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 29, 2012

A Tasty Memory - Feast Fit For A King

My foodie adventures always cheer me up whenever I'm down about something. One of my most tastiest travel memories was at Choki Dhani in Jaipur last year. Choki Dhani is a re-creation of an authentic Rajasthani village filled with food, entertainment and wonder. The dining hall was decorated with Rajasthani art and hangings. Servers dressed in the traditional garb served a variety of curries (e.g. kofta, dal, korma), flat breads (e.g. naan, roti, paratha), Khichdi, Kadhi, pakora, freshly churned butter, salad and desserts (e.g. sooji halwa, laddu, kheer).


Servers passed by and refilled any dish that was almost empty. My family and I felt like we got the royal treatment when we ate a feast fit for a King. We left the hall with big smiles and bulging stomachs. It was truly a culinary delight. And if that wasn't enough, outside the hall there was a vendor selling a freshly brewed Rabri, sweet and condensed milk based dessert.
 It was a cool and refreshing way to end the night!
Rich food plus great company equals a magical night! I would definitely recommend anyone traveling to Jaipur to visit this place for a night of fun and foodie delight. For more eye candy, check out my post about my Jaipur trip.

Be sure to visit WanderFood Wednesdays for more tasty adventures and add your own.

February 28, 2012

Instant Uttapams (Indian Pancakes)

Here's a stereotype I can't stand, Indian people are hot heads. What does that even mean? I will tell you something that is true - we do eat a lot of spicy food but not all the time as people perceive it to be. We also like spicing our breakfast up with items like corn flakes with masala or uttapam (Indian pancake).
 You know how pancakes are a popular breakfast or brunch item here in the States. In South India, uttapams are a popular breakfast item. Pancakes and uttapams are similar in that they are both flatbreads except ours is savory. Traditional uttapams are made with a combination of urad dal and rice. Since Urad dal is not available in regular grocery stores, we came up with an easier Uttapam recipe. This blog is called "Indian" Khana (food) Made Easy for a reason.

This recipe makes about 10-12 pancakes or uttapams.

Ingredients:
- ½ packet of Pancake mix (any variety)
- 2 tsp Salt (or to taste)
- Vegetable oil or Pam (toasting pancakes on griddle)
Vegetables:
- ½ of Green Bell Pepper
- ½ of Red Bell Pepper
- ½ cup of shredded Cabbage
- ½ cup of Spinach (Frozen or Fresh)
- ½ cup of Frozen carrots and peas
- ½ of Medium Onion, chopped
- ¼ cup of Fresh Coriander, chopped
- 3 Green chilies, finely chopped or 1 tsp of Red chili paste

Procedure:
Follow the instructions for making the pancake mix from the packet or box. Add in all the chopped vegetables, salt and rice flour and mix well. Add an extra ¼ cup of water and mix to an uniform consistency.


Heat a griddle on medium heat for few minutes. Sprinkle or spray cooking oil onto the griddle and when it's hot, pour in 2 ladles of the dough onto the griddle.


Spread the dough out evenly in a skillet or electric griddle. Add a teaspoon of oil around the pancake and cover the griddle or skillet with a lid to cook evenly. Allow the pancake to cool and serve with your favorite chutney.

***Quick Tips:
- When using frozen vegetables, make sure to drain off the water before mixing into the batter. If the batter is runny, then the pancakes will come out soggy. 
- Also, for thicker pancakes, add 1/8 cup of rice flour. 

Another savory breakfast item that is really popular in South India is Guntapongalalu or Veggie Pops. Check it out!


February 23, 2012

Where Coffee and Tea Lovers Come Together

Come in and have a cup of tea or coffee at the Coffee and Tea Festival in New York City this weekend. Both days are packed with fun and interesting workshops for any hot beverage enthusiast. Maybe I'll see you there ;)


February 22, 2012

A Cheesy and Delicious Mystery Dish!

Don't you just love a good mystery? I do, especially when it comes to food. I follow this blog, WanderFood Wednesdays and every Wednesday, there's new mystery dish posted for the readers to guess. I love it. So I thought I would join in the fun and post one of my own.

Baigan Bharta Grilled Cheese
Everyone loves grilled cheese, especially the ooey gooey cheesy part. I love spicing up my grilled cheese with my favorite vegetable curry.

Can you guess the vegetable curry in this sandwich? It's Eggplant bharta and the vegetables in this dish are of course eggplant, onion, and tomatoes. 


February 16, 2012

Karapappalu - Crispy Rice and Vegetable Patties

Two weeks ago, we posted a recipe about a popular flat bread from Telangana (Southern region of Andhra Pradesh) called Sarvapindi made with rice flour and moong dal. Did you know, you can make another kind of bread with similar ingredients called Karapappalu. The name directly translates as spicy patties.



It's usually served hot with tangy achar (pickled vegetables), but can also be eaten with plain yogurt as shown above. We love making this during the winter season as it warms the senses and fills you up. 




Ingredients:
- 2 Carrots, peeled and grated
- 1 Chayote*, peeled and grated
- 1 bunch of Scallions, chopped finely
- ½ box or 5oz of Chopped Spinach (frozen)
- ½ cup Coriander (Cilantro), chopped
- 1/3 cup Moong dal, soaked in water for 30 min (or microwave for 2 min to reduce soaking time)
- 2 to 3 cups Vegetable Oil (for frying)


Dry Ingredients: 
- 3 cups Rice Flour
- 2 tbsp Dry Coconut powder
- 2 tbsp Sesame seeds (optional)
- 1 tbsp Chili powder (adjust to your taste)
- ½ tsp Turmeric powder
- ¾ to 1 tbsp Salt (or as needed)


Procedure:
Combine all the dry ingredients in a medium to large bowl and mix well. Then add all the chopped & grated vegetables and soaked moong dal to the dry mixture and mix well.



Slowly add water to the mixture and knead until it is of dough consistency. (Note: raw vegetables release water after few minutes of taking in salt, so keep the dough somewhat dry).




Heat oil in a frying pan on medium heat. Shape (lemon size) dough balls into round flat ½ cm thick patties. (Hint: To avoid dough from sticking to your fingers, slightly wet your hands.) Make 2-3 holes into each of the patties for uniform frying. Transfer each shaped patty into hot oil and fry to golden brown/reddish color. For best results: Turn each patty in-between for even frying.



***Quick Tips:
- Shredded zucchini or long squash can be substituted for Chayote
- You can use wax paper or plastic bag to press the dough into patties.

February 14, 2012

~Chocolate and Coffee Lovers Unite~

~Happy Valentine's Day~
Decadent Chocolate Espresso Bean Cookies
It's nice to try different things to spice up one's life. I love cooking Indian dishes with my mom because I feel it brings us closer together. However, lately I've been going on a baking binge...from gingerbread cookies, banana and walnut muffins to seasoned potatoes and carrots. I get inspiration from lots of places including what I see on TV and what I think would go well together. I think some of my mom's cooking skill rubbed off on me (in a good way)! Whenever an idea pops in my head, I have to follow through so I don't fuss over it too long.
Recently my mom brought home a bag of chocolate covered espresso beans that she received from one of her friends. My mom wasn't a coffee lover, but she knew my dad might like them. To her surprise, he didn't care too much about them either. So now we were stuck with a bag full of chocolate bitter beans.

What shall we do with them? I immediately Googled espresso beans and found my next baking adventure, thanks to 101cookbooks. I tweaked the recipe a bit by substituting some of their ingredients with the ones we had in our pantry. Below is the list of ingredients I used for my version. 

Ingredients:
- 2½ cups All-Purpose Flour
- 2 tbsp Coffee powder, freshly ground
- ¾ tsp Baking Soda
- ¾ tsp Baking Powder
- ¾ tsp Salt
- ½ cup Cocoa Powder
- 1 cup Unsalted Butter
- 1½ cups Light Brown Sugar and ½ cup Dark Brown Sugar
- 2 Large Eggs
- 3 tsp Vanilla Extract
- ¾ cup Chocolate covered Almonds, chopped
- 6.75oz Chocolate covered espresso beans
- 1.25oz Chocolate covered candied ginger

Preheat oven at 375 degrees. Makes 2-3 dozen chunky, medium cookies.

The procedure is similar to what is listed on 101cookbooks. For your convenience, it's listed below:
1) In a medium bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, baking powder, salt, coffee powder and cocoa powder. Set aside.
2) In a large bowl or electric mixer, beat the butter until it is fluffy and lightens a bit in color. Then beat in the sugar - it should have a thick frosting-like consistency. Mix in the eggs, one at a time, making sure the first egg gets incorporated before adding the next. Next add the vanilla and mix well.
3) Add the dry ingredients to the wet mix in about four waves. Stir a bit between each addition until the flour is incorporated well. At this point, you should have a moist brown dough that is uniform in color. Stir in the espresso beans, chocolate covered almonds and candied ginger by hand and mix only until they are evenly distributed through the dough. 
4) Use roughly one heaped tablespoonful for each cookie and place it onto the baking sheets. Don't worry about them being perfect.

I wasn't quite sure how the addition of the candied ginger would work in this recipe, but to my surprise, it was perfect. With each bite of this decadent cookie, you get a different taste: bitterness, spiciness, and sweetness; without overpowering either of those flavors. We are resisting the temptation of eating more than just one...however, we are still trying.

What are you doing for Valentine's Day? Staying in and cooking or dining out? Feel free to share your experiences with us.

February 9, 2012

Giveaway - Fickle Flat Bread February!! CLOSED

(click on image to enlarge)
Which of these Flat Breads can you identify? (Browse through our blog for clues.) 

With so many breads to choose from, it's difficult to stay loyal to just one variety. Each of these flat breads is prepared with all kinds of flours and lentils and originate from various parts of India. And so, we coined this month as Fickle Flat Bread February, as we explore some of these colorful, flavorful, and healthy breads.

PRIZE: 
$5 Starbucks Gift Card

HOW TO ENTER:
- Email us with your answers at: ikme2010@gmail.com.
- Don't forget to "Like us" on Facebook for more updates. 
- Contest is only open to US resident states and it ends on Feb. 20th. A winner will be selected and contacted. 

We picked a winner and they have been notified. Thank you all for participating and stay tuned for more fun events. 

The answers for this giveaway are:
1) Puris or pooris
2) Dosas
3) Aloo Paratha (potato stuffed flat bread)
4) Garlic naan
5) Karapappalu or Crispy Rice and Vegetable patties 
6) Sarvapindi or Rice and Moong flat bread
7) Rava masala dosa or another type of dosa
8) Vegetable uttapam (Indian Pancakes)
9) Batura or big puri

February 3, 2012

Rice and Moong Flat Bread

Yesterday was a very special day for both of my parents...it was their birthday! Yes, you read correctly. They were both born on the same day. How cool is that! I decided to surprise them both by cooking them dinner. Nothing can compare to a home cooked meal prepared by their daughter...not even restaurant food.
I wanted to awe them with my skills. The last couple of weeks, I've shown my parents that I'm not all talk in the kitchen and I can hold my own. Last night's dinner was a testament to them that I know my stuff. I made one of my mom's favorites, Sarvapindi.

 

It is a type of flat bread made with rice flour and moong dal, sesame seeds, onion, coriander, chili powder and salt. Additional ingredients such as shredded carrot, zucchini, long squash, scallions, or spinach may be incorporated to make it more colorful and tasty.

 
Ingredients: 
- 3 cups Rice Flour
- ¼  cup Moong dal
- ½ to ¾ tbsp Chili Powder (as needed)
- 3 tsp Salt
- 3 tbsp Sesame seeds
- 1 medium Onion, chopped finely
- ½ cup Coriander (Cilantro), chopped
- ¼ cup Vegetable Oil (as needed)
- 2 ¼  cups Water


Along with the ingredients listed above, I added shredded carrots (2 medium sized) as illustrated in the pictures below.

Procedure:
1) In a large stockpot, add water, moong dal, sesame seeds, chili powder, and 3 tablespoons of oil. Bring it all to a boil, then lower the heat and mix in the rice flour into the water mixture. When thoroughly mixed, remove from heat and set aside to cool for about 10 minutes.
 2) Add chopped onions and coriander to the rice flour and mix it into a dough until it comes together as a smooth ball. (Hint: Sprinkle water if needed) Then divide the dough into 3 portions.

 

3) The flat bread can be made in an electric skillet or stove top in a flat non-stick pan. Add a tbsp of oil into the pan and spread the ball into the pan with your fingers until it evenly covers the pan bottom (to a 1cm or so thickness).

Use a wooden spatula to divide the bread into quarters and make round holes with your index finger in each quarter.
4) Add 1 to 1½ tablespoons of oil on the flattened bread and in the holes. If making this on stove top, then heat the skillet on medium to high heat. If using an electric skillet, then set the heat to 400°F. Cook covered for 3 to 5 minutes and remove the cover. Then cook on medium to low heat or 325°F until the sides of the bread and the holes start to brown and the sides are loosened from the pan (for approx. 7 to 10 minutes).
I really amazed myself and even received praises from my parents! After finishing dinner, they spent the rest of the evening relaxing and answering phone calls from well wishers. All was good!

***Quick Tip: Sarvapindi can be eaten on its own or served with achar (pickled mixed vegetables) or yogurt.

Did you know: It originates from Telangana (region in Andhra Pradesh). The name is a combination of two words, sarva (rounded container) and pindi (dough). Traditionally, the dough was pressed into a rounded brass container or wok and then cooked over stove top.