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.

November 22, 2013

Bombay Grill Restaurant - Permanently Closed but not Forgotten!

Oh Bombay Grill, oh Bombay Grill,
of all the North Indian restaurants most yummy
Oh Bombay Grill, oh Bombay Grill,
of all the North Indian restaurants most variety
Every dish was a treat to eat and brought me much delight
Oh Bombay Grill, oh Bombay Grill,
your friendly service can never be forgotten
Oh Bombay Grill, oh Bombay Grill,
oh how I will miss your sweet greetings and warm welcomes.


  
I request a moment of silence to recognize a fallen restaurant that has impacted my life greatly. I was on my way to meet a friend for lunch and the place was boarded up. Surely this must be a mistake, but it wasn't. I couldn't believe it. I had recently I've dined at this restaurant many times in the past couple years and am sad to see it go. It was a boutique restaurant with seating for up to 40 patrons with clear view of the kitchen. The family that owned the restaurant was friendly and catered to their guests' needs pretty well including adjusting spice levels of their dishes and as well as food allergies. It felt like I was "home".
On all the occasions I've dined here, I ordered from their a la carte menu and loved all their dishes very much. My favorite dishes were Garlic naan, Paneer Bhurji, Chicken Shahi Korma, Sarson ka Saag with Makki ki Roti. The dishes were always well prepared and one could tell from the clean plates left behind after guests left. Since it was a small restaurant, you couldn't help but smell the aroma of roasting spices and fresh naan being baked in the clay oven. I surely hope this restaurant makes a comeback soon!


For more restaurant reviews, please visit our Where To Eat page.

November 10, 2013

Keep Calm and Enjoy a Hot Bowl of Carrot, Ginger, Tofu Soup

Spinach sorbet? Kale sorbet? Kale and carrot smoothies that are drinkable? How is all this possible? This is all made possible by the Vitamix Blender! Where have you been all my life? I know. Before the blender's arrival, my mom and I used to eat salads for dinner and then made smoothies with the Magic Bullet. Unfortunately, the smoothies weren't as "smooth" and we could only make one serving at a time. With the Vitamix blender we made ~4-5 (8oz) glasses of smoothies per session -- Vegetables never tasted this good.

That's not all! We can make soups, dips, sauces, and even frozen desserts. What a mouth full!! There's a world of possibilities with this blender...now that's what I call a resourceful gadget -- it earned a spot on our kitchen counter!

Last night, I took a break from smoothie making and tried my hand at Hot Soups, especially in this cold weather. Below is one of the recipes which I found to be easy and did not require many ingredients (compliments of the Vitamix cookbook). This recipe makes 4 servings.

Carrot Ginger Tofu Soup 

Ingredients:
- 2 cups (260g) chopped carrots
- 1/4 small onion, 1 ounce (28g) peeled and chopped
- 4 garlic cloves, peeled and chopped
- 2 tbsp (30ml) extra virgin olive oil
- 1/2 tsp salt
- pinch of white pepper
- 1 tbsp chopped fresh ginger root
- 1/3 cup (70g) refrigerated tofu
- 2 cups(480ml) chicken broth
- Fresh coriander for decoration (optional)

I tweaked some of the ingredients to meet my family's eating habits: they're vegetarian!! 
- 2 tablespoons of ginger-garlic paste
- pinch of ground black pepper 
- Vegetable broth (Made broth using 1 vegetable bouillon cube and added it to 2 cups of boiling water)

Procedure:
Heat oil in a small pan and saute carrots, onion, and garlic over medium heat until onion is clear and carrots are tender, about 15-20 minutes. Add a little broth, if needed. Place into the Vitamix container. Then add salt, pepper, ginger, tofu, and broth in the order listed into the Vitamix container ans secure lid. Select Hot Soups program. Press Start. Allow machine to complete programmed cycle.



November 2, 2013

Celebrating Diwali - Out of the Darkness and Into the Light




Diwali is like Thanksgiving and Christmas for us. This year, we were thankful for the clear skies and no hurricanes in sight after previous years' horrendous weather surrounding this holiday. And what holiday is complete without good company and good food. We started off the festivities on Friday with sarvapindi for dinner and jalebi from Sukhadia's (savories and sweets shop).

On Saturday, we went to temple and enjoyed the Diwali festivities there. Word to the wise, if you are planning to visit the temple on holidays, start early so you don't get stuck in the crowds. Since it was Diwali, the temple arranged lunch for the patrons so we enjoyed the food there as well. It was a nice feeling to be among all the worshipers.

After lunch, we gathered in the family room and while playing our favorite card game Rummy, we watched classic Hindi movie songs on the Tube. The classics were the best, don't you think? I'm talking about songs with Kishore Kumar, Shammi Kapoor, and Dev Anand. Anyways, check out my winning hand after 4 failed rounds against my family. Go me!

13 Card Rummy game with 8 as the Joker 

As the day became night, we lit diyas (oil lamps made of clay) and placed them around the house as well as on the outside to Light the Night and keep darkness away.

For dinner, we started off with haanvi as our appetizer and then moved on to main course which was Rajma served with Basmati rice that was seasoned with cumin seeds, toasted cashews and raisins. I never used to like nuts in rice but this preparation was very tasty.

Rajma (Indian chili) 
click on name to see recipe
We also ate the rice with Beetroot raita (yogurt dip):

Beetroot Raita
(click on name to see recipe)

Just like every holiday like Thanksgiving or Christmas, a holiday isn't a holiday without the sweets or desserts. For Diwali, we bought an assortment of burfis and pedas as well as jalebi. One of my sister's friends brought Cannoli Cake from Cake Boss Cafe from New York City so dessert was definitely decadent and rich to say the least.  We topped off dessert with bubbly Bartenura Moscato. The evening was delightful and SWEET!

Hope future Diwali celebrations are this relaxing and fun!

October 27, 2013

Pumpkin Halwa

A great way to use pumpkins in Indian cooking is when making curries and/or sambhars. These dishes are usually served with rice but they can also be enjoyed as it is. The first time I ate pumpkin was on Thanksgiving at my uncle's house many years ago. We had just moved to the States and celebrated our first American holiday. My aunt served me a slice of pumpkin pie with whipped cream. It was delicious but a bit too sweet for me at that time. Since then, I've adjusted to the taste and enjoy it every year.

These days, pumpkins are being incorporated into a lot more recipes than just pies. It's about time don't you think! We're adding our recipe into that pot...just in time for Diwali, the Festival of Lights which falls on Nov. 2.


Check out our recipe for Pumpkin Halwa below:

Pumpkin Halwa
Ingredients:
- 500 grams Pumpkin, peeled and chopped into 0.5" cubes
- 3.5 oz Sweetened Condensed Milk
- 1/8 cup Instant Dry Milk powder
- 2 pinches Cinnamon powder
- 2 pods Cardamom, seeded and powdered
- 1/8 cup dry coconut powder
- 2 tbsp Butter
- 5 to 6 Almonds or Cashews, sliced (for decoration) and toasted

Procedure:
In a thick non-stick sauce pan, heat butter and the pumpkin cubes. Stir fry for a minute and cook the pumpkin until soft under closed lid for 8 to 10 minutes on medium heat. Mix intermittently. When the pumpkin is cooked, using a thick wooden spoon or potato masher, mash the pieces well into paste. Now add sweetened condensed milk, cinnamon powder, instant dry milk powder, and coconut powder and mix well. Cook the mixture by mixing regularly to avoid sticking until it moves from the walls of the container. Add the cardamom powder into the halwa mixture. Transfer it into a greased plate and top it with the toasted almonds or cashews.

Click on the headline to read more about How pumpkin moved beyond the pie, and into curries, cereal bars, and M&Ms… from Food Navigator-Usa.com.


October 6, 2013

DUSSEHRA GIVEAWAY: $25 AMAZON.COM GIFT CARD

UPDATE: The winner of the $25 Amazon.com Gift Card is Andrew: I've loved Indian food, as well as other Asian food for as long as I can remember. This was due to the exposure that you get to it living in Sydney, which (as I'm sure you know) is very multicultural. I use lentils in all kinds of dal dishes, changing the spice mixture slightly, as I please each time. And then, of course, there are chickpeas, broad beans, etc. There's just so much available for a good low fat diet, and it's delicious, too!
Congratulations, Andrew! Your gift card will be emailed to you soon. 


Thank you all for participating. We enjoyed reading your responses and are delighted that you have subscribed to our blog. 

Wow, how time flies! We're just a week away from Dussehra, which falls on Sunday, October 13th this year. Dussehra is a Hindu festival that celebrates the victory of good over evil. This year, we're celebrating the holiday in our own way by participating in the American Heart Association's Heart Walk and 5K Run in our community. It's time to take a STAND against Heart Disease! My mom and I have been participating for the last few years and cannot think of a better way to celebrate Dussehra than joining the cause once more. 

TAKE A STAND for your health! Share your thoughts and you can win. 

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:

One winner will receive a $25 Gift card to Amazon.com, delivered via email. 

HOW TO ENTER:
To enter to win, simply leave a comment on this post and answer the following question(s):

How do you incorporate spices and/or lentils into your cuisine to stay healthy? (Click on spices and lentils for examples)

You can receive up to 3 additional entries to win by doing the following:

1) Subscribe to Indian Khana Made Easy by RSS. Come back and let me know you've subscribed in an additional comment on this post. 

2) Become a fan of Indian Khana Made Easy on facebook. Come back and let me know you became a fan in an additional comment on this post.

3) Follow Indian Khana Made Easy on Twitter. Come back and let me know you've followed in an additional comment on this post.

Deadline: Monday, October 14, 2013 at 11:59pm EST.

October 5, 2013

Evolution of Kitchen Gadgets, Part 2 - Coconut Grater and Beyond!

Do you have a favorite kitchen gadget or "toy"? Please feel free to share with us. 

We are no strangers to using kitchen gadgets to ease the painstaking tasks such as grating, powdering, mixing and/or kneading. A couple of years ago, I blogged about one of my favorite gadgets called the Coconut grater in my post titled Evolution of Kitchen Gadgets. Gadgets such as this grater have really cut down prep time for cooking our favorite dishes and made time for other activities. I wonder how people used to perform these tasks before and how much longer it used to take. I certainly appreciate the innovative thinking and creativity behind all these kitchen tool or "toys" as some might see them as. Join me as I explore some "toys" that we have acquired and added to our collection over the years.

#1: Magic Bullet - versatile mini blender
We've used the Magic Bullet to make all our fresh chutneys and lentil podis (ground lentil mixture with spices) for several years now and it's still growing strong.

#2: The Cake Pop Maker, not just for sweets!
Cake Pops was all the craze a couple years ago. I didn't fall into the trend until I saw something similar while traveling in India during 2011 Christmas. It changed my mind about the product and decided to buy one at Target for $15. Check out my post on making Guntapongalalu or Veggie Pops; a popular dish in Telangana, South India.

#3: My Crimson KitchenAid Stand Mixer

My next and favorite gadget since the coconut grater is the KitchenAid Stand Mixer. Some girls get clothes and/or jewelry for Christmas and I got the KitchenAid (can you tell I enjoy cooking and baking yet). It was my mom's way of telling me to pursue my passionate and expand my culinary horizon. Thanks, mom! I'll make you proud. As I started using the mixer more often, I realized that it was powerful enough for our Indian recipes as well. I prefer using the mixer when making Sarvapindi*, dough for poorisparathas, and rotis, and kulfi because it really blends the ingredients well and the texture is smooth not lumpy. Did I mention that it significantly cuts prep time? I figured you already knew that. Until my next gadget update, keep it real FOODIES!!



***Quick Tip: Making the Sarvapindi dough is easy as 1 2 3 (check recipe for ingredients list):
1) Measure the ingredients, one by one and toss into the KitchenAid mixing bowl.
2) While all the ingredients are mixing, gradually pour water until the dough comes together without sticking to the edges. (Hint: not all the water will be used)
3) Finally add the oil. The texture of the dough should be smooth but and not sticky. If it is sticky, add a little bit of flour and run the mixer again.

If you have any questions about any of the gadgets mentioned in this post, feel free to contact us. We would be happy to help.





September 29, 2013

Macouns, Cortlands, Jonagolds, Golden Delicious, oh my!

Happy Autumn everyone! Wasn't today, such a perfect day for an outing? My friends and I drove through the scenic rolling hills of New Jersey to get to Pennings Orchard for some good ol' apple picking fun. The best part of the drive was the beautiful foliage. I'm thankful that I don't have to go very far to enjoy Nature's gift.

How many can you name?
 
Look at all those apples!! Between all my friends and I, we picked about 2.5 bushels bags worth of apples and we really worked for them too. We walked high and low and to the farthest tip to find the best. Along the way, we ate some too. By the end of the day, I thought I would be all apple'd out but when I got home, I ate more.


***Quick Tips:
- 1/2 bushel per car is required and that cost is $25 USD.
- The orchard is open from 9AM-5PM daily so if you're planning to go on a weekend, go early because it gets crowded real fast.
- Also wear comfortable shoes and clothing for an enjoyable day.

 

August 28, 2013

Mango Rice Pudding, Finger Lickin' Good!

Ripe ones, green ones, fat ones, and juicy yellow ones. I'm talking about mangoes, of course. Summer isn't the same without mangoes. In India, everyone looks forward to the season because of the mangoes. I still remember the days when my sister and I used to sit on the back porch of my grandparents' house eating juicy yellow mangoes. By the time we were finished, our mouths were covered in juice and my mom would chase us around the house trying to clean us up. Sigh! Those were the days. Now we enjoy mangoes from Ecuador, Mexico, Florida, and if we are lucky, India.  There's just no comparison to the variety of mangoes grown in India.
Furthermore, there's more than one way to enjoy a juicy mango...such as mango rice pudding. Ever since my sister ate this mango rice pudding at a Thai restaurant, she's been dying to re-create it at home. Of course, during her last visit, we did just that. It's not that hard to make and it's so yummy! I mean finger lickin' yummy!



Ingredients' List:
- 1 cup cooked Basmati rice
- 2 cardamom pods, seeded and powdered 
- 4 to 5 oz Evaporated milk (we use Carnation brand)
- ½ cup milk 
- ¼ cup of sugar
- 1/3 cup of Mango pulp (or 1 ripe mango (non-fibrous), peeled, chopped and pureed)
- 1 Mango (ripe and firm), peeled and cut into ½ inch cubes

Procedure:
Transfer the cooked rice into a blender, add milk and pulse a few times until the rice is somewhat granular. Pour the rice mixture into a non-stick saucepan and add quarter cup of water, cardamom powder, and evaporated milk. Cook on low heat, stirring frequently for 5 to 7 minutes or until the mixture thickens. Now add sugar and continue to cook for 2 to 3 minutes and turn off the heat. Allow the mixture to cool for 5 to 10 minutes and then pour the mango pulp and mix well. Transfer the mixture into a suitable container and chill in the refrigerator. Serve the rice pudding topped with the mango pieces. 

Here's to another great season of mangoes in the States!!

****Quick Tips:
- Add a pinch of sugar to the cardamom seeds to make grinding easier. 
- Also check out our other pudding/kheer recipes: Vermicelli and Tapioca Kheer & Rice pudding with Coconut.


August 27, 2013

Music to my ears...

My friend Ronit Banerjee is on the far right!

I've always been a fan of the ARTS (dance, film, music and theater) and this past Saturday, it was another amazing night. I attended my friend, Ronit Banerjee's last performance at Fat Baby Bar in New York City. He's a talented young musician and I wanted to show my support by going to see his performance. Ronit and his band mates rocked the house with their fusion rock music (including instruments such as the tabla). Looking forward to more gigs next summer.

Click here to listen to clips of Ronit Banerjee's music.



July 30, 2013

Costco Naan To the Rescue!

My workouts are a lot more fun now that I have a gym buddy; my friend Kathy. We kicked ass in tonight's Zumba class. I was so energized after the class that I couldn't let the good vibe go to waste. When I got home, I made dinner for my family.

Tonight's Special - A Different Kind of Naan Pizza
Browsing through the fridge, I found a container with leftover Eggplant Bharta and a light bulb switched on. Why not use it! Vegetable curries are great to use as toppings on pizzas. I topped the naan with eggplant bharta, pasta sauce, shredded Monterrey Jack Cheese, and fresh basil. Monterrey Jack cheese is excellent when you want to add a bit of spicy flavor to the pizzas. I also combined pasta sauce with the bharta to make it easier to spread on the naans and for flavor enhancement. After topping my naans, I popped them in the oven for about 10 minutes at 350 degrees (or until the cheese is all melty) and Voila! 

I got two thumbs up from my grandma and that made my night. My mom was happy too; she caught up with her favorite TV shows while enjoying the pizza. 


July 21, 2013

A Garage Sale with Lots of Family and Big Bowl of Creamy Pasta

Wow, what a mouth full and that's just the title...

This weekend turned out to be too eventful if such a thing even exists. What I really meant was that there was never a dull moment with a packed house from Friday through Sunday.

On Friday, our relatives from Tenn. stopped over for a visit and we all enjoyed some good ol' home cooking courtesy of my mom. The special of the night was Masala Dosa (savory rice crepe) served with Seasoned Potato Curry and our favorite Peanut Chutney. Everyone knows masala dosa is always accompanied with potato curry and some chutneys like coconut chutney for instance. However, we NEVER eat dosa without Peanut Chutney. It wouldn't be right. It's like walking outside with just your unmentionables on. You would feel weird.


So next time you're eating dosas, DON'T FORGET TO DIP your dosas into the dollop of Peanut Chutney on your plate for a flavor burst. You'll thank me later. 

Saturday-Sunday morning and afternoon were spent attending to Garage Sale customers. Yes, I convinced my parents to have one and we made some dough. The stuff that didn't sell was donated to Habitat for Humanity. Saturday early evening and night was a riot. More relatives stopped by (from Atlanta this time) and while the adults sad around talking, the kids (including myself) played to our hearts content with PaperToy Monsters.

Check out Gene Chemzyme AKA The Creature from the Deep
I found the book at a boutique toy shop in Park Slope, Brooklyn and fell in love with it. It has 50 cool papertoys you can make yourself (like the one above) with pre-scored, easy-to-fold designer templates. Then at night, my baby cousin (who will be attending college this fall) made this gourmet pasta dish from a blog that he follows called Spicy Sun-Dried Tomato and Broccoli pasta. Like Emeril, we kicked it up a notch and added more than required red pepper flakes. It was a house full of desis, you shouldn't expect anything less!

Tonight's dinner was a combination of cool, hot, spicy and sweet dishes. We started off with Chili Poppers, Eggplant and Potato Fritters as appetizers, then ate Seasoned Pumpkin Curryyogurt rice, and finished with sweet Kent Mangoes for dessert.

Overall I think I maintained a healthy figure through the whole weekend and that I can't wait for my Kickboxing class in a few days...Goodnight everyone!!


June 21, 2013

Hot Breads Bakery - My Favorite Indian Street Food Cafe

What do corn on the cob with queso fresco, fried yams, kenkey, injera, cassava bread, dhal puri, badam vaja, soto ayam, jalebi, empanadas, sabikh, and crepes have in common? Any guesses? They are all varieties of street food found across our borders. Street food is a ready to eat food or drink that is sold on the side of streets in stalls, portable carts, or folding tables, travelling pedestrian vendors, public markets.
My stomach cannot handle street food from a street vendor in India anymore (as I've tried and tested on my previous trips). Man I miss those gol gappas or pani puri served in dried banana leaves. It was all about the experience, you see. Lucky for me there are a few bakeries/cafes that sell such street food near my town. I can enjoy these in the comforts of air conditioned and spacious seating accommodations. The one I really like and go often is Hot Breads Bakery. I reviewed them about two years ago and cited how much I loved their cakes and cookies.
This year, it's all about their take on street food such as samosa chaat, kati rolls, and bhel puri. Oh man just typing these is making my stomach grumble.


Feast your eyes on this mighty filling and mouth watering Samosa Chaat. By far the best I've eaten in the NY/NJ area. It beat out Sukhadia's version in Edison. The breakdown of this meal starts with a warm and toasty samosa that is fried to perfection without being too oily and/or crispy. It is also important to note that the potato curry filling had just the right amount of seasoning without overpowering it. Once this crispy samosa is cut it into pieces, it's layered with other equally flavorful ingredients such as chole curry, tamarind and mint chutneys, sev, chopped red onions and fresh coriander. 


Check out these Super Sized Kati Rolls!
Their Paneer Kati Rolls are good as well! My parents are pretty picky and even they loved them; probably because they were well seasoned. I ate this for lunch and dinner one day because each  half was pretty filling. The Indian flatbread or tortilla is filled with roasted paneer, bell peppers, onions, tomato, and seasoning. It's flavored to perfection. You can ask them to make it mild, medium or spicy depending on your spice level as well as request more tamarind chutney (sweet) to tone down the spicy taste. 

The takeaway from all this talk about Hot Breads is that it doesn't break the bank..hence the term street food. Every "street food" item on the menu is between $5-7 and it's quite filling. That's enough for me to return. Next time, I'm going to try this popular Bombay item called Vada Pav. Have you ever heard of it?

Also check out Wanderfood Wednesdays; where Laura takes you on a journey around the world one dish at a time. Until then, tata! 

June 16, 2013

Happy Fathers Day!!



To the smartest person I know...

What can I say about my dad besides that he's really smart and overall a cool guy. He's devoted to his family and work, passionate about the sciences, mathematics and literary works, and not bad in the kitchen either. You have to try his famous cauliflower curry!  
Today's special was Pesarattu dosa (made with whole moong) served with ginger and coriander chutney and dahi wada; two of his favorite dishes. Both of these dishes are high in protein and we know how much he loves his protein. For dessert, we ate cheese pastries from Au Bon Pain and they are really delicious. After such a heavy meal, we all took a nap and ended the night watching To Kill A Mockingbird (1968). 

How did you celebrate Fathers Day? We would love to hear from you!


June 10, 2013

My Foodilicious Weekend!

What can I say except I absolutely loved the weather this past weekend. It certainly brightened up my mood for doing errands and some good ol' home cooking.
Friday night my mom made Sarvapindi, a dish planned for Mothers' day for her mom but was postponed because we were all sick at that time. After dinner, we played rummy (different from gin rummy and played with 13 cards) and ate rasmalai. Guess who won 3 times in a row? Me, of course. The next day, my dad and I went to work for a few hours to unpack boxes and rearrange furniture in our new office. I'm not a fan of working on weekends but I knew the sooner we settled in, the easier everything will be for all of us. A productive day deserves a good meal. That night, I made paneer kati rolls for everyone. It's quick and easy especially if you use ready made rotis or plain parathas (I recommend Deep Foods brand). I used to eat these all the time when I was working in the city. They're cheap and filling.
Since I worked so much on Saturday, it's only fair that Sunday should be a lazy day. I caught up with all my shows from the week, cleaned my room, and organized my closet. Why does it always feel like time flies by on Sundays? Before I knew it, it was time for dinner. My mom and I made Spinach and Cheese Naan Pizza. Oh Goody!


Pizza is my grandma's favorite American food. I wonder why? Any guesses. She loves the crispy, crunchy crust and the stringy cheese.  We love it because it's easy to make and it's foodilicious!! We sauteed a bag of frozen spinach and red onions with ginger-garlic paste, salt and chili pepper. Then we laid out the naans (from Costco) on a baking tray and spread pizza sauce (you can also use pasta sauce) evenly on them. Next we spooned the seasoned spinach and onion mixture all over and sprinkled the naans with shredded pepper jack cheese (we love the spicy flavor). We popped the trays into the preheated oven (375 degrees) for about 10-15 minutes or until crispy.

Have you tried naan pizzas before? What are your favorite toppings? Feel free to share!


May 20, 2013

Happy Monday, I Mean Birthday To Me!

My philosophy on birthdays is that regardless of how old you are, you should always celebrate them:
1) You only live once.
2) It's day the world was graced by you.
3) It's an excuse to have something sweet (halwa, rasmalai, pie, ice cream or cake). If you're on a diet, cheat! It's your birthday for God's sake.

Today is my birthday and instead of getting down on myself that it fell on a Monday, I'm happy. My workday has been pleasant and the day isn't over yet...SMILING :)

Tonight my mom is making gourmet Eggplant Bharta sandwiches with sliced baguettes. Oh goody! I love the flavor combination of the melted cheese with sweet and spicy bharta.

If you haven't tried it yet, what are you waiting for?

4) And there's no shame in tooting your own horn, it's your right to be happy!

May 17, 2013

Soothing Dishes For the Soul

It's Friday night! What are you up to? I kicked off my weekend attending my favorite gym class, Zumba with Elizabeth and now I'm chilling on the couch, watching Indiana Jones: Temple of Doom. No matter how many times I watch this movie, I still love it. Every gory scene with the creepy crawlers in the dark tunnels, the eyeball soup, chilled monkey brains for dessert and roasted beetles. This movie has something for everyone; drama, action, romance and adventure.
I don't know about you but I like my soup bug free and without eyeballs. The soups I enjoy sooth the soul.

Here are some of my favorites that you may enjoy as well:

Tomato and Coconut Rasam
Easy Dal Makhani
Potato and Spinach Kadhi
I'm also recovering from the flu, so besides soups, I am keeping well with dishes that fill me up with nutrients, protein and of course probiotics: yogurt rice and pongali. Try them sometime!

Have a nice weekend and be healthy during this Spring season. Don't let the allergies get you down! 

April 23, 2013

Cheers To Many More Collaborations!



In all the years I've been blogging, one aspect that has truly made a difference in broadening the blog’s appeal is collaboration (not just within my area of expertise but in all areas). When you open up your space to others, you grow and learn from each other. For example, personally, I gained an understanding about user experience, design, and content optimization. I also found that this makes way for mutual recognition across the virtual world.

Recently, I collaborated with a couple of food bloggers who showed interest in Indian cuisine and wanted to share my insight on their websites. First let’s meet Kimlai who is the founder of www.EatinAsian.com. She blogs about Asian cuisine and culture. She wanted to introduce her readers to the "Must Have" spices in Indian cooking. Read more at http://www.eatinasian.om/indian-spices-101-whats-in-your-rack/.

The other is Lauren Van Mullem, travel and food blogger for Wanderfood Wednesdays and Website Manager for Wanderlust and LipstickWanderfood Wednesdays is about Lauren's global food adventures and interesting food trials. Her approach is both informative and playful. She wanted to do a “geek out” session on Indian cooking. Many a times, I've heard or spoken to people who've hindered away from Indian food because of certain stereotypes: it’s oily, unhealthy and/or cooking it is way too complicated. I strive to make the content interesting enough so I can change some of this thinking and get people to try it. During the session, I felt as though she really understood what I was trying to achieve with my blog. I enjoyed the conversation and her enthusiasm for the cuisine. To read more on the "geek out" session, please visit: http://wanderlustandlipstick.com/blogs/wanderfood/2013/04/16/indian-khana-made-easy-khichi/ and http://wanderlustandlipstick.com/blogs/wanderfood/2013/04/25/how-to-use-indian-spices/.

All in all, my mom and I are grateful and delighted that there are so many excited about learning Indian cuisine and hope they enjoy it as much as we do.



April 17, 2013

A Sweet Surprise in my Puri!

I have many loves in life. One specific love is for Indian sweets (or desserts). There is so much variety of sweets all over India and in every region. Long time ago, I think people got bored of making the same sweet all the time and decided to create their own. They went on to share with everyone they knew and then those recipes spread like wild fire all over the nation...but that's just my theory.
One of the sweets that became popular in South India, which is unique to the region is Halwa Puri. I Googled it  to see if I can find more information about it but didn't find anything conclusive. The only results I found were Puri served with Halwa, which isn't the same thing.


So what is Halwa puri? Halwa Puri is a sweet that is prepared on Ugadi (South Indian New Year). It is puri (a kind of Indian flatbread) stuffed with halwa. There are many ways to make Halwa and it's popular in various countries. For this particular recipe, we make it with semolina, sugar, milk, butter, and water. Simple enough so far, right? 

I love the crunchy texture of the puri combined with the sweetness of the halwa, you taste in every bite. It's so hard to eat just one. I'll stop here so you can continue reading on how to make the rest of this dessert.

Ingredients for Stuffing:
Sooji (semolina) Halwa - Prepare halwa without nuts and set aside to cool. Once it cools, roll into small balls. 

Ingredients for Dough:
- 2½ cups Maida*
- 1/8th cup Vegetable Oil (for mixing into dough)
- 2 cups Vegetable Oil (for frying)
- Handful of Sooji (Semolina)
- A pinch of Salt

Procedure:
1) Sift together maida, sooji and salt in a medium sized mixing bowl. Heat the 1/8th cup of oil and add it into the dry ingredients. Slowly add water to the ingredients until you form a soft but not firm dough ball. Put the dough aside and wait for at least 30 minutes to an hour for it to become malleable.


2) Take a walnut size dough piece and spread it on your palm. Place a small ball of halwa in the center of the flattened dough and wrap it with the dough by pulling from all sides. (Please watch video for demo) 

 Prepare all dough balls as described in Step 2
3) Heat oil in a deep frying pan on medium heat until you feel the heat when you place the over the pan. On a 6x6" paraffin paper, spread the halwa stuffed dough ball into thin puri by pressing with your fingers (as shown in video below). Hint: Apply a little oil on your fingers to avoid sticking.


4) Remove each flattened out puri from the paraffin paper and slide it into the hot oil. Fry until it's golden brown on both sides. Place it on a paper towel to absorb any excess oil. 

***Quick Tips: If maida isn't readily available, try the recipe with All-Purpose flour. Note that the taste may vary due to the use of different flour. 

Discover the world, one dish at a time! Check out our blog feature on Wanderfood Wednesdays by Lauren Van Mullem!! 

April 4, 2013

My Kind of HOLI celebration!!

Celebrating the Festival of Colors aka Holi in the heart of Manhattan is one-of-a-kind treats. My first experience was back in 2011 and I was thrilled to be a part of it again. As the month of March came to a close and Spring was upon us, I knew what that meant...it's time for HOLI once more. As I made my way to Hammarskjold Park on 47th Street and 2nd Avenue, I saw faces covered with bright colors and heard Bhangra music. I knew I was close to NYC Bhangra's Holi Hai event. The park was beaming with people; people of all colors and ages, there to celebrate the arrival of Spring as one community. For a moment, I thought I was in India. 

While I searched the crowd for familiar faces, I realized where I was standing. I was amid a crowd of color smeared people looking "way too clean". I welcomed them with open arms and let them smear me with color as well as part of the celebration. 


It isn't Holi without some color!! Posing for a picture with my new friend, Patrina. 
My new friends and I stood in line and bought more color and took it to a new level of color explosion. Just look at us! We didn't spare anyone. 

:) What a colorful family: Patrina with her kids, Sachin and Sanjay :)
After we had enough rang on our faces, we moved through the crowd for some musical entertainment:



We saw performances of all our favorite songs, including the famous one from the movie Silsila called, "Rang Barse"NYC Bhangra did a great job of putting the whole event together. You know it’s a party, when they’re involved! Good job guys! Looking forward to making more colorful memories next year.

After the event, I met up with some other friends and we all headed down to my favorite Indian spot in Curry Hill called Chennai Garden. Their food is always amazing and finger licking good; try the Bhel Puri and Chole Batura. You won't be disappointed. A great way to end my weekend! 

March 25, 2013

Where Art Thou Spring?

Spring started 5 days ago? Really? It doesn't feel like it, especially since it's still snowing in some States. I'm so over this weather. I want to add some color to my wardrobe again; really feel like it's Spring. At least Holi (aka Festival of Colors) is just a couple days away, 3/27.


Holi is predominately celebrated in Northern India, but parts of the South (i.e. Telangana) also participate in the festivities. I was really small when we moved here, so I don't remember much. When asked about it, my mom had lots to share. She loved playing with her siblings and relatives.


The colors also included gold and silver, which were sometimes difficult to wash off. They used to smear so much on each other, that they couldn't recognize the relatives from one another. After playing, the parents bought sugar candy garlands for the kids and of course the kids were all smiles. My dad only celebrated Holi when he was in Kanpur (after marriage and living in the North). My parents visited their friends' houses and smeared color on each other. After the fun, they celebrated with good food, drinks and sweets especially Laddu. My mom told me eating Bhung laddu is popular too. I wonder where we can find those here? Our Holi memories story was shared in a post by Lassi With Lavina, check it out here.

Holi is more than just fun and games; it's about bringing people within a community closer together for one purpose - celebration of life and nature. 

I celebrated Holi for the 1st time in 2011 and I have to thank NYC Bhangra for that. They hosted this free event, Holi in New York City, with numerous dances, bands and food. It was a blast! Oh and the best part was all the colors! They distributed plates filled with colored powder for everyone to smear on each other like they do in India. People of all ages and backgrounds came together to celebrate the arrival of Spring. It was just magical!

If you are in New York City or live in the area, definitely stop by NYC Bhangra's free Holi event this upcoming weekend, March 31st from 12-6pm. It's being hosted at a park located at Dag Hammarskjold Plaza 47th St & 2nd Avenue New York, 10017. 


This Holi, Come, Spring Forward with me!! 

March 24, 2013

I Cheated On My Vitamix Blender!

It's tough to eat healthy when you're traveling on business. Last week I attended PITTCON in Philly and boy did I miss the Vitamix blender. Ever since we bought this baby, we've been whipping up all sorts of shakes, soups and sorbets. I didn't know veggie smoothies tasted so good. Vitamix, where have you been all my life?

The Reading Terminal Market, a delicious wonder!
It took me a day or two to get acclimated with my surroundings and find this wondrous place called the Reading Terminal Market, steps away from the convention center. Hallelujah!! So many cuisines at one location: Japanese, Indian, Middle Eastern, Cajun, Greek, Mediterranean, Gourmet cheeses, etc. I can go on and on but I think you get my drift!


Flying Monkey Whoopie Pies
My favorites:
Kamal's Middle Eastern - good Shwerma sandwiches & platters
Nanee's Kitchen - Spinach and paneer curry, yellow dal, and the other veg varieties; Mango lassi (just be mindful that veg and non veg mixed platters - not cheap!)
Flying Monkey BakeryWhoopie Pies: Red Velvet and Banana Foster (oh so heavenly)
El Rey, 2013 Chestnut St. location (my cousin's pick) - Loved the ambiance! Corn on the cob w/ chipotle and queso fresco, the tacos and Salted caramel ice cream. Yum!!!

Though I cheated on my Vitamix diet regime, I maintained my figure with exercise. I took advantage of the jog parks by the hotel and jogged as far as my legs could take me. I even participated in a 5K Run/Walk (benefiting Wounded Warriors Project) that took place at the Boathouse Row, a couple miles away. It felt great kicking off my heels for a pair of Skeletoes, my new running footwear.

After a week long of experimenting with my palate, there's nothing more I enjoy than good ol' home cooking and a healthy shake. I called from the road and my mom had hot rotis served with Sarson Ka Saag waiting at home for her baby (me of course). Moms are awesome, aren't they. They know just what you need. Recipe will be up soon.

March 6, 2013

There's No Food Like Home

In The Wizard of Oz, Dorothy taps her shiny red shoes together and chants "There's no place like home, there's no place like home" and gets transported back to her home. 

Savories & Sweets from Andhra Pradesh
I don't have shiny red shoes like Dorothy, but I have something else that works just the same. With every bite of these goodies pictured above, I feel like I'm transported back to my hometown in India. A place filled with so many varieties of sweets and savories one can only imagine. Each one has an unique flavor made with various lentils, nuts, dried fruits, and spices. I have to use all my will power not to eat them all at once.

Which sweets and savories can you name? Which ones are your favorites? 


February 14, 2013

~For My Sweet Valentine~

"It seems to me that love is everywhere. Often, it's not particularly dignified or newsworthy, but it's always there - fathers and sons, mothers and daughters, husbands and wives, boyfriends, girlfriends, old friends." I totally agree!


Happy Valentine's Day Mom and Dad!!
And to show my appreciation, here's a plate of Kalakand (also known as Milk Cake) in a shape of a heart just for you, mom and dad! Hope you like it; it's made with Ricotta cheese, so it's kind of healthy. 

What's everyone else up to this Valentine's Day? Feel free to chime in and share your "sweet" moments with us!


January 24, 2013

For the Love of Peanut Butter

Oh Peanut Butter, Oh Peanut Butter
You so creamy and smooth
Oh Peanut Butter, Oh Peanut Butter
And so chunky and crunchy
You go with everything and anything
Please don't ever part from me!


Today is National Peanut Butter Day and I thought I would start by telling everyone how much I love it. What do you think? I think, it's simple and right to the point. My newest trend or topic has been to follow food-related events/holidays like this one. Everyone I know loves peanut butter; it's made with one of the best ingredients: PEANUTS!!

That's a lot of PEANUTS!!
Here are some facts that you may or may not know about peanut butter (Wikipedia):
- Popular in North America, Netherlands, United Kingdom & parts of Asia
- Commonly used as a sandwich spread; especially for PB&J sandwiches
- The US and China are the main exporters
- Has some good health benefits: protein, Vitamin B3& E, Magnesium, & Dietary Fiber

Other uses include in making cookies and candy (like Reese's Peanut Butter Cups). Putting sweets aside, we love using it in many of our Indian recipes. It makes our dishes more creamy, and also enhances the flavor:







With so many different uses and varieties (smooth, chunky, nutty, organic, non-fat) of peanut butter to choose from, this is one food trend that is sure to "stick around".

Have you had your serving of peanut butter today? How do you enjoy peanut butter? 


Read all about last week's food event, International Hot and Spicy Food day which fell on January 16th.

January 16, 2013

~Today Is International Hot & Spicy Food Day~

There are numerous kinds of spices all over the world, that contribute to a variety of hot flavored foods. Hot foods can actually be very good for you because of their medicinal and antimicrobial properties. Just to name a few: garlic, chilies, onions, ginger, allspice and oregano. They all aid in killing bacteria and make food safer to consume. We use many of these spices to enhance the flavor of our dishes. Learning that they aid in keeping us healthy is an added bonus!

In keeping with today's "Hot & Spicy" theme, I thought I would share some of our dishes. Heat Seekers Rejoice:





Did you know that the hottest chili pepper in the world is the Naga Jolokia, with a Scoville rating between 330,000-1,000,000? I considered myself a REAL heat seeker eating banana peppers, poblano peppers (1,000-2,500 Scoville), jalapenos (2,500-10,000 Scoville), and even habanero peppers (100,000-350,000 scoville) from time to time. After checking these Scoville figures, I realized I have a long way to go to catch up to the top. When I do, I'll make sure I have plenty of milk standing by for the cooling off period.

What is the hottest type of pepper you enjoy or can tolerate? Please share by posting a comment below!!