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.


June 26, 2011

Here's To Sweet Success

We all have milestones in our lives that are very special to us such as the 16th, 21st, 30th or 60th birthdays or the 1st, 10th, 25th or 50th anniversaries. We celebrated one too this weekend and wanted to share it with you. We have crossed the 10,000 page views mark and are still going. We had a slow start but now the fun is just getting started. 

Thanks for making it possible. We will continue to share our cooking stories and recipes with you so you can learn and enjoy Indian cooking as much as we do. 

June 18, 2011

"Carrots" - A Girl's Best Friend

My sister and I like to cook but with her busy schedule, it's not as easy. Additionally, she says in the city she can't readily find all the ingredients.

What is a girl to do, she says.

Whenever we both have some free time, we chit chat about our lives and so on...

Today, I told her about our new snack, veggie boats. When she saw the posting, she got very excited and I knew why.

A few of the pita pockets were filled with her favorite vegetable dish, carrots and moong dal.

My dear sister, this recipes is just for you. ENJOY!!

2 lbs Carrots, peeled and grated
- 1/3 cup Moong dal
- ½ cup Frozen peas             
- 1/3 cup Coconut powder (dry), optional
- 3-4 medium sized Green chilies, chopped finely
- 1" piece Ginger, grated
- 1/3 cup Fresh Coriander, chopped*
- 2 tbsp Vegetable oil
- 2 tsp Whole Cumin seeds
- 1 tsp Mustard seeds
- 1 tsp Salt or according to taste

1) Add ½ cup of water to moong dal and microwave it for 2 minutes, allowing it to soak for 15-20 minutes.

2) Heat oil in a saucepan and add cumin and mustard seeds. When they splatter, add chilies and ginger and stir for a minute. (Hint: In this step, we are sauteing spices to make seasoning for the dish).  Then add grated carrot and soaked moong dal along with water.

3) Add salt, mix and cook under closed lid for 10-15 minutes (on low heat) stirring in between until the dal is cooked and soft but not mushy.

4) Turn off stove and remove the lid and stir in frozen peas and coconut powder. Allow it to sit for a few minutes and serve hot garnished with the chopped coriander.

My sister loves eating this simple dish with rotis or chappatis. You can eat it with soft tortillas or pitas as well.

***Quick Tip: Coriander/cilantro is most often used as a garnish to again heighten the flavor and give color to the dish. Parsley or basil can be substituted if it is not readily available.

June 17, 2011

Veggie Boats

Click on Image for larger view

After movies like Super Size Me were released, there seems a lot of chatter on the Internet and news about the increase in junk food consumption and obesity. There is also an increase in healthy eating food shows and the importance of educating the public about this matter like Jamie Oliver's Food Revolution. Well, we wanted to add our ideas to the pot too and introduce some healthy snacks that are flavorful and help maintain a healthy diet. Veggie boats to the rescue! These are the perfect snack that will excite both kids and adults. They are fun to make and eat. The filling combinations in this snack are not only tasty but also comprised of the major food groups: vegetables, protein (lentils and beans) and carbohydrates. The boats are mini pita pockets cut in half and the fillings consist of carrots and moong dal, chickpeas, spinach and garlic. Here are a few more suggestions to help you get started: leftover vegetables and/or scrambled eggs, and diced and sliced up vegetables used in salad like carrots, lettuce, cucumber topped with feta cheese. These are great for backyard parties, cookouts, picnics or even for an afternoon snack.

June 14, 2011

Go Green Part 2

With the overwhelming storms we had over the last few weeks, it seemed like weren't going to the sun for a while. Knock on wood. However, the rainwater replenished and rejuvenated all our plants and trees making our backyard look like a mini rain forest. The trees spread their branches such that they formed a canopy around our deck. We can now enjoy cool nights and breezy days.

Whenever I settle down on our swing, I feel like I'm relaxing on a houseboat in the backwaters of Kerala or on a hammock in between two palm trees on a tropical island. With weather like this, it's only natural to prepare dishes that add a little beat to your step. I packed this curry and half a cup of brown rice for lunch the other day. It was so good that I couldn't stop eating until I spooned the bowl clean. At that moment, I wished I was eating my lunch on the swing while enjoying the cool breeze passing over me. This "curry" is such a simple and flavorful dish, but don't take my word for it. Go green and make it for yourself and enjoy it.

Here's the ingredients' list and procedure for this dish called Indo-Thai Green Curry:
- 1 lb Green Bell Peppers, chopped into 1" cubes
-  ½ cup Frozen Peas                                   
- 3 Green chilies, finely chopped             
- 1" piece Ginger, grated                                         
- ¾ cup Grated coconut                                             
½ cup Evaporated Milk                           
- ¼ cup Fresh Coriander, chopped
- 1 tsp Whole Cumin or Mustard seeds
- 1½ tbsp Vegetable oil     
- 1 tsp Salt (or as needed)

1) In a blender, blend coconut, green chilies and ginger to a smooth paste.
2) Heat oil in a saucepan and add whole cumin, when they splutter add bell pepper and salt. Mix well and cook under covered lid for about 5-7 minutes until the bell pepper pieces are soft but firm.
3) Now add the coconut paste you made in Step 1 as well as evaporated milk and cook uncovered for about 3-4 minutes or until you notice a gravy consistency.

Remove from stove and mix in the frozen peas. Garnish with coriander & serve hot with your favorite flatbreads: roti, naan or pooris. The curry is also good with rice.

Quick Tips: 
1) For a richer consistency, replace evaporated milk with coconut milk or half & half.
2) You can substitute potatoes for bell peppers (just boil the potatoes in microwave for 5-6 minutes, peel & cube them and follow the directions.
3) Also, coconut can be replaced with 1/3 cup poppy seeds (powder the dry seeds and then add water to make a smooth paste). You can also replace it with coconut milk and dry coconut if fresh coconut is not available with the same measurements. 

June 8, 2011

Rose Spritzer

Back in my college days, I used to enjoy the hot summer days at this Asian tea house called Babo's. They had a variety of hot and cold teas, but my favorite was Bubble Tea. For those of you who are not familiar with this drink, it is a milk based sweetly flavored tea beverage with tapioca balls or rice pearls at the bottom of your drink. Sometimes I used to take my books to the cafe and study while I sipped the drink. It was cool and very refreshing. After a while though, I didn't care for the tapioca balls' taste in my mouth and tried something else. 
Coincidentally, a few weeks ago, my mom brought out this spritzer for one of our family parties and it was an instant hit. Usually, we have fruit juice and soda for the kids and wine & beer for the adults. However, this drink was so popular that by the end of the party, many of the guests requested us to divulge the recipe.

This unique drink has a bit of everything: sweetness, flare, fizz, fun, and cool taste. The fun part is from making the drink and enjoying it on hot summer days or just any day really. Oh, did I mention that it totally replaced my Bubble Tea craving. I don't have to worry about the taste of the tapioca balls either. It's a Win, Win Baby!

Here's what you need to get started; oh and these measurements are enough for 4-6 servings: 
- 1/3 cup of Roohafza or Rose syrup*
- 3 cups of Seltzer water
- 3 cups of Sprite (soda)
- 1 tbsp of Basil Seeds (Tukmaria), soak in half cup of hot water until they bubble up

Mix all the ingredients together in a water jug or pitcher and add crushed ice before serving! Voila! A perfect spritzer for kids of all ages...even adults.

***Quick Tips: 
- The drink can be enhanced with 1 tbsp of finely chopped Mint leaves or a slice of lime.
- Other flavor combinations are Orange-Mango Juice, Mango-Pineapple juice, Mango. Which ever juice you choose, mix it with Seltzer or Sprite not both. 

Hot Breads Bakery - More than Just Bread!!

I'm always on the lookout for cute little places to spend some of my down time...maybe to read a book while I enjoy a treat or catch up with friends on my lappy (laptop). I know there's an array of places like coffeehouses and eateries but I really dislike coffee and I don't like noisy places. Furthermore since I moved back to my hometown, I've been exploring more places around my town. One day as I was running a couple of errands for my mom, I passed by this place. It's one of those places where you could easily miss it unless you were on a mission. Anyways, I walked inside and right away I got a whiff of whatever was baking in the oven at the other end of the bakery. At most bakeries I've been to, the menu items consist of the usual baked goods such as breads and more breads and specialty pastries. At Hot Breads, aside from the usual, as you can understand from my title, they have a variety of items to choose from. Here's a short list of some items I do remember from my visit: curry puffs (both vegetarian and non-vegetarian), snacks like bhel puri, chaat, samosas, and more filling meals like pizzas, paninis and vada pav sandwiches. It was like a One stop shop.
It took me a few good minutes to decide what I wanted to order. I'm not sure if you can tell from my illustration above but the order counter was placed between two shelves adorned with mouth watering and appetizing pastries of all flavors and colors. Savory ones on the left and sweets on the right. You might think weird of me but for as long as I can remember, dessert came before dinner, lunch or whatever. I have a sweet tooth that just doesn't rest until it's satisfied. So, I settled on a few curry puffs that were alright because I was so engrossed with the pleasing view of the sweets before me. Each and everyone of them were calling my name, waiting desperately to be spooned into my mouth. After the puffs, I returned to the counter once more, ordered a chocolate mousse cake and brought it back to my cafe style dining area.
Little did I know that my choice wasn't the most popular pastry. I enjoyed it nonetheless since it was nice, creamy and sweet (my unofficial middle name). I heard from one of the staff members that the Black Forest Cake is delicious I will keep that in mind for my next visit. Now I'm not the PR spokeswoman for this delightful place but I gotta tell ya...their pizzas and paninis must be popular. While I was enjoying every last bite of my cake, I saw one the skilled staff making 5 vegetable paninis in one go and man can he move! My short visit became an extended stay filled with good eats, information and company from the staff in between their orders. I finally made my exit and made a note of the items I will try next time I'm in the area. 

If you're in the neighborhood, stop in and try some of their goodies. And if you're in a hurry or on the run, you can always place an order over the phone. Maybe I'll see you there sometime...