toasted bread; mixed with hot rice and a touch of ghee or clarified butter; or dip your favorite dosa or idlis. This dish is an explosion of sour, spicy, and sweet flavors. 

Let's begin making this dish, shall we? 

Ingredients:
- 1½ lbs of Pumpkin (Spanish or Calabaza)
- Tamarind (measure size of a lemon)
- 2 tbsp of Brown sugar/Jaggery
- ½ tsp of Turmeric powder
- ½ to 1 tsp of Chili powder (or as desired)
- ½ tsp of Fenugreek powder (optional)
- 1½ tbsp of Besan (if not available, use rice flour or cornstarch)


Brown sugar is not shown above

For the seasoning*:
- 1 tbsp of Vegetable oil
- 1 tsp of Whole Cumin seeds
- 1 tsp of Mustard seeds
- ¼ tsp of Hing/Asafoetida
- 5 or 6 Curry Leaves


Procedure: 
1) Pick a pumpkin with orange skin and make sure the skin is not woody. Remove the seeds and cut the pumpkin into 2" squares. (Hint: Peel the skin if it seems thick and woody)

2) Soak the tamarind in 1 cup of warm water for at least 15-20 min and later squeeze the juice out using at least 1 liter of water. Transfer the juice into a soup pot or large saucepan and add the pumpkin pieces, chili powder, turmeric, brown sugar, fenugreek powder and salt.


Cook on low to medium heat until the pumpkin is soft. (Hint: Knife should pierce the pieces easily)

3) When the pumpkin is cooked and liquid is boiling, mix the besan/flour in ½ cup of water and add to the broth stirring continuously. Cook for 2 to 3 minutes until the broth thickens and remove from heat and keep aside.

4) Prepare the seasoning (listed above) for soup in hot oil.



QUICK TIPS
- Pigeon peas are added to the preparation of the broth to thicken and reduce the sourness of the dish. Besan/flour and pumpkin help in thickening the dish and reduce the sourness taste.
- Check out Cooking 101 for tips on preparing the seasoning or click here to watch the video.
- Sambhar Powder can be substituted for the following ingredients: Hing, Fenugreek powder, and Chili powder.




Did you know: How closely related sambhar and gumbo really are? 1) They both fall within the same category of soups and stews, 2) have a strongly flavored stock, 3) combined with lots of vegetables to create this thick dish, and finally 4) are traditionally served over rice. 

October 26, 2011

Poha Laddus - Sweet Balls of Joy

I know you want one or two; or maybe the whole plate!
We've heard a lot from our readers that they like multipurpose ingredients. We agree with that too. No one wants to buy uni-purpose ingredients that aren't affordable. With that in mind, we looked into our spice rack and cupboard to see what sweets to make for Diwali that everyone can make. After chatting up my infamous aunt, we decided on making Poha Laddu. She said it was really easy to make and required minimum ingredients; that works for us.
Just a recap, Poha is another name given for flattened rice. There are two kinds of poha: thick and thin. It is important to choose the right one when cooking with it as results vary. It can be used to make dishes like Garden Poha or mixture (Indian snack). Let's begin making our sweet as we have lots to show you. This recipe makes twenty to twenty-two lime-sized balls. 

Ingredients:
- 1½ cup of thick Poha
¾ cup of Sugar or Brown sugar
¾ cup of Dry Coconut Powder
- 10 Raisins
- 20 Nuts (Any combination of Cashews, Almonds or Pistachios), cut into pieces
- 3 to 4 tbsp of Butter
- 6 to 8 pods of Cardamom, seeded & powdered
- 4 tbsp of Evaporated Milk (or as needed to hold the mixture)

Procedure:
Melt butter in a pan and add all the nuts and raisins. Toast them lightly, remove from butter and set aside. Then add poha into the butter and fry on a reduced flame until it is well roasted. Transfer it to a plate and let it cool. Powder the poha, sugar and coconut separately in a blender. Transfer all the powders into a mixing bowl including cardamom powder and mix well. Add evaporated milk and take portions of the mixture and roll into a ball. Finally take nuts and raisins and press them gently into the ball. Arrange them on a tray and let them dry before serving. 


***Quick Tips: 
- For a longer shelf life, use melted butter instead of evaporated milk
You can use fresh coconut, if grated coconut is not available. 

October 25, 2011

Celebrate For A Cause...

We believe in giving back to the community and helping the less fortunate. That is why we make time to volunteer and participate in charitable events as much as possible. Sometimes with our busy schedules, it's tough to engage in such activities and so we try other ways to fulfill that duty. In that same respect, it's great to see corporations getting involved as well. They do it by giving deals or promoting an charitable event. For example, every time someone buys their product, a percentage gets donated to charity or by hosting charitable walks and giving away products.
We would like to recognize Tandoor Chef in their efforts in giving back to the community. Tandoor Chef, the leading manufacturer of restaurant quality, all natural frozen Indian cuisine, is hosting a virtual charity drive benefiting the Deepkiran Foundation, which helps provide education to children in remote villages in India. Through the end of October, they will donate $1.00 to the foundation for every new Fan at Facebook.com/TandoorChef. This special donation comes in addition to their regular contributions to the Deepkiran Foundation. They are creating this social media and cause campaign to make a positive impact on the futures of young children through schooling.
The Deepkiran Foundation is a non-profit organization that supports children’s education in the remote villages of Gujarat, India. Education is often not a priority of village elders and the foundation works to give the children various skills, including reading and writing. Both Tandoor Chef and Deep Foods are owned by the same family, who created the Deepkiran Foundation in 2005. This new charity drive is part of Tandoor Chef’s celebration of Diwali, the Hindu New Year. Charity and gift giving are central focuses of the Diwali celebration. “Tandoor Chef is honored to regularly donate to the Deepkiran Foundation, but we want to do even more through this special drive,” said Mike Ryan, VP Sales and Marketing, Tandoor Chef. “Deep Foods is proud to support this important foundation and we hope Facebook users everywhere will be proud to rally behind it.”

October 24, 2011

Stuffed Jalapeno Curry

This goes out to all the Heat Seekers!!
I think every family has a network of culinary experts. I know it's true in my own family. One of my aunts is an expert in making spicy curries. Her husband has a high tolerance for spicy dishes. I boast about his tolerance to all my friends. So for this year's Diwali celebration, my mom and I decided to add a spicy dish to the menu. And who better to consult, than my aunt. When I was inquiring about her dishes, she said, "Are you sure you want those recipes?" After some persuasion, she came around to it and sent us the recipe for Stuffed Jalapeno Curry

How to prepare the peppers for the stuffing (Gloves may be useful when handling the peppers): 
Wash and dry 7-8 peppers thoroughly. Slit each pepper with stalk end intact. Carefully pry it open and with the handle of the spoon, scrape out the seeds. This step depends on your spice tolerance. If you are a Hot Head, then leave some in there. However, let it be stated that, We Warned You. Then apply salt to the inner surface of each pepper. Once all of them have been prepped, please keep aside.

Stuffing Ingredients:
- 1 Medium Onion, chopped
- 2 tbsp of Coconut Milk Powder
½ bunch of Coriander (Cilantro), chopped
¾ tsp of cumin powder, roasted
- 3 to 4 tbsp of Vegetable Oil
- Salt, adjust as per taste

Procedure:
1) Heat one tablespoon of oil in a pan, add the chopped onion and stir fry for a few minutes. Then take it off heat and put aside for cooling.  
2) Blend the following ingredients together: dry coconut powder, stir fried onions, coriander/cilantro, and roasted cumin powder. Pulse the mixture for 3-4 minutes, but do not over grind. Adjust the salt as per your taste. Then stuff the peppers with the mixture and put aside for frying
3) Heat two tablespoons oil in the pan and gently place the stuffed peppers into the pan. Cook on low to medium flame. (Please Note: if necessary, add more oil for sauteing the peppers) 
4) Gently flip each pepper over to cook them evenly. When the peppers are more than half done, add the remaining stuffing. (The remaining stuffing amount depends on how much was stuffed into the peppers prior to this step. Don't worry if there isn't any left over)
5) Saute the peppers until they have a brownish tint and are cooked thoroughly.

***Quick Tip:
- This curry can be enjoyed on its own or with some hot rice (plain or brown) or quinoa.

October 23, 2011

~ Diwali Specialities ~

 Family and friends, festive dishes, drinks, music, rangoli, and fireworks!!

Since Diwali falls midweek, we will have a small celebration during the week and a grand one over the weekend. We chose an intricate rangoli design to be drawn on the festival day and prepared some dishes such as Stuffed Jalapeno Curry, Powdery Poha Laddus, and Kalakand

October 14, 2011

Seasoned Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Curry

What a nice spread of gourds we have here!

Can you name them all? There are pumpkins, butternut squash, acorn squash, sweet dumpling squash and lots of other ornamental gourds. We were passing by this farmer's market and decided to pick up a few to make our fall dishes. 

We love cooking with these sweet and savory gourds because when they are cooked, they retain their beautiful color and flavor. Our two favorite dishes are Seasoned Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Curry and Chunky Pumpkin Sambhar.  

Seasoned Pumpkin and Butternut Squash Curry

This curry is popular both in North and South India and most people eat it with hot rice or roti (also known as chappati). This dish can also be served as the vegetable side dish with your meal. It is enough for 4-6 servings. 

Ingredients:
- 1 lbs of Spanish Pumpkin (Calabaza) 
½ lb of Butternut Squash
- 1 cup Frozen Carrots & Peas (optional)
- 3 Green chilies, chopped finely
- 1" piece of Ginger, chopped finely
- 1 tbsp of Cumin/Coriander powder (use ½ tbsp curry powder as an alternate)
½ tbsp Brown sugar/Jaggery
- 2 tbsp Grated coconut (dry)
- 1 tsp each of Mustard & Cumin seeds
½ tsp of Turmeric powder
¼ cup of Fresh Coriander/Cilantro leaves, chopped
1½ tbsp Vegetable oil

Procedure:
1) If the pumpkin and butternut squash are thick and woody, remove the seeds and peel the skin. Cut them into ½ inch pieces. 

2) Heat oil in a pan and add cumin and mustard seeds. When they start to splatter, add cumin/coriander powder, chilies, ginger and turmeric. Stir and then add pumpkin and butternut squash pieces, salt, and brown sugar. Mix well and cook the pumpkin with closed lid for 8-10 minutes or until it is cooked and firm. 



3) Stir the vegetable mixture in between, allowing the condensed water from the lid to fall into the curry for moisture. 
4) When it is done, add carrots & peas and coconut powder and cook under closed lid for 2-3 minutes. Once that is done, garnish it with chopped coriander. 


***Quick Tips: 
- Spanish Pumpkin is also known as Calabaza or West Indian Pumpkin. It is available in most grocery and ethnic stores. 
- The measurements of butternut squash and pumpkin can be adjusted as per availability. 

October 6, 2011

Green Apple Salsa

Have we got a treat for you! Today's recipe highlights two ingredients that are quite different from each other, both in taste and texture. One is an herb used as a garnish in many Indian dishes and the other is used to make America's famous apple pie. You guessed it, coriander and Granny Smith apples.


These two ingredients are combined to make one sweet and tangy flavored sauce which we like to call Green Apple Salsa. It's great for dipping your favorite chips. Ours is hearty pita chips.

Here's what you need to get started:
- 1 Green Apple (Granny Smith variety), cored and chopped into small cubes
- ¾ cup of Coriander/Cilantro leaves, chopped finely
- 3 Garlic cloves, peeled & chopped
- 2 Green chilies, chopped small
- 1 tsp of Peanut butter
- A pinch of Turmeric powder (optional)
- ½ tsp of Salt (Adjust to your taste)

Put all the ingredients except for the peanut butter and grind to a coarse texture. Now add the peanut butter and blend again to mix well. Taste to check the salt and adjust if needed. 

***Quick Tip: It can also be used as a spread on finger sandwiches instead of mint chutney. 

October 4, 2011

Tis the Season to Go Picking!!


It's Pick Your Own Apples and Pumpkins Time!! Grab your partner, friend, and/or kids and head over to the nearest farm for a day of good picking. And after you're done picking, be sure to try one of our "Fall Fancies" recipes just in time for the season. 

Upcoming "Fall Fancies" Recipes: