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 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

Our prayers go out to all those affected by the storm. We will resume posting when we get our electricity back as well. Stay Safe Everyone!!

October 17, 2012

Creamy Tofu and Karela Curry

This is for all vegetarians and healthy conscious people alike. A well balanced meal includes carbs, protein, fats and oils. When it comes to choosing the right ingredients to add the proper nutrients to our meals, one that comes mind is TOFU.

What's so great about Tofu? 
- Low in sodium and cholesterol  
- Low glycemic index
- Good source of protein, iron, magnesium, phosphorous, copper, selenium, calcium, and manganese. 

With all these positive attributes, what's not to love. We like using a couple different varieties of Tofu: Firm, Extra Firm and Tofu Steak (available in Cajun, Garlic & Pepper, Grilled). These add extra flavor to our dishes.

One of the many ways we use Tofu is adding it to our vegetable gravy curries that are eaten with Indian flatbreads (such as roti, chappati, naan, paratha), and/or brown/white rice. This week's tofu recipe includes Karela (also known as Bitter Melon or gourd), another healthy and nutritious ingredient. So let's start cooking!

Creamy Tofu and Karela curry served w/ Brown Rice & Roti

Ingredients:
- 1 lb Karela, chopped into 1" cubes
- 1 medium Onion, finely chopped
- 7.25oz Firm Tofu, drained and cut into 1" cubes
- 3/4 cup Salsa (Mild, Medium or Hot)
- 2 to 3 tbsp Ranch dip*
- 1 tsp Mustard and Cumin seeds
- 1 tsp Turmeric (Haldi)
- 2 to 3 tbsp Vegetable Oil
- 1 tbsp Salt (or as needed)

Procedure:
In a large saucepan, heat oil and add mustard and cumin seeds for seasoning. When they start spluttering, add onion and saute for 2 to 3 minutes. Then add karela, turmeric, and salt. Mix well and cover pan with tight lid. Cook for 10 to 12 minutes or until karela is cooked. (Hint: Test it by piercing a knife or fork through a piece of karela and it should go in easily.) Next add tofu pieces, salsa and dip. Mix well and cook for another 5 minutes.

***Quick Tips: 
- If ranch dip is not readily available, add sour cream. 
- Add a tablespoon of brown sugar to reduce the bitter taste of Karela.  
- Check out other yummy Tofu recipes: Tandoori Tofu, Potato & Tofu with Spiced Tomato Sauce



October 16, 2012

It's Pumpkin Picking Time!!

Pumpkins, Pumpkins, everywhere!

It's that time of the season again. What's your favorite variety? I never knew there were so many varieties of pumpkins until I went to farmers' markets and picking myself. Curiosity got the best of me and I decided to do a little digging to learn more about this "fruit". Did you know that it was a fruit? Each variety has unique attributes in color, texture, taste and usage (such as baking, cooking, decorating). Here's some interesting nutritional facts:

- High in fiber
- Low in calories, cholesterol, and Saturated fat
- A good source of:
            - Vitamin A
            - Vitamin E
            - Thiamin
            - Niacin
            - Vitamin B6
            - Folate
            - Iron
            - Magnesium
            - Potassium
            - Phosphorus and more
- Even the seeds are high in protein, iron, & B vitamins.  

Now that we know a bit more about their nutritional value, it's time to get cooking. But which type of pumpkin is good for baking and/or cooking? New England Sugar or Baby Pam Sugar Pies are good for baking because they tend to have a sweeter flavor. For Indian cooking, we prefer West Indian Pumpkin also known as Calabaza Squash. It's great for curries and spicy soups. Check out our recipes below:

Seasoned Pumpkin & Butternut Squash Curry


Chunky Pumpkin Sambhar





  

October 15, 2012

Seasoned Brown Rice Enriched with Lentils & Vegetables

Rice is a staple food in most, if not all, Asian dishes. In South Indian cooking, white rice is served with all of our vegetable curries and rasams. After reading more about the various kinds of whole grains that are beneficial for us, we made a healthy switch to brown rice - which brings us to the first super food ingredient. Brown rice has a lower glycemic index than white rice. That means it doesn't raise blood sugar levels as much after you eat it. Any measure that can be taken to lower the risk of getting diabetes sounds good to me. It's also a great source of fiber, magnesium, zinc, and vitamin B-6.

Below is a great way to spice up brown rice and enjoy eating healthier.

Seasoned Brown Rice with Moong Wadi and Stir Fry Vegetables

Ingredients:
- 2 cups Brown Rice/Brown Basmati*
½ cup Moong Wadi (Sun-Dried Lentil Clusters)
- 2 cups Frozen Asian Stir Fry Vegetables
- 8oz can Tomato sauce
- 1 tbsp Ginger-Garlic paste
- 2 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Chili Sauce (Asian variety)
- 1 tsp Garam Masala
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds
- 4 tbsp Olive oil/Vegetable oil

Procedure:
In a large saucepan heat oil, add moong wadi and stir fry until they turn yellow to reddish-brown color. Then add cumin seeds; when they splutter, add rice and fry until mixture becomes whitish. Next add ginger-garlic paste, chili sauce and garam masala. Fry for two minutes and transfer the contents into an electric rice cooker. Then add 6 cups of water, tomato sauce, salt, and allow it to cook. (Hint: use the cup that comes with the rice cooker for the water measurement; otherwise measure 4 cups of water using a regular measuring cup) Stir every 5 minutes to evenly cook. When rice is more than half cooked, add frozen vegetables. Mix well, close cooker with lid and cook until it's done.

***Quick Tips:
- 1/4 cup of uncooked rice = 1 serving
- Check out another great recipe with brown rice.  

 

Navratri: 9 Ways to Boost Your Health!

October and November are very joyous months for Indians all over. Why you may wonder? Two of the most important Hindu holidays take place during this time - Dusshera and Diwali. There are many interesting stories associated with the celebration of Dusshera, and they vary from region to region in India. As with many Indian festivals, this festival is associated with GOOD conquering EVIL, and it is depicted with the story of three main goddesses (Gauri, Lakshmi, and Saraswati). They unite to form a powerful 'Shakti' or force called Durga who kills Mahishasura, a powerful demon. Another popular story is that Lord Rama kills Ravana, the ten headed demon. The festival is celebrated by taking part in religious activities and fasting for nine days called Navratri, which begins on October 15th this year. People culminate with joyous festivities on the tenth day, which is known as 'Vijayadashami' and it is a very auspicious day. Any task (such as kids' education, new businesses or ventures) that is initiated on this day is believed to be successful.
'Navratri' and 'Vijayadashami' are always associated with STRENGTH, POWER, FORCE, and SUCCESS. Thus, we wanted to utilize the occasion to provide some useful tips and recipes of 9 super food ingredients that are power-packed with nutrients and antioxidants that benefit our health.

1) Brown Rice
2) Pumpkin
3) Tofu
4) Lentils
5) Yogurt
6) Sweet Potato
7) Sesame/Flax seeds
8) Leafy greens
9) Almonds/Walnuts

Let the healthy cooking and eating begin!!!

October 8, 2012

Warm Up This Autumn with David's Bottle Gourds Sambhar

Our first dish of the season was contributed by guest blogger, David Huggett who hails from Roanoke, Virginia. Join us as we discover and learn more about David's adventures in South Indian cooking:



As a home chef who holds the cuisine of India as a personal favorite, I consider it to be quite an honor to be invited by Jahnavi to write this guest post. I'm a big fan of her blog and the recipes which she and her mother create. 
Let me begin by stating that I am an American and have never traveled to India. However, I have long held a keen interest in the food and culture of the sub-continent. As a young man, I was first introduced to Indian cuisine by the kindness of a friend's family and several excellent restaurants in the Washington D.C. area. I was quite intrigued by the complexity of flavors and soon, I began experimenting with my own Indian inspired dishes. Thus began my twenty year journey into learning to prepare dishes from different areas of India, and to be as close to authentic as I know how to do.
At a recent trip to an Indian grocer, I was interested in the big beautiful Bottle Gourds, which were for sale. I asked the lady operating the store how I might prepare the gourd, and specifically asked if it would go well in sambhar. She explained that this is known in parts of India as Dudhi, and it would indeed work well in sambhar. I bought two dudhi and the store keeper threw in a nice aborigine (eggplant) and Wax Gourd.


Here's the recipe for Dudhi Sambhar that I prepared for my family recently.

Ingredients:
- 1 Dudhi (Bottle Gourd)
- 1 Wax Gourd
- 1 Capsicum or Green Bell Pepper
- 1 Aborgine or Baby Eggplant
- 1 large Onion
- 1 firm medium Tomato
- 1 cup Chana Dal
- 1 tbsp Sambhar powder
- 1 tbsp dry Tamarind
- 1 tsp Salt
- 1 tsp Turmeric
- A pinch of Asafetida
 For the seasoning:
- 3 tbsp Butter or ghee
- 1 tsp Cumin seeds
- 1 tsp Mustard seeds
- Dozen fresh Curry Leaves


Procedure:
We begin preparing the sambhar by lightly toasting the chana dal until fragrant.


In a pressure cooker, add the lightly toasted dal, 3 cups of water, salt, turmeric and asafetida. Bring to pressure and after 10 minutes, remove pressure cooker from heat and allow pressure to drop before opening the lid. Then mash well.


Peel dudhi and wax gourd and chop them into 1" cubes. Add them to the dal along with 1 cup of water. Place closed pressure cooker back on medium heat and bring to pressure. Once it reaches 10 lbs pressure, remove from heat and allow pressure to reduce.
Meanwhile, roughly chop the onion and capsicum. In a separate pan, heat the two tablespoons of butter. Toss in cumin, mustard seeds and curry leaves. Add onion and fry at medium heat until the mixture begins to turn golden brown. Add capsicum and stir for one minute. Then add chopped tomato, Sambhar powder, and salt. Fry this mixture for several minutes until tomatoes have become pasty and oil begins to separate from the vegetables.


Stir a small portion of the dal mixture into the onions and then return that to the dal. Soak dry tamarind in some lukewarm water for ten minutes and strain this into the dal. Allow the dish to simmer for 10 more minutes to allow the raw tamarind taste to cook out. Heat one tablespoon of butter in a pan. Add the fresh curry leaves and fry for 30 seconds. Drizzle the butter over the sambhar. Serve with Basmatic rice and chappati.


Check out more of David's Indian cooking...