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 and vegan dishes.


March 20, 2010

The Lazy Man's Buffet

Everyone knows what to expect when you go for a Lunch or Dinner Buffet at any restaurant. Whether you go with your friends or family, it's always the same procedure and same setting in a restaurant. What I mean is that once you enter a restaurant, you are taken to your seats and then your drink order is taken. Then just like in school, you form a line in front of the buffet tables. One by one, you take a plate, utensils and the different food you want to eat. That's how it's been like in all the places I've gone to...except at one place.
Last week on March 13th my family and I decided to go for dinner before we went to the Zakir Hussain: Masters of Percussion concert in New York City. My mom has been telling me about this place called Vatan in the city for days. We just never had the opportunity to go. I thought, what's all the hungama about? Why have my mom's colleagues raving about it? I gave in and we decided, we'll go.

The word Vatan means Homeland or Motherland. So I'm guessing when you pick it for a restaurant name, you are saying food from the Motherland. In this case, the food offered is from Gujarat, which is N.W India. As we entered the restaurant, there was a place to keep your umbrellas and what not. The waiters and waitresses greeted us wearing gagra cholis and shalwar Kameez (Indian clothes). The ambiance of the restaurant was something different. I didn't feel like I was in a sit down place. I felt like I was back in India, visiting local dhabas or village eateries. There were 6 or so places where we could have been seated. Each had it's own identity and decor. You see in the pictures and links (

We decided to sit by this big Banyan tree with monkeys on its branches (don't worry, the monkeys are fake). And we had the option of letting our feet dangle under the table or sitting in meditation position. We were given menus just to show us the items included in the buffet (this place currently serves only Dinner Buffet). I was eagerly waiting for our waitress to show us the buffet table but there was no table. She began speaking "Please take a moment to take a look at our buffet menu. Once you are finished, I will come back to take them and bring you the appetizers." Now this is what I call style eating. I can eat as much as I want without ever leaving the table and all for $25 per person. Ok, you are thinking, that's pricey but I'm telling you, it's not in the grand scheme of things.

Each plate had the following appetizers: Chana Masala (seasoned chickpeas), Muthia, Khaman, Mirchi Bhajia, Sev Puri, Samosas, Batata Vada, and Ragda Patis. We all agreed, appetizers themselves could have been a meal. Next up, main course...

Main course includes: Toor Daal, Gobi Curry, Batakanu Sak, Chole, Bhaji, Puri, Papdam, and Kheer. Wait just a minute. I am not done. With all these items, you get Pulao, Khichdi and Kadhi. So each of us received a plate that included the main course items and we shared the three items listed above. Now, I'm getting full just from looking and reading this blog, can you imagine how I felt eating it all. When I saw the kheer in my entree plate, I thought that was the dessert. However, I was wrong.

After we all were done, the plates were taken away and along came our desserts: mango ice cream and masala chai (tea). All in all, I would definitely eat here time around I will come with empty stomach, big appetite and loose pants (jk).

Oh did I mention, all their tabletops are like masterpieces of art...don't take my word for it, take a look below:

I wanted to take ours home and hang it on my wall.

March 15, 2010

Scrumptious Sooji Halwa

• 1 cup Sooji (Semolina)
• 1 cup Sugar
• 1 cup Milk
• 1 cup Water 
• 3 tbsp Butter
• 4 Cardamom (elaichi) pods, remove seeds and powder
• 4 Cashew nuts (Kaju), chopped into pieces
• 10 Raisins

1. In a non-stick sauce pan melt butter and add sooji and roast it on a low medium heat until light golden color (until the aroma comes out)

2. On the side mix milk, water and sugar and bring it to boil and add cardamom powder.

3. Add the boiling milk /sugar mixture into the sooji sauce pan. Caution the mixture may splash so be prepared to lid it quickly.
4. Open the lid after a minute and mix well continuously until all the liquid is absorbed and the cooked mixture starts to leave the pan (4-5 min). Add a tbsp of butter if needed. Remove from the stove and transfer the halwa into a serving bowl.
5. In a small bowl add 1tsp butter and melt it for 30 seconds in a microwave oven. Add cashew pcs and heat for another 40 seconds until golden brown.
6. Add the roasted cashews and raisins into the halwa and mix well.

Pulihora (Tamarind Rice), Made Easy!

Happy Ugadi or Gudipadwa to all!

Ugadi/Gudipadwa is a Andhra, Karnataka, and Maharashtrian holiday which celebrates the arrival of the New Year, which also coincides with the beginning of Spring. This year it falls on a working day (3/16) and so my mom decided to make dishes that don't require a lot of time and happen to be our favorite. Yay for all.

The two dishes are Pulihora (Tamarind Rice) and Sooji Halwa (A Semolina Sweet). Both of these items are served as Prasad (offering to the god) at South Indian temples. Tamarind Rice is a very traditional delicacy which is often served at festivals and weddings.

One of the key components to making this rice dish so tasty, is Chaunk or Talimpu (seasoning). Also, traditional Tamarind rice making involves time-consuming method of soaking tamarind in water, squeezing the juice out, cooking it to make it into a paste, and then mixing it with rice. With semi-processed tamarind paste available these days, tamarind rice can be made in 10-15 minutes. It is a great way to turn your left over rice into a mouth-watering dish enjoyed by all.

- 2 cups Basmati Rice

Ingredients for seasoning:
* 3 Tbsp Vegetable oil
* 1/3 cup Peanuts
* 2 Tbsp Channa dal (yellow peas)
* 1 tsp Mustard seeds
* 1 tsp cumin seeds
* ½ tsp (Asafoetida) Hing
* 1 tsp Turmeric powder
* 1 tsp Methi powder (fenugreek)
* 1 to 1-½ Tbsp Tamarind paste
* 6 small Green chilies, sliced into half  (3 Red chilies, broken into 1-inch pcs)
* 8 to 10 curry leaves
* 1-½  tsp Salt to taste
* ½ Tbsp Brown sugar (or gud)

1) Cook rice with slightly less water so that the grains are separated and not sticky. Then immediately transfer into a open dish, add a tbsp oil and spread it to loosen the grains.

2) In a small skillet add oil and heat it on medium heat. Hold your hand above the skillet and feel the heat. When hot, add peanuts and fry for 3 minutes. Add channa dal and continue to fry.

3) When peanuts and dal start to turn golden brown, add mustard and jeera and fry until the seeds start to splutter.
4) Add green chillies and a pinch of salt and fry for 2 min., then add hing, turmeric and methi powder. Add curry leaves and mix well.
5) Remove from the stove and add brown sugar. Transfer the seasoning onto the rice.

6) Add tamrind paste into rice and mix it well to a uniform color of deep yellow color. Allow the rice to absorb the seasoning for atleast 30min and serve.

Hey you all, just wanted to add that, you can also make this dish with rice noodles or vermicelli. Just follow the same recipe but with cooked rice noodles versus cooked rice:

To learn more about the spices used in seasoning, click here.

March 4, 2010

Mazzedar Naan Pizza

'The day after the big storm last week, my mom and I decided to spice up things in the kitchen by making our very own pizza. We had shoveled the driveway for 2 hours and wanted to treat ourselves for all the hard work. Below are the list of ingredients and procedure for making 4 individualized pizzas. It became a party once we announced we were making pizza from scratch. (shh… almost from scratch!)

• 4- Tandoori Naan (Costco, Indian or local grocer)
• 1 cup of Spaghetti sauce (any variety)
• 1 small can of Sliced olives
• 1 ball of Fresh Mozzarella cheese thinly sliced
• 1 large Red Bell Pepper sliced
• 1 large Green Bell pepper sliced
• 1 medium Yellow onion sliced
• 6 fresh Mushrooms (baby bella) sliced
• 1 tbsp Ginger garlic paste
• ½ tsp crushed Red pepper
• Extra Virgin Olive oil (EVOO)

1. In a non-stick saucepan saute the peppers and mushrooms with a pinch of salt for 5-6min and keep it aside.

2. In a bowl mix together spaghetti sauce, ginger garlic paste and crush peppers (for a bit of kick to your pizza)
3. Place a non-stick griddle on medium/low-med heat. Brush the bottom of the naan with EVOO and place it on the pan.

4. Spread the sauce on the naan evenly and arrange cheese slices to cover the naan.

5. Spread the sauteed vegetables and sliced olives evenly over the cheese and drizzle a little bit of EVOO.

6. Allow the naan to grill for at least 5-min or until the cheese melts and the bottom is browned evenly.

7. Voila! Your personal pan pizza is ready to enjoy. Slide the pizza into a plate and sprinkle with Parmesan cheese for added flavor. It's great for parties of all sizes.

***Other toppings include: canned or fresh pineapple pieces and olives, shredded grilled chicken (for meat lovers), or even leftover veg. curry. Also try using hummus instead of pasta sauce for a Mediterranean taste).  

Chapata Pineapple

Leftover cabbage curry

How do you eat your naan pizza? Please share your ideas?